Everybody loves a good joke. The surest way to a man’s heart (woman’s included, I hope) is through telling him a good joke. It removes all his preoccupations, addictions, obsessions, worries and anxieties for a moment and loosens himself up and makes him receptive to different viewpoints and perceptions. The laughter engendered by a good joke is akin to a good sneeze, it opens up all blocks in our minds and perceptions . It relaxes us. Freud wrote a whole book on it named Jokes and Their Relations to the Unconscious. Previously kings and emperors used to employ court jesters whose job was to make the king and courtiers laugh by telling intelligent and good jokes. To create a good joke is nothing short of an art. People who are proficient in it are always in demand at parties, functions and social meetings and gatherings. Many interviewees and job seekers have got their jobs on the strength of making the interviewers and prospective employers laugh on their jokes. Telling a good joke and carrying it through lightly but deftly to the end till the punch lines are delivered, with meaningful silences and significant pauses in between, involves not a small amount of intelligence and correct reading of other’s mind and the situation at hand. Timing is highly important here. Only highly intelligent ones pull it through successfully to everyone’s satisfactions while many others fall flat with a feeling of having eaten grass. The intelligence to know when to joke and when not to joke and with whom to joke and with whom not to joke is also extremely important.

Osho was such a genius story teller and especially of stories involving superb jokes. He used to intersperse his lectures with intelligent and good jokes. I don’t think he ever made any false moves while telling a joke. Consequently none of his jokes failed flat. His storytelling left nothing to be desired. He used to jocularly tell that whenever he saw the attention of anyone of his audience wander off or interest flagging off or anybody beginning to drowse he thought it was time to tell a story or a joke. Immediately it used to produce the desired effect of rousing the audience to new enthusiasm and vigour. According to him when someone laughed on a good joke he used that moment to enter into the person through his laughing and open mouth to descend into his heart to make his deep lasting impact. Osho actually produced that deep impact on his listeners or readers. I am one such reader and listener of Osho’s jokes who has experienced this deep and lasting impact. One such joke I am going to tell here to demonstrate his superb choice of good jokes. In his lifetime he had told hundreds of such jokes. In my humble opinion he probably holds the world record for telling so many first class jokes. If for nothing else, he will be remembered for his jokes for ever. To select one is a difficult task where plenty demand to be chosen. But I have to pick one. I have chosen this one. I don’t know in which of his 200 published books this joke appeared. During my decade long reading of his books and listening to his thousands of tapes I have lost the name of the book from which I had read it. I don’t know if this joke has been collected into his volumes of collected jokes. As a result I don’t have the book in front of me to copy from nor the tape to transcribe. So I have to recollect it from memory, to replicate it as I had read it almost a decade back. It is also in the fitness of things here to demonstrate how deep an impact Osho created in his readers and listeners. Without any more ado, here is the story that goes like this :

Mullah Nasruddin ( Osho told many of his wonderful jokes through this character) was going on his first foreign travel to England. He had got all his things like passport, visa, hotel bookings, foreign currency requirements etc. arranged to his satisfaction. He left his mother with his younger brother who resided in the same town as he lived. Only one thing troubled him to no end. He had a cat and he was extremely fond of that. He was toying with options about with whom he could leave the cat safely behind. He found none satisfying enough. So at last he left the cat with his brother but not without a great deal of lecture to him regarding the cat’s feeding schedules, its favorite foods and drinks and sleeping arrangements. Now with a less burdened heart he drove to the airport, boarded his plane for London.

While the plane was just about to land in Heathrow airport, he got a call. His brother was on the other end. Mullah said hello and straightaway asked the question “ How is the cat ?” After just a small pause his brother replied, ” The cat is dead.” Suddenly the mullah turned pale and he thought a heart attack might be just round the corner. Thereafter how he got off the plane, how he was picked up by the travel agency car, how he reached his room at the hotel, all became just a blur in his memory. He was there but not present anywhere. About a couple of hours thereafter, somehow a little rested and pacified in his hotel room, he dialed his brother. “Hello”, said his brother.
Mullah said, ” You are a fool. You were a fool in your childhood and you have kept it up till now.”
His brother replied, ” What have I done ?”
Mullah said, ” What was the use of telling the death of the cat like that ? You told it at one go, couldn’t you have told it some other way ? I could have died in a heart attack or due to severe shock ! You don’t know how close I was to death because of your foolishness.”
His brother asked, ” please tell me how else could I have told that ?”
Mullah replied, ” You could have told it part by part, installment by installment at a time. For instance, At first you could have told that the cat was playing on the roof. On a subsequent call you could have said that he fell from the roof while playing but there was only a slight lameness in his hind legs. The vat was seeing him, he will be o.k.”
His brother protested, ” how could I have reported a dead cat as a slightly lame cat ? Thereafter how would I have ended the story ? Tell me that also.”
Mullah replied, ” Thereafter on my next call you could have reported another installment. That in spite of all attention and care the cat has worsened. He was not taking any food. By that I would have found time for preparing myself to receive the ultimate and the worst news of his death after a few such installments. I would not have got such a nasty shock. Don’t commit such foolishness again with anybody else.”
Mullah wiped his face and asked his brother, “Now tell me, how is mother ?”

His brother paused a little and replied, ” Mother is playing on the roof.”

The joke ends here.
But my fascination with jokes continues. Hope yours too.