Looking For Some Comic Relief Amidst the Encircling Gloom

Sunday, 28 February 2021


Looking For Some Comic Relief Amidst the Encircling Gloom

Gautam Ganguly | July 18, 2020 13:33 hrs

Notwithstanding the possibility of being branded as an escapist, of trying to run away from sordid reality, one feels that it is time to take a break from the endlessly depressing and disheartening discussions on the Coronavirus pandemic that has enveloped us all well and truly.  

Experiencing unprecedented, forceful confinement at home being ‘locked down’ and abandoning day-to-day activities is indeed traumatic, melancholic to be precise. To divest yourself of such a dicey, morbid environment, it would be worthwhile to look for and explore the brighter, sunnier side of life just to de-stress oneself. In literature, this is defined as “comic relief” which means “releasing of tension” in the midst of serious or tragic occurrences.    

Instances of comic relief are in abundance in all of William Shakespeare’s immortal tragic dramas. In Macbeth, a tipsy Porter, praising the good effects of drinking while Macduff is left stranded at the gate, provides a hilarious effect in an otherwise gruesomely tragic ambiance or setting. Brajen Barua’s wicked expression as a villain (he was enacting a double role) evokes laughter and anger simultaneously in Dr. Bezbaruah, the iconic Assamese cinematic suspense thriller. Similarly, Asrani remains the epitome of comic relief with his dialogues and expressions in Sholay, Bollywood’s premier blockbuster. 

The enthralling, exciting first test match at Southampton between West Indies and England that ended the pandemic-induced hiatus in international cricket has provided much-needed diversion and respite to cricket connoisseurs from their dull, monotonous stay-home-stay-safe life as rightfully advised by the doctors and medical experts. The pulsating test match saw the West Indies team clinching a scintillating victory bearding the English lions in their own dens on 12th July, 2020. For a change, distressingly negative Covid-19 statistics (read Covid-19 positive cases) emanating frequently on social media were kept at an arm’s length by the cricket lovers so as to enjoy the grueling match with gay abandon oblivious to the Corona apprehensions.  

On close scrutiny, the recently concluded first test match stands out significantly for having added quite a few great chapters to the glittering history of test cricket. In the scary backdrop of more than thirty thousand people succumbing to the deadly virus in Great Britain, it speaks volumes of the courage and passion that the West Indies have for cricket to have agreed to undertake the tour. Accolades are due to the English players as well for agreeing to play the game in the face of the haunting life-scare. The game was played in an empty stadium which is a record by itself in the nearly one-hundred-year-old history of test cricket. Social distancing norms ensured players were not hugging each other in the euphoria of a fall of a wicket. Utmost restraint and caution were evident. Lastly, the West Indies victory marks the end of their thirty-two-year-old jinx of not winning any test match in England besides raising hopes for the restoration of their lost glory.  

Subsequent to the imposition of ‘lockdown restrictions’ across India that rendered millions of migrant workers jobless, a large section of these economically bankrupt people had to walk hundreds of miles to return to their respective native places leaving their work stations. In the midst of the heart-rending sight of poor people walking and walking with their petty belongings, children in tow, a photograph of a migrant family carrying their pets along was heart-touching; a sight that magnified their human values.  

Incidentally and interestingly, three Indian cricket stalwarts namely, Sunil Gavaskar, Saurav Ganguly, and MS Dhoni, were all born in the month of July. Lavish praises heaped deservingly on these legends on print and electronic media allows one the opportunity to travel down memory lane to recapitulate some of their greatest exploits and thereby the luxury to shun the Corona–bickering temporarily.    

Among his many splendid innings, one may recall Gavaskar’s swashbuckling innings at The Oval in 1979 when he had hammered the English bowlers to score 220 runs and take India to the brink of victory.  Chasing a target of 438 runs to win that no English cricket pundit including Mike Brearley, arguably the shrewdest English captain ever, thought India was capable of, Gavaskar’s superlative innings earned him great admiration from the global cricketing fraternity.   

Continuing in the same breath, Team India, under Saurav Ganguly, proved that they were quite the ‘lions abroad’ defeating all teams in their own backyards besides reaching the finals of the 2003 ICC World Cup against all odds. And ‘Captain Cool’ MS Dhoni’s fairy tale performance in 2007 T-20 World Cup and ICC World Cup will remain permanently etched in memory. 

The greatest comic relief, however, has been provided by none other than Baba Ramdev when he claimed to have invented a medicine that would cure Covid-19 in a flash! When experts, scientists and famous physicians around the world have been burning the midnight oil to find a proper medicine/vaccine for the dreaded disease with the ICMR and even the much-maligned WHO also continuously making all-round efforts, the claim of the self-styled ‘Baba’ to mislead a section of gullible Indians has been pooh-poohed by the ministry of health. The discerning Indians have, however, had a hearty laugh at the absurdity of the claim.   

(The author is a retired civil servant and a die-hard art and sports enthusiast. The views expressed in the article are his own)

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