On Being Idle

Laughter is a rarity nowadays. Taking offence, I’m afraid, practiced to perfection. I remember how stories in our text books were sprinkled with the absurd, sometimes satirical humour to expose human naivety. The truth of the matter is that humour is indeed an ingenious way to make us think, question and introspect. Consider ‘On a Tired Housewife’ written by an anonymous woman which is a popular comic poem underlying the theme of domestic work which often leaves women drained. Makes one pause and ponder. You might also like to think of Macavity, and the poetry of Roald Dahl, Ogden Nash and Shel Silverstein.

I grew up on a good portion of humorous poems, owing to my deep interest in poetry recitation and theatre. I was a great fan of P G Wodehouse. ‘Carry on, Jeeves’ is timeless, isn’t it? And yet, it took a book of essays to give me my favourite piece of humour.

‘Twenty-five Essays’ was a part of the first-year syllabus in college. And the very first offering of this absolutely delectable collection was the witty ‘On Being Idle’ by Jerome K. Jerome. For some reason it was thought ideal to begin an academic session by quoting ‘Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow’! Almost, as if, it was a vocational course they were offering.

He was hilarious.

  I think myself that I could keep out of bed all right if I once got out. It is the wrenching away of the head from the pillow that I find so hard, and no amount of over-night determination makes it easier. I say to myself, after having wasted the whole evening, “Well, I won’t do any more work to-night; I’ll get up early to-morrow morning;” and I am thoroughly resolved to do so—then. In the morning, however, I feel less enthusiastic about the idea, and reflect that it would have been much better if I had stopped up last night. And then there is the trouble of dressing, and the more one thinks about that the more one wants to put it off.

Well, it couldn’t have been funnier and truer. So impressed was I by the rationalizations given in favour of idleness that I decided to take it up rather seriously. When I decided to bid adieu to formal education, my father asked me what was it that I intended to do with my life. Obviously, he wished to know the nature of work I was willing to take up. ‘Nothing,’ I said nonchalantly. To me, my arguments made perfect sense. Idlers were extremely essential to restore balance in a world so pre-occupied with working.

However, the never-ending pressures of being useful to society landed me in the job of teaching. I had hoped to ‘steal idleness like kisses’ as professed by the author but lo, I was left gasping for breath. So smitten was I by this essay and for my quest to be the perfect idle that I finally ditched teaching for writing. I tell you, I am as busy as a bee now, and idling is integral to this business. For, what is a writer who doesn’t spend a few hours doing nothing. Or, better still, to quote Cassandra Duffy, I am ideally in that idler position. As says she, ‘I realized I was officially a professional writer when all my plans began with “drink coffee” and ended with “take a nap.’

 Well, on a more serious note, I learnt to take humour (and my life) seriously because I read Jerome K. Jerome (Also, Three Men in a Boat. ‘I like work: it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours.’) I also learnt to laugh at myself. It is a hard genre to attempt but is so integral to any good piece of writing.

I have a humorous poem ‘Z-ed Vs Z-ee’ in my book ‘Life, Women and Everything in Between’.

An excerpt from the poem,

I met a friend

Who carried in his hand

A bunch of lilies galore,

‘Ah! Those flaars (flowers),’ I cried

He smirked and smiled

‘Flowers are gone,’ he said

‘It’s flah-wer you see,

Times are changing

You need a new dictionary!’

I brushed this meeting aside

Calling it his pride

Until a day in school

When a colleague pointed out

that Zeb-ruh (Zebra) is no more.

‘Poor souls!’ I lamented

‘Were they in the endangered list?’

‘Come on!’ she sighed

It’s Zee-bruh and that’s what you’ve missed!

You can read the complete poem in my ebook here.

This post is part of # Blogchatter Half Marathon and I am introducing myself through some of the poems, prose pieces, monologues that shaped the writer in me. Image gratitude, Carlos Alvarenga, Pixabay.

16 thoughts on “On Being Idle”

    1. Oh, that’s one of my favourites too. What is this life if full of care…
      I am so happy you enjoyed the posts though I gave up midway. Hoping to catch up now.

  1. Thank you for the hardy-Ha! Laughs:)

    Your “flaar” cracked me up.

    Now I know why we get on so well (albeit virtually): “Idlers were extremely essential to restore balance in a world so pre-occupied with working.” is easily my Raison d’etre, too:)

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