If the names of children of a family known as The Laughter Family are based on humor like Smile and Jest, people are bound to take notice, and that’s what happened.


No one was surprised to learn about the name of the new born daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Laugh Tar- Lange. The name was Hilarity. The reason of lack of surprise was the name given to their other children earlier. The name of eldest daughter was Jolly, followed by sons Jest and Smile.

Living there since last 15 year, Laughs were well-known as an ideal couple as well as good neighbors. They exhibited great qualities of head and heart.

Both the husband and wife knew that they were commonly called Mr. and Mrs. Laughter and family, The Laughters, but they never took offence. Although there was no surprise for the name, but people were anxious to know the reason for giving such names to the children. However, everyone hesitated in asking this question as the family was held in great esteem.

I was their next door neighbor, but I too never asked this question, to avoid taken some sort of interference in their privacy. However, I always was interested to somehow know about that at some proper time and occasion.

Mr. Laugh was in his late thirties and doing a flourishing Real Estate business. He had a pleasing personality and was known for his honesty and good Public Relation Skills. He was gentle and soft-spoken and took keen interest in community welfare. His wife Jane was a Professor of Economics in a local college. She looked at least 7/8 years younger than Laugh . She started as a school teacher and at that time was known as a very strict and hard task master, named Miss Annoyance by the students. However, since joining college there had been a perceptible change in her attitude and she was now very popular with her students. Jolly, was in her late teens, and had great resemblance with her mother. She was small in stature, serious looking, and studying for her bachelors in International Relations. Jest, was aspiring for a career in law. Jocular and happy-go-lucky sort of person he had a lot of friends. Smile, in his second last year in the school, and more interested in sports especially in Cricket and Tennis.

I and Laugh shared common interests like chess, evening walk and criticizing politicians. On every weekend we played chess in the afternoon alternatively in each other’s home. The game mostly lasted between one and half hour to two hours followed by a cup of coffee with cookies. Seventy percent of all time Laugh was the winner due to his strong Castle Defence. I was able to won only when I got what I call the double move where it appeared that I was defending, but infect also attacking at the same time. Laugh called it double cross and every time after losing in this way said that he had been double-crossed.

Except for Sundays, we walked together every evening for about forty-five minutes in a nearby park. However, during the walk we hardly had the time to talk as Laugh remained busy with his cell phone receiving and sending calls about his business and I spent the time in planning, structuring or completing articles for my blog in my mind. One thing, which I noted about Laugh’s conversation, was that usually he talked at an audible pitch, but sometimes he spoke in a very low voice which was not audible to me.

We criticized politicians on occasions when we would discuss some related news or events mostly on economic policies and their lack of vision usually after the chess game while having coffee.

Laugh has some strange habits. He smoke pipe on week days only. He always wore shirts of dark color with contrasting tie. He continued to speak while playing chess as if talking to himself.

One day while having the evening walk and thinking about my next article/ feature on my blog a thought flashed through my mind. Why not write about the Laugh family? But, how to get more information about them? I thought about it for long and finally decided that the best way available was to invite the family at my home for dinner and have open and frank talk in an informal way. No one should know about the purpose. About the reason for the dinner, I decided that the recent nomination of Laugh for the local Real Estate Association was a good reason.

As soon as we finished the walk I conveyed the invitation to him and his family. He was completely taken by surprise and looked uneasy. He hesitated and told me that nomination was not something very important deserving invitation for dinner to the family. I insisted that for us it was important and if he refused it would hurt us. This last part of the argument worked and he agreed. I told him he could select any of the weekdays and the time as convenient for him and his family and convey to me the next day, i.e. Tuesday.

I did not receive his confirmation until we met at the park for our walk. He told me that 7 PM on Sunday was OK, and that his family was a bit hesitant just like himself, but when told about my argument they had agreed.

I had four days to prepare myself and so did my wife for the arrangements with the help of our cook Johnson.

I continued my preparation until 5 PM of Sunday, then refreshed myself with a hot shower and a cup of coffee and started waiting for the Laugh family.

They were exactly on time. I received them and then took them to the sitting room, in the meantime my family also joined them.

According to my plan to give it a natural look I started the talk with the one sitting most near me, and that was, Jolly. I asked her about her studies and her favorite topic. She told that studies were going fine and that her favorite topic was diplomacy due to its unique nature and language. Then, I asked her about her resemblance with her mother and whether, she also shared her thinking , habits, etc. She expressed her ignorance and said that others in the family might know better. Answering my question about her attachment more to her father or mother, she said that she thought that it was equal.

“That is why she likes diplomacy,” Jest said laughingly.

When I asked about whether she had any problems with her name she said only once when one of her class fellows told a joke and unlike others she did not laugh. He then went on to say in a loud voice “look she is Jolly Laugh and she does not laugh, she must change her name”. I did not like that and I moved out from there. That was the only time her name was discussed in any way.

I then turned my attention to Mrs. Laugh and asked whether she ever had any problems with her name. She replied that before marriage she was Jane Humerus and after marriage she became Jane Laugh. Although Humerus, had nothing to do with humor, but most people thought otherwise. Therefore, some time she had to clarify the difference. Most of the time, the remark was that her name included humor, but she was very serious.

She then went on to tell without being asked why they gave the name to the children as they did and my job was half done.

According to her the name Jolly was not decided due to the meaning of the word, but because Laugh liked that name. After that, we came to know that people were talking about the name in the context of Laugh’s name and we thought that why not give it a stamp of approval as it had nothing negative in any way. That was the reason of giving humorous names to the children.

When I asked about attachment of children with her or her husband she replied that as the children could take more liberties with Laugh, she thought they liked him more.

I then turned towards Jest. I asked about his studies and whether he was sure that he could become a successful lawyer. He replied that he had a firm belief that will happen. When asked about his name he narrated two instances when he felt a bit embarrassed. He and one of his class mates were having a heated discussion on some topic and he became emotional in the class. The teacher intervened and said to him “Don’t be emotional, Jest Laugh, be happy and be merry”. There was a burst of laughter in the class. In the second instance his friend, Peter once while calling him, said; “Jester come on”. He at once replied “Peter out,” and paid back the compliment.

I asked him whether his name did have an effect on his personality.

“100%, Jolly intervened. Yesterday I asked him about the meaning of a legal word and he replied that my mind was too small like my body to understand that”.

Laugh asked Jolly, if Jest ultimately told him the meaning and when she replied in the negative, expressed his unhappiness and told Jest to do that.

Jest told that he did not think that the name had any bearing on his personality, but it would certainly had if he was given the name originally decided, but thank God it changed.

I looked towards Laugh and he disclosed that originally Jest was given the name Joke, but as its meaning was too restricted we thought not to go for it to avoid future embarrassment for the child. About his attachment to dad or mom Jest said that he agreed with his mother with the caveat that when he thought he could get anything from mom, he did not go to dad. He then turned towards Jolly and asked her whether she got the meaning of the word ”caveat” , it was “To qualify with a warning or clarification”.

I asked about his closeness with any of the siblings and he laughingly declared “Hilarity”, as she was the only one who was close to his heart when in his arms.

I then focused my attention on Smile and asked him which game he liked more, Cricket or Tennis . He replied that he was a cricket player, but watched both games with interest. When asked about his life’s goal he said that goals were nothing, but dreams and it was better to enjoy life and took decisions when needed and not bother about them in advance and spoil the present.

“Have you read it somewhere,” Jolly asked.

“No I heard it once on the TV and was so impressed that I adopted it.” Smile replied.

I then asked him about his relations with siblings and he told that he was closer to Jolly because she helped him in his studies and is cooperative. Jest only cared about himself. He said he thought that being the youngest he had certain privileges and that would now be gone and he now considered himself as an elder. Anyhow, he said with a smile that he was even elder to his father as smile came before laughter.

“OK, big brother I am at your service,” Laugh remarked jokingly.

Mrs. Laugh expressed her surprise at Smile’s talk and said she never knew he had grown so fast.

About his name Smile told that his name always brought smiles to the faces of people and then he told about a phrase created by him on the pattern of “A stitch in time saves nine.” and that was” A smile in time induces nine”.

I had finished with the rest and moved my attention to Laugh and expressed my comments in the following lines:

“Laugh it was really an exhilarating experience for me to meet your family and have such an open and frank talk. Please note what I would tell about your children and see after few years whether I was right or not. Jolly the way she is working will one day be working in our Foreign Office, she is ideally suited for that kind of job. Jest, with his wit, commitment, intelligence and confidence have all the ingredients of a good lawyer. Smile is much mature than his age and his sportsman spirit will help in attaining his goals much earlier and sprang a surprise for all once he decides about that. You have a wonderful family and I pray for success of all of you. Finally, I would like to know three things connected with you if you don’t mind:

1. Why do you smoke only on Sundays?

2. Why do you wear dark-colored shirts and contrasting tie.

3. Why do you some time during walk while talking on your cell phone, reduce the volume of your voice so that I cannot hear,” I said all I wanted to say.

“Well I smoke on Sundays only because smoking is not good for health, but I still want to refresh myself for the next six days and have some enjoyment and relaxation as well.

I wear dark-colored shirts because somebody long ago told me that I look good wearing them.

I talk in a low tone on cell phone because I want to protect my personality. Now you have all the answers,” Laugh concluded.

“No, no dad who told you to wear dark-colored shirts,” Jolly asked with a twinkle in her eyes.

“There was one Miss Humerus,” Laugh replied followed by a big laughter in the room.

“And what about protecting your personality,” I enquired.

“Well, I have some very old and intimate friends, very few, when we talk the language we use, is mostly out of the dictionary. Some words don’t exist only we know their meaning and some words are such which we cannot speak in front of others. So to protect ourselves from bad comments we do as we do,” Laugh completed his answer.

The dinner was ready, and while moving towards the place of dinner I announced that I would also open a secret in the coming seven days. The announcement created a spurt of voices imploring me to open it immediately. But, I told them that the suspense of the secret was sometimes more enjoyable than the secret itself and the secret I am talking about would open itself.

By: Tasneem Hameed

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