Among the many “pick-me-up” messages that are circulating these days is a poem that exalts the magical power of a smile. The poem is attributed to Spike Milligan, a British comic poet, actor, playwright and author. The son of a British military officer, Spike Milligan was born in Ahmednagar and spent his growing up years in India, and this is reflected in several of his poems.
I have always enjoyed his tongue-in-cheek poems, but I had not seen this one before.
Smiling is infectious
You catch it like the flu
When someone smiled at me today
I started smiling too
I walked around the corner
and someone saw me grin
When he smiled I realised I
I’d passed it onto to him.
I thought about the smile
And then realised its worth
A single smile like mine
Can travel across the earth.
So if you feel a smile begin
Don’t leave it undetected
Let’s start an epidemic quick
And get the world infected.
When I read this I thought that it was a bit ironic, and somewhat contra indicatory in these times when all our smiles are tucked away behind our masks.
So here are some alternate lines for the times, that I have penned.
Thanks to Spike Milligan (an old favourite) for the inspiration!
Sneezing is Infectious
Sneezing is infectious and coughing is contagious too,
It can spread the virus that is way wickeder than the flu.
When someone simply smiled at me today, even behind their mask,
I drew back in terror and turned my face; “Such rudeness?” let them ask!
I walked around the corner, and there before my eyes
I came upon an unmasked group of goodly size.
I had to other way but to pass them by, but I was filled with tension
What was floating through the air, and spreading the infection?
I thought about the virus and how deadly it can be
And realised how fast it spreads and offers itself for free.
A conversation, a slogan, or a song can spread it far and wide
Crossing every boundary, and respecting no identity nor side.
So if you feel a sneeze begin don’t leave it undetected
Isolate, test, and quarantine; always stay protected.
Wash your hands like Lady Macbeth, and mask up like the Lone Ranger
Let’s restrain and refrain, so that we can live to smile again without danger.
Who would ever have imagined that there would come a day when we would not encourage people to “Be Positive” and instead wish that they “Stay Negative”!
Stay safe. Keep smiling–behind that mask!