Malika felt the smug self-satisfaction of knowing she’d been witty. The little gathering on the patio overlooking the lake had dissolved into laughter, and it was all her doing. They had been in a fun mood already, sparring with and heckling one another, and chuckling over this and that. Things had then somehow turned to shredding local politics, and her impromptu little parody of environmentalists’ outrage towards the ‘heinous overfishing’ had brought the conversation to a proper standstill when everyone had packed up laughing.
Yes, she’d been funny, but now, Malika thought, comes the real test: act nonchalant and indifferent, as though you’re above even your own humour. Like the truly witty do. So she held back the smile that had been about to appear, and instead focused on her poker face.
The midday sun was beating down and the glare off the water meant Malika was wearing her floppy holiday hat and her oversized retro shades. From behind dark lenses, she enjoyed the view of her friends with their heads thrown back, hands slapping thighs, and tears starting to run from a few pairs of eyes. There was the slightest twitch at the corner of her mouth, but then renewed concentration, and then nothing.
When the laughter eventually started to tail off, with people making the happy, breathless sounds of those who have laughed long and hard, Malika took a leisurely sip of her cool drink, swallowed, and finally smiled the benign smile of an adult pleased to have made the children laugh.
From now on, little one, she said to herself, you shall be called Sensei.
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