Lord Float A Duck!

I remember the first time I heard the Duck-with-an-F word in public. I was horrified. It was in a meadow where we had convinced a gullible teacher to take us out on a nature amble instead of listening to the stern and necessary work that goes into maintaining a civic society. The middle school children far from being lambs and observing nature were trying to play a game of Kabbadi instead. Kabbadi for those who don’t know, is a game where one runs saying the word Kabbadi Kabbadi Kabbadi Kabbadi Kabbadi Kabbadi Kabbadi Kabbadi over and over again till you want to shriek in agony.


What horrified me was the fact that far from shouting Kabbadi Kabbadi Kabbadi, the boys were insisting on shouting Mucking-an-F or Duck-with-a-letter-that-comes-after-E and this seemed to incense the whole lot of them unduly.

As they looked around in that male-hen-y fashion, I was appalled that something this crude was expected to draw admiration from the girls. I cannot say the girls admired the swearing nitwits very much. We felt a little sorry for the new teacher who was flailing his arms like a shepherd who had just let a puppy loose in the herd by mistake.


The Fabbading went on and on till another resourceful teacher hovered in sight, saw the plight of the poor new recruit who had completely lost control of his class, and showed the fellow how to regain control. Under this stern shepherd, suddenly the fowls spitting F’s became lambs again, bleated a little pathetically, and quietly headed back to the classroom. But I had altered that day.

Then, I remember reading the first “adult” book, and gasping for air every few minutes. For something strange happened: contrary to the adults I knew, the folks in the book hissed and puffed and cussed all over the place. I was wondering whether being adult meant puffing like a penguin in a desert.

I can’t say things have changed much since then.

Society far from growing out of this trend seems to have taken this to alarming extremes. Presidents freely use S-*-*-* words, and worse the news agencies gleefully repeat them.

I wonder how many of you remember cackling at the Tintin comics by Herge: Tintin comics are great fun. I read a few last week, and found myself giggling like a preschooler being tickled by the carpet on which they are rolling. Captain Haddock was my favorite. When he lost his temper, which he seemed to do on every alternate page, he swore in the most imaginative manner possible. The bumbling-bashibazouk made me smile every time he swore. He made one think. He made one use one’s fumbling brain and every swear was one in which you smiled at the brilliance of it.


Would he call you a jelly-fish or a marinated eel? One never knew.

Imagine yourself facing off a street punk who looks ready and willing to punch your nose. If you call him a Mucking-Duck with a double F, he has to stop mid punch with his hand drawn back and ask himself, “Whaddideesay?” and it gives you valuable time in which run away like krill fleeing the direction of the whale’s rumble. Fumble, tumble, rough and scramble.

So, here is a plea – make people work out their insults. Give them work. Mucking a Duck is far too easy. Call a fellow who does not like his vegetables a squash-nibbling centipede. Tell a fellow who is proud of his batting that he is a bat-bungling bamboozle. Think nonsense and regain the pleasant sensibilities of being in one’s senses.

As Theodore Geisel, or Dr Seuss says, “I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living; it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.

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