Verbally speaking, I am not as witty as I would like to be, though occasionally I do surprise myself with my words. An incident I am rather fond of comes to my rescue here.
One fine day as I was engrossed in writing a poem, my friend (let's call him Adwait, because his other real name is Abhijeet), who is great with words, more so in his mother-tongue, Marathi, could not resist vaunting his quality of being a शीघ्र-कवी (sheeghra-kavi : an impulsive and an on-command one-shot-poet, if you will) to me, as he watched me writhe about in labour pains from my attempt at poetic delivery, for what he thought was a painstakingly long time.
"I get the job done quickly" was all I heard, as he spoke highly of his ability to write a poem when needed, in just a couple of minutes. On my end, I held up the plain old desire of expressing myself, the way I could and, hence, I would, no matter how long it took to get it right, which, before me, only a million must have said and done. But the look on his face (at least for argument sake, I felt) told me he was determined to save Time, as opposed to take it, when it came to writing. Realising the futility of arguing any further, I decided it was time to wrap it up. Vaguely shaking a fist near my face cringing with the sentiment of the words to follow, I said to him, (in a rather constipated voice, I may add) "Passion boss! Passion is what it takes!" to which he replied wryly, "थोडा सा पागलपन काफी है ज़िंदगी के लिए|" (thoda sa paagalpan kaafi hai zindagi ke liye : life needs but a pinch of madness.)
Even as he began speaking, I had made up my mind to ignore his words, mumble a vague acknowledgment and continue with my work. But something about those words made me pause for a bit and play them over in my head. Looking at the words discretely for a moment I swapped just two of them and was amused at the diametrically opposite meaning brought out by the new sentence. With a triumphant smile, I shot it back,"थोड़ी सी ज़िंदगी काफी है पागलपन के लिए|" (thodi si zindagi kaafi hai paagalpan ke liye : madness needs but a pinch of life.)
The next moment filled the inside of my head with an imaginary round of applause, like a cheering only for me, for suddenly coming up with something remotely witty. Drowned in its din was his reply I could barely hear.
It is not often that I can think so fast, yet so clear. It is one of those things that one can never be taught and, unfortunately, it doesn't come to me so naturally.
19th November, 2009.