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Magic of a smile

The world will be a friendlier place to live in if only more people chose to smile their way through life.

The world will be a friendlier place to live in if only more people chose to smile their way through life. | Photo Credit: Getty Images

When one of my incisors unexpectedly deserted me recently, I hid the gap behind a pandemic-enforced mask. Then I remembered having seen an image of Agatha Christie minus a front tooth on the jacket of one of her books. I consoled myself I was in esteemed company for the famed crime writer. Perhaps, this was another of the stunning surprises she springs on her readers!

Yet some toothless smiles, especially those of children or the elderly, do have a certain captivating charm about them that a skilled photographer can turn into an unforgettable image. Indeed a gap in one’s ivories has an appeal of its own to those looking for it. I’ve seen some toothless smiles unconsciously turn into sneers, grimaces and even leers, making them unusually photogenic. Somehow, for better or for worse, our teeth are inseparably linked with our smiles and do add sparkle to them.

Between strangers, of course, there’s no better ice-breaker than a smile, whether toothy or toothless, lopsided or charming. Years ago, I met Tamil superstar Rajinikanth and was immediately struck by his winsome smile and affability which put me at ease. And, of course, old-timers will remember Tamil actor K.R. Vijaya’s bewitching smile, both on screen and off. To a child, however, no smile is sweeter than the spontaneity of its mother’s.

Once I was in a railway compartment with only one other occupant — a man with an unkempt beard. We sat far apart, making no attempt to chat, but I did catch him eyeing me slyly now and then. Then, surprisingly, his harsh features softened into a friendly smile as he politely asked, “Will you keep an eye on my suitcase while I use the toilet?” Hiding my mortification and relief, I promptly smiled my agreement. His smile had disarmed me.

While an unsmiling face may put one off, an enchanting smile doesn’t. Mona Lisa’s faint but enigmatic smile has for long mystified viewers and left them trying to guess its significance. It seems to have a touching wistfulness about it that haunts one long after seeing it — a tribute to Leonardo da Vinci, its creator.

Indeed, the world will be a friendlier place to live in if only more people chose to smile their way through life — for nothing opens the door to friendship wider than a smile. It’s infectious, spreads cheer and costs nothing. So why not be generous with it?

gnettomunnar@rediffmail.com


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Printable version | May 29, 2022 1:34:09 am | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/magic-of-a-smile/article65458291.ece