The first day of the month of April is called “All Fools’ Day”. On this day people take delight in playing practical jokes on each other. The custom started in Rome when king Leopold of Belgium, who was married in Rome, was made a fool of by his sister-in-law when he went to his father-in-law’s palace on the first of April by mistake as he had been invited there on first of May.
The tradition is maintained even today generally in Western countries or in those countries of East where the impact of the western civilization had been deep. In India too, the first day of April is observed by pranksters in the same manner.
Last year I was in the college boarding house. It was my final year, and I was busy with my studies. I was expecting a good result and planned going to foreign countries for higher studies. How I could obtain a government scholarship for going to U.S.A. that was the problem that worried me day and night. It was known that I had purchased a ticket of Sikkim Raffle, which had announced one lakh of rupees as the first prize. But I did not bank upon it; rather I had forgotten that I had purchased the ticket.
The first of April was a holiday in our college as some Muslim festival fell on that day. Having no class in the morning. I was in bed till 8-30 A.M. The previous night I studied till late hours, so I was sleeping in the morning. Suddenly, my classmate Ajit rushed into the room with a telegram in his hand.”Congratulations! Hearty congratulations!” He shouted at the top of his voice. I did not know why he did so sprang up and went towards him.
He read the contents of the wire, which ran thus: “Won first prize of one lakh, congratulations Manager, Sikkim Raffle, Gangtok.” Saying so, he began to dance with the telegram in his hand. I could read my name and address on the envelope.
I asked Ajit to give me the telegram, but he ran out saying that he would give it to me only when I arranged a bumper sweets party for him and his other friends.
I forgot everything, even my studies, “I shall get one lakh rupees!” My heart began beating fast and I felt quite elated. I had not time even to follow Ajit and confirm the news, which he had conveyed to me. I had one and only one thought lurking in my mind how to secure a passport to fly to U.S.A., where I would continue my further studies.’
“Which University should I join there? I asked myself.” Harvard? No, Michigan? No. California Yes! “California is the best University in America for higher studies in Economics.” I determined to join that University and return to India three years later as a full-fledged Ph.D.
I dressed myself and went straight to the residence of the District Magistrate and told him all about my intentions requesting him to help me in securing a passport for going to the U.S.A. He congratulated me on winning the first prize in the lottery, and instructed me to approach the State Government through him, assuring me that would get my passport within two months’ time.
Another thought then began to prick me how to get the cheque (which was to receive from the Raffle Committee) encased, since had no account with any bank. Went to the residence of the manager of local State Bank and related to him my story. The bank manager assured me that he would help me in getting my cheque encased.
So two problems had been solved. Then the third one cropped up how to secure admission to an American University? I had heard from one of my foreign-qualified professors that it was a tough job to secure admission to American Universities. The Principal of the local Christian Girls College was an American. I straightaway went to her residence and sought an interview with her.
The kind-hearted missionary lady, who had been in India for a long time, gave me an introductory letter to one of her cousins who had been on the staff of the Central Arts College, University of California requesting him to help me in securing admission to the said University. I heaved a sigh of relief: now all my problems had been solved.
I went to the telegraph-office and sent a telegram to my elder brother informing him of my grand and lucky win. On my way back to the boarding house, there was a temple of God Shiva (and I had always been and am still a true follower and adorer of God Shiva) and offered my special prayer, thereby invoking inspiration from the mighty God!
I returned to my room in a contemplative mood looking at the building, which I was to leave soon. I would be soon lodged in one of the grandest buildings of America. As I entered my room, I saw the faked telegram pasted on the wall just above my study-table, on which were written these words in block capitals: APRIL FOOL ZINDAB AD! This brought me down to earth with a thud.
My dream lay shattered. All the preparations I had made were useless. I had been befooled though my friends even now try to console me saying it was not at all necessary.
Author: Atul Joshi.