As a child, April was a much awaited time of the year. Annual exams would be over and we'd be into the honeymoon period in the next class. New textbooks, optimism of a fresh beginning, determination to correct mistakes of the past and to do better than ever before, all of these made us all generally cheerful and energetic. The first of April was even more special, this being religiously observed as April Fool's Day. I would start planning a couple of days in advance devising ingenious pranks and coming up with innovative strategies to fool people. Most would involve, among other elements, a scenario in which another, a possibly unsuspecting, person would believe something I say – which would actually not be true – and I'd have the satisfaction of having made a fool of him. Though I usually believe in being truthful, these pranks somehow did not fall in the range of my moral radar. That is, until my father told me something that made me think.
On that fated April Fool's Day, I was bragging to my father about how big a fool I made of a friend of mine, and he asked me with a smile: "If your friend became a fool for having believed what you said, what does that make you?". I did not have an immediate answer for that, but instantly knew that it it was not something to be proud of. If a person's trust in me becomes his weakness, that makes me more pathetic than him. After all, it takes a certain amount of courage to trust a person and good judgement to trust the right one; to betray that trust betrays the lack of either quality. Even on one special day in a year, even in a (seemingly) most innocuous flavour, that act of betrayal still didn't seem right.
The desire to fool people, however, had deep roots within me and so I began to think of ways to achieve it without stepping into the forbidden territory of betrayal. One effective way was to exploit their incredulousness on that day by telling them something that's incredible but true, so that they don't believe you. A clever scheme can be designed to make them look stupid for not having believed you or listened to you. There are many other ways to play harmless practical jokes on people, each of which exploit a certain weakness of theirs. This weakness could be their greed, pride, ambition, anything – but never their trust in you. A good example of this is how someone I know once sent me by post, a carefully packaged parcel with a fake university name on the cover, making it appear that I had received a rare honour from a renowned institution, while the actual content "certified my foolishness" and awarded me a doctorate in it.
The more well-deserved a prank, the more beautiful it is, I guess. Take for example, the case of smart fellow who advanced the time in his roommate's watch and cell-phone by half-an-hour after he had slept. To deprive a lazy person of half an hour of his morning sleep is indeed very cruel! As this roommate dressed hurriedly and left for college half an hour earlier than required, the prankster watched with deep satisfaction and pride, explaining that he had some errand to run for which he'll have to miss the first hour. Till he reached his class at the right time as per his own watch, when he was actually late by half-an-hour, he did not realize that his friend had turned his very own trick on himself!
I think we should continue to celebrate April Fool's Day, not just because it gives us all an opportunity to sharpen our cunning, or because it's fun to fool others and yourself be caught off-guard at times – but because this one day practically demonstrates to us the importance of honesty and integrity by making us live a single day in a world in which it is hard to tell what is real and what isn't; what to trust and what not to!