April 1, 2011
“Look! A spider on your shoulder!”
“Ha ha, April fool!!”
These kind of instances come round once a year, on April 1.
It is that time of the year when pranksters and tricksters around the world brace up to play all kinds of practical jokes on poor unsuspecting victims, all for a good laugh. April Fool’s Day, or All Fool’s Day as it is sometimes called, is quite a favourite with good humoured people, and a headache to the grumpy ones.
The origins of the day are as hazy as Ireland’s chances of winning the World Cup were, but history says man was first officially declared a fool way back in the 14th century, and later confirmed in France when the new Gregorian Calendar became a bone of contention – with those following it calling the antagonists ‘fools’ for sticking on to olden ways and celebrating the new year in April instead of on January 1. The onset of the spring season is also said to be the culprit, given the way people rejoice and have fun.
But let’s not worry about origins. The good part is that such a day did originate, and no matter how silly and downright idiotic the human race gets on this day, we still get to remember that God has gifted us with a funny bone and we ought to make use of it at least once in a while. In today’s world, we need to have some sense of humour to alleviate the seriousness of pain, violence and injustice. True, sense of humour cannot eradicate our problems, but it can make us forget our troubles at least for a short time.
They say laughing is good for health. In fact, that’s why we have laughter clubs. But what an irony that we need a club to remind us of something that should be so natural to humankind. In our daily struggles, our day-to-day fight for survival, we forget to laugh, to see the funny side of things and appreciate the fact that a smile is all it takes to banish pain and recreate relationships. Make an effort to smile every day even without a reason, and soon you will be doing it without your knowledge. After all, smiling bothers less number of face muscles than a frown, and its effect reaches straight into the heart of the person in front of you.
Coming back to this ‘wonderfool’ day, it is one occasion when everyone, irrespective of age, likes to have a little fun. True, that fun is often at the expense of another person, but that’s the charm this day has – it teaches us to laugh at ourselves, and if we are blind to that lesson, well, too bad. No one likes to be at the receiving end on this day, nobody wants to fall prey to pranksters. Every person is on guard, and sometimes it can lead to such extreme forms of denial that even serious, true occurrences are eyed with suspicion. A few years ago, when I sent an SMS to a friend explaining an important decision I had taken, I got no response, which annoyed me. Later I realised my friend thought I was playing the fool, when actually I had totally forgotten that it was April 1!
There is the downside too, though. Sometimes the pranks may go to such disastrous levels that they do more harm than good. There was once a case, though not on April 1 but definitely a contender for it, when a student on his way to write his engineering examination was stopped by some irresponsible jokesters who asked him to do silly tasks. They wouldn’t listen to his pleas to let him go and were bent on making a ‘fool’ out of him. The culprits ruined his life in their bid to have some ‘fun,’ for he ended up missing his all-important exam.
What that means is we need to be within limits when it comes to humour. There are different kinds of humour – dark humour, wicked humour, dry humour, vulgar humour and the open-hearted, clean humour. And there’s the subtle humour, typical of the British, and the boisterous humour too. And each of these have limits one should be wary of, because too much of a funny thing can sometimes become a drag, and may even turn into a disgusting episode. There is no greater regret in the world than when a prank meant to spread cheer goes all wrong and ends in causing harm.
Nevertheless, that shouldn’t stop us from tickling our funny bone and having a good laugh. Enjoy the pranks, no matter on which end of the stick you are. Let a sense of humour prevail over all of us.