When I was a kid, way before we owned the first TV set in the society, we were the first to own a phone (yes, we were very middle-class). And while it came with perks (for one you could, like, call people) its solitary status brought about some huge annoyances.
For one, neighbors would stop by the house to make a phone call. Sometimes ajnabee people would try to use our phone using luminous character references like "I'm S. P. Patel's brother's neighbor. Can I make a call?" The worst part of it was that this usually happened in the middle of my afternoon siesta.
And even worse was when someone would call and say "Hey could you go fetch K.K. Shah from next door?". This would involve going next door, ringing the doorbell, waking K.K. Shah-uncle up from his siesta, getting a nasty look from him as he waddled out adjusting the naada on his pajama and then escorting him to my house. Then K.K. Shah-uncle would spend half an hour maroing gappaas with some long lost friend in a booming voice that would reverberate around our house, thus killing my nap.
All of this came to a head one April Fools Day. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Our society was populated by a number of young boys and girls. And around the time we all hit puberty the boys - as kids cruelly tend to - put the girls into two categories: Maal and Bedol. Maals were coveted (in our case from a distance). Bedols were ignored at all costs. This was back in the day before the advent of the "shall we have coffee together?" dating scene.
In any case three houses down lived the Bedol queen of the neighborhood - lets just call her Preeti Jhangiani, shall we? Well one fine April Fools day I get a phone call in the house. "Can you please summon Preeti" the voice commands.
I grumble and trudge off to fetch Preeti. Preeti is delighted that a boy (any boy - even the nerdy Parsi with the long nose) is calling on her. She skips happily behind me back to the house and picks up the phone. The line is dead. She gives me a curious look. I shrug. She returns to her house.
Half an hour later, phone rings again. "I'm terribly sorry I got cut off" the voice says "These shitty lines. Can you please get Preeti for me?" I trudge back again. Preeti comes with. Same thing: line is dead. Preeti gives me a huge smile.
The third time this happens, I warn the caller this will be the last time. And wouldn't you know: same thing happens. Only this time Preeti is making eyes at me.
Next day, my so called friends explained the bluff. "We just wanted Preeti to think you are chasing her yaar" they chuckled. They laughed about this for weeks. Deathly embarrassment resulted.
Needless to say, I devised and played some horrible tricks on my friends later in lieu of this mean and unfunny prank. But unfortunately I had to deal with two undesirable things for years after: first one was being referred to as Preeti's Balam by my peers in the society and the second one was Preeti herself - doing her best to stoke my non-existent feelings for her.
Much later when I got over my adolescent awkwardness and grew a brain, I realized the way I acted around Preeti after the incident was far worse than the prank that my friends had pulled on me. But life is full of stuff like this - and although I try to set things right as much as I can, I can't bring myself to develop any kind of fondness for April Fools Day.
Previous 3 wheeler rides: House pets, Boxing Day, Carefree Errands
Disclaimer: Since someone who reads this blog knows the Bollywood Preeti Jhangiani rather well, I'd like to say that the name was picked for its ability to rhyme with the real deal. Preeti remains a fine looking young lady.