Soon, the day will arrive, it is thought by some to be a holiday for atheists. Many just play pranks and have a big laugh. Let me recall my escapades of All Fool's Day in the past.
I am a gullible girl, and all my friends capitalize on it. One of these years as a student I was focusing on my studies. Our Final exams were due sometime in late April. I got a message from Clara, my friend, and my classmate.
"Dear Sheba! Did you hear about the special exam course orientation we have today? Be sure you attend it. It is at 11 am in lecture gallery no 3 at our college. We all can meet once again after quite some time too. Planning for a quiet party after the session is over. Love to see you again."
"Just what I need," I thought as I got ready and packed a notebook or two in my carry bag and set out. As my habit is, I reached the venue a few minutes ahead of time. Strangely, I found that the room seemed to be locked from within. I casually knocked on the door. There was no response. I waited for a while. I walked a bit and came back to the door to find that it was open. I went in and found it was dark inside. They had not opened the windows and the lights were not put on. Somehow I managed to get in and sit in the pew. All of a sudden, the projector sprang into action and I found a huge picture on the screen. That was a picture of our Professor which was a caricature. Then the slide changed, and I found that the picture was of me, sitting alone in the huge lecture gallery. The lats slide shown read, "Fooled ya!"
I was humiliated. Felt the tears streaming out of my eyes as I bashfully retraced my steps. The loud hoots and laughter of most of my classmates reverberated in my ears. Even now they echo emptily. Painful. Very painful indeed!
Now, this year I am determined. It will be a new beginning. "Why am I the center of all these practical jokes?" I wondered. I feel so spineless and teary every time I get fooled. I pondered about this for a few days. Suddenly realization dawned on me. I am doing this all wrong. As long as I keep focusing on myself, I can't make it. I need to focus on others, I thought. This year, I decided, will be a fresh start for me. I will do things differently.
All through the past six months, I gathered information about the poor and needy in and around my city. I took pains to get all the details. There were quite a few but I selected the three most deserving individuals. Just three.
Pamela was a street dweller, a ragpicker to boot. She eked out her life picking used bottles and selling them. She was an unwed mother and had a 3-year-old too. Pamela and her daughter managed to get a meal or two at the Salvation Army soup kitchen and a bed to stay sometimes at the local YMCA. But otherwise, they were on the streets with wooden boards as their beds. Pathetic existence indeed.
Scrabbling for food and fighting off the street dogs was what the old lady was doing as I observed her. Dressed in rags and a mere skeleton with skin covering, she had the tenacity to push the dogs off and get some of the food thrown into the dust bin. Her eyes glowed with fury at the animals as she struggled.
Harry was desperate. His eyes were deep and dark as he prowled the streets. He was dying to get his daily drugs. There was nothing that could stop him from somehow getting the dough to pay for his drugs. He was walking around, keenly watching. Waiting for an easy catch to burgle.
As the special day began, I left my room and set out, armed with a totem bag full of supplies. I was a little nervous as it was early morning and so I whispered a small prayer as I stepped out.
As I was walking along those streets, I met the old lady first. Slowing down to suit her pace, I struck up a conversation with her. She was cautious at first but she loosened up as she came to know that I was not a cop or a Social Security officer. She said she was Ramola. She once had a family but lost her husband. "The children grew up and are having their struggles," Ramola said, "I realized I was a burden to them and moved out. "Now am on the streets, fending for myself." She grinned. Pulling out some clothes and food, I passed them on to Ramola. She took them hesitantly. "I…. I cannot repay you for these."
When I said that they are free, she looked intensely at me and said, "Are you going to foist your religion at me now?" I replied, "Not at all Ramola. This a special April First treat from me. Take it and enjoy yourself!"
"Er….ahem. Thanks a ton, Sheba!" she said with her eyes glistening.
Tackling Harry was not easy. I managed to get him near an area full of drug suppliers and their clients. I got him to an all-night café and asked him to have a cup of coffee with me.
"What's innit for ye, bro?" he rasped as he sipped his coffee, "Are ye gonna ship me?"
I could hardly understand what he was saying. "I want you to stop destroying yourself, Harry. Get straightened up and I will help you find a job. Will you do it?" Harry cackled loudly, "Job for me, a dried-out skeleton with a drug habit? Are you fibbing or are you starring in my dream?" he asked. "I'm honest Bro. This will be my April First treat for you. Will you take me up?" Nodding vigorously, Harry began to embrace me.
Pamela and her daughter were overjoyed as I placed a bag full of groceries and eats in their hands. I had managed to get a worn-out Barbie doll from a friend's daughter. As I placed it in her hands, the little girl squealed with delight, "A weal Barbie doll?" Pamela straightened up. She looked questioningly at me. "Why are you doing this for us, Sheba?" she asked point-blank.
"This is my way of celebrating the first of April, Pamela," I replied. She was dumbstruck and clutched the grocery bag tightly as she led her daughter away.