Keshav disliked pranks. Actually, he quite hated them.
He was often quoted as saying, “Why prank someone? It causes so much inconvenience. To them, of course… but more importantly, to your own conscience!”. It pained him, you know, to see people being treated unkindly, to see his fellow humans being evilly subjected to torture, under the guise of a ‘harmless’ prank. His heart went out to them, and his conscience ached even if he simply witnessed a prank being planned.
His friends would just shake their heads sadly, while wondering how to tell him that the essence of pulling a prank on someone included disposing your conscience in the dustbin and causing as much inconvenience to the other person as possible. They also shook their heads vigorously at the usage of the word ‘inconvenience’. It wasn’t an ‘inconvenience’ at all, they would chorus. Rather, it was what was generally termed as ‘fun’, they would state happily, their eyes gleaming, as they watched one of their own kind, creep up behind Keshav and place a rather realistic-looking spider on his blissfully unsuspecting shoulder.
But none of his friends could come close to convincing him about the jolly fun that pranks presented, both, to the pranksters and the audience. It could be said that their methods of convincing were slightly off-putting since they mostly involved pulling pranks on Keshav and then guffawing loudly.
It was Rehma, one of Keshav’s best friends, who had suggested this method. She strongly believed that if Keshav saw them laughing so wholeheartedly, he would come around and realise what happiness pranks could bring in the dull drudgery of life. However, quite to the contrary, this method made Keshav’s resolve against pranks even stronger.
As a result of the unconventional method that had been employed to try and convince him, Keshav had been working towards launching an Association of Kind-Hearted Humans for the Protection of Other Kind-Hearted Humans1, when April Fools’ Day came along silently, as it does every year.
Keshav had had a little trouble establishing AKHHPOKHH (for full form, refer 1), since he didn’t really have an agenda, a room for conducting meetings, policies to be followed by the association, tasty snacks for breaks during meetings or for that matter, any members. He was a little perturbed about the lack of enthusiasm for attaining membership to his club; he had never failed to introduce the topic of his club to any conversation and had been mildly surprised by how every time he broached the topic, everyone near him would, all of a sudden, remember the incomplete tasks on their to-do list.
However, now, with the 1st of April peeking round the corner, he had hit on a fabulous scheme which would enable him to establish an agenda for his club. He reasoned to himself on the 31st of March, that if he were to provide people with a well-formed and definite scheme, they would come in droves and fight each other to get a membership.
So, he declared, that, on the day of April Fool’s, he would spend the day, the entire day, mind you, doing nothing but kind deeds for others. That would show them. For every prank that someone pulled, he would do a good deed for the victim. Make them feel better, restore their faith in humanity and all that. He was of the strong opinion that this would convince people to join his club and finally put an end to the cruel act of pulling pranks.
It was in this frame of mind that he walked past his college gate, on the 1st of April, and entered his classroom. He felt rather like a beam of sunlight; one that would dispel the darkness and bring with it, a ray of hope.
As he walked into his classroom, his eyes immediately went to Rehma kneeling inconspicuously beside an oblivious classmate (Rohit), who was sitting at his desk. Her eyes met Keshav’s, and a vicious grin flashed across her face. With the same impish look on her face, she reached out and tied the laces of the to-be-victim’s shoes together. Keshav fumed.
How had he gone so far as to call her his friend, when here she was committing atrocities as nonchalantly as one would pet one’s own dog, he seethed.
He resolved to put this straight and set about doing his first good deed for the day. He kneeled down in front of the still oblivious Rohit and putting on his best kind face, he reached out to untie the laces.
Rohit’s head emerged from under the desk where he had been conducting, what was obviously, a top-secret meeting, through his phone and looked irritatedly at Keshav.
“What are you doing?”, growled Rohit, who rather strongly resembled a tiger who had been rudely awakened from his beauty sleep by being prodded in the side.
“Oh! I was just untying your laces for you… someone seems to have tied them together, and I really don’t want you falling and hurting yourself.”
Upon looking down at his laces, it seemed to occur to Rohit what had happened, and he roared the following:
“Oh! Untying them, are you? You’re playing innocent, are you? Tied my laces together and now you’re untying them, are you? Just wanted me to trip over and fall, didn’t you? You and your silly pranks! Is that really the best you’ve got? Tying someone’s shoelaces together? I’ll show you how a prank is done!”
Having thus roared, Rohit disappeared under the desk again.
Keshav had already retreated to the other side of the room. He had not liked the emphasis on the word – prank. And his prospects of getting Rohit, or anyone, to sign up for the membership of AKHHPOKHH seemed bleak. His determination to do kind acts also seemed to have waned. He reasoned to himself that one day of slight inconvenience to people, couldn’t possibly do them any harm. After all they had endured several April Fools’ days, and they had emerged from them, relatively unharmed. As for the conscience… ah well, the human conscience is highly malleable. It is a compliant little thing that would be ready to sit at the bottom of a dustbin for a day or two… or a week or two… or maybe, even a lifetime or two.
So, Keshav resolved to leave all alone and instead, be kind to himself by continuing to sit as far as possible from Rohit, for the rest of the day.
Meanwhile, Rehma was sitting behind Keshav and undergoing silent spasms of laughter.
“April Fool!”, she snorted, between giggles.