Yet another new school and Anil knew he had to make friends. And then April Fool’s Day came along…
It shouldn’t have surprised him; Anil thought, to have an April Fool’s prank played on him. After all, he was the newcomer. He had been in the school for only a week and not made any friends yet. He hadn’t minded because he knew that making friends took time, a lesson learnt in the course of moving schools regularly. Being too friendly with people, he had realised, rarely won you friends. Waiting, on the other hand, got you noticed. Then people talked to you and a few days later, they would be your friends. True, the waiting period was boring but the friends you won after it made it worthwhile. Anil had often wondered if there was an easier way to win friends. If there was, he had yet to find it. As long as this way remained closed to him, Anil could do nothing but wait.
Waiting was what he had been doing in the past week. He had waited, watched and learnt the names of the boys in his class. He knew that although Pravin was the class monitor, it was Navin who was the real leader. Harish, he had identified as the class clown while Yash was the studious one. Over the past two days his waiting had seemed to be paying off. Some of the boys had begun to smile at him and just yesterday Navin had spoken to him.
Lost in thought
Yes, Anil had thought that morning, he had cause to feel hopeful. Perhaps his hope had made him forget what day it was. If he had not been lost in his hopes, Anil thought, he would have wondered at the closed classroom door. He would have thought about it and certainly would not have pushed the door open with all his might. That way, he would not have stepped under the bucket that had been balanced on the door and had emptied its contents on him.
Anil thought of all the things he could have avoided if only he had been alert. He wouldn’t have been standing in the doorway, water dripping off his head, running down his chin, his spectacles running with rivulets that turned the world into a place full of wavy lines. As a picture of himself formed in his mind, Anil began to laugh. He could not hold back the laughter that rose up his throat and burst out through his mouth. Watched by the boys of his class, Anil laughed at himself.
And when he looked around and saw his classmates gathered around him, it seemed natural for Anil to include them in his laughter. And so, they all laughed. When they finally stopped a ragged chorus of voices shouted, “April Fool!” The tone was teasing and the smiles on the faces friendly. The arm Navin threw around Anil’s shoulder was friendly too. And walking into his classroom, surrounded by the boys who had only been his classmates till this moment, Anil realised that he had stumbled upon the magical way of finding friends and marvelled at how simple it was. All he had to do was laugh at himself.