Synopsis : The joys of life can be found in simple things that can bring a ray of sunshine in otherwise humdrum life of people . We often forget that basically we are social animals and can learn to enjoy the company of others so I discuss how simple pranks can leave an indelible impression on someone’s life.

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Source : Google photo

I just wrote a blog called Why do we make jokes? which is about people always making jokes about others? Some are called jokesters who can make a living this way using many tricks available to them in TV studios but in general people who are jovial are prone to make jokes for certain occasions to make people laugh.

During the era of kings and queens, there used to be court jesters like Birbal in the court of Mughal Emperor Akbar who tried to cheer up the king if he was feeling a bit under the weather for some reason but they were always careful not to step out of line.

Today I would like to write about the pranksters who love to play pranks on you to cheer you up so you may also call them jokers but they are no stand-up comedians .They can make elaborate pranks to surprise you and cheer up everybody without saying a single word.

My father was such a prankster who showed the lighter side of him full of childish pranks he loved to play on others .People who did not know about his humorous side thought he was a serious accountant who was incapable of any mischief but we knew better and loved him for it.

Once he asked my elder brother to dress him up in dirty rags and with make up to look like a ragged beggar so my brother who is an artist of some repute glued shredded cotton to his face to make him look like a white-haired beggar with white beard and mustache while we as children wondered what he really was up to because he kept it a secret.

But soon it became clear what mischief our father had really on his mind when we all went to our uncle’s house where a celebration was underway and we were invited to a feast. Ma knew all along the jovial side of my father but kept quiet as a part of the conspiracy that day and her younger brother who was a renowned movie actor in those days kept a camera handy to take photos.

Now dressed in rags and carrying a bundle on his shoulder, our father tried to break into the crowd that had gathered for the occasion and asked for alms from my aunt. Now anyone with sharp eyes could see through his fake mustache and cotton beard but our poor aunt didn’t so she started dragging him out by holding his arm while my Ma smiled and the actor uncle kept taking photos and laughing in mirth at the same time. We the kids were having a whale of a time and wondered what would happen next.

We did not have to wait long. Soon someone recognized him and shrieked OMG it is the Mister himself and everybody broke into peals of laughter and then someone brought in a bucket full of colored water and doused my father with it that drenched him red including his bundle he carried on his shoulder but that bundle carried his change of clothes when his identity was revealed.

It was his finest kurta of pure silk and with gold buttons and his dhoti that got a bit stained but everybody was enjoying the prank like this because it was so unexpected of him to think of it. Women were so excited that they ran to a nearby jeweler and asked him to make a silver medal plated with gold with my father’s name inscribed on it and pinned it on him in an elaborate ceremony that evening.

I was may be 10 years old but the memory of that day is vivid. I brought his medal among other things to the Philippines where I now live and had it framed with his photo, two medals and his Parker pen to always remind me how great a person our dad was. I miss him terribly.

Our daughter is also very naughty and full of mischief so one day she got hold of a colleague’s office computer keyboard and changed many keys so the poor chap wondered where was letter A or letter C in his board and was thoroughly confused while everyone laughed . Our daughter can keep a straight face for a while. She was the life of that office that kept people on their toes not knowing what mischief she was cooking up next.

When we were students in college, the urge to play pranks on our unsuspecting college mates remained strong so one day we saw a new arrival judging from his bewildered looks and tons of luggage so I brought him straight to the lady’s dorm where my co-conspirator were only too happy to join the prank and brought the luggage of the poor chap upstairs saying the he will share the room with them. Now thoroughly confused the fellow did not know what to do seeing all the bras and panties while the girls were having a great time until the dorm manager showed up and chased us all away.

So making pranks was a pastime of our younger days but our father beat us all with his elaborate prank that day that people cannot forget. We all have a bit of naughtiness in us that we show on occasions to lighten up the mood of everyone around.

But once in a while a prank backfired like the time when I raised my hand promptly when asked who the cadets were on fast during the Ramadan that only Muslims observe. This was during the roll call of the compulsory paramilitary training we all had to undergo as college students.

Now I thought that perhaps I too will be excused that day along with our Muslim college mates but the sharp-eyed commander caught me and asked me since when I was on a fast ( being a Hindu) during Ramadan to which I could not answer so he made me go round the football field 14 times holding the heavy Enfield gun up high making all the students laugh and jeer saying oh he is so naughty. Today he got caught for his pranks.

But I remember all the pranks fondly because it was a part of our youth we all have left behind long ago that is fast becoming obscure. It made us laugh and enjoy our student life of endless chemistry lab work or field work in agronomy.

Now harmless pranks we all got into never really hurt anyone, rather it made our bond stronger although our classmates have all scattered never to be found again. I decided to write about it because life can be boring and stressful unless we do something to cheer us up once in a while.

There are festivals and other social events that can break up the monotony of living and inject a dose of happiness albeit temporary into our lives when we let our guards down and just enjoy the occasion.

Ask a Spaniard why he loves being chased by a crazy bull and he will tell you that it is fun and exciting never mind if the bull rips up his clothes. We all love the flow of adrenaline in us during such times because it excites us.

Recently our two grandchildren came to visit us for the first time so I gave them a chase around our garden that they loved and shrieked in joy because they loved being chased but I had to quit after a while because they as children had more energy than me.

I think there is a definite place for laughter in our lives because a strict person who never laughs is a melancholy person people will always avoid.

Long ago I saw a movie the title of which I cannot remember now in which there was a very strict padre who did not like young people in his village to hug and kiss and get into romance. He was always castigating them for flirting and made life very difficult for a very young couple who were in love quoting scriptures all the time until the girl fell sick and died. Even then the padre did not relent and said that she was thus punished for her immoral behavior so the enraged boyfriend cut off the ear of the padre in absolute anger.

That is perhaps an extreme example of how some people can become so lifeless and humorless that they deprive themselves simple joys of life through laughter and merry-making.

We now live in the era of fast technological innovations that has made us more introvert to the extent that children play with their cell phones during the family dinner checking constantly the Facebook to see if they have a new message while the parents try to draw their attention to other matters. They cry if their cell phones are taken away just for a day as if their whole life depends on that stupid gadget.

We did not have such gadget when we were young so on the whole we enjoyed each other’s company playing, making harmless mischief and pranks. But times have changed to the extent that people no longer seek human interaction that was so important during our time and as a result have become lonelier. We are after all social animals just like the Apes so the social bond that is created through interaction makes us stronger as a community but we see the result of isolation when a next door neighbor is in trouble but no one comes to his or her rescue.

It can be argued that the new innovations of the modern era has put the latest technology in the hands of ordinary people so they can chat with someone in another part of the world instantly but they never say hello to the nearest neighbor and ignore them. People may have hundreds of Facebook or Instagram friends but they are not real friends. I call them electronic “friends” who send you their photos everyday but never ask how you are doing.

Were we better off without such gadgets? It is true that we did not have hundreds of electronic friends but a few we did have remained friends over the years. Can these Facebook addicts claim the same?

So I think we should all try to lighten up once in a while and feel the joy in making someone laugh. I feel happy when someone makes me laugh. I know that I made our two grandchildren happy by simply chasing them around the garden so we humans do not really need anything special to make us cheer up and laugh.

All we need is a prankster who is a child at heart who brings joy to everyone like my father. There is a child hidden in all of us waiting for the opportunity to make mischief so go ahead and pull a prank on someone. He will love you for it.

Note : My blogs are also available in French, Spanish, German and Japanese languages at the following links :

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I am the village bard who loves to share his stories.

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