April Fool A

And what a chase it led to!

Woman's Era - - Short Story - By Bi­nay Kumar Pathak

hree years is a long pe­riod of time. Par­tic­u­larly when a mother is wait­ing for her lost son. A son whom she had reared very fondly with her hus­band, Umesh. To­day Mumbai Po­lice had shown her a pro­file pic­ture of Av­inash to con­firm whether he was his son or not. See­ing the pic­ture, she had recog­nised him at once. How can a mother fail to recog­nise her son? She used to abuse so­cial me­dia for wast­ing time of peo­ple. But to­day, for the first time, she be­came thank­ful to so­cial me­dia as it has dis­cov­ered a way to find her son.

But it was not so pleas­ant from the very be­gin­ning. Early in the morn­ing, her friend Sharda had be­fooled her – “You know, Rama, there is a se­vere ac­ci­dent on the rail­way track, hun­dreds of peo­ple have died and many more hurt.”

“Where? How?” she screamed poignantly.

“Ha…...ha…... April foooooool…..rama……ha… ha…ha… How was my act­ing?” Sharda tweeted in joy at suc­ceed­ing in mak­ing a fool of her friend.

She did not like it. “We should not think of such a dread­ful sit­u­a­tion. Never play such acts with me or she re­sent­fully dis­con­nected the tele­phone.

fter only two or three hours there was a call again, “Hello I am Shinde from Mumbai Po­lice, we have traced your son. We will send a pic­ture on your mo­bile. Please con­firm whether it is your son or not.” “April fool? Do you want to be­fool me? Don’t you have the sense that such a cruel joke should not be cracked on a hap­less mother?” She scolded the caller.

“Please lis­ten to me. I am not kid­ding. In­ci­den­tally to­day is 1st April. But we have traced your son and want to con­firm whether our mis­sion is suc­cess­ful or not.”

She was scep­ti­cal about some­one kid­ding. But af­ter some min­utes a pic­ture was sent on her mo­bile and cer­tainly it was Av­inash. Of course, he had grown a lit­tle more. His mous­tache had be­come thicker and his face had been los­ing the ab­stract of ado­les­cence

But why had Av­inash walked out with­out say­ing any­thing? A big ques­tion was haunt­ing her mind. And even when he joined a com­pany as a truck driver he would have in­formed his par­ents. She tried to solve the co­nun­drum. She was re­call­ing ev­ery­thing from the birth of Av­inash to find the an­swer of this ques­tion… “Hello, I am Shinde from Mumbai Po­lice, we have traced your son. We will send a pic­ture on your mo­bile. Please con­firm whether it is your son or not.” “April fool? Do you want to be­fool me? Don’t you have the sense that such a cruel joke should not be cracked on a hap­less mother?”

and gain­ing a glimpse of a man.

“Yes, his is my son, Av­inash,” she re­sponded to the mes­sage with trem­bling fin­gers.

“Okay, we will con­tact you soon. He has started work­ing as a truck driver and is presently in Gu­jarat for trans­port­ing a load. He was ex­pected to re­turn in two days as per the trans­port com­pany’s in­for­ma­tion. Please come the day af­ter to­mor­row to the trans­port com­pany of­fice. I will send the ad­dress of the com­pany through SMS.” Again a call was re­ceived from Mumbai Po­lice.

wo days was prov­ing to be greater than the three years that she had spent re­call­ing her son. It was very hard to spend time. Her heart was full of joy, she will go to the trans­port of­fice af­ter two days with her hus­band. Not af­ter two days, she will go only to­mor­row and stay there. She doesn’t want to miss the chance of meet­ing her lost son.

But why had Av­inash walked out with­out say­ing any­thing? A big ques­tion was haunt­ing her mind. And even when he joined a com­pany as a truck driver he would have in­formed his par­ents. She tried to solve the co­nun­drum. She was re­call­ing ev­ery­thing from the birth of Av­inash to find the an­swer of this ques­tion…

Av­inash was born on 5 Sep­tem­ber 1998. She and her hus­band Umesh were very happy, par­tic­u­larly the day he was born on im­pelled him to make his son an en­gi­neer. He him­self had tried to be­come an en­gi­neer but could not due to lack of money. He had planned to make his son an en­gi­neer. And the day on which he was born was the birth­day or Mr Visves­varaya, the great en­gi­neer which was cel­e­brated as En­gi­neers Day all over the coun­try. Al­though most of the peo­ple know it as teacher’s day only but be­ing an as­pi­rant of en­gi­neer­ing he was aware of this fact.

Right from the be­gin­ning Umesh tried to in­still in him an in­ter­est in en­gi­neer­ing. He bought such toys that were meant to en­hance en­gi­neer­ing skill in in­fants and chil­dren. But Av­inash was only in­ter­ested in toy cars. He used to play with dif­fer­ent ve­hi­cle toys – cars, lor­ries, buses etc – and did not take any in­ter­est in those toys which Umesh wanted him to be in­ter­ested in.

“You must be­come an en­gi­neer,” Umesh used to say.

“No, dad, I will drive a car and tour the en­tire coun­try, from Kash­mir to Kanyku­mari and from Por­ban­dar to Silchar,” Av­inash used to re­ply boast­ing of his knowl­edge of ge­og­ra­phy.

“Okay, baba, when you be­come an en­gi­neer you will buy a car and drive your­self tour­ing the en­tire coun­try,” Umesh used to re­di­rect him to­wards en­gi­neer­ing. But all this was in his child­hood. When he turned ado­les­cent, he did not op­pose the idea of be­com­ing an en­gi­neer. His man­ners and up­bring­ings did not al­low him to op­pose the wish of his fa­ther. But by heart he was not in­clined to the en­gi­neer­ing pro­fes­sion. On the con­trary, he dis­liked en­gi­neer­ing. Par­tic­u­larly as he had heard of many per­sons in re­la­tions’ and friends’ cir­cles of his fam­ily do­ing jobs for 10 to 15 thou­sand ru­pees in big cities like Bengaluru and Mumbai and liv­ing a mis­er­able life.

n tenth class, he se­cured less marks in sci­ence sub­jects com­pared to arts and lit­er­a­ture. See­ing his marks, all schools asked him to quit sci­ence sub­jects and study arts or com­merce. Av­inash him­self was ea­ger to go with arts or com­merce be­cause he did not find sci­ence sub­jects in­ter­est­ing. At the same time, no good school was in­ter­ested in giv­ing him ad­mis­sion in the sci­ence stream. But Umesh did not like the idea of his go­ing with arts or com­merce streams and he any­how man­aged to en­roll him in the sci­ence stream in an av­er­age ranked school.

The re­sult of the twelfth was the same. But he was com­pelled to fill up the forms for en­gi­neer­ing en­trance tests. His po­si­tion was far be­hind. What to talk about na­tional or state level in­sti­tutes even other col­leges ex­pressed their in­abil­ity to en­roll him.

Ul­ti­mately, he got ad­mis­sion in a newly opened en­gi­neer­ing col­lege in South In­dia which was yet to be recog­nised by any univer­sity. For­tu­nately, the col­lege got recog­ni­tion in a few months and he cleared the first se­mes­ter exam. But in the se­cond se­mes­ter, just af­ter the exam, he was not trace­able. His mo­bile was switched off and none of his friends could tell where he had gone. When results of the econd se­mes­ter were de­clared he had failed in two sub­jects. How­ever, there was a pro­vi­sion to clear it at a later se­mes­ter.

Ev­ery rel­a­tive were

in­formed. An FIR was lodged with the po­lice sta­tion but there was no trace of Av­inash. When­ever there was any news of an uniden­ti­fied youth’s death her heart started beat­ing imag­in­ing an omi­nous plight. Both Umesh and Rama vis­ited film cities of Hy­der­abad, Chen­nai and Mumbai think­ing he would have been at­tracted to this glam­orous world. Also, they had gone to pil­grim­age cen­tres think­ing he would have turned a sadhu.

Grad­u­ally they lost hope of see­ing their son. But thanks to the anti-hu­man traf­fic team, they searched for their son.

n third April they were in the of­fice of Dashmesh Trans­port Com­pany. Av­inash was ex­pected to come by 4 in the evening as he had com­mu­ni­cated to the com­pany.

Umesh and Rama were very ex­cited as well as anx­ious. It was five past four but Av­inash had not ar­rived. Had he come to know that they are wait­ing for him and due to this he had gone else­where? Rama Devi got ner­vous. Her blood pres­sure got high. Umesh con­soled her – there is huge traf­fic nowa­days, they should not lose our heart.

“If he ab­sconds from here where will we find him?” Rama was about to cry. Tears welled up on her eyes.

“Just a minute I am en­quir­ing with them, be pa­tient,” Umesh con­soled her.

mesh re­quested the trans­port com­pany em­ployee to check what the mat­ter was. He af­ter hav­ing a talk with Av­inash over the mo­bile in­formed him that he had en­tered the city and will be here within half an hour. Due to heavy traf­fic he was stuck.

As and when Av­inash came to of­fice he was in­formed by the su­per­vi­sor that some per­sons were wait­ing for him.

“Who?” Av­inash asked sur­prised.

“I don’t know who they are. There are wait­ing in the wait­ing lounge. Go and see,” the su­per­vi­sor replied with a mys­te­ri­ous smile.

vinash was puz­zled. Who may come to meet him? No friend or rel­a­tive has aware about his where­abouts. Had it been any com­pany em­ployee, the su­per­vi­sor must have known him.

In great sur­prise he came to the wait­ing lounge. He be­came dumb­founded when saw his par­ents sit­ting there. A po­lice in­spec­tor was with them. He hes­i­tated for a mo­ment but could not stop him­self from hug­ging his mother as she stood with hers arms open. He touched the feet of both his par­ents. Tears were brim­ming from the eyes of the trio. In­spec­tor too got emo­tional.

“Why? Why did you do it, my son? Can you imag­ine how help­less we were feel­ing?” Rama Devi crooned.

“Sorry, mama! But what else could I do? I was afraid I was go­ing to fail in a se­cond se­mes­ter ex­am­i­na­tion. I am not made of en­gi­neer­ing stuff. I could do any­thing but en­gi­neer­ing.”

“Why did not you tell this as boldly as you are say­ing now?” Umesh asked.

“I did not want to break your heart, dad. I tried my best but could not. For­give me, dad,” Av­inash said timidly.

“That’s okay but es­cap­ing was not the right path. I con­fess I was wrong in im­pos­ing my am­bi­tion on you. I am now able to un­der­stand why you es­caped but, af­ter some days, you could have let us know your where­abouts. At least you should have told any of your friends. Now I will not im­pose my am­bi­tion on you. Let us go home,“Umesh said.

“Dad, I have de­posited ` three lac from my salary. Just af­ter three months I will de­posit an­other fifty thou­sand and it will be suf­fi­cient for down pay­ment of a truck. I will come home only af­ter hav­ing my own truck. There­after I will open my trans­port com­pany. I could not ful­fil your dream of be­com­ing an en­gi­neer but I will come home be­com­ing a trans­port op­er­a­tor.”

“Okay I will not com­pel you to come home, you will es­cape once again to cause mis­ery to your mom and me. So I will not force you. But you are al­ways wel­come in your own home. I will help you in fi­nanc­ing and run­ning your trans­port com­pany.”

“Okay, beta, see you. On 5th Sep­tem­ber we will cel­e­brate the 20 birth an­niver­sary of our trans­port op­er­a­tor son. Bye.”

While re­turn­ing home, Rama was think­ing about tele­phone calls on 1st April. With what an omi­nous news Sharda has tried to make her an April Fool and as she had re­ceived a call just af­ter that from the po­lice of­fi­cial she had rep­ri­manded the of­fi­cer for play­ing an April Fool with her. The call that she was sup­pos­ing to be an April Fool call was in fact a bou­quet of flower for her. It was not the English fool, it was the Hindi phul. We

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