Table Land in Panchgani. Photo credit: “Waiting for master” by Flickr user Sindhur Reddy
In March 2011 I was living in Panchgani, India doing some work with the Baha’i Academy. At that same time my mother was doing community development work with the Baha’is of Slovenia and my dad and sister were back home in Ottawa.
Just before going to bed on 30 March I send my family a very carefully-worded email with the subject line ‘Big news!’.
Dear mum and dad (and Julie and Fanfan, too),
I want to apologize for not being in very much touch over the past couple of weeks, but soon you will understand. I have some really big news. The day you worried would never arrive has finally come.
See, just less than two very eventful weeks ago I went to Table Land in the evening to meet some friends and ride on the horses they have there. There I met this young woman named Apraila Murkha and we immediately hit it off. We started spending almost all of our time together just talking about everything. She’s from a village called Nakali here in Maharashtra and studied dance and singing at a college in Pune. We have lots in common, like we’re both vegetarians, like India, and are kinda short.
Anyways the idea of getting married came up exactly three days ago and we are both really excited about the possibility. That’s why I’m writing.
Its a little complicated because she is still technically married to this guy she married when she was 13 who is actually also her first cousin. Doesn’t really count because it was an arranged marriage and she hasn’t even seen him in like two weeks. She is just now arranging for the divorce.
Her parents are cool with it, so I’m writing you guys to see if you want to come over within a few weeks to meet her or if you are cool with giving the okay remotely and sequestering some carbon in the process. Although if you want to come, that would be cool – you could probably stay here at the Academy, there’s lots of bunk beds.
I’ll tell you a bit more right now to maybe answer some of your questions before you need to ask them and make the whole process a bit faster. Let’s see… we are planning on living with her parents in Nakali and taking care of their strawberry farm while Apraila sometimes goes into Mumbai to audition for films. They also have cows and onions. She’s a 36 years old, but she looks like she could be 15, which is weird. What else do you need to know? That’s all I can think of.
As exciting as this big news is, please don’t tell a soul just yet. I would prefer to do myself. And besides, you guys haven’t even said yes yet!
From your son and future daughter-in-law,
Samuel and Apraila
The reason I would send my parents an email like this is that I am a Baha’i and to have a Baha’i marriage, I would need the consent of all the parents to go through with it.
Out of my excitement I couldn’t resist sharing this announcement with a few of my friends even while I waited for my parents reaction.
Hey guys, I just shared some really big news with my parents and I was too excited to wait for their response not to tell you guys. Way too excited! Don’t tell anyone yet, though.
I was excited to check my email the next morning to see the reactions from my family and friends in Europe and Canada. Among those friends, one was disappointed by how obvious the prank was. This critic, who knows who she is, had this to say:
Really, Sam? You couldn’t even provide some pics of you and April Fool’s Day fiancee to make this more convincing?
You’ve lost your touch.
…No you’re NOT supposed the crank the ridiculous dial! The best part about pranks is make them subtle enough to be believable! MASS FALLOUT.
My BFF and renowned egg punster Chloe Filson replied:
Nice one, April Fool. I mean, ZOMG I CAN’T WAIT TO MEET HER SHE SOUNDS SO AWESOME AND TINY CONGRATULATIONS YAAAY!
The effect I was going for was to make it plausible on first glance, but then to reveal itself as an obvious joke by the second reading. I didn’t want anyone to suffer of a heart attack. I put in many details that were meant to raise the suspicion of anyone who knows me well. And who knows me better than my parents, right?
Let’s review: I sent an email to my parents asking them to hurry to India to meet a woman ten years my senior, but only looks 15, “which is weird”. I have only known her for two weeks. She’s married, but she hasn’t seen her husband in awhile. Two weeks, in fact. It has been suggested that my parents can either give their blessing remotely or come on over to stay in some bunk beds.
Another April Fool’s day wasted on an obvious joke. Better luck next year.
My classmate Niketa playing the role of Apraila
A few hours later I finally heard from someone in my family. My sister Julie wrote:
Ok, now is the time to say “April fools!” because I just called dad and it hadn’t even occured to him that you could be joking and I think I caught him mid-heart attack. You are joking right?!?
Apparently she didn’t buy the story, but my dad totally did. She called him and found him to be very perturbed. She said that he was practically hyperventilating. He was totally consumed with trying to get in touch with my mom in Slovenia to figure out what to do now that their son had gone off the deep end. He emailed her:
I do not have a good feeling about this. Please Skype me as soon as you get this.
In the meantime, Julie did her homework. Using Google Translate, she realized that the name of my fiance-to-be, Apraila Murkha is April fool in Hindi. Her village Nakali is the word fake. She emailed me again:
Well you didn’t get me but your poor dad!!! You are going to have to talk to him on the phone to fully appreciate your achievement.
When Julie pointed out to him that it must be a joke, he was incredulous. ”No! He would never do that to us!” he said. Julie had him read it again to see how far fetched it was and he came around. The two of them decided to join on the fun and wait until they be together to see my mother’s reaction over Skype.
It turns out she was duped too and was sent into same panic as my father, all by herself in Slovenia. It took them a few long hours for them to all meet up and reveal the truth. My mother quickly transitioned from panic, to anger, then embarrassment, laughter, and finally revenge.
Back in India, I was going through my own personal hell waiting to hear back from my parents. Finally, I reciecieved a very serious email from my mother.
Daddy and I have consulted on Skype about your Big News. We have not been able to reach Julie for her reaction, unfortunately.
We are quite concerned about your idea for several reasons.
Please don’t think that we will be coming to meet Apraila in the very near future, because we have too many questions that would need responses before we take on such an expense. Also, Daddy would have trouble getting away from work again, He was just here in Slovenia for 2 weeks.
A this point we don’t have a good feeling about this plan, Sam. We are grateful for the marriage law that you are being obedient to. We will not give consent without meeting Apraila and maybe even her family, so you are going to have to imagine a longish wait for all that to happen.
We hope this is not too painful for you to read. We think there will be wisdom in waiting.
We love you and will pray for a good outcome to all this.
Mum and Dad
I rushed to call my mother and put end to this before my parents disown me forever for being such a brat. When I finally got through to her I fessed up straight away that I was just kidding. She giggled with glee as she told me that she was kidding too. She got the last laugh and has been dining out on the story ever since.
Click here to read about how my friend Eric and I celebrated April Fool’s Day 2012.