‘Why would he call it the ‘cruellest month’ if he himself says that it breeds lilacs out of the dead land?” I inquired after my English lecturer in college, with my brows knitted, that merged annoyance and confusion! This was how T.S. Eliot described “April” my favourite month, in his celebrated poem The Wasteland. But didn’t he again say that it mixed memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain?
Well, April brings an enriched sense of positivity, depicting new beginnings, painting a canvas splashed with vibrant colours. My professor smiled knowingly: “So the month is your favourite because you begin it with your ‘cruel’ pranks on All Fools’ Day and then prepare yourselves to celebrate ‘English Day’ on your favourite writer’s birthday?” She also added a quote, her voice dripping with sarcasm: “The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year.” Said Mark Twain!
That was the last year in college and our April 1 pranks were so hilariously funny that we were usually in splits in spite of being a little exasperated after being fooled. But that year, as I went back to my room, exhausted; the light in my hostel room suddenly went off. I was sure it was just the usual load shedding. However, I heard a shrill, nasal voice emanating from outside, saying aloud the dialogue of one of the three witches from Macbeth, “Fair is foul and foul is fair. Hover through the fog and filthy air!”
I was sure it was a practical joke being played by one of the English major students. They hadn’t yet got over their April Fool spirit. I opened the door, shining my torch and asking the girls to quit trying to scare me and taking advantage of my belief in all things otherworldly. There wasn’t anybody in sight. I ran to the neighbouring room where my friend stayed and with her checked the whereabouts of the others. But nobody seemed to have played any joke. It scared the living daylights out of me.
Was it a foreboding about what was to happen several years ahead, in today’s day and age? Where fair is looked upon as foul and foul is looked upon as fair. And the ‘filthy air’, literally and figuratively, aren’t we hovering through it as of today, in the country? The month is named after the Greek deity of love Aphrodite, thus a sense of mirth seeps into the spring-fresh air. Some of us were also taught to create Easter bunnies and Easter Eggs in school, depicting “life”, “new awakenings” and an abundant flow of “hope”. As for me, it was the “cruellest” month because it had a knack of tempting my sweet-tooth with lovely delicacies from Assam, Bengal, Maharashtra, the South Indian states, Punjab and the calories and ‘kilos’ piled on at an alarming rate leaving me bouncing around like an obese Easter bunny! However, the feast galore was something we all look forward to even to this day.
The other day, I was recollecting my love for the April fiesta, aloud, when my son squealed with unabated excitement: “You are forgetting the birthday of a legend, mumma! How could you leave Sachin Tendulkar out of your ‘April speciality list’?” Oh yes, we usually have a pizza party on that day, with the son going overboard with his practice at the cricket nets, as he probably chanted his idol’s name with every ball that he whacked!
A month, when we raise awareness of autism, ‘Lighting it up blue’ on April 2 and also it is during those 30 days that we celebrate ‘humour’, tickling the funny bone and trying to do away with depression as we gain that extra ‘spring’ in our steps. We also express our concern and care for our planet, on Earth Day, April 22.
Thus, sweet April, unto you we weave together a tapestry of bright flowery thoughts, with you we create memories to cherish later and celebrate fertility and prosperity!
Navanita Varadpande is a writer based in Dubai. Twitter: @navanitavp.