It’s April Fools’ Day. Traditions dated two centuries had it that on this day, certain people regarded as intellectually challenged would be sent on fools’ errands from place to place with a letter in which it was written, “On the first day of April, hunt the gowk another mile.” A gowk is a cuckoo and in this context means a fool, which is a rather unfortunate and cruel metaphor. In Hong Kong, a family paper in English used to publish on this day breaking news on imaginative and imaginary public works or new policies, quoting informed sources. These articles were so carefully written that they had some unfortunate junior officers running around Lower Albert Road searching for clues for nothing, simply because some rather uninformed senior colleagues lacked a sense of humour or the knack to spot the obvious mischief. With the community more interested in fault finding than in progress and life itself, this has become a lost art, thus taking away some spices in life.
Another authority had it that April Fools’ Day was the last day of the festivities celebrating the Spring Equinox and to prepare the faithful for Lent. Interestingly, it follows Easter Sunday this year. Amidst the seemingly unending bloodshed and conflicts in the Middle East, one hopes that such news were not real. Looking back exactly five years to 1997, on this day the then US President Bill Clinton met King Hussein of Jordan to discuss the crisis in the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. There were high hopes then that peace was in sight.
Another sad piece of news that one would wish to be unreal has to be the death of Britain’s Queen Mother last weekend at 101. She had been a tower of strength not only for her family, but also for her country and the international community. She epitomized grace, kindness, loyalty, strength, perseverance, and in short godliness. Little wonder why Hitler was so fearful of her during the last war. She would be sadly missed by many.
On a lighter note, April is often identified with Nature and romance. In the northern hemisphere, April is when plants begin to thrive and flowers blossom. It is a beautiful and delicate time of growth, natural growth, occasioned by Nature, and the name April is derived from the Latin aperio, meaning I open. On the romance side, legends had it that the Greeks had dedicated this month to Aphrodite, their goddess of fertility, beauty and life; and April is merely a shortened derivative of Aphrodite. May you have a happy and fruitful April and be ready to sow the seeds of love with RI President-Elect Bhichai and Governor-Elect Gloria.