Friday, May 1, 2015

Hello, this is Mr John from Nigeria: A strange coincidence

Coincidences often happen in our lives - some happier, some otherwise and some strange and one often wonders about their incidence and their relevance to our lives. I have experienced all forms of coincidences in my life but the one I am going to narrate is simply awesome  - something that would happen one in millions. 

Long ago when I was a young officer and was stationed at Rawalpindi. In those days, 1981 to be exact, telephones were a rarity and not many people had telephones as today even a beggar own one. Due to my official capacity I had one installed in my mess room and anyone from my organization coming to Rawalpindi would make it a point to visit me and enjoy the facility of it.

One day, a colleague of mine Tariq Jamil Gill visited me - a witty and very active fellow who was always restless unless he did something unique and laughable. Seeing the telephone, suddenly he came up with an idea - to make fun of someone. And from here on a strange coincidence starts. 

He picked up the voluminous telephone directory and opened a page at random - the same way we used to play cricket in our childhood. I still remember that it was a page containing numbers starting from the letter S. He picked up a number and rang up. Upon a response he said: "Hello, I am Mr John speaking. I have come from Nigeria and have a gift for you." Now this Nigeria thing just came at random from him - but the coincidence came in to play its part. 

The man responding had his daughter living in Nigeria and naturally he was very happy to hear of Nigeria. He asked our 'Mr John' how the gift be collected? My friend described him attired in blue suit with white necktie and said he was waiting outside the arrival lounge of the airport.

The man on the other side said he would make arrangements and send someone to collect who would be there in half an hour. After this my friend trued Mr John and I laughed over the trick and wondered over the strange coincidence. When we had laughed it out, Mr John said that we should bring the drama to an end and let the man know that it was just a joke and there was no Mr John and no gift from Nigeria.

But from here on our happiness of having fooled someone turned into an apology. When Mr John again rang up and told the man that it was just a joke, the man almost broke down. While accepting our apology, he only said that he was a very sick man living alone and it took him  quite an effort to gather him to go outside and call someone from the neighbourhood to be sent to the airport. My friend was almost to tears and apologized thousand times before hanging up.

My friend is no more in the world, but sometimes the memories of this early days prank still makes me smile and then lose my smile for the inconvenience caused to the old man and that fact that Mr John is no more in the world. May he be blessed. 

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Rashid Zia Cheema said...

Nice article. I attended a Course with Tariq Jamil Gill. He was a nice man.
May his soul rest in peace, Aameen.