By RK Nagar
No one would believe it, but he was quite a prankster in his early days.
He later became very serious. So most of us carry only the serious image of his. Yes, I am talking of eternity serious Mr. PG Gore.
Year 1971. Behla was our site engineer in Pondicherry. One day he received a telegram that read, “Dead. Intimate date your arrival. Gore”
When he was sending this telegram, his partner in crime-yours truly-was with him. The telegraph clerk looked at the message, returned it to Gore and asked him to complete it. “Mention the name of the dead person”, he said.
“This is the complete message. Send it”. Gore virtually ordered him.In those days, there was a standard charge of an ordinary telegram that carried 8 words. A full stop or comma was considered a word. This telegram was of exactly 8 words.
Poor telegraph clerk was confused but obliged.
Behla received the telegram in the evening. He read it and thought that something is missing-a word that would complete the message. In those days, messages were handwritten and there was every likelihood of the clerk taking the massage missing out on some words. Behla headed to the telegraph office, showed the ‘incomplete message’ and asked them to show the missing word which had to be before the first word-Dead.
Telegraph office said that they have delivered the message as received. They themselves are unable to make any sense out of it.
Behla then tried to get it deciphered by some other people he knew but drew a blank. It was getting late and unable to decipher it, he decided to send a reply.
Instead of sending it to Gore, he sent it to Late Shri GM Jhala. His telegram read:
“received telegram reading ‘Dead. Intimate date your arrival.Gore’ context confusing. Request clarification. Behla
Jhala Saab received it at around 2 am. He read it, got confused and worried. He thought that there is perhaps an accident at Pondicherry dairy site and someone has died in the accident. Behla needs help and wants Gore in Pondicherry to help him.
He couldn’t sleep that night and eagerly waited for daybreak. He was nervously strolling outside his A type bungalow. At around 7 am, he sent for Gore.
When Gore met him, Jhala Saab said, “Gore get ready to go to Pondicherry. There is some problem and Behla needs your help. See this telegram”.
Gore looked at the telegram, folded it and told Jhala Saab, “there is no need to go sir. Everything is under control”.
“What do you mean?” Jhala Saab demanded to know.
“Nothing much sir. Pondicherry project is about to close and I wanted to know when is Behla returning to Anand. Since he didn’t reply to my letters, I decided to send him a telegram”.
“But why this confusing message”, asked Jhala Saab.
“Sir, the original message was “Gore dead. Intimate date your arrival. Gore”, but since a dead man can’t send a telegram, my partner in crime -Nagar edited it”.
“You pranksters. You destroyed my sleep. I am awake since 2 am.
A forgiving Jhala Saab smiled and walked back home.