Volume 1 Issue 3 | October-December 2021
Fatima, Amay, Mani and Piyali – who refer to themselves as the Fundoo 4 – enjoy doing exciting things during their holidays. In this challenge, Piyali has set the others a series of coded messages, which you have to decipher. Here are the solutions.
The first message consisted of two parts as displayed below: the phone text, and the code on the scrap of paper.
The clue to solving the code is the use of the word ‘key’ in the phone text. It suggests that you should use the phone keys to solve the message. In older ‘non-smart’ phones like this one, texting would need you to press the appropriate key the required number of times to get a specific letter. So, 3×7 would mean pressing the 7 key 3 times, which would give you an ‘R’. 0 would indicate a space. (You don’t actually have to have a key phone and type on it; you can figure this out by looking at the numbers and letters on the visual. These are standard across all phones.)
Using this technique for the entire code would give you the following message:
READ THE SIGNS BUT REMEMBER EVERY SECOND COUNTS
The second code is on a strip of paper and looks like this:
As the first message says, you have to “read the signs”. Also, the story mentions that Mani is hearing-impaired, and the friends use Indian Sign Language (ISL) to communicate amongst themselves. What you need to recognise here is that the symbols on the strip are the hand positions for characters in the ISL alphabet. Here’s the full set:
If you now ‘translate’ the second code using this alphabet, here’s what you get:
CJX IKSVSBULED3 PFGA / WPOTRMD NQOY
That, as Mani immediately says in the story, is complete gibberish. Here’s where the second part of the first message comes into the picture. It says “every second counts”, which one could take to mean that you have to work fast. But in this context, it has a different, hidden meaning. It has to be interpreted to mean that every second character counts. If you take it in that context, the second message now reads:
CX ISSUE3 PG / WORD NO
Since Piyali hands out the last code (image below) along with a copy of the third issue of Comixense magazine (Cx Issue 3), this second message indicates that the third code is one of page and word numbers in the issue.
In other words, 10:2 indicates the word number 2 on page 10, and so on. 25:HS10 points to page 25, the snippet titled “Hello, Stranger”, and word 10 in that. 28P7:15 stands for the 15th word in Panel 7 on page 28. If you go through the magazine identifying the words in this way, you will find the following quote by Mark Twain:
THE SECRET OF GETTING AHEAD IS GETTING STARTED
And that’s your final coded message solved!