The Watchman’s Whistle and the ‘Thud’ of his Cane

Azenla Longchar


In my second year of my Master’s degree a lot of changes occurred in the college where I studied. One of those changes was the replacement of the old security people with younger ones. There was this thing the previous night Watchman did, at the struck of midnight he would blow his whistle and begin to let his cane hit the road that made a loud ‘thud’. Every now and then when he made the rounds that ‘thud’ could be heard even into the early mornings.

The whistle gave us a sense that it was getting late, an indication that the day was coming to an end, to close up and get ready for another. While, the sound of the cane hitting the road, however false, gave a sense of security. When we were yet new to the college, one of our friends even mistook the whistle for police.

Then, with the change, this routine also changed. One night, as I lay awake after midnight it dawned on me that neither the whistle nor the ‘thud’ could be heard anymore. I could not help but feel a loss of familiarity. A routine, a certainty that once was so well etched into our daily routines now no longer existed. The sense that, it was beyond me to do anything about the ‘whistle’ and the ‘thud’ made me to accept the change, albeit plaintively.

Do ‘existence’ exist on such grounds? Etched routines that can be taken away anyway?