Thursday, November 02, 2006

wooot --- wooooooot!!

Somehow every child in Otjituuo has a whistle. I asked Mrs. Kalunduka what was going on:
"Who the hell gave the kids whistles?"
"The anti-corruption commission." She told me as though that were a logical source of cheap noise-makers in a remote village. In order to "blow the whistle on corruption" there are about 300 whistles floating around the school.

There is a near-constant whistling from 5:30am when the kids get up till at least 9:45pm when the last kid finally falls asleep with whistle braced in mouth. You never know if you might wake up and need to alert everyone in the block. I asked that the whistles stay at home, since they have also been appearing in class pretty regularly. When Chancelevia dropped Michel's ruler she reverted to blowing the whistle to express her displeasure. The kids have developed into disciplinarians. There were several blistering reports when Sharon and Kavepukua showed up 40 minutes late for school today.

There is something almost plaintive in the whistling. In the past 48 hours, as the dull trill has settled into my subconscious, I've come to recognize the different emotions that the monotone instrument can express. There is the "call-to-arms whistle," a frantic series of staccato blasts, often comprising an entire chorus of whistlers, which might accompany the 7am bell for school, the 9am bell for break, and the 1pm break at the end of the school day. These usually connote excitement, and the instruments are often played while on the run.

There is also the "lonesome call whistle" which might occur during the dead of the kids' mandatory afternoon rest time. This is often confused with the "I've got nothing better to do than whistle whistle" which might occur, as it just did while writing this, for no particular reason except out of the ability of the piece of molded plastic to make a loud noise. I have grown to despise the "guerrilla whistle" which consists of a child surreptiously approaching my house, offering a brief but prominant whistle then dashing off. There is also the "whistle that precedes shriek whistle," "whistle breathing," and the "test to make sure whistle is working whistle."

I rushed out this afternoon after hearing an unfamiliar series of whistles. From what I could tell it started out as a small gathering, some friendly whistle banter which then devolved into a series of frantic blasts and then a distinct "muffled whistle." As the children will never voluntarily stifle their whistles, I knew something had gone wrong.
I rushed outside to adjudicate. Ratjiukua was lying facedown in the sand. He was completely motionless and looked like he had been taken out by a mob hit. It was actually pitiful.
"What happened?" I asked.
"Karupingenua, she beat him."
"Why?" I was incredulous, Ratjiukua is one of the most genial kids at the school.
"She take the whistle."


At 1:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's stories like these that make me glad I'm not in Okatjoruu anymore. :)

Great post! I laughed audibly . . . almost "whistle-like."



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