Five thirty in the morning I hear my lorry-driver neighbor starting up his timber truck. The noise reverberates through the neighborhood. I suppose most, if not all, of my neighbors, would be awakened by the blast of the powerful diesel engine. For five minutes or so I lie down and listen to the coughing of the engine before it smoothens out. After what seems an eternity the lorry moves off and the noise grows fainter until it is heard no more. My lorry-driver neighbor has started his daily work.
I rise. My brothers and sisters do the same. It is time to get ready for school. I hear sleepy groans and see half-closed eyes heading toward the bathroom. There is the inevitable waiting to use the bathroom. Outside the roosters welcome the dawn. It is still dark,
Presently, we have washed and are having our breakfast. Nobody talks very much. Each person seems preoccupied with his or her own thoughts, occasionally my mother comes around to make sure we are eating properly. She is of the opinion that one cannot pay attention in class when one’s stomach is empty. There is truth in what she believes.
After we finish our breakfast. It is already bright outside. Some days the rising sun resembles a huge red salted egg. It is quite a sight to behold. Rising among the dark silhouetted buildings and coconut trees, the sun looks as though it is consuming the buildings and trees with its awesome red fire. But as quickly as it appears to do so, its redness gives way to a hot brightness that the eyes cannot bear to look directly at. I have to look away. Sunrise has ended, the day has begun and I head toward my bicycle with my schoolbag hanging from my shoulder.
On the road to school, I see hundreds of school children on their way to school too. Some are on bicycles like I am, some walk and some are in cars and buses. Everywhere I look I see glimpses of -bright blue skirts. A group of school girls walking together is quite a distinctive sight. The color of their skirts stands out clearly and it is pleasant to see a sea of blue moving toward school amidst an increasing chatter of voices and laughter.
Other road users make up the general atmosphere of the morning traffic. Sometimes I might see an aggressive mini-bus driver weaving in and out of traffic with total disregard for the safety of others. Shouted curses and obscene gestures do not do any good. Only an accident or a policeman can put a stop to the driver’s irresponsible behavior. Quite often though, the driver turns out to be a woman. Ah well, twentieth-century women are not passive, quiet nor soft. On the contrary, I am sure some of them can outfight me anytime, and I am not such a puny weakling by any standard.
Besides school-going children, other early risers are on their way to work. I might meet laborers, office workers, road sweepers, newspaper delivery boys, and other workers. There is an occasional jogger dressed up in the most up-to-date running gear puffing and panting his way past the others. Nobody gives him a second look.
In the school compound, masses of children are gathered waiting for the bell to ring. After I park my bicycle at the allotted space I join some of my friends in our usual morning-before-lessons gossip. Once in a while, I might catch-snatches of conversation from other groups of gossiping school children. I hear words but they make no sense we all talk aimlessly, just to fill in the time. There is a huge monotonous hum created collectivity by those present.
Suddenly the bell rings. The hum changes the key. The sound of shuffling feet increases in pitch we head toward our classroom. The daily grind is about to begin.
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