by Manohar Naidu
I with my family members were fast asleep in the night, when a high pitched shrilling and piercing sound of a whistle, woke me up. I looked at wall clock which showed just ten minutes past 2 o’clock. The sound had emitted from outside front lane of our house from left to right with short intervals and slowly faded away. It was quite unusual and disturbing. Nevertheless, I ignored and got into sleep.
The same thing happened in the following night, almost at the same time. This time ,I woke up my wife and she also heard the last sound fading away . Third night also, almost same time and similar shrilling sound of whistle occurred. I, as a Secretary of House Owners’ Association, discussed the matter with our neighbours which they all had also experienced sound. All concluded that perhaps police patrol must be taking rounds and they were happy that the police authorities are concerned of public security.
We, (my wife and I) were not convinced with the neighbours' conclusion. The punctual timing, same route, same sound of whistle cannot be expected from the police department and that too in the creeping winter! Police patrolling is done on vehicle without using whistle. Police? Impossible!! But who is this person? I guessed, with start and fading out of sound level that he is on bicycle. Further inquiries revealed that none or no society has engaged any mobile watch and ward around. None of the residents including me, ever attempted to find out the WHISTLER in the night at 2 o’ clock. This blowing of whistle continued every night almost for one month. Then it stopped.
Durga Puja followed with Deepavali festivities. I was on vacation and relaxing on the couch. A doorbell rang.. My wife got up and opened the door. A young man around 25 years of age, greeted us with folded palms. We both had not met him earlier. His appearance was neat and smart with average height and non-athletic built. He had glint in his eyes with boyish face. He introduced himself.
“Sir, My name is Khan - Arif Khan. I have come here to express my apology to you as Secretary of House Owners’ Association and to your self. ” He paused.
“Apology!! Apology for what?” I looked at him and then to my wife questionably. I told him to be comfortable and offered him a chair. After adjusting himself, he continued-
“I am a factory worker, working in the factory which is just beyond your locality. I took this new job about a month back. My shift starts at 6 in the evening and ends past mid-night at 2 o’clock. From very childhood I have been suffering from NYCTOPHOBIA - fear of darkness. I am newly married and did not want to miss this job.” He paused and looking at my wife again, continued.
“When my young wife heard my discomfort, she advised me that in the night while returning I should keep on singing or blow the whistle at regular intervals with a torch in one hand. This was taught by her mother when she was a child. This shall ward and create mental confidence against fear of darkness. So I am that whistler who disturbed the residents in the night while returning back home just after 2 o’clock, via this lane.” Again he paused and re-adjusted self in the chair and continued.
“Since I have recovered from fear of darkness, I have stopped using the whistle and hence offering my heartfelt apology for causing inconvenience in the night.” He paused and waited for our response still folding his hands.
He impressed us with his fluency, clear, knowledgeable and expressive conversation.
I responded. “Not at all. We are rather happy that you have recovered from the fear of darkness. You should thank All Mighty and your intelligent wife for this unusual and time honoured psychological cost free treatment.”
I looked at my wife who was bursting into laughter at this exciting revelation of events and immediately went inside, came out with a box of Diwali sweets. She greeted him and we both wished him and his wife A Very Happy Diwali and gave him the box of sweets as token of love and gift with a invitation to visit us again with his wife. ***