A Random Memory.
Some memories stay so vivid in one's mind that even without effort they come flooding back and you can recall the details so clearly as if it happend just yesterday.
This incident happend more than 20 years ago but the mind's eye can reach back into yester year and bring back to the present certain memories some which can make us laugh, cry or shake our heads in disbelief. This particular memory involves an old classmate who for privacy reasons I will refer to as X. I met up with X in 1993 I believe upon reminiscing of old times we remembered one funny incident which had us in stitches.
The time when I was in Apia Primary we did not have an electric bell. There was this round piece of metal that you hit with another piece of metal like a handle and it would make a loud clanging sound. That, we used to sound off the start and end of class, as well as the little breaks in between.
We used to compete for the bell as the person who would ring it gets to be the first one out of the classroom for lunch time. "intervals" we used to call these time slots. I wonder if they still use this term? It's entirely possible that the usage of such a word has been rendered obsolete along with the manually operated bell. These days kids usually refer to their break time as "recess"
But wouldn't it be something if they are still using that old bell, as a kind of school tradition?!
Getting back to the story, I am sure some might wonder why anyone would want to compete for such a non glamorous task ? The bell was just a means to an end. Once you've completed the necessary rings, you are then free to proceed to wherever it is you wish to go.
To put it succinctly : "Bell ringing definately was not the highlight of my day, being first at the tuck shop was!"
Being first meant not having to stand in line, where more often that not you'd have to endure the constant pushing and shoving from tons of other hungry kids. Finally after a long wait, you get to the counter only to find that almost everything is gone and what is left, you don't want to eat. But you end up buying it anyways as you are hungry and you don't want your tummy to make funny noises in class. So coveting the bell duties for me was my sure way of getting a good lunch.
Getting hold of the bell however, was not an easy feat. There was no particular person assigned to bell duty. However there was one boy, who took it upon himself to be the guardian of the bell. The classmate I mentioned in the begining. Young Mr X at the time was a child of priviledged means. Being one of only two children born to a British father and Samoan mother. His mom always made sure that his lunch was well prepared every day. If he forgot it, she would bring it to school. He had no need to go to the tuck shop. His spread was way more lavish n far more delectable than what was sold at the school canteen. I on the other hand however, like most of my friends needed that bell to get ours.
Usually X would get the bell in the morning and keep it in his desk, sometimes strangely enough he would carry it around in his school bag. One day our Physical Education class was moved up a couple of periods because of the poor forecast for the afternoon. So we had PE just before lunch. X was not very fond of contact sports and decided to sit out most of the group games.
I on the other hand, would grab every free moment to run back to our classroom to scour the place for the bell.
It was no where in sight. I looked in all the usual places, even inside X's desk.
15 minutes before lunch our teacher asked that someone get the bell and ring it the rest were to go and change back into their school clothes. X got up and voila! there was the bell.. he had been sitting on it all that time.. but something else caught my eye, something other than the elusive bell... that and the smell?
Upon closer observation we discovered that X's pants were soiled not that he had an accident but that he had put the bell on dog crap and then he himself sat on top of it. The Malifa Compound is surrounded by a fence but even then and belonging to neighboring families have been sighted and reported by groundsmen, entering the grounds and running amok. Chasing birds and cats as well as digging up the ground was not all the lovely animals did. They also left behind little trinkets as discovered by poor X.
At first I wanted to laugh and thought to myself "serves him right" but then I knew inside he didn't do it to spite anyone, he just enjoyed ringing the darn thing. I actually felt sorry for him when he handed me the bell while he went and joined those who were off to change their clothers. Luckily for him his ever thoughtful mom had put in a change of clothes in his bag. "For his tennis lessons after school."From that day onwards X wasn't too particular about who rang the bell, infact he didn't mind it at all when I would ask for it almost every day.
"Garfield you're still da top cat in muh book!