For whom the school bell tolls

Air raid siren. Picture: Pinterest

Air raid siren. Picture: Pinterest

Within moments I had all the pets, family members, our passports and a tin of dog food in my arms. I was halfway to the bunker when I realised we don’t have a bunker.

The neighbourhood I live in has been shocked by a brutal onslaught now lasting almost a week. It has been quite horrible and has dominated the local narrative in every shop, on every pavement – in fact, wherever residents gather, or meet per chance.

Fortunately, it doesn’t involve any weapons and, to our collective knowledge, no lives have been lost yet. But should this onslaught continue, that might change sooner rather than later.

To those unaffected, our plight might seem trivial or even ridiculous, but to us in the trenches it is devastating.

Like a civil war, it has turned family members against one another, while depriving us of our most precious right: peace and quiet.

You see, the school across the road from our house has a new “bell”. Note the inverted commas, because while it performs the function of a school bell, it sounds exactly like a World War II air raid siren. And at one in the morning, it has the same effect.

The first time it went off, my favourite cat, who tucks herself between my feet at night, made a triple somersault with one and a half twists the way I flew out from under the duvet.

Within moments I had all the pets, family members, our passports and a tin of dog food in my arms. I was halfway to the bunker when I realised we don’t have a bunker.

But I’m a Boer. I make a plan.

And, 12 seconds later, I had three people, four cats and our dog in the bathtub. I saw it in a movie once. Apparently, a bathtub is the next best thing to a bunker.

I was on the floor, clutching the tin of Epol, screaming “stay down” when my wife gave me a klap.

Reality dawned at three minutes past one on a Wednesday morning. Eina.

Cats don’t take well to being huddled together in a tiny, temporary air raid shelter. By the time I had disinfected every scratch on all my family members – the dog seemed to have taken the brunt of the bruising – apologised to everyone, made tea and had two glasses of sugar water myself, the bell had tolled twice more.

That was last Wednesday. Please, please let the school reopen so that I can visit the principal.

Danie Toerien

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