The Silent Bell


“The bell is not ringing!” This was a frequent complaint during the last two days from the annoyed teachers.

To understand the extent of the problem you need to be a teacher. In a school the absence of bell means a standstill. This is how one teacher reported, “I came prepared for the 40 min class, but even after completing it, together with some activities I concocted just now, it’s not getting over. 40 minutes,  this long? What’s going on?” I looked at the clock and sensed trouble. The bell!

The fed up teachers longed to flee the thoroughly enlightened class; the bored students awaited the next teacher for a different kind of replenishment.

Who was responsible? Who had been ringing the bell all these days? Kaka, a hapless victim of the new laws, used to do it. The bell had been punctual all these years and we never noticed the presence, the effort of a human being behind it. We took his service for granted. Now the person has left, leaving the bell dumb and the whole schedule upset.

*       *      *

The attendant is reminded once again, the bell goes and the each one heaves a sigh of relief.

The situation rings a bell and I recall O. Henry’s The Pendulum:

 Nobody heard the click and rattle of the cog-wheels as the third-floor front of the Frogmore flats buzzed its machinery back into the Order of Things. A band slipped, a spring was touched, the gear was adjusted and the wheels revolve in their old orbit.

I reflect: We miss you Kaka. Grateful to you. May God keep you safe, wherever you are!

[Thank you, Julia, for the inspiration!]

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10 responses to “The Silent Bell

  1. I loved how you connected the dots. The extract from the pendulum, to the way in which the ‘order of things’ as such is maintained, most often by the invisible cogs in the wheel.
    And the bell. Sigh. It really is an irritant if it does not happen. Empathy. And more so, admiration for Kaka, who kept it going. May God keep him safe healthy and peaceful, wherever he be 🙂

    • I often threaten my family that they would recognize my worth only during my absence. But that’s the way things are. Each one of us expects others to be grateful in spite of our ingratitude. Thank you, Usha 🙂

  2. Nice but sad post.Poor Kaka :(. Don’t know what these people will do in the absence of foreigners.Foreigners are there in each step of their development.Is it fair to do this type of injustice to foreigners? Anyway this post really thanks Kaka for all his service to our school..:)..May God bless him with a good mean for his living and all happiness..

    • Thanks for that empathetic and thoughtful comment, Ishanath. (Edited it a bit, to be safe)
      Yes, life is upset here these days. Hope the victims will be rehabilitated properly. God save us ‘from the fiends that plague us thus’!

  3. Wow, I am honored to be mentioned in connection with this post. Very well done. I love O. Henry’s stories, but I have never read that one, as far as I can remember. So much of our daily routine depends on people we never see or thank! I am glad you pay tribute here to one of them.

    • That day I really missed him, especially after reading your post. Thank you once again for that, Julia.
      I taught that story to five batches and each time I fell in love with the simplicity and depth of O. Henry’s style.

  4. Memories of my school bell come to me. We all easily recall how eagerly we as kids awaited the bell ringing a break.
    I marvel at you writing on the school bell and the feelings associated with it.
    Many thanks Bindu and cheers 🙂

    • You are right. At school there was nothing more pleasing to the ears as the sound of the bell, especially the final, long one. 🙂 Thanks for visiting, Dilip Naidu!

  5. A beautiful told story about school bell and what it means for teachers and students.

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