Telephone

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One day I was surprised to see people in our porch, around the yard, almost surrounding our house. The town mayor and councillors, my dad was one and almost every influential citizen were  there.  It was like an election time an event concerning mostly adults gathering and talking issues that matters to the community.

Asking  information from my parents or other adults  was never an option otherwise I risk a reprimand, a cold stare or a swift hush to go away, sometimes a quick errand to get cigarettes for men. Staying  away from this crowd even for a minute would keep me out from the latest news so quietly I sat beside my dad’s armchair who seem to be the man of the hour.

The first thing I heard was who won how much in this mornings’ local lottery, an illegal numbers game.  Eyes and ears were all directed to this middle age fellow in white sleeveless shirt, brown pants supported by leather belt, arms up in the air then circling around, pointing a finger to some place above his head, excitedly   narrating  about a dream he had the night before that eventually gave a clue to his winning number.

He dreamed of going out in the forest in the middle of the night, saw a two headed creature smoking a cigarette, sitting atop a tree, calling him by his name but he was brave enough to run away. Followed further by explanation about different signs and symbols depicting certain numbers or letters. Snake is number one, brings luck, birthdays and age, trees and forest, night and day, sun and moon, male and female. Then another fellow comes with another tale confirming the winning number. After this there will be an exchange of more stories outdoing each other with more prediction  for the winning number the following day. While  some listeners picks up stories for their own use to place their own bet.

The  ” lottery” (a bottle with numbers 1-39 inside, covered with cork, shake,  then pulling out a number at a time)  is done every day at dawn inside a big house of a “banker” usually of a Chinese descent,  one of the richest in the neighborhood. As soon as the number is drawn,  the winning numbers is announced to a number of couriers waiting outside the house, who with  filter papers from cigarette on hand writes the number with pen borrowed from one another.

We were intently listening to adults until finally a new face comes. It seems that this is the  fellow that they are waiting on. He kneeled on the floor opened his bag took out some wires and started doing his job of connecting the first telephone in our small town. That big black clunk enclosed inside a  wooden box that my father built, hung  four feet above the ground has been there for days and today is the day that the first call will be made after some adjustment. After connecting all the necessary wirings, now comes the highlight. Each time he sticks his fingers on the rotary turning it around, a chain of cracking noise is heard that stops as soon as that number goes back to its designated spot. It was done four times. Silence. The receiver goes into the ear and the mouthpiece close by the lips. Then the first hello.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Going Obsolete.”

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