Prose

Whistling Babas

8 October 2019

As the sun took its leave, a whistle could be heard ringing loud and clear throughout my quiet, rustic little neighborhood. It would stop and begin again after every few minutes and continued on for many hours following the same pattern. A mix of fear and fascination always accompanied the sound of it. When night approached, I would sit near my window while watching the night sky in hopes of seeing the origin of the sound but I never did. My one large window with its rails only ever let me extend my head so far and the tall, spiky walls surrounding the house only let me see the sky. Mama didn’t like me climbing the window rails because it’s not ‘safe’. She would call me a monkey and make me climb off. I’m not a baby anymore! I know what I’m doing! I always vented in my mind while being scolded every time I made an attempt to climb and see. I never got to see what made the whistle and only silhouettes of other houses lit up by street lights greeted me. How frustrating. I could never figure out where the sound hid. There were only a few houses sprinkled throughout my neighborhood with the rest of the area being small roads leading further into the city and open land with wild grass growing here and there. The empty house plots had grass far too tall and scary for anyone to go in there. Besides, how could the sound want to hide there? It’s too spooky. Mama said those tall grasses are very unsafe because jinns hide in there. But then where does the sound hide? How frustrating.

 

One day I could no longer resist my curiosity and asked Mama, “Mama, Mama? Who is that whistling at night?”

 

 “Whistling…? Who would whis—” she paused for a bit as she folded clothes, “Ah! They’re the whistling babas. They have been around since a very long time now,”

 

 “Babas? Why would they whistle? Why at night? Don’t they get scared at night? Why do they whistle?”

 

A slight smile accompanied her lips, “They whistle to let the other babas know where they are and tell them that the area is safe.”

 

 “Have you ever met or seen any of them?” I asked in a low and serious voice while doing my best to hold my excitement. I cannot let myself be too childish! She won’t tell the truth otherwise.

 

 “No, never,” she said, lightly chuckling. 

 

So mean to laugh at me. I could tell she wasn’t taking me seriously but I still continued, I was too curious, “Well then how do you know them?”

 

 “Beta, they’re just guards. Just night guards. Don’t think too much of it.” She patted my head and continued folding clothes.

 

I nodded along and understood what it was, in fact. She didn’t want me to know. Adults never want children to really know. I had heard the sounds of drums, laughter and clapping. The Whistling Babas would call for their circuses and lead them around the streets at night. Nobody could see it and only hear it. The Whistling Babas always talked to each other through whistles. That part feels true. Hmm. The whistling would continue on the entire night and in the morning there would be no trace left. They were very clever Babas.

 

They knew when to have such fun. Only when children slept would they march around with their massive circus animals. I never saw the procession but I did. I really, truly have seen the magical circus! Colourful lights would dance around the Babas and their circus. The animals would be skipping gaily. The elephants would blow their trumpets, the lions would let out resounding roars, the monkeys mischievously swung here and there while making great, boisterous chatter. The Babas leading their circuses were nothing more than silhouettes. They were silhouettes that didn’t scare me and instead made me want to excitedly jump up and down, and follow them wherever they may go. They spun their whistles thrice and blew them thrice. The whistles sparkled like stars each time they were spun and the animals coordinated their sounds every time the Babas blew their whistles. So unfair. So unfair. I always lamented. I want to join in too. I wanted to leap out my window and follow the circus. So unfair. I could! I really could see the Whistling Babas and their magical circus! I could see it all when I closed my eyes. I could see everything and sleep blissfully with the sounds of the Whistling Babas and their circuses ringing in my ear. But now, nothing can be heard. The nights have long regained their emptiness. The Whistling Babas disappeared with their circuses to the Land Where All Comes True.


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