Stay awake!


Like most towns in India, the town I grew up in also had a night watchman. At around midnight he would start to tap his stick on the ground and shout out ‘Jaagte Raho’*. He would continue to do this every few minutes until about 4 or 5 AM in the morning, when the sun would rise. Watchdogs from people’s homes would start to bark when he passed their streets. Perhaps they felt he was a threat to their jobs or something.

Anyway, the night watchman’s voice asking the town to stay awake and vigilant came sometimes from afar and sometimes from close quarters. It was a calming influence and invoked sleep amongst us town residents. In a way, it was just part of the night music, and I don’t think I ever gave it much thought. That is, until I had a guest accompany me home.

He just did not get it.

I explained how the watchman protected the town from thieves and other unsafe activities. How he had just always been there, so that’s how it was going to be!

He said: ‘Why, if the night watchman, is hired to help the town sleep peacefully – does he shout ‘Stay awake and vigilant’ all night long. Shouldn’t he be the one awake, so the town could sleep? Doesn’t his incessant shouting defeat the purpose of hiring him in the first place…’

Stupid logic 🙂

Now I can’t sleep either.

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