Laughter and Earthquake

I am six years old in this memory. I am at kindergarten, it is the free activity time. A group of girls are playing a game called bird in the cage in the next room. My friends and I pass by, and since they seem to be having a lot of fun, we join them.

We make a circle holding each other’s hands, and one of us sits in the middle of the circle with her eyes closed. The game begins. Without breaking the circle, we start walking around the girl in the middle, singing a song in a loud voice. When the song comes to an end, we all stop moving and ask the girl in the middle to guess who is behind her.

She calls out a wrong name, and we move on to the second round. With the same girl in the middle, we form a circle again and start singing the song.

Surround her, surround her! When are you coming out, bird in the cage? At dawn, a crane and a turtle have slipped. Who is sitting behind you?

As we sing, we start laughing like crazy. Slowly, our speed increases, and we are now running around the girl.

Several rounds go on like this, and suddenly, we all collapse on the floor, exploding with laughter. Our heads are spinning due to our quick motion, and it feels as if the room was moving around us. My friends and I decide to go back to our classroom to tell others about the fun we have just had.

As we run to the next room, however, we find our teacher and others all crouching on the floor, protecting their heads with their hands.

“What happened?” We ask them in total surprise. But our teacher seems to be even more surprised.

“There was an earthquake,” she says to us with her eyes wide open. “Just now! Didn’t you notice?”

My friends and I look at each other.

“No, teacher, we didn’t!” We then get to the most important part of our story. “We were playing bird in the cage in the next room! It was so fun!”

But our teacher is distracted, and does not seem to care about our game.

“It was quite big! You must go under a table when there is an earthquake, okay?!”

We nod, and the day carries on. But with no more crazy laughter.