…is actually a grandfather clock. And like all grandmothers and grandfathers, it is old, familiar and much beloved.
Bought over three decades ago, it has been the rhythm to my grandmother’s life ever since. When it chimes thrice in the middle of the night, she knows it is time to rise. And when it strikes three again, her afternoon nap is woken up by a cup of afternoon tea.
Usually ignored by me as background noise, it enters my consciousness only during exam season. Hearing four strokes in the middle of a sleepless night increases my desperation to fall asleep. And when my hypersensitive ears count six gongs in the middle of twilight slumber, I have to drag myself out of bed, and start studying again.
Were I to pay closer attention, there’s a lot I could learn from it.
Its seconds hand was lost ages ago – Time doesn’t hunt you down with memories of the just-wasted past. However, if you stand close enough, you can hear the ancient gears slowly creaking the moments away – just because you can’t see it moving doesn’t mean Time is standing still.
The periodic announcements of the pendulum are comforting, not alarming. Almost as though it’s saying – I am here. You are here. This too shall pass.
At the same time, its unceasing oscillatory motion seems to chide you – I have places to go. Don’t you?
It has to be wound for it to work. Like Time, it doesn’t offer returns without effort. When my grandmum’s away, I’m too lazy to wind it – life doesn’t have to be a countdown. On returning, she winds it up to the correct minute, and it rings maddeningly for every hour it missed chiming – I may have chosen to ignore it, but Time hadn’t ceased to exist.
It works best when its position is perfectly balanced – so do the life spans it witnesses, don’t they?
It doesn’t grab your attention like ostentatious cuckoo clocks. Unlike the new-fangled digital one in my living room, it doesn’t record the temperature (in Centigrade and Fahrenheit). All it does is tells you the time.
At the end of the day, that’s all you need to know.
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