The senile physicist reminisced how often he would sit through the nights wondering about time, its nature and properties. He would often get grim nightmares and would wake up palpitating in the middle of the night, screaming. Amidst immense consolation from his parents assuring him it was just a dream, he knew, this would continue till he demystified ‘time’.
‘Clocks do not represent time; they are merely the embodiment of change which in turn represents time. Time is change, nothing else.’
He remembered how his high school teacher once defined time. While most of the students were busy not listening to their teacher’s tedious lectures, he, like a faithful apprentice caught those words never to forget them. Now, after sailing through hundreds of books and thousands of equations alike, the physicist was perplexed with the answer he received.
‘Time is an illusion.’
He suddenly recollected Albert Einstein’s famous quote on time. Truly, ‘time’ is the master magician, the ultimate mirage. The physicist was satisfied at last, though he did not expect this kind of solution to land on his hands. On the last page of his notebook, the seasoned physicist wrote with trembling hands and a crooked smile-
‘Time is a master illusionist. And the fact that it has deceived people about its existence since time immemorial serves to prove this statement.’
‘Ask about anything to a heart-broken lover, but time. For he has endured pain and heartache, and every moment of detachment seems like an eternity.’
Though they were separated, he would think about here every now and then. And he would’ve given all his personal wealth, just to know whether she thought the same of him as he thought of her. Sometimes bereft of her, he would turn angry to the point of almost hating her. But he could not, how could he? He loved her unconditionally; he still did. But things do not always work out the way they are supposed to be.
‘Man proposes, God disposes’.
Time always has a way to fill up wounds and make sense of things when you wind up badly into something or ‘someone’. He accepted rejection and went on with his life. As a matter of fact, he almost forgot about her till they met again- by coincidence or by fate, who knew?
She ‘loved’ him as well but in the past tense. A severe depression patient, she discovered only recently that she could not love anybody. And what good is love when you have to pretend it to someone? She cursed herself, said it was her fault; she broke up with him. Though she had her sad moments as well, it was better not to love at all than pretend to be loving, and she, of all persons, knew this well.
‘Their love may not be real, but the pain she felt was real. As weird as it may sound, she was happier this way.’
She was wrong about herself; she thought she would be this way forever. But indeed, she too was saved.
One fine day, their eyes collided with a familiar restaurant they used to visit. They were grownups now, leaving love, hate and frustration behind. They exchanged formal greetings and sat down to talk and catch up on each other’s life events in all these years.
They both said, smiling; inside, both felt a little awkward.
The kid with the blue eyes wandered about the room, he was being kept in. It was white, whiter than anybody can imagine. He was lying on the bed; he has been lying there for the past 6 months for the most part of the day. He was permitted to get up only during emergencies, which meant going to the toilet; bathing was a luxury which came once in a blue moon. His mother visited him frequently (the hospital had less stringent rules for the mother of a would-be-dead son) and made him his favorite burger loaded with cheese and salad.
He was in a world where time was measured in saline and chemo drips rather than in seconds. He had pancreatic cancer and that too, in the last stage. It was a shame that he was only sixteen. Instead of soaking up the sun, there he was, inside a white room devouring poison.
The blue-eyed boy had heard his mother tell stories about heaven and hell, salvation and suffering. Heaven was supposed to be a white place, absurdly clean with angels wearing white clothes and playing the harp. It was such irony, now that he lived in a white room surrounded by nurses clad in white, the equipment and pipes were white- maybe a desperate attempt to match everything around.
And the place was far from heaven. It was hell.
‘Am I going to die?’ he asked his mother directly.
‘No, dear! You are receiving the best medical care possible; the doctor said you’re showing signs of improvement yesterday. You’ll be fine in no time.’ Said his mother, teary-eyed.
But the kid with the blue eyes knew beforehand that he was going to die, it was only a matter of time. Finally, the kid decided to accept whatever was coming his way; the chemotherapy made his head heavy and delusional. In truth, chemotherapy has almost the same effect on an individual when the person is on drugs or in colloquial terms is ‘high’.
His mother loved his incessant babblings and listened to them with rapt attention. Four weeks later, nothing changed in the white room, but the kid with the blue eyes was supplanted by a boy with hazelnut eyes.
The lonely widow would often gaze at her doorway in anticipation that his son might return one day. His son was in the army, fighting in a foreign land, entwined in a conflict which was never his. Every day she would gaze continuously at the porch in anticipation that her son might return one day. And she had decided if her son was to return one day, she would never let him go.
‘God could not be present everywhere at the same time; so he made mothers’. Truly, the relationship between and a mother and her child is the most sacred relationship on Earth.’
A small contingent of soldiers was ambushed by a group of insurgents. They were outnumbered, but kept on fighting,
The widow’s son: We’re surrounded, we need support ASAP!
The communications officer who has been just beside, picked up his Satcom enabled phone only to be shot in the head. The widow’s son froze momentarily unable to duck or evade the bullets whizzing by. There adjoining him lay his best friend, now dead. Overwhelmed by anger and desperation alike, he plunged, pointing his gun towards the enemy. His body was punctured with bullets.
The widow sensed something ominous, her heart had skipped a beat.
Ten years have passed since the day she received her son’s coffined body. Death was harsh; time harsher.
Image courtesy- https://www.timeanddate.com/astronomy/equation-of-time.html