In years gone by, many people, in my part of the world, didn’t have access to a portable timepiece. This meant that, from time to time, one passer-by would ask another, most politely, “Excuse me, what time do you have?” ( As if time were like a bird in a cage that you could hold and tame :).) Usually, the response was polite, too, but, occasionally, it would be a gruff, “Get your own watch!” or “Can’t you read the clock over there in the park?” Which was very rude because, perhaps, the person couldn’t read or tell the time.
But, back to the question; “What time do you have?” As I write it is 11.22am on Saturday, 14 September, 2013, here in Christchurch, New Zealand. In Los Angeles, it is 4.22pm on Friday 13 September, 2013. In Addis Ababa, it is 2.22 am on 14 September, 2013 or, in local terms, it is 8.22 on the 4th day of the first month of 2006 . In Kathmandu, it is the 29th of Bhadra 2070. In Israel, the New Year of 5774 has begun. Come November, it will be 1435 AH in Egypt, yet the Coptic Church in Egypt celebrated their New Year on 11 September, 2013. Confused. We should be, because, in the time it has taken me to write that passage, the times have changed and changed again. It’s hard to keep up.
A few weeks back, I finished reading “A Fugue in Time” by Rumer Godden. Check here In the US, its title is Take Three Tenses, which it does. It is the story of a house, a place, and the people who are gathered to the house over generations. The past, the present and the future are tightly woven through the narrative, in much the same confusing way that we, in our daily lives, will, in one moment, be thinking of what we are eating and, in the next, be remembering a special Christmas meal 50 years ago. And, at the same time, planning for tonight’s supper or this coming Christmas Day. Rumer Godden plays with time; how it floats in and out and around us and constantly changes our reality.
One day, this past August, I was confined to my house and realised that, on my dressing table, I had inadvertently created a timepiece, unique to my place and my day. In a small space, I had a brief hold on the present, the past and the future. And, with the help of my camera, I could rearrange and play with them to my heart’s content.
So, excuse me, what time do you have?
For me, it is lunch time 🙂