The Spectator

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Yesterday Sam stopped by. I have known him for a long time. He used to sit by me everyday, sometimes alone, sometimes with his wife Martha and son James. James. I couldn’t know him long enough. “Slow down,” Martha used to say. “Or you will get hurt.”  They had fun playing together. How years swooshed by! When James was older, he would often drop by and spend hours with me. I heard chuckles, sobs, silence. Then one day he brought a guest. He had never brought anyone here before Navin. They held hands and gazed at the stars for hours. They held hands the same way Sam and Martha did. If only Sam understood this. “You look just like him,” Navin had said, pointing at Sam’s wide grin as James showed him a family picture. He wasn’t a guest anymore.

A few years whooshed by like they usually do, and James and Navin brought a new visitor with them this time – their daughter Sur. They loved picnics, especially the ones with grandma Martha. My branch of memories is ripe with merry ones but the one with Navin fussing over Sur, James telling him to calm down, them lovingly bickering, remains my favourite to this day.

Sometimes I find myself sneaking a peek at the house across the park which used to be my favourite home. For a long time, no one has visited. Time has neither swooshed nor whooshed, it stutters and clambers, as if chasing its normal pace. But yesterday Sam stopped by. He just sat here quietly and scanned the pinpricked  sky with a regret in his eyes, searching as if for the one star that resembled him.

Time

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But time…how time first grounds us and then confounds us. We thought we were being mature when we were only being safe, we imagined we were being responsible when we were only being cowardly. What we called realism turned out to be a way of avoiding things rather than facing them. Time…give us enough time and our best-supported decisions will seem wobbly, our certainties whimsical.

Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending