“Time, flowing like a river,
Time, beckoning me,
Who knows when we shall meet again
Keeps flowing like a river
To the sea…”
– Time, The Alan Parsons Project
It reads 12:52 pm on the clock hanging on the wall opposite me. It is Friday, which means that exactly 1 hour and 23 minutes later, school will be over. I will return home at about 3, then I shall have lunch and I shall sleep. 5:30 in the evening will find me sitting in a packed tuition classroom with my eyes struggling through complex chemical equations and a dazed look on my face. 8:30, end of the class. I will reach home in 30 minutes, then dinner, then I will sleep. Friday, it holds the promise of the coming weekend; but wait, weekends now mean more work. Tomorrow, I shall wake up at 9, have a quick breakfast and leave for tuition classes again. Saturday, the day I bounce all around the city attending tuition classes, like a ping-pong ball on a table-tennis board. When I get home at 8:30 in the night, I will do nothing because at that moment there will be lots of time left and nothing will seem urgent although I will tell myself that I should really sit and do one of the myriad procrastinated things. Moreover, the sofa in front of the TV set will feel more comfortable, there will be a football match to watch or maybe something new on my computer to work on. On Saturday evenings after tuitions, there is little time to be busy…
I look at my wrist-watch and I know time is passing me by swiftly as I watch the numbers change on the dial. The watch was once an expensive technological marvel, back when I was 11, but the dial now sports a crack and the leather band is worn out. It is equipped with alarms, timers, stopwatches and even a chronometer. A day has 24 four hours. I had decided long ago that 24-hour clocks were far more logical and gave more accurate readings. My watch hence is set in the 24-hour mode. Whenever I’m working on my computer, I write my time in this fashion — because it is more logical. It is also one of my several attempts to be unique; it is a little thing, but so is much of what old people philosophically and wisely call “life”.
During the weekend, apart from my monotonous tuition classes, I will be busy with many little things, errands, some shopping, cleaning up my room, hanging around with neighbourhood friends, overdose of rock music and everything that I should have done during the week but had conveniently put off. Then I will go to bed and I will wake up at 6:20 and by 8, I shall be back in school. After school, I will go home, have lunch, sleep, wake up, rush to yet another of the numerous tuition classes, come home, lounge around, have dinner and sleep. By Tuesday evening, I will have settled into the endless routine of classes and tests and procrastination and of course, boredom. Then Wednesday will come and go. Come Thursday and I shall be eagerly waiting for the coming weekend and the football match it brings with it. In the evening, I will start thinking about schoolwork and whether I should do it. After dinner, I WILL do it and then I will go to sleep looking forward to Friday. Friday will come and go, and then the weekend, and thus will pass another week of school, and then another. And time will pass too…
My year is divided into three equal parts — summer, school before winter break, school after winter break and before summer. My marks do not mean I like school. In school, I do not notice the passing of the rest of the day, for it is only school and the interesting things happen only sporadically, if at all, and cannot be predicted. In school, I do nothing because I am forced to; in summer, I do nothing of my own volition.
The final examinations are just four months away. Soon, we will be busy with final project and laboratory manual submissions, final exams and final goodbyes for those who are leaving school. Then after ALL that, it will be summer, where time sometimes drags and at others races and life is a flurry of football matches, friends, going on vacations, sitting around the house, reading and sometimes writing (not the type we do in school), and also more worry and wariness about the future: where I will go for college, what I will study, what I will become, how and whether I will get a job, what I will do in my adult life, whom I will meet and what I will do with myself for the rest of my life, and everything else that crams the last summer before reality….
I know the school seasons and all their various phases — back-to-school hysteria, holiday distraction, new term confusion, fest fever, pre-exam stress, exams and desperation to be free, post-exam ecstasy and result depression.
All too quickly June gives way to July and July gives way to August and August to September, and then I am caught up in the worry of grades and homework and preparation for the various entrance exams. Before I know it, it will be December and time to say goodbye to all the people and friends who have been part of my life for 13 years. Moreover, by this time, I will have passed a flurry of learning more than I ever wanted and less than what is needed. I will be an adult by now and with a new chapter of my life irrevocably sealed, I will begin the new year with the same old issues but now with the added issue of which college I will finally get admitted to and what I will do with the rest of my life and whether I will have enough time to do everything I want to do.
I watch the little indications, the change of activities and classes and days and weeks and seasons with bemused resignation and a lackadaisical attitude towards life and the universe; and all the while time rushes past and people change and things change and ideas change and the world changes and I change and suddenly, someday, I will find that two vital years have passed me by and I will try to stop and catch the wasted time that is now gone, but in vain.
“And you are young and life is long and there is time to kill today,
And then one day, you find ten years have got behind you.
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun…”
– Time, Pink Floyd