At an antique store I plunged my hand into a fish bowl of broken wrist watches. Pulling out a hand full I examined them, each in a different state of neglect. Faces cracked, straps worn pale of their leather. Their hands marking different times, different days, years, centuries. Some mere mille seconds apart. It was unsettling, holding the stagnant seconds of someone’s life in my palm. Whose life? What were they doing when it stopped? How long did it take for them to notice? Did they miss the bus, the tram, the carriage, over boil eggs, because of it? Was it a gift, accessory, necessity? How many attempts did they make to repair it before discarding it all together?
Did Durban’s salt air rust its intricate workings, Or water prove the ”˜water resistant’ guarantee worthless? Did the battery die or technology render it redundant? Did the previous owner (in the clutches of Alzheimer’s) forget to wind it and live the rest of his life wedged in that same interminable hour?
How easy it would be to forget that these seconds, these minutes, hours had ever existed, were it not for my fistful of watches, forfeiting their pursuit of punctuality to record and remember them. Their deaths seemed noble now, a selfless contribution to ”˜times’ archives, times expansive memory. I wondered if whether somewhere out in the world a watch or clock (in a desperate bid of remembrance) is dying at every mille second of the day , in the same way they say babies are been born. Are there enough watches in the world to sustain this theory? Is all that time ultimately has to show for itself, a fish bowl of faulty watches?
I clenched my handful of broken time. For a second felt that the world had stopped. Time had ceased and I were god.