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I have a clock on one of my office walls. Well, it’s not really an office but a corner cubicle; I have two ‘real’ walls and a panel half-wall. So anyway, I have this clock that I’ve had since I started working, which was some nine odd years ago. During these nine years I’ve had at least six different offices/cubes but I’ve always carried this same clock with me.

It’s so easy to get used to looking at the time in a clock on a certain wall, isn’t it? So much so that even a couple of months after changing homes, I still turn my head the same way I used to, while cooking, to see the time in my home wall clock as I did in my old apartment. And, of course, only this time to find myself looking out from the kitchen window!

Even in the old apartment, whenever I moved my clock to a different wall, it took some time to get used to the change. I found myself, more than once, looking for the clock at the former location only to find a blank wall staring back at me. And then I’d go, ‘Duh! Silly, you moved the clock yourself, didn’t you?!’ Mental inertia!

Coming back to my office cube – I’ve recently noticed that the guy who sits at the cube right behind mine, and who has visual access to my real walls actually makes a deliberate physical effort to look at the time on my clock! He turns his neck back to look at it – when he could just look on his phone or on his computer screen for crying out loud, but no. He prefers analog over digital, perhaps? LOL. Or he has just gotten used to it, I guess.

Of course, I have gotten used to it too …. and to clocks in general. I can’t do without one in my near vicinity. My fascination with clocks goes way back to as far as I can remember. While growing up, we had this really old, but small and kinda heavy table-clock in our house. I think that was the only clock we owned back then. The digital age wasn’t here yet – there were no cell phones, no computers (or very limited), and no digital clocks. It was still an era of that shiny old clock tick-tocking away, biding its time (no pun intended!).

I loved that clock – with it’s round white face, metallic silver border, and a loud alarm; shimmering during dark nights, safely keeping its timeless secrets!  Me and my siblings used to playfully turn it’s minute and hour hands more often than my parents would have found necessary! I’m not really sure how they managed to always set it back to the correct time again! (Maybe that’s why the radio always announced the time every half-hour or so back then. I think it still does though.)

I even remember, sometimes as a kid I used to keep it next to my bed at nights- so just in case I woke up and found ghosts in the room, the next day I could tell the authorities what time it was exactly when the spirits had showed up! Of course, that never happened; but the fascination continued. No wonder my dad gave me a wristwatch as a gift when I graduated high school (that I still have) and I did not forget to carry a small table-clock with me when I was off to college.

I also remember playing this ‘time-game’ with friends while growing up. It’s called the ‘thirty-second game’. Have you ever played it? You can even play it by yourself! Here’s how it goes – if you can guess when thirty seconds are up (without the help of a watch, of course) most closely, you win. Any guesses who won every time? Every. Single. Time. No surprises here, I think :-). The subtle movement of seconds in my head was like a second heartbeat to me. It still is.

Even to this day, I have a clock in every room of my house (yes, including bathrooms!). And I still keep a clock at my bedside, not so much for checking the time or for the morning alarm – my cell phone does that for me now – but more for the continuous tick-tock that my phone can’t provide (but I’m sure there’s an app for that!). Yes, for the magical tick-tock – that acts as a soothing lullaby at night-time and as a continuous reminder of each moment swiftly passing by during the waking hours!

Someone (and I can’t remember who) told me way back when- Never keep a clock that’s stopped or a pen that doesn’t work. Either replace them or toss them out – they are one of your greatest enemies! I’ve lived by this advice every single day of my life ever since. So when one of my time-teller stops, who notices first? ME! (obviously). Or, at least, so I’d like to think!

A couple of weeks ago my office clock stopped. Any guesses on who noticed first? Yes, my next-cube neighbor! He’s an early bird and usually reaches work before I do. That day as soon as he saw me entering my cube, he told me that my clock wasn’t displaying the correct time; it had actually ran out of batteries and had stopped. His tone was sort of childish and he, in fact, almost demanded for it to be fixed. And when I had not done that till noon (I don’t carry AA batteries with me!), he reminded me again … and yet again. I was about to tell him – buddy, as much as I, too, hate it being stopped, it’s my damn clock, after all; I’ll fix it when I’ll fix it. But, I didn’t tell him that. I knew he was used to it too much by now – to the constant tick-tock or to the (functional) clock just watching him back! It was me who had made him used to it!

I know this because when I changed cubicles last year and moved to the one I’m at now, I realized that my former office-neighbors almost missed my clock as much as they missed me! How do I know? They told me so. When they walk by my new cube they tell me how much they would love to see me back at the old cube AND how much they had gotten used to that clock on my wall; how much they were used to seeing me everyday AND of course also the clock on their way in or out.

So, I arranged to fix my damn clock after lunch that day. Happy office-mates add to a lesser stressful day after all!

But today, I decided to play this (almost) horrible trick. When no one was ‘watching’ this morning I took my clock down. Just for the kicks! It’s mine after all (isn’t it?). There have been at least five people who have since asked me where the clock went? (including my neighbor, of course). And how soon can I bring it back? Some even looked concerned- as if it wasn’t just the clock but a portion of their time that I had taken away. As if it was theirs! People who I-didn’t-even-know-that-they-watched-my-clock stopped by to ask. It felt funny … and controlling to a certain extent.

Then a thought occurred – When I had put that clock up on the wall, was I in a way relinquishing certain rights to it? Did I extend its partial ownership to its new dependents? May be? With this thought, I think if/when I move again, I’ll leave the clock behind. May be not the one I have up right now. That one is my damn clock. I’ll probably replace it with another one … perhaps something that my time-watchers and tick-tockers would remember me by 🙂

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Table clock

Image: http://www.lastwordonnothing.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Alarm_Clocks_20101107a.jpeg

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