We have all known bullies; either we have seen them, met them or had the unpleasant experience of being bullied by them. But I have befriended One.
When I first met you, it was the first day of school. I smiled at you because that’s a nice thing to do. You smiled back and I took it as a start of something new.
Yes, it was new indeed. I was never a part of a pack of wolves before.We were four; four powerful, toxic girls, but I laughed the hardest, I daresay. And became more like you everyday.
So, dear bully, one day when we huddled together and poked fun at him, I had to stop laughing. To see why he was quiet. You shouted out your slurs but he stayed still. His eyes were blank, you said he is just playing dumb. I felt depth in them but you said he is too cowardly to retaliate. I believed you. You are my friend, you see, I truly loved you.
As days went by, I saw you mock him in corridors, in canteen, in class. You were so mean, and so was I. I saw you befriend beautiful people, intellectual people or anyone you could use; you are like the sweetest drop of dew. But people who didn’t fit in either category, you mocked them.
Whenever you were in a good mood, you mocked. And I laughed.
With a few we were openly enemies; they retaliated with hate. A few were nasty like us but intimidated by us, they pretended to be nice and we pretended too but mocked them the hardest. Many stayed away from us; their indifference made us huddle closer into a gang. You said it was all fun- we are friends, right? Wouldn’t we make fun of each other as well if we did something or looked somewhat stupid and weird? I believed you. I ridiculed and made fun of people too. I insulted others for you and the gang. I embarrassed people for you and the gang.
What we didn’t understand was that we were not laughing with them, we were laughing at them. Deluded we are. Our age, our beauty, our skills, our talents, our attitude we were so deluded by these. We failed to see the innocence in his eyes. We failed to see the dignity in his silence.
Dear Bully, when you mocked me, I would have believed you were just being goofy, if it was not for the spite in your words and cruelty in your tone. I was hurt. You see, I loved you. You were a friend to me. I never thought I could be at the receiving end, atleast yours. I didn’t leave… because guess who turned out to be a coward.
A penpal of mine introduced me to this book and the author. It sort of had a calming effect on me, like that of sea waves.
The Time Keeper is an inspirational fiction novel written by Mitch Albom. It was first published in 2012 and has been in reprint ever since. You can easily find the book anywhere in any part of the physical or virtual world.
Mitch Albom says that he wants to “provide hope and inspiration to his readers as they have provided to him.” And hope and inspiration are the essence of this book. With The Time Keeper he tries to discover the meaning of time.
When we think of inspirational books,whether fiction or non-fiction, we expect them to be preachy, unsparingly philosophical or downright unrelatable. I put the book down initially thinking it would be filled with cliches that mock the genre , vague reflections and rootless insights. I have read inspirational novels that made me feel like I have been listening to a self-important jerk for hours.
Well, we might even take it to be like one of Paulo Coelho’s books. But don’t. His books are sort-of mystical while The Time Keeper is magical.
The story is essentially about Father Time- the first person on Earth to measure time.who began to count everything from his own breathe to pebbles, sticks etc., and who eventually ended up counting hours and minutes.
An Old Guy in long, white beard(read: Supreme One) is keeping a close watch on Father Time[DOR]. When Father Time, out of deep remorse, tries to turn back Time, The Old Guy strikes and locks away Father Time in a cave where he is to wait until a certain time. Ages and ages pass and he has filled the cave walls with his story and listened to billions of voices seeking more of time or less time., until one day he hears two voices[SARAH and VICTOR], both of them are trying to make the same folly as he did- alter time. He is released and has to save them so that he may be saved.
In terms of flow of text and clarity it is just ten on ten. The book is shifting perspectives, it is moving back and forth from past, present and at times future too, but not in one instance it seems incoherent. What I truly love about Mitch Albom’s style; that which makes me read more of his work is this subtle and simple thing he does. He puts the wisdom before you just as it is. Just one simple sentence and it unleashes a stream of thoughts in your mind.
For example- “But a desperate heart will seduce the mind.”
Yeah, these are very obvious but presenting it in a way that is not explaining or persuading but simply telling is what makes it impactful.
Coming to characters. Dor, Sarah and Victor are all complex and relatable. You may love them, dislike them or pity them, but you will feel connected to them.
Overall, it is an engaging plot. You won’t probably come out of it with more appreciation for time, but you will love the time you will have spent on the book.
7:15 am. Nadia knew she couldn’t hit snooze anymore. But she hit it anyway. “Last 5 minutes. I won’t take a bath”
7:35 am. Officially late. May be too late even. She snapped her eyes open. She “dismissed” the alarm and slapped her phone screen-down on the pillow with frustration. With some strength from her belly and arms, she sat in her bed facing the wall clock.
” 25 minutes… I really don’t have time for a bath now. 10 minutes for assignment. 5 minutes for changing clothes and for breakfast. 10 minutes to get to the bus-stop.”
Nadia threw the comforter aside and pulled out her assignment papers and pencil from under the bed. As if the reading , re-reading and staring at the question last night wasn’t enough; she reads the instruction again. As she reads the first words, the following words form in her mind. She knew exactly what she has to do- write a limerick.
She groped for words. She came up with ideas and then shot them down. After a little more thinking and over-thinking she decides to skip the English class today. She shoves all her books in her bag and rushes downstairs.
She climbs down the stairs, skiping one with each step. She makes a final jump anticipating the floor of the dining room ahead, and eventhough she lands perfectly, the surprise of finding one more stair puts off her balance, she trips and crashes into her mother’s wheelchair. The wheelchair stops at a distance while Nadia is struggling to get up.
The loud thud reaches her father. He comes out of the bedroom, soap dripping from his hands.
“What are you upto?”, he says that as if he is making small talk with a co-worker, ” Are you fine? I am sorry I must have left it there…”
“Yes, NO! You… didn’t. It was…umm.. just..there….I..rammed..”
She is fighting for every bit of air now and soon it will be hurting in several places around her ribs and legs.
“Please just finish your breakfast. Be careful. Don’t forget your lunch.”
“Damn it”. It’s 7: 45 already. She sees her father turn towards the bedroom, walk into the washroom and close the door behind him. She had noticed the water stains on his clothes, the soap and realises that he had been giving mom a bath.
She went into the kitchen to find bread and egg for lunch packed. Bread and jam for breakfast ready. Mom’s soup is also ready but Dad hasn’t made himself anything yet. She puts together two slices of bread and fried egg together and makes a smiley face on the bread with ketcup. She leaves that at the dining table for Dad and does a time check.
7:50 am. Damn! No time for breakfast. Several siren go off in her head. She wraps the scarf around her head, puts on the burkha and runs for it…
The last sun of summer was about to set. Abr- The Silent One, cursed the translucent moon. A wild gust of warm wind swept her red, shiny hair away from her brows. She sensed footsteps behind her and knew who had arrived.
“The Bearers had anticipated an end like this…”
I heard Abr say that out loud. I don’t know what I was doing behind my terrace door so early in the morning; I remember falling asleep on the sofa. Hearing Abr’s voice on my rooftop was even more perplexing…
It’s all burning down. A bit of me turns stone with every bit of my city’s ash that the winds take away with them. Where are you, my creator? Why do I have to watch this?
I heard her thoughts like they were my own. I felt her tears sting my eyes. Was I doing this to her? I watched with her eyes the collapsing city..
Abr, my warrior. She will avenge her people and this ancient city. She will. She has to. I whispered to her my plan. She is to find them and kill them.
Suri- The whisperer, my creator. Is this how you truly are? Do you squash every bug that bites you? I am Abr. I have a sword, but I don’t kill. I will save lives now. How many I can. Rebuild the city from its ashes. People need hope more than vengeance. Those who harm others will get theirs…
Besides you planned this massacre. You have a habit of putting everything in a pot and setting the pot on fire. You like to destroy worlds. You drenched Abil’s heart with greed and malice. You gave him the dream of this city and when he couldn’t have it, you had him burn the dream.
You wanted to see how far an evil person could go. You wanted to look deeper into his heart and guess what, you dwelled a bit too long in his heart. Don’t have pity for me. I am the hero. I will find my way. You watch. Just watch like you have did all this time. Stay here, behind this door, and with the knowledge that you could have saved us.
— I woke up on my sofa, wondering if all writers have characters smarter than them and if these characters pay them visits every now and then. Or is it from reading too much of Illiad?