بِسْمِ اللّهِ الرَّحْمـَنِ الرَّحِيم
I still have a calendar on my refrigerator. The ancient paper kind, with horizontal and vertical delineating days and weeks. I dedicatedly fill in the details of my life’s schedule to keep things on track. When a month passes I separate that page and move it to the back, in case I need it for future reference. Then, at the beginning of each new year I print a new one, and the process repeats itself. I hang on to the previous year for a while, eventually parting with it.
I’ve had limited success with a digital calendar, so the faithful paper organizer remains the tool I use to keep track of time.
There was a phase of my life when I didn’t need a calendar. I could remember exactly what time a future event was scheduled.
When I was a little girl my family went every Sunday to the Cubbon park. That evening, after we got home from the park my brother and I played hide and seek in the house while my mother was cooking and my dad busy as usual. I locked my brother in the cupboard and had completely forgotten about it. For almost 2 hours my parents were looking around for him and later found him sleeping in the cupboad. For years I remembered the exact date and time that happened.
But as the days in my memory grew in number, my ability to pinpoint time with precision waned, and a more general method of identifying time took over. I remembered things by years. I got married when I was ” X “years. We moved to Canada when I was “Y”.
I had my third child when I was “Z”. The numbers were clear and well-defined.
As I grew older, there were fewer and fewer events that were marked so clearly in my memory. Instead, a system of measuring time by milestones took over. I would recall whether something happened before a major life event or after. That was after my granny passed away. That happened while we went on our first trip to Madras with our Uncle. That was after my brother passed away.
The bad things seemed easier to mark time by than the good things for some reason. The simple things that make my life so rich are often eclipsed by the challenges, so often those things became the markers of time. And I don’t like that.
At this moment, 2020, marked by the year of COVID, I find myself in a transitional place. My oldest daughter has finally gotten into her freshmen year of high school, already thinking of all options to explore in college and the languages she would like to learn and places she would love to travel.
My older son is running into puberty and spreading his wings he’ll soon use to fly away. My youngest started his grade 3, and already talking of getting his driver’s permit. LOL
It won’t be long before they all be coming home for summers or spending Eid breaks with us as visitors. I am reminded daily that these years left with me are few and my heart pulls a tug.
Everything I have defined myself by for the past decade is changing, and I wonder what the next part of my life will be like. And what I will call it.
Although, I’m looking forward to more periods, called the time Mr. Wonderful where I’ll get to travel more with my family, the years I’ll hold my children’s degrees that I myself had craved for and the years I’ll spend teaching grammar to my grandchildren.
Yet I can’t let go of dreaming of the year I myself graduated from Engineering, danced in my heart at my wedding, and the year I became a mother.
The calendar on my refrigerator says it’s 2020.
Time defined in every person’s lifetime is so full of ambiguity and has its own scale of measurement. May Allah help us value time, one of life’s priceless gifts.
Suah Al-Asr is considered by many Quran exegete to summarize the core message of the Quran in just 3 short ayahs. It offers a warning to believers not to waste time, information on how to achieve success in life, and outlines a complete belief system for humans to follow based on Islamic principles.
(By Al-`Asr. Verily, man is in loss. Except those who believe and do righteous deeds, and recommend one another to the truth, and recommend one another to patience)