The opposite of time is memories. Memories, a span with no beginning, no end, no periods, only nebulous swaths of consciousness.
Memories don’t tumble terminally like the sand in an hourglass. Or tick away with the finality of the arms of a clock: thud, thud, thud…. They are like the fungus on the filter of a lens –shapeless, stubborn swirls of smoke in eternity. They are the ghosts of the times that were and weren’t, of the moments that happened and didn’t, of the events real and imagined, of the emotions aroused, fulfilled, unrequited, yearned. And a collage of them all.
When my kids were small, I used to photograph them month after month, year after year, birthday after birthday, school function after school function, to capture the flight of time. I have in my possession then, and that is all I have now, tiny sparks of the jungle fire they were, their pranks, their smiles, their joys, their wonderment, their brawls, frozen in rectangular frames. They are getting old and big now, and are more composed, as I get older and obtuse. I am past my time, but I have more and more of recollections, fangled and fused.
So, for the old time’s sake, to relive those vanished trices and to rekindle the muted slices, I open the top shelf of my armoire and spread its contents on the divan. The solid black SLR, a muscular Nikon, the many lenses, filters, speed-lights, hoods, batteries and the memory chips, a formidable weaponry for a self-proclaimed photographer in retirement. Then I discover ominous patterns on my favourite lens, and its filter, like drops of kerosene on the surface of a still lake, like gray-white goo in the azure of sky. Like stubborn memories, it’s impossible to get rid of this fog in hues of rainbows, this disease in its terminal stage.
Memories are all this lens would do now. Its time is history’s rime. I can buy a new lens at the stroke of credit even if I am broke, and the filters to supplement it. I cannot buy time though, no one can, pauper or billionaire. I can’t buy memories either. So they will have to remain with me, like precious, worthless memorabilia, quarantined, so that they don’t infect their siblings who are still capable of trapping slivers of emotions for the foreseeable years, yet to run out of roads and sputter into mist. Unto that last, let them garner instants of life, provided the fingers can fumble with them.
For, when you run out of time, all you have is memories. And when you run out of memories, all you have is time, a void divisible in hours, minutes and seconds.
And when I run out of time I’ll be a memory. When I’ll run out of memories I’ll be gone.