Eighteen minutes had passed. I spent them in the bathtub, my body curled up like a foetus. I knew it was 18 minutes from the number of songs I played but did not listen to. I have no idea how my body ended up here. It was like a cold ball on the cracked floor of the bathtub. The bathtub had red stains because my mother had washed her dyed hair. It has been six months since I ran away from time. I am not staring at anything in particular. I am just trying to pass the time, near my chest, and not feel it. By the way, this is my diary for one day. It has been repeated countless times.
I remembered I read somewhere that 186 patients were admitted to a psychiatric hospital. What they had in common was the time they spent at London’s Heathrow Airport. The hospital is known for treating travellers arriving from nearby Heathrow, including those found wandering between the airport gates. Travellers from the east to the west are more prone to depression, while those travelling from the west to the east suffer from symptoms of bipolar disorder. They change for weeks, even months, and maybe forever as a result of the change in the time zones. They no longer had a perception of day and night.
Before the last six months, we were the masters of deceiving day and night. That was before someone noticed that we had been wandering between the gates. Also, before time stopped, my mother dyed the roots of her greying hair. We deceived the loneliness, emptiness and worthlessness, as well as my chest as time passed, scratching its skin. Now that it has stopped completely, we will not be able to deceive it nor escape from it—I am talking about time.
I stood in the bathtub only to realise that the water in the basin had run into the drain and disappeared. I dragged my heavy legs to the edge to get out of the bathtub. My arms rested on the sink. My mother’s mirror had metallic edges eaten away by rust. I noticed that nothing ever changed in her house, no matter how worn out. I was still drying my feet with my rough childhood towel. Time does not fly here but gently walks away, ignoring that my feet have become a vessel.
When I look into my mother’s mirror, I see her image. It gets stuck and printed there in front of me, all over my face and in my thin voice, narrow eyes and the heavy love that is like an anchor in my heart. I search for myself there but I did not find all of me. I was also not fully absent. My footprints are still in the sands of a distant beach. The smoke from my cigarette is still in the sky of some balcony I love farther away. My body curled up in her bathtub like a foetus that never grows. In my mother’s house, nothing ever changes.
I dyed my thinning hair because, like my mother, it is also greying. The last time I brushed my hair, I stood in front of the mirror for a long time. One song was on repeat; starting over whenever it ended. It was performed by an amateur who gathered his courage, only to fail to imitate Kris Kristofferson. The name of the song was “For the Good Times.” The same song, repeated:
“Don’t look so sad.
I know it’s over
But life goes on . . .
And make believe you love me one more time
For the good times . . .
Don’t say a word about tomorrow
There’ll be time enough for sadness
when you leave me.”
I have no idea how many times the song played on a loop, cycle, knot, noose. Someone yelled at me two or five days ago, when I randomly said that the past two months had passed quickly. “Quickly? They were the slowest two months of the year,” he said as if my comment intended to offend him. I have no idea why I said that in the first place. I am the last person to care about the passage of time. Before time stopped, I used to bite my nails while in a queue at some bank, government institution or nail salon. I used to get sweaty and anxious as I painfully saw the precious time being ‘wasted’ and ‘squandered’ before my eyes. I have no clue why I said that or how my body ended up in the bathtub over and over. I am not staring at anything in particular. However, I do know that after this is all over, there will be enough time to grieve.