Einstein said it first, time moves at different speeds. It is an erratic, whimsical friend who speeds and slows as he pleases. Here, at home, time moves slow. The sun is shining through the blinds, drawing a soft zebra pattern on the parquet. My grandma is doing cross words in the armchair next to mine, intermittently asking me what is this and what is that; 9 times out of 10, I shrug out of ignorance. My granddad is taking a nap upstairs and soon, he will come down and sit with us, and his mind will wander, somewhere in Tunisia maybe, where he worked as an architect for the Governor (yes, I am bragging because I am proud), or even further back in time, astride on his horse and fighting for his country.
We won’t talk a lot because sometimes, you don’t have to. We will simply sit in the same room and breathe the same air, and everything will feel whole. Peaceful. When the night falls, I will sit at my piano and play to my heart’s content, Chopin, Liszt, maybe even some Edith Piaf or Charles Aznavour – my granddad’s favourites. Then, almost imperceptibly, the day will flow into the next, the sun will rise again, nonchalant, and another day will string out. The people will sit on a bench outside their building and watch the world go by. They will smile as you walk past, maybe even nod, then share a little gossip once you have gone. And you, you will carry on your way, unhurriedly, taking in every ray of sunshine.
Then the time will come to board a plane a fly back to London, where the benches are empty and the people are busy walking, looking down at their feet. The time will come to box it all up again, the quietude and the stillness, and resume the hectic life we all lead, oblivious and eternally worried. The crowd will scurry past you and everything will move fast again, like it was held on pause and is now catching up on fast-forward. You will rise, you will work and you will sleep, blind to those moments you have forgotten you are living for. And then, maybe then, you will remember this. Pause. And breathe.