I don’t want to do this job. I should be at college and studying during the evenings my parents are telling me to take care of the shop and work here. They are getting old and this shop is what is getting me through college but I need to study so that I impress my professor this time.

“Mona, you won’t regret working here, sweetie.” Ma stroked my hair. I had missed her. She had white hair mixed with the black I was used to seeing as a kid. She had worked long and hard at this shop. It was a normal antique shop but Ma and Papa had made sure that nothing got ruined. They used to sell a lot of stuff fortunately. You won’t believe how much rich people like to buy antiques. But this job wasn’t for me. I wanted to work as a researcher. I had given up on parties, making friends, going out, and many other things people my age normally do because I had to study. 

“Try once pleaseee? We won’t force if you don’t like it.” Papa said. I looked at him, He knew I couldn’t refuse after he had said please. I huffed and mumbled a yes. Ma kissed my cheek and got up, “You will love it here.” I snickered at that. 

“Trust us, Mona.” Papa said, “You never know.”

It wasn’t a difficult job. I had to tell how much something cost and then it was up to the customer if they wanted to buy it or not.  I have to stand here aaalllll day waiting. That’s all. Sigh. This is boring. Might as well clean the shop to get some movement. I grab my gloves and make my way towards the dustiest part of the shop. The stuff her is very old. But it’s has some very pretty things. I see a peacock feather out of the corner of my eye. It’s a cute little pen with a peacock feather attached as a decoration. Very dusty too. I clean it first and then, start sorting out the rest of the things. A music box, then an umbrella which is painted rainbow, a watch, I find all sorts of things here. The bottom rows done, I make my way to the upper ones. I thought the stuff below was old and dusty? The old antiques were quite literally rotting here. There is a half chewed wooden box at the corner, a broken glass bottle with a miniature ship inside it besides it, and lastly, a very dusty and damaged bronze pocket watch. I see other things too but they are ruined beyond repair. I take these down and start cleaning them. I guess I will have to throw the box and the bottle because they can’t really be repaired either. The only thing that strikes my fancy a bit too much is the bronze pocket watch. It’s string is still intact, the glass is broken but can be fixed, and cells need to be put in it – if it even works using them. It’s evident that it’s very old too but might work. It’s a weird watch though. It has the usual digits written but has hours and days marked above them. I guess this will measure the days too? We will see when it will get fixed. I look at the clock in the shop. It’s 7 in the night?! I didn’t notice the time. Huh. Time to close the shop. I throw away all the stuff on the upper row save the watch and then, leave for home after closing the shop. 

“Can I take this watch if it gets fixed, Pa?” I look at my pa after dinner. 

“Uhh sure? Why are you asking me?” 

“Because it was in the shop. In the dusty upper row at the far back.”

“Meh. You can take it. That row was unused anyway.” Pa went back to reading his newspaper. Who even reads them at night? I smile to myself and go to my room to sleep. I will have to get this fixed tomorrow. 

I have been looted. 600 rupees for an old watch?! It’s not even made out of gold but bronze. Why did I decide to do this again? Why did I have to say yes to 600 rupees ugh?! I look down at the watch. The glass fixed and it was….working? The watch fixing guy told me it was fixed. I don’t see the needles moving though. He had fooled me. I had been looted and fooled both. This was not a good day. I feel a headache coming. I look at the side of the watch and see two knobs that are used to fix the needles. Maybe I should try fixing this myself. I take hold of the first knob and rotate it. Nothing. Sigh. I, then, try it with the second one. It’s tight. Very tight. I use all my strength on it. It doesn’t open. My money is wasted. I sigh and trod back home. 

“I can’t rotate this either, beta.” Papa looks at me pitiably. Ma also tried but to no avail. I am going to scold that watch guy tomorrow. He will regret meeting me. I am thinking this when Ma brings me and Pa some lemonade. She hands it to me with a smile. “It will be okay.” She tries to console me. “It will not be okay for the watch guy, Ma.” Both my parents start laughing. A mistake because Pa spills his lemonade on the watch. “Oh no! Sorry. Here, hold it, Mona.” He hands it over to me. The watch is fine. I tell him it’s okay. I look at the second knob. It looks…different. Wait, lemon reacts with bronze. Could it be…..? I try rotating it and lo! 

“Ma! Pa! Look!” I show them the watch enthusiastically. But what I see….how is it possible? Ma and Pa are not moving. Am I dreaming? No! “Ma! Pa!” I try to shake them. They don’t move. They don’t even bat any eyelid. I look out of the window. A bird has stopped flying in midair. How is this possible?! NO?! I look down at the watch and see that the minute watch has now moved and shows….half an hour? I try to rotate the second knob but nothing happens. I move the first one. “What’s wrong, Mona?” I look up. My parents are looking at my worriedly. “Nothing. Just saw a bug.” I make an excuse and rush to my room. I wasn’t able to sleep because I kept thinking about the watch. What had just happened?

I can’t concentrate. My professor is teaching but I can’t focus. The watch is in my pocket. I still refuse to believe that happened yesterday. 

“-ona! Mona, are you listening?!” 

I jolt out of my trance. My professor looks disappointed. Oh no. 

“Okay, now that she’s awake.” The Professor looks ahead. Everyone laughs. “You guys have two days to finish this assignment and remember this is very important for your grade” he looks over to me, “and any other opportunity you might want.” 

Just two days! I can’t finish it on time. I have used up both days already but this is nowhere near complete I have to submit this tomorrow morning. I groan. What was the professor thinking? No one can do it in two days properly. I am going to fail. I am at the verge of tears when something catches my eye. Something is gleaming in my bag. I fish it out. It’s the watch. I pause. Can I……should I use this? Will it work? I am at odds. I am scared. Should I risk it? I am still wondering but unconsciously, switch the second knob. Silence. I go downstairs. My Ma has stopped peeling the potatoes. Pa has stopped flipping the paper.  I rush upstairs. I am trembling because of fear but I grab my pen and start writing. I shouldn’t waste this opportunity. 

“I can’t believe this paper has been written in just two days, Mona. I am deeply impressed. You have earned your right to be present in the conference.” My professor beamed at me. I burst into tears. This watch had gotten me the chance I had been working so hard for so long. I can’t believe my good fortune. This was a gift. A gift I was gonna use well. From that day onward, I used that watch every chance I could. I used to prepare for the conference. I used it to prepare for my tests. I sometimes used to get ready or other minor tasks as well. It became a habit. I couldn’t control it. I didn’t want to control it. 

“Are those white hair, Mona?” My mum pointed out one day. 

“Huh?” I looked at the mirror in the bathroom. I had a lot of white hair. How come I hadn’t noticed this before? Never mind. 

“It’s okay, ma. Happens to everyone.”

“But that many? You have also gained a lot of weight suddenly. And….these are wrinkles. Honey, are you okay? You are working too hard and not taking care of yourself.” Ma looked very worried. 

“I-It’s okay. I will take care. Don’t worry.” i rushed to the bathroom. Ma was right. The hair and the weight were one thing but what of the wrinkles. These were not normal ones. These were like the ones…..Ma and Pa had.


I shook my head. This was surely my imagination. I can’t be growing old. Surely not. I looked at the watch in my hand. Had I noticed the day and year label before? Funny that I hadn’t. It had never bothered me before. It was pointing towards……10 years. I threw it away. I couldn’t breathe for a second. What did 10 years mean? It couldn’t be. No no no no NO! I….I had aged 10 years older than I was before?! I remembered something I had heard – ‘Time is a funny concept. You can try to escape, maybe succeed in hiding too. But It will seek you and it will find you out’. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t think. I started rambling through my shelves. I found it. I found a hammer. The next moments were a flash. I took the hammer and I smashed the clock. I kept smashing it until nothing was left but only bits of that beautiful, gleaming bronze. I was heaving. Ma and Pa barged into my room. 

“Mona! Are you okay?!”

“What happened here?!”

“You wouldn’t believe it Ma, Pa.” I looked at them in a daze. 

“We will trust anything you have to say, sweetie.” They sat beside me. “You can tell us anything and we will believe you.”

“You never know, Ma. You never know.” I smiled at them.