My grandmother's kitchen wall.
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As the summer goes on I've been playing host; to some degree, with the various relatives arriving from abroad. Among these, I've just recently had the pleasure of my young brother's company; and, I should reluctantly add, that of his mother's. Sadly, too much of this precious time has been consumed with bickering: "he's got; she's got; we've got", and the gatherings; few though they have been, have been preoccupied with slagging matches. In an effort to avoid premature heart-attacks and give my father a break from the petty demands, I've tried to keep the conversations to contrived anecdotes.
"Take a look around grandmother's house; go in each room", I joked while sat to varying summer fruits and tea with the step-mother, father and my brother. "Look at each clock: the kitchen, 30-minutes fast; the hallway, 10-minutes slow; the front room, 1-hour behind; the guest room, stuck on 5". "They live in varying time zones", I point out, "but it goes beyond the clocks: they eat dinner any time around 11pm to 1am; lunch maybe 4pm and breakfast not too long before that". I then explain further, "If I stay there, I struggle to sleep while they* chat, argue or watch TV till 3am; and then during the night my grandmother scuffles past me; checking I'm comfortable; adjusting doors; putting blankets on me; fiddling with mosquito deterrents". We chuckle in recognition, "then, just before the traffic begins outside; say 5am, 'Daveed, are you not late? Daveed, are you not late for work?' - 'it's the weekend', I remind her - voy!".
The place has not changed in 30-years; same fridge, cooker, tables, chair, curtains, gas lamps, and the same damn clocks", and then I remember, "new seat covers though; 30-year old design however"While relaying the alternative time observations of my family I realised that it's not just hours that are distorted there. "Just recently they bought new rugs; a change of colour, yet I went back the next day and they'd changed them again: new versions of the old ones". It was coming to me, "take a handful of mod-cons out and the place has not changed in 30-years; same fridge, cooker, tables, chair, curtains, gas lamps, and the same damn clocks", and then I remember, "new seat covers though; 30-year old design however". I wasn't complaining, nor suggesting unnecessary changes, it was just interesting: a conscious lack of change.
The off-spring and in-laws battle for grander chandeliers, I've seen them; they kiss when greeting, but their eyes calculate curtain prices as they go left; right; left. Maybe they even calculate bulb quantities; I have; my uncle and aunty's "museum" – as another uncle coined it – has 48 bulbs in the front room alone! Their clock is stuck on 6.15 though - it's a change I guess.
*My grandmother lives in a 3-story apartment owned by her but cohabits (between floors) with her youngest son and his family who pretty much look after her in her senior years.