Josna Rege

173. Multi-Timing

In 2010s, Family, Inter/Transnational, Stories, women & gender, writing on February 8, 2013 at 12:19 pm

from gutenberg.org

In winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow candlelight.
In summer, quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day.
from
Bed in Summer, Robert Louis Stevenson

As my day is winding down, a new one is beginning for our family in India, as they carry out the morning rituals of teeth-cleaning, tea-drinking, poha, and private prayers at the kitchen shrine. As I get ready for bed, too late as usual, my California friends still have their evening ahead of them and are ready for long phone chats. Of a morning I wake in anticipation of news from England, since by the time I am sitting up in bed with my first cup of tea my English family and friends are well into their workdays and their fourth or fifth cuppas. With childhood friends in Australia and New Zealand and dear Alysha in South Africa this year, as I brace for a February nor’easter I am aware that the Antipodeans in my life are enjoying fresh garden vegetables and harvesting early summer fruit (all the more tormenting because they will keep posting photographs of them on Facebook). The diurnal and seasonal rhythms of yesteryear, each in its own time gradually and gracefully giving way to the next,  are now overlaid with the contrapuntal motions of multiple time zones, all competing simultaneously for space in my crowded consciousness.

(from redlegsinsoho.blogspot)

(from redlegsinsoho.blogspot)

This is my constant condition, now delightful, now dizzying. How much more so when my loved ones are on the move; waiting for the email or text message announcing their safe arrival, I am keenly aware, in every moment, of what time it is there. I read nineteenth, even twentieth-century novels in which travelers or family members working or studying abroad must of necessity remain incommunicado for months, sometimes unable to make a visit home for years on end. Those left behind at home, most of them women, sit down at their writing desks and immerse their whole selves in long, beautifully handwritten, artfully composed letters, pausing periodically to dip their pens into the inkwell and gaze into the middle distance.  In their position, I turn to my laptop, and Tell Me Another.

Tell Me Another (Contents to Date)

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  1. Enjoyed your post. What a nice topic to write about! As usual, you choose an unusual and apparently simple topic and make it interesting, absorbing, and thought- provoking. I like the contrast at the end between you and those 19th & early 20th century women. It is something to think about: In a slow paced world these women “immersed their whole selves in long, beautifully handwritten, artfully composed letters.”
    I laughed when I read, “I turn to my laptop,” but the whole sentence, “in their position, I turn to my laptop, and Tell Me Another” is soothing and meaningful.

    Alysha will be happy to read this. I’ll send it to her.

  2. I have been thinking of you there in the midst of a huge blizzard cozily composing perfect prose with a hot cup of darj, and wishing we lived closer. This piece is really beautiful and poignant. You have a real gift, dear friend!

  3. Aah, dear California friends, thank you for your sweet comments! Yes, Sartaz, as you noticed, at first I set out to contrast those women from earlier, more leisurely times with me in a light, humorous vein, but ended up feeling that perhaps my situation wasn’t so very different from theirs. Marianne, the storm is still raging outside, with the snow coming down at quite a clip now, and the wind blowing it into deep drifts. I am indeed sitting here cozily with my laptop and only wish I also had that Cup of Darj. . . and Thou (sorry, Omar Khayyam)!

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