Friday, April 29, 2011

You Think of Time

A train station — not a station really, just a platform with a little shelter amidst rice fields. Humble. Unpretentious. You sit there waiting for the train with the setting sun sending a column of light onto the darkening mountains. You pass the time watching an old woman making her way along the edge of a field. She has a white plastic bag. Either she's putting something in it or she's sowing something from it. She's far off and moving away into the distance so it's hard to tell. Whatever the case, it seems she's been at it for a long time.

You look up. Something you hadn't noticed before, though you've been coming here most Thursdays for the better part of a year. A piece of wood with some kanji painted on it — the name of the station, followed by 老人会 — Association of the Elderly.

The person kanji — 人 — is so alive, almost as if he or she is running. Toward old age? Away from the association? That's what it looks like to you.

Then you step away and examine the box. It houses what appears to be a clock. But the plastic front is so old and stained and cobwebbed that it's impossible to make out for sure what time it finally stopped.

You wonder how many Associations for the Elderly have come together and disbanded since this particular Elderly Association decided to put up this particular clock at this particular stop.

You wonder if there might not be some little kid somewhere far off in Tokyo, grown old herself now, who remembers coming out to this little station with her grandmother to witness the Tamanoe Elderly Association hang a beautiful new clock.

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