all that time at the center of the world

“so this is what may or may not matter to you, right now,” he said, “that time is one of the social construct we are forced to live in.”


“let’s just say you have this G-Shock here, ay? I mean them sturdy bunch,” he declared ostentatiously, “now it doesn’t make sense if you want me to meet someone here, 9.30 a.m., while everything revolves around what time is agreed between you, me, and this other… chick we haven’t met in like, ten years, twenty years, something like that.”

pretty much.

“now we are hanging out in a railway station—“

“mass transit.”

“—like two people out of place, and it’s not like we are waiting in Tochigi for the train departing from Tokyo or something.”

uh, no. definitely no.


“right.” as I replied, “time is a social construct and no, we are not in Tochigi…”


“… and if anything, you could have used smartphone or social network or something meanwhile all that time in between,” I continued. “dumbass.”

“that’s rich coming from you.”

“I’d say so.”

now, one of the features of this station—actually not dissimilar to any train station with any ounce of sensibilities—is that we have large clocks, digital; though as much as I would have liked Swiss design railway clock, beggars couldn’t be choosers, so we roll with what we have. overall no one is complaining, also not everyone needs to have Swatches or G-Shocks on their wrists at all times.

or at all times they were outside, to say the least. on the inside time may or may not be appreciated with so much exacting manners; our understanding of the nature of time has not been challenged too rigorously with regard to willingness to wake up in a Saturday morning, for example.

anyway science marched on, and along with it technology rolled forward, so our relationship with time have become more or less fixed with numbers and hours: from the clocks on the wall to quartz wristwatches to basic feature in smartphones, also screens in stainless steel frames telling the arrival schedule of incoming trains.

“I wonder what changed though,” he muttered. I shrugged.

“like what? the person or the times?”

“um. if we put it that way, I’m going to meet someone I haven’t seen in a long while, things may or may not have changed. life happens, people drift away.”

“well, at least this person does not feel too threatened to meet you.”


“I don’t know, that’s not always the case with people.”

from the beginning of their existence, railway stations have always been rife with metaphors of meetings and farewells. the clocks mark our uneasy relationship with time, arrivals are of fleeting joy, departures are of transitory sorrow. along the way we appreciate little good things like fast food to go or ekiben-style lunch box, in the fullness of time hours and minutes blur into shadows.

time is one of the most precious things you could give to someone. you are giving them part of your life you could never take back.

I decided to take a walk and buy some coffee from the vending machine.


it was around the time when the train arrives ten minutes before 10 a.m.; in the society as we know it the efforts in maintaining punctuality of trains in itself has been studied in depth, methodically and scientifically. our relationships with time have often been uneasy, but for all practical purposes, having trains arriving on time has never been known as the bane of significantly many people in the world.

familiar reverberation, followed by familiar tone, followed by familiar announcement. the train stopped moving and doors were opening.

a woman walked out. she looked at us and smiled with some sort of reservation we haven’t been unfamiliar with. I smiled back at her.

“hello, it has been a while,” I greeted. she nodded with a smile. as I grinned, “now you probably remember our friend here…”

as for the train bound to the next station, its doors closing and the announcement marked the departure from the place we were in.