Written by Susan Browne, illustrated by John Arcus
It was twelve o clock and Sonam was thinking about his granddad. He was tired after helping in the garden all morning. He had a very special granddad who had ‘moved over to the spirit world’ his father had told him. ‘Passed away,’ other people had said. Sonam wished that he could move back, or pass back again so that he could chat to his granddad for a while. His granddad always wore a beaming smile, like he knew something nobody else did, and Sonam missed him sometimes. If Sonam asked his grandfather the time, he simply replied ‘it is now.’ Sonam thought he was being funny, but his expression stayed the same. So Sonam had to look at the clock to see what time ‘now’ really was.
‘See, Sonam?’ his grandfather would say, as Sonam told him what he thought of as the ‘real’ time. ‘It is now.’
Sonam looked at the clock. It was a minute past twelve. At two o’clock his friends Mum was picking him up and they were going to the cinema. Just less than two hours away!
Sonam closed his eyes and imagined his grandfather sitting in his usual chair with a smile playing on his lips and crinkly eyes that smiled too.
‘Come, Sonam. I want to show you something,’ he said, and sprang out of his chair as lithe as if he was Sonam’s age. Granddad led him out into the garden, but it didn’t look like the garden normally did. It wasn’t a garden at all in fact. It was a valley. And there were mountains and temples. And roses. So many roses. Sonam knew Granddad loved roses.
‘What do you see, Sonam?’ he asked.
‘Well it’s lovely. I wonder what’s over that mountain. Are there more temples… or what is there?
‘Okay, let’s go find out,’ said granddad.
So with lightning speed they travelled over the next mountain, as though they were flying. There was a majestic scene of greenery and a tumbling river. In the distance were some trees.
‘Do you like this, Sonam?’ said Granddad.
‘Yes. It’s really cool. But what’s in those trees, Granddad?’ asked Sonam.
‘Let’s go and see,’ he replied. So on they moved, on the currents of the wind. In the trees was a beautiful chattering jungle. Alive with colourful birds, monkeys, and the most beautiful flowers and trees Sonam had ever seen. Through it led a path.
‘Where does this lead I wonder? Said Sonam.
‘I wonder,’ said Granddad, and they followed the road swiftly, without feeling tired. The road led right through the jungle and on to a bustling village. Beautiful food smells filled their noses, and music and colourfully dressed dancers lined the streets, moving and swaying to drums and other musical instruments Sonam had never seen. Children played and laughed, Sonam could see they were having so much fun.
‘What time is it now, Granddad? I’m going to the cinema at two,’ Sonam remembered.
‘It is now, Sonam. The time is now.’ He paused for a moment. ‘What is now like? This moment, being here and seeing these things?’
Sonam stopped and breathed in a big deep breath. It was nice to be here now. Especially with granddad. Everything seemed to slow down and yet all the colours became brighter. As though Sonam could see clearer and hear even more sounds. He felt a sense of joy running through him. He watched a lady with a toddler, she was dressed in so many colours with flowers in her hair, she looked so happy as she walked hand in hand with her little boy. Two old men sat chatting and watching the world go by. Another man was painting a wooden fence carefully, and even he seemed to be enjoying himself. Sonam looked at Granddad and his face seemed to light up. ‘Granddad, I don’t want to go to the cinema any more. I just want to be here with you?’ he said, feeling sad all of a sudden.
Granddad smiled one of his big laughing smiles. ‘You are here with me, Sonam. This is the present. Stop flying off into the future Sonam. The present, which is now, is all that really exists.’
‘I’m not sure I understand,’ said Sonam.
‘Look at those children,’ said Granddad. ‘Do you think they have any idea what time it is? Or do they look worried about what is coming next?’
Sonam looked at them. They were so absorbed in what they were doing he was sure they didn’t have a clue what time it was or what was coming next. They were really enjoying their game and not thinking about the past or the future.
‘Why don’t you ask them if you can join in?’ said Granddad.
So Sonam did, and he had so much fun. Laughing and running and splashing. He had more fun than he had had in a long time. It seemed like time didn’t exist anymore. Granddad sat down and chatted to the two men.
‘Sonam, its nearly two o clock,’ his mother’s voice called. Sonam was back in the sitting room, after waking up on the sofa. ‘You were asleep!’ she exclaimed, smiling. ‘Did Dad work you too hard in the garden? Poor thing.’
Sonam was a bit shocked to be back at home so suddenly.
‘Granddad,’ he said, rubbing his eyes and looking all around.
‘No, Dad I said,’ Mum said. ‘Here’s some pocket money, come on, you need to get ready. They’ll be here in a minute.’
Sonam was a little sad that seeing Granddad was just a dream. But he really enjoyed their adventure, whether it was a dream or not.
The boys chatted all the way to the cinema. They were so excited.
‘I can’t wait to get there,’ said Josh. ‘What time is it?’
’It’s now,’ said Sonam.
Josh laughed, ‘that’s not a time!’
’No, I mean really. It’s fun being here now, here in this car, on this journey. It doesn’t matter what time. Just now.’
‘Okay,’ said Josh, and thought about it for a while.
And…. It really was fun in that moment. And Sonam began having more fun in each moment, even when it was before… or after… something that seemed like more fun. The adventure with Granddad changed the way he thought. And he knows now that the time is: now. Do you?