The Watchmaker Of Vansang

With death comes a new life and with death comes a small gift of life. Kima opened the box left to him by his now dead father. A little black box like the suit he wears with a little black tie that stood out from his white chest. In it he found a vintage watch which his father would always wear on Sundays because it made him look good, it made him a man. He never cared for a watch or anything that might weigh him down in the hot humid air of Vansang but this watch was different or at least it was something to him now. He was old enough to carry his father’s legacy or to put it plainly, it was given to him by time itself.
He would look upon the old hand watch in his room for days and the memory of his father telling him the story about the watch came back to him over and over again. He remembered one Sunday afternoon sitting on his father’s lap as a little boy and waiting for the tea as his mother boils the milk while taking off her Sunday dress. His father would tell him the story of his watch which he inherited from his father who served during world-war II. Kima already knows the story too well, but he loves to watch his father telling him his favourite story about how his grandfather traded a loaf of bread with a watch from a German before returning home as a hero. His grandfather was always so full of stories that some writers and intellectuals would come to him to seek some of his advice and stories for their work, but he never got to write one himself because he was not a man of writing and prefers to tell because according to him, telling has more emotions and skills than writing.
But Kima’s thoughts were on his father and the watch and how a little thing can mean so much to a man when he can have so much more far better than this old, stained leather watch. But he loved his father, and he would like to love what his father had loved because he too was what his father had loved. It was like a snap when it occurred to him that the watch was not working. He had been looking at this watch for days and who knows maybe weeks, but it was just at this moment he noticed that the watch was not working at all. It was dead, cold and it reminded him of its previous owner.
He left the house to look for a watchmaker in the streets of Vansang and it felt like it was his first time visiting the streets. Everything was brighter and more saturated, and it hurt his eyes. Had he been crying on the way? Even he couldn’t recall. All he knows is that he was to look for a watchmaker but had no clue where to start. He thought he knew the streets and the bazaar, but he now realised how little he knew the streets all these years. It was his first time seeing a flower shop that stood directly where he stood and besides it stood a bookshop painted in olive green which gave it a foriegn look amongst the other unpainted concrete walls.
He wandered the streets (which he thought he knew) to look for a watchmaker or any other shop that could repair his father’s watch, but he finally gave up after turning his head here and there and he sat down on a bench near a tea stall. Oh, how the smell of fried eggs and boiled milk aroused his empty belly. It watered his mouth, but he was not in a mood to satisfy his hunger but on a mission to fix something that was far more than himself or any other thing.
As he looked and turned the watch, something was embedded with dots on the metallic surface on the back of the watch. He had seen this before, but like the streets it was new to him again. They seemed to form a pattern that hardly resembles a word and he kept on rubbing his thumb on the surface again and again to understand what it meant or to crack the code. After a hard look under the blistering sun, he could make out a word. Or a number –
“M-11, VS’’
It was an address! His heart was beating fast because he knew too well what VS stands for (Vansang) but he had to figure out what M-11 meant. Upon asking the woman selling the tea, she replied that it must be a serial number of a shop since her own daughter worked in a toy shop with the serial number of F-122.
He rushed towards the traffic point where the map of a city was fixed on a metal bulletin board and place his finger on the scribbling numbers and red dot tracks. They look like veins to him, and the number ants. As he followed the pattern of the red dots and the number of the shops, he finally found his answer or if he was more adventurous, he finally found his treasure. The number and the roads lead him to the older section of the city and as he look upon the shops and the buildings, he could tell by the cracks on the windows and on the walls that this place had been here for a long time but to his surprised, he never walked upon these older section of the city. He knows that Vansang is big and is far older than the city of Aizawl itself, but it felt as if time had moved away from these buildings and these shops.
By studying the serial numbers of the store one after the other, he finally stopped before an old antique watch shop and on a rusty metal sheet above its black wood door was written the serial number – M-11, VS. Kima turned the handle of the knob and went inside as if he had been here many times before.
The inside of the shop was filled with different kinds of watches. Some with long chains and some inside a glass container. He cared too little to know about them or to appreciate their beauty and as he looked upon the ceiling, he saw those different kinds of animals (taxidermy) forming a circle high in the ceiling as if flying around in a circle towards heaven itself. He was enchanted. He was calm. It was not until he heard the sound of someone else breathing beside him that he snapped back into reality. An old man was sitting on a bench working on a watch with all the lights and magnifying glass and he did not even look at his customer.
But he just said with a calm and shaky voice ‘Let me take a look at your watch…Kima’
Kima obeyed without question and handed his watch to the watchmaker. The watchmaker’s fingers were bony and white. He took the watch and examined it carefully and finally began to work. He was silent and so fixated on his work that Kima thought it best to keep quiet and not disturbed the old man. And after a few moments of silence, the watchmaker finally finished and extended his arm towards Kima to hand him his watch. Kima took the watch and put it on his left wrist just like his father used to and stood still for a moment, bank and unresponsive.
‘Looks like a healthy boy to me…’’ said the watchmaker.
‘He is, after all my son, I’ve fed him well.’
‘The payment is finished, anything else I can do for you?’’ The Watchmaker.
‘I’ll be back after……sometime later’
And before he leaves, he turned to the watchmaker and said ‘I really like this one, he loves me, can you pick a nice spot for him in the ceiling if it’s not a trouble for you’’
The watchmaker remained silent and continued to work on his table. And after his customer left the shop happily, he took a deep breath and looked upon the ceiling and saw the latest addition to his collection of taxidermy looking down upon him with eyes of betrayal like the rest of the animal with faces of humans crying down upon him.

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