Shania Amodo is from Honolulu, Hawaii. She is a college student at Hawaii Tokai International College and a part-timer at a local Korean restaurant. She enjoys eating out, volunteering at her home church and experiencing creative endeavors (when she has the time). In her writing, she seeks to capture the truest essence of a human being.
Time for Time
I am surrounded by the smell of moist monkeypod trees and the sight of chipped primary colored playground equipment. It’s so deeply worn that I can see the rusted metal that makes up the swings and monkey bars, and I wonder if it’s safe that the fragments of paint stick on the palm of my 7 year old fingers. But in a split second, I decide it’s not important, and I continue gallying on the soft rock floor; When will church be over, so dad can chase the cousins and I around as the shark?
The time is 4pm. I know this, because I see the crowd of women and men in their Sunday-bests spill out from the sanctuary as ants do when you bother them feasting on a dead corpse of fellow insects. I anticipate dad catching sight of me as he strolls over to my play haven, and he does. As we wait for him on the second tier of the rusted castle, he immediately hurries his pace, and the cousins and I scramble to huddle in our base. It’s obvious what the plan is. We’re going to scatter all four, five, six of us, and then ambush dad with full force when he’s too tired from running. It’s unspoken but understood; every second counts. Dad then starts calling my name and tells me to come now, there’s no time to play anymore. I shout back, “Why dad? You’re the shark!” He comes closer in proximity, and my cousins and I bunch closer together.
Dad arrives nearer and raises his voice to us: “C’mon, guys! Your parents are waiting for you!”
But we tease him and relentlessly bark “Shark! Shark!” in his direction. At this point, he knows his role. Dad gives a deep sigh, performs his trademark roar (as all sharks must do in the ocean before attacking prey) and reaches out his arms to us as we disperse the huddle and act out our plan to conquer.
When I reflect back on the monkeypod trees and the now-copper-colored playground back at the old church, feelings of heavy nostalgia seep into me like newly formed lava traveling over the base of black rock beneath it. Those were the simpler times, where the only thing I worried about was if one of my cousins had to go home early after service, so we couldn’t vanquish dad as easily. Everything over ten years ago seemed like I was only living in the moment for the moment, and there was no thought to the almighty time because I wasn’t aware of its existence. Now I’m trying to run away from the ticking seconds and the moving of the clock hands, but I can’t band together with anyone to defeat it. We’re all shackled to its grip.
The future is what scares me the most. I live through every word I type and every thought I think, and I can’t help but wonder if I’m living through these moments right. Back then, it was all about dad turning into a ferocious creature every Sunday that my cousins and I had to ambush. Now 19 years old, every Sunday is still church, except after church I’m rushing home to get to my job that pays for my college tuition. “But what about after college, Nia? What are your career plans?” The people around me ask this in a cynical tone with emphasis on the word “career.” A hundred possible answers float through my mind before I can find the right one that doesn’t sound like I’m an undecided disappointment, but instead an open-minded venturer. Well, I am only 19. I’ve barely had my baby spoon portion of what the real world is and what this life holds. I can’t decide yet! I just know that I want to feel genuinity as I perform tasks required of me as I live throughout my short-spanned state. But time is cruel. It’ll make you think you have an abundance of it in your palm when there’s actually none of it there. It’ll deceive you into thinking you have to sacrifice your precious seconds, minutes and hours in order to have more to spend in the “future.” No, I don’t want that. I refuse to be confined to a full-time job sentence that restrains me to a company and makes me believe that I need them to live a satisfied life for retirement. Why are the people around me trading time for time when they already are in possession of it?
The shark game feels like it goes on for an hour when actually only 7 minutes have passed. Dad is now leaning against the light-blue and silver slide with the corrugated stairs attached to it to catch breath, and the six of us lock eyes with each other and we know it’s time to conquer. We don’t make haste. We scramble to his place of undeniable loss, five to seven year olds running in a crooked and scattered bunch. This doesn’t matter though, because as soon as dad looks up from his polished leather shoes, we have already grappled his limbs. He releases oxygen from his mouth as if trying to produce fire from his throat but just accepts his defeat.
I never wanted to be the shark because the shark attackers always knew how to win. Dad knew he lost by taking time to slow down, catch breath, and take his seconds for granted. This is where we found our opening. We’d seize his body like a pile of raked leaves and defeat belonged to him. I believe that in life, we are the sharks. Searching desperately for more seconds to spare, but they have already leaped out at us. Seized and conquered by time, we fall victim to losing it all. However, it didn’t have to be lost in the first place. We just take it for granted.