Fiction Five00-10

The Lost Hour

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Saturday, 1st April 2006

Meera rolled down the windows of her cab for a breath of fresh air. Unlike the humid air from back home, a pleasant chill brushed her cheeks red.

Around 8PM the cab pulled in front of her company arranged accommodation in Jersey City. As she unlocked the door to her 27th floor room, the view of the New York City skyline from across the Hudson River through her window wore off all her exhaustion. 

She sat down by the landline to dial a number. 

‘Hello!’ said the voice from the other end.

‘Hello Rhea!’ Meera chuckled.

‘Meera, you idiot. Where? How…how the hell are you calling me from a local number? Is it one of your April fool’s prank?’ 

‘No Rhea.’ Meera giggled and continued, ‘Landed this evening. It took me a lot of convincing to be done in the family to keep this a secret from you.’

‘Wonderful! Can’t wait to see you Meera. How about tomorrow?’

‘Deal! First a cup of coffee and then show me around your city, Rhea.’ 

They agreed on meeting at the Starbucks in front of WTC Path station in downtown New York at 12 noon the next day.  

After freshening up, Meera sat down to unpack few things. Some savouries for Rhea that was packed from home, few clothes, and a wall clock. She put the batteries in, switched on the TV to confirm the time and then hung it up. 

This clock was not a mere piece of time keeping. It held cherished memories from childhood. Every Sunday as the clock struck 12, Meera and her cousin Rhea would break into a little dance in tune to the bongs. 


Sunday, 2nd Apr 2006

Meera forced opened her groggy eyes as she counted 10 gongs. 

‘Even if I start by 11.15, I shall still make it on time. No irking the punctual Rhea.’

At 11, with few minutes to spare, she switched on the TV. As the clock gonged, a thought crossed her mind.

‘How about gifting the clock to Rhea! She would be so thrilled.’

A high-pitched voice on the TV broke her thoughts. There were disturbing images on the screen. She felt dizzy as the anchor kept repeating, ‘Atleast 3 dead and 6 others severely injured in a shooting incident at 11.57AM at the Starbucks outlet in front of WTC Path Station ‘.

Baffled, she turned towards her wall clock. It showed 5 minutes past 11. She immediately turned to the time on the TV- ‘12:05’.  It struck her right then. 

Rhea had said, ‘Daylight saving starts at 2.00 AM this Sunday when the clock moves forward an hour. I should be there before 12. Don’t be late.’

Meera was late by an hour. 

She kept re-dialling Rhea’s cell phone number while staring blankly at the ticker on TV and mumbling the words, ‘It wasn’t a prank…I am here..bloody DST…bloody clock. Answer Rhea!’ 

Her words were drowned in the noisy gongs as the clock struck 12.


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