A timepiece, figuratively.

A Short Story

By Nomthandazo Zwane


They say that “it gets better with time”. They say that “time is the ultimate healer of wounds” and that “no wound is ever too deep for time to heal”. But I look at my left leg and it tells a completely different tale.

August 2006
This one time in grade 3, I had been so exhausted playing all weekend that on a musty Monday morning, when our transport dropped us off at the school gates, I just stood behind the vehicle trying to gather up enough strength to go through it. Well, the “gathering up” part took a little too long. I ended up getting so lost in my thoughts that I didn’t even hear the vehicle revving. I just got a very rude awakening of a burning sensation on my left leg.  And, omg, I screamed so loud, a siren is nothing compared to the piercing sound I made that morning. Pupils, the lovely lady who used to sell ice pops and the transport driver all gathered around me thinking that the vehicle may have ran over my foot when reversing, but no, it was something less serious. I had only been burned by the warm air secreted by the exhaust of the vehicle I was standing behind. When I got home on that day, I was fuming over the incident that occurred in the morning. I wanted to change my transport. I threw the biggest tantrum ever known to mankind. How could the driver be so reckless? But my mother, in all of her kindness, nursed my wound and then told me that “no wound is ever too deep for time to heal”. I was so mad that things didn’t go my way, but I got over the incident as I could feel very little, if any, pain as time went by.

July 2019
During the toughest time I’ve ever had to endure in my 21 years of existence, the passing of my sister. Everyone told me to “give it time”, “time does ABC”. I caught a glimpse of the wound I got that musty Monday Morning while bathing. I reminisced to that day and remembered what exactly happened. One would think that 13 years later the wound would be a little less visible, shrunk to being a tiny little mark or even completely disappeared but no that’s not the case with my wound. It’s still perfectly visible even though it no longer hurts. The ‘time’ that heals everything hasn’t taken its course, I suppose. But maybe it has. Maybe time was never meant to get rid of the wound, maybe it wasn’t supposed to do away with the wound and wipe off the incident from my subconscious since it was an unfortunate and undesirable situation. Maybe time’s purpose is to numb the pain, to make it slightly more bearable, to blur memories, to ease the pain you felt when it occurred without having you completely forget about the tough times. Maybe time leaves wounds to remind us of what was. To have us look at how life was back then before everything changed for the better, or in other cases the worst. To remind us of what had been, before the whirlwind turned what we grew accustomed to as ‘normal’ to something else that we barely know and comprehend.

And, perhaps, time is what shows us that even though things do not go exactly as we had planned, we can move right along with all the pain that we’ve incurred. We can learn to embrace the wounds that mark certain experiences of the past. Time is merely there to put us through certain experiences that we thought we couldn’t, that we thought were the end of us, but we learn that they were there to shape the person that we become in the future. Time reveals that we are so strong, resilient and have unwavering pride in ourselves because we know that we went through the life-changing, earth-shattering, and slightly damaging obstacles but we managed to make it through alive. We survived the worst. What else could break us after this? Nothing! And, I think that is time’s most underrated superpower. It’s healing and its ability to make us learn the power bestowed on us.