It took me a long time to finally come to terms with the afternoons. I was always the person who hated the scorching sun. I also hated the mornings and the morning rituals.
The same vendors and their routines.
People going for walks with the same worries as they had the night before.
Father leaving early. Mother leaving a little later than that. I couldn’t accept it, but I couldn’t have changed it, even if I tried. I know.
But I hated afternoons even more than I hated mornings. Maybe it was because there was always a deafening silence engulfing the house. It felt like it burned me. Loneliness has spikes that can tear you apart.
I hated the laziness that comes with lunch. My eyes were open, but I was never awake. I used to rise in the evenings. I loved the hustle-bustle and the sound of children in the garden. I loved the freedom that evening playtime brings. I still love those two hours in the evening.
That time—5PM till 7PM—is mine.
No matter the season, the evenings are always cold. Back then, I thought cold was calm. I was naive. I loved seeing people return to their homes. Free from their work responsibilities, they looked much more relaxed.
Peace would return to me as I looked at the clock and realized that my dad would be back home soon. Happiness would fill my heart knowing my mom wouldn’t go anywhere now that it was nighttime. If she did, then I would go with her. She would never leave me alone at home in the dark.
Even when I grew up, I hated afternoons. He used to end our dates in the middle of the afternoon, after lunch. They never went till 5 PM and never saw a night.
Then, one afternoon, I realised it was over.
Afternoons are boring, I told everyone. A few people told me that they sleep them off. I envied them. I tried and failed. I couldn’t find peace in the middle of the day. My anxious heart was working tirelessly to glue itself back together.
365 X 3= 1,095 afternoons that went by before my heart was mended.
When I aged a little more, afternoons felt the same but meant different things. I couldn’t blink an eye knowing there was still time to make the day count. To be more productive. To achieve what I set out to do. My heart was still anxious and looking for work with which I could fall in love. I started meeting people in the afternoons. Work meetings, mostly. They never went very well.
I understood that people who mean business start their day with important things. If they have pushed a meeting with you to the afternoon and if it’s about work, then either you or your work isn’t that important to them. It’s especially not as important as all the work they did in the morning before meeting you.
I started saying no to work proposals if the person asked for an afternoon meeting. Post-lunch, they call it. I call it priorities. I refused to go for many post-lunch meetings.
My afternoons became idle.
I tried to cheat. I sat in cafes and bars. There the loud music makes you feel like it’s not afternoon, but you can’t accept it as evening either, because the people sitting in the cafes and bars at that time have a certain look on their face. It says: They are going through a rough afternoon.
I tried to escape the afternoons. I started watching movies. Matinee time, right? I felt like I wasted a few movies and the good time I could have had, if only I had watched them at night. My mind used to wander away, anticipating evening excitement. Those movies never stayed with me.
I prefer watching movies at night. It helps me live the illusion better. Call it a night in some other world than the one you live in.
In the afternoons, I was always in hurry, looking at the clock, waiting for the evenings.
Something had to be done. I had to make peace with the time between 2PM and 5PM. I realised that the only way to change your life and the time in it is to plant the seeds of what you love where you feel most barren.
The times we hate the most can turn into the times that become our roots. Afternoons are plentiful in life, but if they are spent creating something you love, then they won’t hurt you so much. So, after trying many things, I realised what I should do and shouldn’t do if I wanted to befriend my afternoons.
I shouldn’t check the clock,
I shouldn’t have a heavy lunch,
I shouldn’t waste them on internet,
And I shouldn’t think of past afternoons,
I should do what I like,
I should meet whom I like,
I should create something new,
I should write something new,
I should take an afternoon bath,
and I should meditate after that.
And just like that, I started loving my afternoons. The silence turned into inner stillness. Emptiness became the peace in my mind and all around me. I didn’t mind the scorching sun; I started loving the warmth it brings. I brought out the stories from the unknown corners of my mind to the paper. I brought the flavor from the deepest corners of my heart to fill those stories with life.
The time began to fly as I started writing every day from 2PM till 5PM. I befriended my afternoons.
Now, the afternoon of life, whenever it comes, doesn’t scare me. I know what I’ll be doing. I’ll be writing, just like this.