“Why do we have Time, Ma?” asked the little one when he was really little.
“Because we all die.”, I replied promptly.
He looked at me. And nodded.
I was his mother, and I was always right – he was at that age.
I decided to take the plunge. Its never to early to talk metaphysics. Or meta.
“Time is an artificial construct”, I started. Then I realised he was only three, and may not understand construct. (Though he had taught me the word ‘reprise’ just a week ago, bless his teacher)
“Time is not real” I bravely marched on. “It is like pieces of cake. Everyday we wake up and look at the day, and say, mmm .. cake! What shall we do with it? But the whole cake is too big to swallow. So, we slice it up evenly, and call each piece an hour. Then, we plan what we will do with each hour and do it.”
“But Ma, then how do we have years?”
We both looked at each other and laughed. Just a few months ago, when he turned three, he woke up on the morning of his birthday and touched his ears. Then looked in wonderment and asked – “If I am three ‘ears old, why do I still have only two ears?”
When the laughter subsided, the question rose again.
Why do we have years?
“Life is like the cake, again”, I continued. “Some people have big cakes, and other people have small cakes. We slice it up, sort of sensibly, and then call them years. All the slices are the same size, some people end up with more, others with less”
He was silent.
“I like cake”, he said.
“So do I. Let’s have some now for breakfast”, I said, reaching for the cake tin, resolving to tell him about good slices and bad slices another day.