It was now almost dawn and I knew it was time to close my eyes and sleep the last time, dream the last time. For time was the only thing that never changed and ever since I saw this watch it was ticking with everlasting youth unlike all the things man made the clock never stops, even if it does time does not wait for it. And sometimes at the verge of endings we remember the beginning for the last time, it induces the everlasting tender smile upon our lips just as the one that is floating on mine. But I can't remember that which memory is the most special. Only there was the silent sound of the second hand moving in the lost circles starting and ending as if it has forgotten where to go and is loitering around the same place.
It was the 17th December in the winter of 1941 it was snowing so hard that I could hardly breathe, my nostrils were burning as I strolled down the streets of Warsaw, the Polish capital was the queerest place I ever saw, the castles, the hills, the lonely stream reminded me of those fairy tales my mother used to read so that I could sleep into an enchanted dream. My lips quivered into a tender smile. The Polish army was everywhere armed and ready for more bloodshed, no one knew when the war was going to end. The armoured trucks crossed the streets and the moon rose up high in the heavens as if it was enjoying the war. The road bended into many unexpected bending, I walked on pulling my cloak tight to my body to lose as less amount of heat possible. I passed many houses by the lane all were dark no one had the courage to light a lamp in the fear of enemy planes bombing down on the earth. There were faint sounds of a radio transmitter somewhere, someone was hearing the news of the war anxiously, I could feel that everyone near and far was awake with eyes broad open as if awaiting the unknown disaster to break the silence of the night. It was really terrifying I could feel goose bumps rising all over my body, I know not whether it was the cold or the fear, both were at great height.
I was returning to my hotel and suddenly I felt that I was lost among the lanes. I stopped for a while puzzled what to do, then I looked down the lane there was not a single soul. I began to feel anxiety to find a way out. I thought maybe someone could help me out with the way to the hotel. I without any haste entered into the garden of a house which looked much same as the others and walked towards the door. I was confused what to do and stood there for a few minutes; I took out the watch from my pocket and glanced into it, 11:25 it read. Then I made a soft thud on the door, nothing happened, I repeated it and asked if anyone was there, no one answered. At last I turned my back and was leaving when I heard the front door creak. I turned back; it was an old woman carrying a dimly lit lantern; she had a stern look on her face and signalled me in. I, without thinking stepped on the mattress of the room. It was a small hall and all the windows were closed, the only source of light was the dimly lit lantern flickering with the wind blowing from outside the opened door. Everything was as if a ghastly image of the war.
Before I could ask the way to the hotel the old woman held my hand and made me seated in an oak chair. I then looked at her, she was as white as the snow outside and her skin had enormous wrinkles. She was smiling and asking me something in the native tongue. I could not follow but nodded my head as if I could understand her. Then I asked in English "Mam, can you tell me the way to Hotel Krystal?" She kept quiet but lifted her hand to tell me to wait. Then she mounted up the stairs and disappeared. I took out the watch again and looked in it, it read 11:35.
I kept looking around the room, there were large family paintings on the wall, everything was very ornate inside except the fear of war in which the house was immersed. I heard footsteps descending the stairs. The old woman reappeared with a young man. The man looked at me and talked to her in polish, she disappeared again. The man smiled and asked "You don't look like from here."
"Yes, I am British" I said looking down. He sat down in front of me with an inquisitive face trying to figure out my problem.
"Sir, I want to know the way to Hotel Krystal, I am lost." I said and looked for an answer.
"Take the lane straight and walk until it ends, then turn left after two lanes take right and you will find the highway walk straight and you will find it after one block." He said pausing momentarily.
I thanked him and was about to leave when I found a little boy hiding behind the curtain of the next room, I asked him to come to me. He did not move but then the man called him, he proceeded to the centre of the room. "This is my son, Szymon."
I called him and patted his head, the old woman brought some rum and I chatted with the man for hours about our lives, our lands, the war and everything else we could in an hour. It seemed that we were old friends. The man was a banker from the Polish National Bank. Meanwhile we talked the boy listen eagerly trying to understand our language, he never lost his interest. At last I took out my watch from my pocket, it read quarter to one. The boy's eyes suddenly gleamed with marvel. I said that it was a British pocket watch with gold plating, he took it in his hands and examined it like a new toy. I felt his curiosity and asked him to keep it. His father did not agree but then I persuaded him.
The man asked me many times to spend the night at their home and then go back to my hotel in the morning. The wind was roaring and it was snowing harder now. I felt warm inside and did not want to go, I was even feeling drowsy but I did not agree and left saying goodbye.
The road bended as described by the man and after a while I entered my hotel still thinking of the stern incident. I was so tired that as soon as I reached my room I felt asleep. I dreamt of the enemy bombing and fire blazing and everything worse than anything. I heard voices shouting out I suddenly woke up, it was daylight there were shouts everywhere fire was blazing outside, cars were ruptured, buildings engulfed and demolished by the bombings.
I thought it was a dream but sometimes it is quite difficult to accept the reality, fear caught my guts, I rushed down the stairs everyone was running around the road, military trucks, ambulances, it was a massacre I never expected to wake. The orangey sunbeams coloured the snow like pale blood, the whole city seemed to be unknown from the one I knew the night before. I ran wildly suddenly wanting to see whether the house was safe I ran through the snow like a wild hound but could not find it everything was grounded. I searched all the lanes but could not find it. A sudden emotion caught me I was crying like a baby.
At last after a long search I found the house, it was demolished with only one wall standing, it felt that last night everything was a dream. I moved into the fence and shouted "Szymon, Szymon...." I picked up a few broken masses of the building and suddenly a light blinded my eyes, I saw it was my watch, its golden case was gleaming in the sun. It was held firmly in a small hand which was buried under a large mass of the ravaged house. I took it in my palm and opened it slowly, the sun suddenly hid itself behind the clouds as if ashamed to see the time. It was still ticking and ticking with an everlasting youth. Everything was in despair but the watch still moved in a perfect harmony giving a perfect example of how it was perfect.
I was saved and so was my watch. It was for that time and still it remained as a never forgetting memory in my mind. The memory that best suited to be remembered even 40 years later, the war had ended and everything changed. But one thing was for sure I knew would not change was the silent ticking of the clock even after my death.