There are days when you awake suddenly from a deep slumber, open your eyes and see streaks of sunlight penetrating through the corners of your curtain to light up your room. Days when you turn quickly to glance at your wall clock, fearing that you are late again for that important meeting at work. Days when your fear is confirmed and panic strikes you with so much force that it numbs you for a minute. Days when you recover from that panic-induced trance, kick the bed covers off and spring to life, hoping to accomplish the one hour task of preparing for work in less than a minute. Days when you jump in the shower and barely scrub yourself clean. Days when you brush your teeth and put on your suit at the same time, before zooming out of your apartment to dash for the matatu stage.
On such days you get to your office building and scamper through the reception without exchanging any pleasantries, heading straight to the boardroom where the meeting is supposed to be going on. You push open the door slowly and stealthily hoping that it won’t make any noise. Noise draws attention. And you don’t want that now. Do you? Not when you are late like this. You only want attention when you have done a good job and your boss is pleased with you so much he wants to reward you with a long vacation in Dubai. But now dreams are shattered like this; that same door that you are relying on to be your partner in crime decides to betray you like Judas did Jesus, and it squeaks loudly as it turns on its hinges as if to announce your triumphant entry into the room.
The occupants of that boardroom turn in unison to stare down at you from their high horses – and you look back sheepishly, noticing that everyone is present. Your boss. His boss. Your colleagues. Everyone but you, the late comer.
While shutting the door of betrayal behind, you strut into the room defiantly, ignoring the stares, stares full of judgment and hypocrisy. Your seat happens to be placed on the other end of the room, and you see it standing out rather conspicuously, sandwiched in between two similar seats occupied by two of your workmates, one of whom is struggling to stay awake, and you wonder how on earth you are ever going to get through to it without ruffling any feathers.
The only option you seemingly have is to take that trip across the room – which is packed to full capacity – to reach that seat. You maneuver around awkwardly, excusing yourself as you move. Furniture is dragged against the polished marble floor, making screeching sounds as it is moved, papers are shuffled haphazardly as people get up from their seats to create way for you to reach your destination, resulting in a commotion that wakes up even the peeps who sleep during such meetings.
You finally settle onto your seat hoping that the attention will now shift onto something more interesting.
On such days you wish that the ground would open up and swallow you alive. But it refuses. It stands its ground and abandons you, with shame weighing heavily on your shoulders, and your job at stake.
You sit there in silent reflection, vowing never to get late again and knowing all too well that this vow, as solemn as it sounds now, has been made many a time before. And it has been broken in equal measure.
You have broken it with reckless abandon because deep down, you are a chronic late comer and you cannot help it.
And in that humorless moment of introspection, you start wondering whether you are always late at life. Whether you, unlike your peers, have always been the last to arrive at the party. Whether you are always the last to finish school, or to start a family, or to start your own company. Or any other thing that we dream of at night before waking up late for work.
But all in all, maybe there is a time for everything, and even if you are never on time, you always show up in the end. Maybe that’s what really matters. I do not know. Do you?