“Mummy, I am hungry. Just two minutes” This innocent advertisement with a cute mom and son could be held responsible for the distortions that have been brought into the concept of time in all 21st century homes. Two minutes for any other person on the planet would mean exactly two minutes or 120 seconds. In the present context with a child in the scene however two minutes can range from anything less than two minutes to a maximum time of half an hour to even a day of twenty four hours.
The concept of time was clear in all minds till a century ago. Right from waking up to going to school or work, doing homework and hitting the bed at the right time was biologically correct. Somewhere in the present century there seems to be a gene mutated so much so that one minute and two minutes don’t seem to have any clear sense at all.
As a working mother my most precious moments in time are in the morning where every minute is worth precious 60 seconds. I can pack a lunch box or even drape a saree or get down two floors or plait my hair all in one minute. However, this efficient mind of mine on many days is at cross roads when I have to do a very simple chore of waking up my child. The only reply I get when I do that is the innocent face with one eye open saying “Mummy two minutes”. The innocence is not lost on me while I go and do my other errands, I try waking her up exactly after two minutes and this time with two eyes open in a quick glance saying “two minutes Mummy”. This peek -a -boo goes on for around two to three repetitions when my voice decibels are heard by everyone in the house and there is a scurry of footsteps with everybody waking up and rushing into washrooms. Two minutes and all are ready. This ritual of time being massacred is a common feature in almost all present households with children and parents in the game.
The two minute syndrome doesn’t seem to stop here. As a teacher of a school I have encountered this many times when I have to take the answer paper at the count of time and one or two children would look at me and say” Ma’m two minutes” knowing that two minutes can be a 5- minute or even more schedule in time.
The most exasperated moment was once travelling by train when an elderly gentleman boarded a train just as it was leaving the station. His entire family was left stranded on the platform. Without a second thought he pulled the chain bringing the massive caterpillar to a stop. All the passengers in the metro rushing to their offices looked at him menacingly while he gave his nonchalant answer “Two minutes”.
The encounters with these distortions are many. From a grocery vendor to a ticket collector, to a plumber to a politician all make use of this distortion to their advantage. A medical conference on this deliberate distortion should be conducted so as to understand the internal wiring of the brain and the concept of time. Has the generation forgotten the concept of time or do they deliberately try to misunderstand it? A diagnosis is sure to give interesting results. If this is not done we might encounter distortions not only in the concept of minutes but also days and hours. Just imagine the world where a minute doesn’t mean a minute, an hour does not mean an hour and a day doesn’t mean a day too. How do we balance this?
Yes, two minutes to a member of the present generation has completely lost its meaning. It’s just a euphemism to wait a little longer and also with no offence taken as it is just a small period of time. In case you would like to argue then you are a serious offender as two minutes is just two minutes.
( The author is Principal,Delhi Public School, Nadergul )