I grew up hearing lots of stories about my grandfather’s clock. What’s so special about a clock that has tick-tocked since before World War II?
My father would spin paranomal tales about this unique clock to us and anyone else who was interested to hear the tale. And my father was good at adding extra spice to the tale but take note this is a true story for I have witnessed the weird happenings that followed my grandfather’s clock.
My parents told us lots of stories on fairy tales and nursery rhymes. They sparked our imagination with such characters like pixies and faeries; witches and ogres; castles and dungeons. And just like my tagline “In my imagination I reached out and touched reality”, I did indeed enter a different world through tales.
But I knew the story about the clock was not just a tale, it was my family’s heritage being passed down to us, the next generation.
During my childhood days most nights were spent being together as a family talking, laughing and being noisy.
My father would carry his rattan chair out onto the courtyard. Placing it at his favourite spot, he sits down and lights his cigarette. He puffs away in silence while us children will be as noisy as ever. My mother sits and enjoys her family at the end of the day.
Usually after dinner, under the night sky filled with twinkling stars, is when story telling comes to life; the gift of a story-teller.
My father’s story telling were always fascinating to hear. And as children we were always eager for him to start on one of his tales.
One night he told us the story about our grandfather’s clock which has since fascinated and haunted me.
His father had a wall clock that was displayed proudly in the living room. My grandfather was the only one who wound up the clock. No one else was supposed to touch the clock. It was his pride and joy.
The history of the clock goes way back, to before World War II. But something unusual happened to the clock during World War II.
The raid by Japanese bombers on one of their early attacks struck close to home. The explosion caused the glass covering the clock’s face to break into pieces. The shock stopped the clock.
My grandfather thought his clock was destroyed but when he pushed the pendulum, the clock started again. He never replaced the broken glass covering the clock’s face, a reminder of the war.
After a few days my grandfather noticed that his clock now struck the hour five minutes early. Even after my grandfather sent the clock for repair it never again struck the hour on the dot, it was always five minutes early.
This is true, during my growing up years I have seen the chimes of the clock go off five minutes early every time.
If I thought this clock was wonky I was in for a few more surprises. My father continues his tale.
It seems my grandfather claims that the clock can predict if someone in the family was sick or dying.
My father took this with a pinch of salt. He was hesitant to believe in such things like a clock that could predict the future.
But his father claimed this as absolutely true. My grandfather was a very religious man and never lied, not even to tell a small white lie. So you can imagine he was brunt to a fault.
Whenever the clock stops for no apparent reason it is known that either there was someone sick in the family or someone was about to die.
My grandfather said however much you wound up the clock, pushed the pendulum, the clock will just stop.
Then once the crisis was over, you push the pendulum and the clock works just fine.
Trust me, I have seen things happened that till today I don’t have any logical answers.
The day came when my grandfather was sick and dying. The old man called all his children to gather around him as he had something to tell them.
Dramatically he whispered. Tomorrow night at the last stroke of 9 o’clock the angels were coming to take him.
My father was wondering if his father was delirious and talking nonsense about the angels and meeting His Maker.
My father also could not believe that the old man was dying as the clock did not stop at all. It was ticking away just fine. It was not giving any prediction of the future.
The only one doing the predicting was my grandfather. But the doctor had already told my grandmother that her husband was on his deathbed.
So the next day, everyone was gathered around the old man’s deathbed. My grandfather was weak but his speech was clear. He gave advise to the younger ones to listen to their elders.
He then asked my father to take care of his younger siblings, a heavy responsibility on such a young shoulder. Being the eldest son my father made the promise asked by his father.
But my father couldn’t think of anything much except what his father said about angels coming to take him at the last stroke at 9 o’clock.
Then, the first chimes for 9 o’clock was heard. The room was in complete silence except for my grandfather’s voice.
The second chime sounded, my father was anxious yet deep inside he knew his father spoke the truth about the angels.
The chimes continued until it sounded the ninth chime. Believe it or not, my grandfather drew his last breath and died peacefully.
That was the first time my grandfather’s clock didn’t stop at all, the day he died. But his clock continued to predict if someone in the family was sick or dying. It stops and however much you wound it up, the clock refuses to work until the crisis passes or there is a death in the family .
Through the years I have seen this supernatural oddity in my grandfather’s clock. I have had the message of death arrive without much surprise. The clock’s prediction always prepared us for the worst of sad and bad news.
The clock tolled of my grandmother’s dying a few days earlier. It gave my father time to be with his mother before she died. Would you call this a blessing to have in your family closet or one you would rather not have?
Many, many more times my grandfather’s clock predicted sickness, accidents and death among aunts and uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews.
Then came the day when for the second time, my grandfather’s clock didn’t stop. It was the day my father died.
The one who told me this story remembered his father’s clock and the angels coming at 9 o’clock at the time of his own death.
But the clock did not stop, it continued ticking on. We were not prepared for my father’s death. Till today a part of me was angry and yet relieved.
Why did my father focus on his father’s clock so much? This mysterious clock had so much attention paid to its predictions, its refusal to tick on until a crisis had passed or there was a death in the family. Hearts beat a little faster, anxious of who is injured, sick or dying as the clock stops yet again.
Two years after my father’s death the clock stopped again. And even after being wound up as usual it kept stopping every few minutes.
My mother asked us to stop the pendulum. Ever since then, the chimes of my grandfather’s clock has remained silent.
The clock remained as a display piece on the wall until I moved into my own home. Then My grandfather’s clock went into storage, out of sight.
But will my grandfather’s clock remain silent forever? Only time will tell.
By C.E. Pereira