The English language has no dearth of beautiful adjectives that describe everything one would possibly ever want to describe. There are some adjectives however, that must go with certain nouns. It is as if they were made as pairs – blue sky, crispy fries, cosy couch, hot cuppa. These pairs have been coined as such because those things are meant to be and are definitely preferred to be what these adjectives describe them as. The sky can be white or grey but is preferred to be blue, a couch better be cosy, and fries would not be great any other way than crispy or the cuppa anything other than hot. “Lazy afternoon” is a pair I consider to be one of this kind. Afternoons were made by the Creator to be lazy, weren’t they?
Human beings, like most creatures on this earth, wake up at some time in the morning and go about their buzz. After the activity of the mornings are done comes the necessary meal break. And sure enough, as the sun makes its way from the zenith of its daily position down to the horizon, and as the recently consumed meal makes its way through the digestive system, there creeps in that bit of lethargy in the body that calls for a temporary slowdown of pace. That’s why, afternoons were meant to be lazy!
Our ancestors were smart people – they understood these things well. The pace of life until a couple of generations before ours allowed for afternoons to be what they were meant to be – a bit more easy-paced and laid back than the sessions prior and after. Shops shut down, courts went into recess, all workers took a break – not just to grab their lunch but also to pause a bit after downing it. After all, afternoons were meant to be lazy.
I fondly remember afternoons in my childhood days. I used to have morning school, allowing me to be home in the afternoons. The slowdown of the household was very evident at that time. The kitchen, after a hectic morning, would be neatly cleaned up and left alone, devoid of its normal sounds of utensils and running appliances. My mother would have retreated for a well-deserved siesta or a reading break after her long session of housework since early hours of the morning. The helper would have also left for her abode. The house would don on a peaceful blanket of tranquility, telling everyone – “Afternoons are meant to be lazy”.
The peace of that hour was so enjoyable, that we (my siblings and I) almost felt it was our duty to maintain it. It meant being careful and deliberate about it, but we had gotten so used to it that it became second nature. Any movement about the house would be quiet and hushed, to ensure it did not disturb the peace prevalent at that hour. During school days, I would have my homework to deal with on most afternoons, but I never lost a chance to enjoy this peace and quiet by reading a short story or solving the daily newspaper crossword puzzle or listening to a song (at low volume), or organizing the most recent stamp acquisitions in my stamp book. During vacations, we had all kinds of activities and games happening all day; many times, we had cousins and/or friends staying with us. The house would be filled with kids. But even that almost never threatened this afternoon peace. Whatever activities we did, we always ensured that we gave our normal ruckus and hullabaloo a break for that hour or so in the middle of the day. After all, afternoons were meant to be lazy!
This short period of quiet would officially end with the lovely ritual of afternoon tea. We kids used to get different milk-based drinks, depending on our preferences, while my mother had her cup of tea. The drinks were always accompanied by a light snack – either pre-made or something freshly and quickly fixed up. That cuppa and bite, and off we would go to make all the noise we wanted to and had kept under wraps in the earlier session, with no fear of any admonition for it. Even today, my idea of ideal afternoons (defined as the short time post lunch) still hovers around this concept of slowing down just that little bit to give the body and mind a short break to get back to what it needs to do after that. That’s why, afternoons are meant to be lazy.
In the maniacal corporate world of today which never stops, there is no concept of time of day (or night) left. Work has expanded to fill every possible hour and minute of the twenty four hours that define a full day. What chance then does one have of a lazy afternoon?
This was one such mad day. I had just had my lunch at my desk while punching through my email, which was far from done. I flipped to my calendar, and saw with a sigh the slew of meetings lined up for the rest of the day. I looked at my email in front of me, the pile of reading my assistant had left on my right for me to finish for next day’s meeting, and saw over my left shoulder a colleague waiting to discuss something. I shut my eyes momentarily and made a decision. I turned to my colleague and requested to meet after a quarter of an hour. I collected my computer, walked to the pantry and settled myself in a corner seat, and opened a new session on Google Chrome to the page of my favourite crossword puzzle site. I smiled at myself as I started solving the daily crossword. I knew it would take me about ten minutes. Having thus allowed myself the luxury of my “lazy” time, I would make myself a cup of coffee and walk over to my colleague to discuss the topic he so badly needed my help on. That little pause, that bit of punctuation in the day was all I needed to pander to my little whim. How stupid of me to deny myself that!
After all, afternoons are meant to be lazy!
~ Musingly Yours.