A time to remember

I'm remembering a night at my grandparents' flat 60 or 61 years ago. It was a special occasion, a holiday, and the table was beautifully set, with white linen, flickering candles, glittering glass and silver. As the youngest son at the table. I had a special part to play. I did it, though I have no recollection whether well, and afterwards my grandfather handed me a small box. My first wristwatch. I remember nothing about that either, except that I proudly put it on my left wrist, as he had told me I should.

Little did I know, it was a trap.

My memories of my grandfather are very dim and probably not very accurate. He would walk me round town, teaching me to read by insisting I read every poster, every billboard, every newspaper headline. He let me taste his ice-cream, drowning in strong black coffee. For me he was just a strong, infallible presence. And he taught me to tell the time; the watch was, as much as anything, a recognition that I could now make good use of it.

At the table, I was doing my best to recline, as I knew I was supposed to. In a grown-up sized chair, that made my upper half more or less horizontal. I stretched forward for my glass of watered wine, taking it, for reasons I cannot fathom, in my left hand. I am right handed. My grandfather pounced.

"What's the time, boychik?"

Without a moment's hesitation, I poured the wine into my lap.

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