that we see or seem,
is but a dream within a dream"
- Edgar Allan Poe (1849)
afternoons are always long and sullen. The air is suffused
with slothfulness and the streets are dry and dusty. Vines
that snaked up electric poles during monsoon are by now
wilted and crisp; drunken mosquitoes buzz about in the
humidity before dehydrating to death. Thirsty cracks in
the footpaths widen, gaping open mouthed into the sky,
in futile expectation of rain.
I stared aimlessly at the deserted street from my bedside
window, my eyelids grew heavier as laziness swamped me.
I could see the sweaty bald head of the gatekeeper below
gleaming in the sweltering rays of the sun, as he languidly
clapped his hands in vain attempts to kill disturbing
bluebottles. A couple of black hungry-looking crows were
perched on the sagging telephone cables; both of them
had weary eyes and were …
I was immediately lost in a different world, and a mist
made up of a mélange of colours enveloped me. As
this strange mist cleared, a refreshing breeze blew across
my entire body and I felt as if I was suspended in mid
air. Suddenly I realised that I was no longer on the ground,
but far above it, flying effortlessly through a clear
pale blue sky, with majestic silver-lined clouds floating
above me. All around me it was as white as snow and more
clouds of a variety of shapes were now moving below me,
from vibrant bubbly ones to neat plaited ones.
now felt as if I was descending. As my feet approached
the layer of clouds beneath me, I could clearly make out
jagged peaks and snow-laden precipices. I landed on a
soft ground of snow at the top of a mountain, and as I
looked around at the magnificent surroundings, my heart
was filled with awe and delight. The clouds merged with
the distant peaks to create a truly heavenly scene, and
the white misty horizon was dotted with grey mountain
peaks, all standing regally like kings and queens silently
watching over their realm.
however these distant silhouettes began to rise into the
sky, transforming themselves into large and heavy grey
rain clouds ready to pour down their contents any moment.
Then the heavens opened, and rain hammered down all around
me, turning the delicate white snow into dark green grasses,
bathing and dancing happily in the invigorating shower.
My body was drenched from head to foot and water was dripping
down from my sodden T-shirt. Puddles of water formed here
and there on the muddy, ridged ground with lively little
fish dancing in them, perhaps to the beats of the innumerable
raindrops clattering down all around.
I looked more closely at the fish, I began to sense a
cool curving world taking shape about me. Before long
I discovered myself to be under the azure ceiling of the
sea, swimming through an underwater garden pulsating with
life. Corals of different shapes and colours, from the
flames of sunset and the pink of roses to the blues and
violets of the skies, grew up on the sea floor. A myriad
of creatures, some slow and relaxed, some large and stately,
some spotted, some striped, were moving about in this
mysterious garden, as if guarding and looking after the
hidden treasures of this enchanted world.
I reached out and touched the enigmatic corals, they turned
out to be surprisingly soft and tender. Before I could
withdraw my hand, the large cabbage-shaped orange corals
suddenly began to fall apart and the entire sea floor
was soon strewn with dry, dead leaves. Almost immediately,
the aquatic silence was replaced by the sprightly chirping
of a thousand invisible birds. The azure surroundings
were replaced by a pleasant spring evening, and I was
now walking through a narrow path lined on either side
by trees full of the whisper and scurry of life. Wild
creepers hugged on to their sturdy trunks; dry leaves
crunched under my feet like fresh lettuce.
soon I discovered that I was not alone in this path. A
little ahead an old man and an old woman were strolling
forward leisurely, hand in hand. They looked back at me
and beckoned me towards them. They were my grandparents!
I had never seen them. Grandpa, and Grandma had passed
away many years back. I had never seen them together before
in my life, except in frayed black and white pictures
in my mother's old rusty photo albums. I ran up to them,
with a mixed feeling of both disbelief and delight; when
I came close to them, Grandpa handed me a beautiful red
are always with you,' he said in a far-off, mesmerising
voice, smiling at me. 'Never think that you are alone.'
both looked so blissful, so heavenly; a silvery glow surrounded
their figures, and a mist separated them from me. The
birds seemed to have stopped chirping, and the trees seemed
to be watching us silently and intently. But before I
could say anything, they began to walk away from me, waving
back at me. The more I ran towards them, the further they
seemed to be, until at last they disappeared completely.
red rose however was still tightly grasped in my hand.
My fingers had been cut by the prickles on its stalk,
and were bleeding; but I felt no pain, no feeling at all.
As I watched the red blood trickle down the sides of the
rose, the trees around me vanished away, exposing a marvellous
beach of wavy, sparkling sand leading up to a sea. It
was sunset time, and a tinge of purple separated the navy
background of the sky from the burning orange radiance
of the setting sun. Restless waters were gushing into
the sands at intervals before receding back reluctantly,
revealing lovely madrepores and seashells. Soon the sky
was lavender, then lilac, and then deep black. I was once
again left alone, and there was absolute stillness, apart
from the periodic sound of the invisible waves.
sky was now illuminated by innumerable shimmering stars,
each contributing in its own small way to light up the
imposing darkness of night that had descended upon the
world. It almost appeared as if these flickering stars
suspended forever in the sky were alive, whispering amongst
themselves tales of their grieves and sorrows to while
away the long and lonely hours.
the far off stars began to increase in brightness, and
an entrancing, sublime glow filled my eyes. Soon all around
me was a brilliant refulgent light, and a sweet tantalising
fragrance smell was emanating from somewhere. A million
stars seemed to have finally broken free of their timeless
incarceration and were now rejoicing in their own grand
way. The fear and obscurity of the night were lost forever,
driven away by the triumphant force of the stars that
had for so long prevented the world from being enveloped
in perpetual darkness. And I was floating amidst them,
joining in on their celebrations, forgetting all my pains
and troubles, as if there never were any...
I tried immediately to shield my eyes from the dazzling
light I expected to see, but was shocked to realise that
it was only the off white emulsion paint on the walls
around me. Confused, I looked around, and it took me a
few seconds to come to terms with the fact that I was
still in my bedroom, not floating somewhere up in the
skies. So, had all my adventures only been a dream? I
sprang up and looked outside the window, hoping to convince
myself that this too was a part of my dream, perhaps even
praying that it was.
silent parched street outside lay totally deserted; the
gatekeeper downstairs was fast asleep on his stool, his
head awkwardly resting on his droopy shoulders. The sun's
rays had clearly passed their noontime fervour and were
now waning in their intensity. A dark crow flew into the
shade of the trees on the other side of the street. A
mongoose abruptly appeared in the midst of the bushes
surrounding the tree trunks, and flashed across the street.
was finally disillusioned. It had all been a dream then.
a dream it had been! A dream that had taken me on my most
memorable journey ever, from childhood fantasies to my
greatest fascinations. A dream which brought out my deepest
desires, my utmost fears, taking me from the land to the
skies, from the skies to the depths of the oceans, and
then brought me back to land again. From spring to summer
to monsoon; from past to present to the future. Lost grandparents,
hope and inspiration. The power to overcome all difficulties
and forget pains. Discovering the guardians who protect
us and look after us from above. The strength to believe
in oneself, and yet surmount all vanity. To visit the
heavens on earth and the heaven above. Sunset, raindrops,
magical gardens, mountains and clouds. Revelry amidst
the stars in the ecstasy of creation. The meaning of freedom,
paradise, eternity. And a deep red rose a souvenir from
the past, a road to the future.
to understand anything, discover anything.
Everything I will ever need to know was here right now.
In fact, everything I need is here right now. I just have
to close my eyes, and wait.