I often dream in soap opera format with episodes ending at crucial junctions to be continued another night. There is no strict continuity and these dreams reside in the dark recesses of brain sulci only to resurface after weeks or months.My overactive imagination, which I consider an asset, overflows into my dreams. They make for interesting insights and even belly laughs. The characters and the narrative never fail to fascinate me in their diversity and even absurdity. It feels as if a little man, who in my imagination resembles Rumpelstiltskin, opens a secret door into my mind to weave a story every night. The dreams are vivid in all senses; I can smell the ocean air, taste a freshly baked cake, touch a sticky clot of blood, hear rapid fingers on a typewriter and speak languages that I no longer understand on waking up.
I remember most of my dreams as they get chronicled the next morning. Some are funny and has the recurring character of Woody Allen as a belly dancer who crops up without warning in random dreams. Some are sinister where I get murdered by a Sphinx or Prem Chopra. Often I fall off a cliff but hold on to a tree branch or rock and then my hand slips; I see my head crushed and oozing blood and brain that is washed away at high tide. I see Naginiswallow a certain professor of community medicine. I live many lifetimes in what maybe a fifty minute dream. Some are filled with intricate details, and few are tedious where the whole time is spent in doing things like trying to make a perfectly round chapatti and just when I am done a monkey appears and gobbles it up. I have found myself in a large dark room with a dying candle in a corner and suddenly a blinding glare envelops me and a crowd of pregnant women bring in a sand-timer and turns it over. Often I am ‘happily married’ to Sheldon Cooper and we live in a loft filled with books and have weekday-specific dinners.
I live near the ocean and watch the dolphins dance every evening. Or I am a middle-aged woman struggling to wash away a lipstick stain off the my husband’s shirt, but I’d always worn my lips bare. I am running from someone and turn into a dead end; a ladder appears suddenly and I climb up furiously only to appear in an old examination hall and I realize I am naked and all eyes are on me when the invigilator announces that I am late and the next exam will be held fifty years later. Sometimes I am a fetus in the womb of a woman who doesn’t know I am there and vodka courses through my veins. In some dreams I am deliriously happy when I am stuck in a Ghibli-esque world of green hedges, blue ocean, bluer skies, book filled apartments and hilly roads or I am running around trapping dragonflies in empty matchboxes or I’m at my childhood home eating lushi-aloo bhaji while watching ‘I Dream of Jeannie’. Sometimes I am a famous and prolific writer with innumerable Booker prizes and even a Nobel and whose typewriter is auctioned for a million dollars; the auction house is filled with all my favorite novelists.
I live the pages of the book that I fall asleep reading, and so nowadays I am Pip in mortal fear of a convict or a traveler waiting in the bar of an old train station or a Hobbit. My earliest memory of a dream that later recurred throughout my childhood was that of an old woman with a hump on her back and a mole on her cheek who hobbles up to me to inform that my family had died and I will never be able to buy new crayon pencils. I cried so hard that I wet my clothes with my tears, but in the morning I woke up to the embarrassment of a wet bed.
Last night I had an unusual dream. I am back in my hometown and one evening there’s a power failure. The entire neighbourhood is out on their verandahs and admiring the full moon. Suddenly another moon sprouts up and then another, and another, and soon the whole sky is filled with pearly moons and some of them seem frighteningly close. Maybe my high school physics teacher directed the dream or maybe the scene of Jim Carey seducing Jennifer Aniston with a large (hence, romantic) moon lurked in my subconscious, and so the appearance of thousands of moons was followed by huge waves submerging the whole neighbourhood that lay hundreds of miles away from the sea! We take refuge in our homes and soon there are fishes and snakes swimming outside the window. An unfamiliar thin man tells us that it is the work of the mad scientist for whom he used to work. The thin man knows how to destroy the moons and bring everything back to normalcy but he needed an accomplice. Luckily we have Salman Khan (the real one and not a doppelganger) amidst us, and he helps the thin man to save the Earth from an impending apocalypse!
I don’t know why I dream what I dream. I tried to read Freud’s book but a string of yawns never let me proceed beyond ten pages. Dream analysis bores me; I am even scared of what it might reveal. So the dreams continue, and they continue to entertain.