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Paradox Paradise

Would you still call it nonsense, if sense exchanges its meaning with nonsense?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

I had a dream

I had stopped thinking about dreams. Until this one happened, a few days back. Long, long time ago, when I was much younger, I was really curious about the dreams I used to have. In those days, I believed that dreams are cryptic messages buried deep in my mind, and I wanted to unscramble them to straighten out my then crooked mind. And I did. With much success, and not much satisfaction. It was not really difficult. I went by the book. Tried hard to remember what I dreamed last night, every time I woke up. Wrote down everything I thought I remembered. Now, you have ‘Interpretation of Dreams’ by your bedside, next to your Bible.

I said my prayers without fail every night. My dear Lord, don’t let me dream of snakes. It was too early to be afraid of dreaming me driving my friend’s car. I was very sure, bicycles have nothing to do with the ninth commandment. And when snakes refused to come in my dreams, my faith was shaken. First in Freud, and then in my dear Lord. God must have been too preoccupied with chasing snakes away from his precious apple tree up there, when a naïve, pious boy was afraid of them crawling into his dreams. And Freud might just be a typographical error.

My interest in my dreams lasted more than my interest in the other two guys. There was still time left to be disillusioned from the intriguing theory of life as an illusion. And dreams fit perfectly to the idea, as I understood it then. It was clear as a noonday sun to me then. Life is nothing, but like the last scene in Enter the Dragon. There is this real life, like a room with countless walls made of mirrors. And there’s a life each, behind every one of those mirrors. And sleeping is the process of crossing into those lives. You will never know which life you will enter into, and you may not be able to go to the same life next night. But you can fairly sure about coming back to the real one, if you have an alarm clock.

The room I went into a few days (nights?) back, was the biggest one I would ever see in my life. Call it a larger than life dream if you want. It was a huge white room, with a white floor and a white ceiling that goes as far as I can see. The white was white white. Not the blue white you see in detergent advertisements. Not the yellow white you see in milk bottles. Or the red white you see on white skin unseen by sun. I was lying face down on the floor. And I could see two white walls without any doors or windows, but a square ventilator behind which a black world waited. It looked like a black moon in the eastern sky on a sunny afternoon in a square world.

I could see. I could feel the floor, which was neither cold nor warm. So, I must have been alive. I don’t remember whether I was breathing or not. But, I guess I was, because one could think of breathing only when there’s some difficulty in doing so. I don’t remember moving or wanting to move. I was staring straight to the black, square moon on the wall at the horizon. It was then I felt the skin on my back stretching. I think, I heard a gentle cracking sound. I am not really sure there. I never have before heard the sound of skin cracking. Just when I heard that sound, I saw dry, yellow flakes of skin falling on the floor. Some as big as the pull-off foil paper of my cigarette pack. I didn’t feel the skin being peeled off my back, though. That worried me a bit in the morning, almost with the feeling of a slight disappointment. I always loved the feeling of dead, dried skin over a healed wound being peeled off, or peeling off that thin layer of synthetic resin dried on my fingertips whenever I used Fevicol.

Exactly at the right moment my eyes shifted the focus from the cellulite flakes to the square, black moon. And I saw a green drop of liquid start flowing down from the lower, right corner of the black square. It didn’t flow down like a liquid drop, sticking to the wall and drawing a damp line as it moves down. It didn’t fall fast down like a droplet of mercury. It moved gracefully down, just like any other traditional liquid drop would have. Stopping for a while to take a small turn to the left, then straight down on a faster pace for a while, stopping again… My eyeballs followed the drop till it reached the floor, and then stuck to it as it started rolling towards me. I wasn’t scared. Not even curious. I was lying down like a dropped video camera and just recording what came to my eye. It must have taken over an hour, before the drop came close enough for me to realise that it was not a huge drop of some liquid as I thought, but a huge ant. And, green in colour! I wasn’t surprised then. I was lying down like a dropped video camera and just recording what came to my eye.

The ant was only as huge as a small mouse. But huge, as it was an ant, and I was new to a square world. An ant cannot walk. It runs or it stops to think what it is running after. With a mammoth load an ant might run slower, still it won’t think of walking. All the ants I know are like that. And, this ant, this huge ant ran as fast, but faster in effect as its legs were longer. As it reached the first piece of me I once was, it stopped and thought about why it was running all the while. Ants got attention spans as small as they are. Soon it forgot why it stopped and started running again, only to stop before another piece of old me.

Now, I know what to do. I learnt this with eye straining observation done in many nights when I was awake pretending to study my textbooks. Ants are not very straightforward, socialist creatures, as they widely believed to be. The one first appears on the terrain is the surveyor. Its duty is to find mouthwatering, preferably heavy, objects of desire to be carried away, stored and guarded, till the flooding rains come to waste it. If you kill the surveyor, the general, who conducts the drill in the parade ground back home, will conclude that the surveyor is one of the greedy, irresponsible, selfish black sheep, who found the most delicious thing an ant can mouth, and having it all by itself forgetting its socialist responsibilities. Like any other wise general, this general too will command to sniff after the surveyor, and you will have the complete army looking for mouthwatering, preferably heavy, objects of desire to be carried away, stored, and guarded till the flooding rains come to waste it. But if you just beat up the surveyor without killing it, it will report to the general that there are no sweet or heavy stuff around to be carried away, stored and guarded till the flooding rains come to waste it.

I knew what to do, when I saw the huge, green, ant stopped by one piece after other of dead me. And I didn’t want to do anything. I was lying down like a dropped video camera and just recording what came to my eye. Now the huge, green ant has come very close to me. I can just lift my hand, and decide to call the army or not. It had stopped by one of the big flakes – one of the ones as big as the pull-off foil paper of my cigarette pack. I can see it more clearly, every part of it, enlarged as through a looking glass. Even through a looking glass, one ant looks very much like another. Faces of cows, or dogs or cats too look too similar to identify, but one can identify one from another from other details. It’s not like that, normally, in the case of ants. Their faces, hourglass torsos, and slender legs are too similar to be individualized by a human eye. May be, even for the big, fat Queen ant too. Her highness must be selecting the alpha male by a running or weight lifting competition, before they set off for the flying, mating mission. But, I am here in a square world. And I saw the huge, green surveyor ant’s face very clearly, and I was very confident that I could recognize it, if I see it again. Only if all the fellows in its caste don’t have a small, projected, purple mole, just below the corner of its right eye, like it had. As I was staring at its small, projected, purple mole, it looked up to me. Eye to eye, standing by a piece of me that I once was, and as big as the pull-off foil paper of my cigarette pack. And it laughed.

I was confused. It was my first emotional reaction from the moment I lay there like a dropped video camera, and just recording what came to my eye. I was surprised by this emotional impulse, as it was the first in this life of mine. I was worried too. About my new confusion, about the old, broken pieces of me, about the square, black moon, About the white floors and walls, about the huge green ant, about its small, projected, purple mole, and about its laughing at me. I no longer was just recording what came to my eye. I no longer was seeing the huge, green ant, by yellow cellulite flakes on the vast, white floor. I was thinking about me. I was thinking about what the ant was thinking about me. And I was thinking something I remember thinking many times before in my previous, and possibly future, life. I have only one life and I will never be able to see myself! The same me, every single living thing, even an ant can see, but me! I will die seeing only the inverted images of me in mirrors and the good-looking, photogenic, or a bad-looking, not-at-all photogenic, images of me provided by some camera equipment. I know, there’s nothing like a square world.

I was rather amused, than worried, when I woke up back in my old world. And the lost interest in interpreting dreams did a momentary comeback stay, as I smoked the first cigarette of the new day. What did all these signify? What was that green ant as huge as a small mouse, with a small, projected, purple mole laughed at, when I was lying there like a dropped video camera just recording what came to my eye, in a big, square, white world with a small, square black moon? Maybe, it just meant that I should get up and write about it. It has been quite a while.

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