It’s been a month of being bemused. There has been a sustained period of walking about with a nervous knot in my stomach. I have also, very lovingly, carried a lump of tension at the back of my neck. There is no reason to feel anxious, but I feel that way. There’s an excitement so sharp that it feels like fear. It’s like a nice Betty Cooper type of happiness that went into a parlor and got her hair crimped and body pierced. Joy feels lethal, somehow.
I can’t be out enough. I can’t stay home enough. I can’t sit still. My world can’t stop spinning. If I lay down, looking out into the darkness, tree-tops swathed in moon shadows, I hear a buzz. My world is noisy.
Days begin and end and begin and end. They are not seamless. I have become acutely aware of the start and end points of time. I sense their jaggedness.
I have had bad dreams. Very bad dreams. Not really dreams...but that disembodied reality that comes alive in the twilight of doubt. I have seen dead children hanging from ceilings. Sometimes, while returning home in an auto, I have ‘seen’ a dead child in a sewer.
I have woken up with a start, feeling like I haven’t taken a breath in ages. I have had one hour of supreme respite when I have done yoga, and then I have pushed past hordes of corpses of children while climbing into a bus.
I have been tired and alive and happy. It has been a very good month. It has been a very good year. But the dreams have been bad.
This had been wearing me down so hard that I spoke to a friend about it. She didn’t flinch or look away or make sympathetic noises. I asked her if my subconscious was trying to tell me something. I love children. I am good with them. Very, in fact. And I don’t miss not having any. When the time is right, I’ll get my baby. If I have ever displayed resolve and patience regarding anything, it is this. So, I don’t understand why I see raw, red, children’s corpses.
In some kind of a half-awake state, I walk into a cold, clinical hallway lined with children hanging on big hooks. It disturbs me because it doesn’t feel fantastic. It doesn’t seem unreal. It feels imminent.
I spoke to my friend about this. I would like to go to a psychiatrist or a dream doctor, but I don’t know of any good ones. Given that Mumbai has gone into hair-splitting specialization, I think there are counsellors you can go to only if you are feeling slightly blue, and another one if you are really sad. There’s no one hear for the in-betweens – for the ones who perambulate between fear and phobia.
My friend…she didn’t blink. She didn’t look alarmed. She didn’t make the right noises. She told me that maybe it would be possible. Maybe there will come a time when I will walk into a hallway and see dead children. But it is equally possible that I won’t. “You’ll get into that room and then you’ll get out of that room, too,” she said.
There was a certainty in her voice that was reassuring, yet strange.
I asked her if these dreams were preparing me for anything. And she smiled. Last month, she was crossing Lower Parel and she saw an accident. She could see a lot of blood and a body flung somewhere. A biker had died. People were milling about the body. There was a sheet covering him partially. Suddenly, her cab hit something with a thud. She looked out.
It was the man’s head.
She didn’t get any dreams preparing her for that. But I think that incident prepared her for this conversation. She said that she only saw the man’s head rolling away by the curb. But people traveling before her might have seen that accident. They may have heard the man scream. They might have seen the body get decapitated. Yet, all those people may be living today. They may be working or eating or playing. Or even sleeping dreamlessly.
“You’ll get on with it even if it happens,” she told me.
We looked at each other. It was very brief. But it was long enough to know that sometimes when you look into someone’s eyes, you don’t just see that person. You see everything that person has seen.
Eye contact is a dangerous thing.