A week ago I had a dream. It was a little scary so I tried to put it out of my head. But a bad dream usually leaves behind a residue that is difficult to wash off. A bad dream follows you with a slight, rancid scent wherever you go. It's slightly sickening and horrible. My dream was this:
I see myself in a large building with huge corridors. They are long, long, long ones - in fact, so long that you can't see the ends of them. I'm dressed the way I dressed in college. I'm wearing a long shirt, up to my knees (I think it has purple and white checks) and a knee-length skirt (something grey and in a coarse material). I have the same, loser-type body language I had in college - slouched shoulders, long face. My hair is tied in a pony-tail. All in all I am quite non-descript. I don't remember what I am doing there, although it is reminiscent of a rehabilitation facility I had visited in Chennai.
It's dim and dull there. There's a bluish dusk-light that floods the corridors. Maybe there is a lamp shining out in the compound. I can see the emptiness but not too clearly. There seem to lots of doors down the corridors and they are all locked.
Next thing I remember, in the dream, is that I am sitting on a bench. There is a round-faced Sardar talking to me. He is a young boy, maybe around 27 or 28 years old. He looks a little older, yet a little younger. We are sitting on a bench that is placed like a right angle. I am sitting on one leg of it and he is sitting on the other. He seems to be wearing a white and blue checked shirt but the bluish dusk-light makes the shirt look more cream, I think.
The Sardar is hunched, his hands are joined as if in prayer, fingertips touching. He is not very tall, maybe a few inches taller than me. He could be 5'9 or something like that. He is looking at the floor (same as me). He says that he has starting having feelings for me. He didn't ever think he would see me that way but he has and very quietly, he says that he loves me. I don't remember exactly what I say in the dream. In fact, I don't remember explicitly saying anything. But I remember getting the message across - like maybe I have told him that I don't have any feelings for him and could we just be friends? His face looks sad but I feel that he is a good man. He mustn't be strung along. I remember thinking, in the dream, that if he tells me that he doesn't want to be friends anymore, I will accept that too.
Then, I don't remember what happens. I see myself at a pay-phone in one of those long, endless corridors. It is still dusk and the light is that same, sorrowful blue. Nothing seems to change there. Yet I think the time is around dinner-time. Maybe around 8:30 or 9. I call up the Sardar and ask him what he is doing. I think he might have asked me to go somewhere with him earlier but I declined. I have changed my mind and now want to check if I can accompany him. I remember the conversation:
Me: Hi, where are you? If it's not too late, can I join you?
Him: I'm with a friend. We'd come to Jama Masjid, the Kareems here. (Or maybe he said Daryaganj). It's good fun.
Me: Oh great! I wish I could have joined you. Looks like you're having a good time.
Him: Yeah, we are. Lots of good stuff here and my friend got a new car.
Me: Oh great...was it the red...
Him (very slowly and very coldly cutting me off): Bitch.
That's when my dream ended and I woke up feeling a very sharp pain in my stomach. I felt very icy cold around my neck too. There was something about the way this man abused me that made me fearful. Like I felt that this abuse, this 'bitch', was very well thought out. It wasn't because I had turned him down or anything like that. His round, genial face had been a lie. If I had indeed gone out with him, he would have harmed me greatly.
The worse part about this feeling is that it is familiar. I have felt it before. 4 years ago, when a cold, sickening paralysis gripped my gut. If I am not mistaken, this can mean only one thing.
At some point, I will be moving to Delhi again. And if that happens, I won't be coming back.