I woke up. Teary eyed. I had cried. Cried in the dream.
I must have been 6 then, or perhaps 7. I was in a town then. Now a city, where I was born. Far away from where I am right now, far away from where I will ever be.
Most dreams are forgotten at the moment when the eyelids open and familiar surroundings are take over; some stay in fragments and are re-visited in parts giving you the déjà-vu moments depending upon the familiarity of tasks you carry out in the days to come. Some are lost with time, with its passage, with its ability to throw newer set of audio visual patterns at you. But, some stay. Get etched and embedded in the mind, so much so that they become a part of the memory; of the memories of childhood; of you who once had been.
Don’t know for how long before my memory or my childhood fails me, but this one has stayed with me for over twenty years now.
I was happy. Happy in that dream. At least happy to begin with.
It was set in a park. A park with lots of pebbles. A park with lots of swings, most of them at a distance perhaps. The kids who occupied those swings, I don’t recall their faces. I don’t remember their clothes. I remember that I didn’t know them.
The city, a town then used to lie towards the east of a desert. A dry desert. I was told that such pebbles are beaten round in shape due to the winds and the waters that had flown over them. I always wondered as to when the river had passed through this park and how old these pebbles were? Had it not been for the winds and the waters, I like all other kids would never have got attracted to these small, multicolored eggs like pebbles. Yet, there I was, in a town with as many pebbles beneath my feet as the stars above. The sound of my feet trampling over those small egg like pebbles can still be heard sometimes. The source of the sound is the nature or the dream, I don’t know. But I can still hear them as clearly as I walked in sync with the sound back then, in that dream, in that town.
Yes, there were kids at a distance. Kids unknown to me. But, I was not alone in that dream. I knew there was someone behind me, following me. I couldn’t see who it was, but I knew that there was another pair of feet trampling upon the same set of beaten pebbles on which I had just walked. I didn’t turn around to see who it was. Maybe I knew who it was. Yes, it had to be someone known to me.
There was no story to this dream. Like all the dreams I didn’t know how I was here and like all the dreams I didn’t know where I would go. The unknown kids on the swings, in the park in the city, a town then, with the small egg like pebbles, run down by the winds, the waters and my feet and by the feet behind me; and the person whom I knew was behind me is all that which were a part of this dream.
I was walking, with those sounds of the pebbles rubbing against each other with my feet and the feet behind me. I was probably walking towards the swings which were occupied by those unknown kids. The distance never seemed to lessen as I walked swiftly. I tried, tried very hard to reach to the swings but couldn’t. I wished that the known person behind could come and lift me in his arms and take me there. There to the swings. But, I couldn’t hear the sounds of the other feet on the pebbles anymore. All that was heard was the screeching sound of my feet on the round egg like pebbles. I stopped.
I turned around. I saw the pebbles over which I had walked.
I turned around again. I saw the pebbles over which I had not walked yet. The swings weren’t there anymore. There was no park there anymore. Perhaps, even the town had vanished. Just I and the egg like pebbles remained.
Nowhere was the known person to be seen. I guess that was the first time I felt what life is. In that dream. That was the first time I panicked. Panicked in a dream. I turned around and around again and maybe that was the time a tear trickled down my cheek. Tear trickling down in the dream and perhaps in the real too. Yes, I was crying. It still wasn’t the moment when you realize that you are waking up, because I had not woken up then. I was still in the dream. Still, like a lost kid in the fairy tales, still clueless about the person behind me. I cried, I shouted, I screamed. It was the first time in that dream where I uttered something, or screamed. I was screaming and searching all over the pebbles in that town for someone who was behind me. I was shouting. I shouted at the top of my voice searching for the known person.
I shouted ‘Papa’. ‘Papa’.
My eye lids opened. I woke up, Papa was cuddling me in his arms and asked me about the tears. Finding him besides me on my bed, I had no answer. Perhaps Papa knew of the bad dream I had. And perhaps now I smiled knowingly too.
More than twenty years hence, I often dream of that known person. He often visits me in different shades and appearances of what I have seen of him through my childhood and youth. I don’t panic or scream in such dreams anymore. I smile. But when the eye lids open, the smile on my face is absent. And so is that known person.
Happy Birthday Papa!