Dreams have always intrigued human beings. From the earliest civilisations down to the modern day humankind has tried to interpret them in a variety of ways. Every person has an interpretation for dreams. There are those who feel that dreams, especially bad ones, are the result of thoughtless overeating at supper. Others claim that they can predict your future if you tell them your dreams. Dreams, they say, help us process emotions especially negative ones. Whatever the latest scientific theory about dreams the one fact that remains is that they continue to be a mystery. Besides they are endlessly entertaining, a kind of personalised movie theatre within your own head playing a flick which has you in the lead role.
Here are two strange dreams I’ve had. Strange because one of them was a recurrent dream that played again and again in the same manner often after a gap of years and the other came frighteningly true.
Long ago as a schoolgirl I used to walk to the music class with my friends along a road called Onden Road. The recurring dream is about this road.
I turn into Onden Road and as usual it is deserted. The flat tarred surface glistens. There are puddles by the side of the road on the fluorescent sand. It has been raining only on Onden Road. There is not a soul in sight. But this doesn’t bother me as there is nothing frightening. I begin walking. There are high walls on either side behind which stand tall trees and their branches form high green arches over the road so that only slats of the darkening sky are visible. Every now and then there is a gate that sometimes reveals houses set far back within their grounds. No one lives in these houses. It is late evening and though the street lights have come on, there are large pools of darkness.
As I walk along I become aware of someone walking behind me. For some reason I don’t want to turn to find out who it is. But my whole being is on high alert from then on. I perk up my ears and I can hear the soft footfall. The person is barefooted, I guess. There is no tap tapping of footwear on the tarred surface. I tell myself I’m not frightened. But I want to make sure I am being followed. I walk faster. The rhythm of the soft padding increases. I slow down and the man too slows down. I know it is a man. As I pass a puddle I see a flash of saffron. And then there is a peculiar smell. It comes wafting from the stranger behind me. It is a familiar aroma. I know I should be able to place it but I can’t. The scent in itself is not disagreeable but is connected to something menacing. It is important that I remember what the fragrance reminds me of to save myself, but it eludes me. I try to maintain an even pace though I want to break into a run. I don’t want the man to know I’m terrified. I increase my speed a bit more. It’s really important that I identify the smell. But I can’t think straight and walk fast at the same time. And there is no one on the road. The houses behind the high walls are all abandoned and desolate.
In spite of myself I’m now walking very fast. My calf muscles protest. But I won’t run. I simply won’t run. To run is humiliating. The man is now very close behind me. The odour is overpowering. And I still can’t recall what smells this way. I can hear his breath and the swish of his clothes. I walk even faster. My calf muscles scream. Suddenly, the man grips my arm. I turn to find a bearded face with small cruel eyes. The stranger raises his right hand to attack and I notice it holds a small knife with a vicious twisted blade.
I wake up.
This dream recurred, sometimes every day, sometimes after a gap of a few weeks or months, sometimes years later. But it has always been the same. Down to the tiniest detail. There have been various interpretations for it – that there is a fear of something or someone, that there is a hidden enemy, that there is a lot of stress and anxiety. But the point is that most often the dream has recurred during comparatively peaceful times!
The second dream never did recur. But it is a chilling one. Because it did come true. Except for two important details and it would have been funny if it hadn’t been so tragic.
We’re all standing in a neat orderly fashion as though someone has allotted us positions on an invisible chess board. Each of us stands under a tree and the trees are all the same. Oh yes, it is a rubber plantation. Though the trees are all healthy and green, the ground is carpeted with dead leaves. The leaves lend a golden hue to everything. Far away among the trees is a tiny house with a dirty pink curtain for a door. The walls of the house are naked revealing the flesh of red bricks and from the unfinished roof thin rusted iron crosspieces jut out at odd angles. We stand with our heads bowed. Someone is dead.
No one speaks but the whisper does the rounds. Snakebite. He died of snakebite. He had gone out into the night to relieve himself and a snake bit him. So many lives were dependent on him. Someone sniffles. We continue to stand unmoving. We wait for the wreath. Someone is bringing it. We hear a vehicle pull up. But we don’t turn. It is important not to turn. The wreath has arrived. Someone starts chanting the prayers and we join in. But my voice gets caught in my throat. The man laying the wreath on the coffin is the dead man.
This dream did come true. In the dream I think a particular colleague of mine is dead. But then I see him placing the wreath. In reality, the man who placed the wreath in the dream died. And it was not due to snakebite. But the other details were the same. The curtain, the unfinished house, the trees and the carpet of leaves.
A lot of things in this world remain unexplained.
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