The dreams are getting stranger, the attention is makng me uncomfortable
Do you remember watching the Jungle Book? Growing up I must have watched it several hundreds of times. But no matter how many times I watched it I never felt like I had actually stepped into the jungle, regardless of how large the screen was and how tiny my frame. Last night I found myself climbing a tree. Doesn’t sound out of the ordinary right? Growing up i attempted climbing several trees- attempted is the key word there. But the tree i saw last night was one of a kind. Its branch was thicker and wider than any ive seen, most importantly I was perched on it climbing my way up on hands and feet. I wasn’t alone.
This wide branch- can you call it a branch? It was more like the bark but it wound its way up diagonally, and as I crawled forward I didnt feel a single scrape, I wasn’t afraid of falling off because there was nothing else in sight but the vastness of it. I wasn’t alone. Ahead of me I recognized the faces of my family, right in front of me was someone or rather something else… a fellow creature cohabitant of this universe. Was I afraid then? No, I was confused, as expected when you’re face to face with a creation resembling a wooden dinosaur a sort of mutated groot you could say. Giant groot.
Approaching behind me was their partner. My instinct was to not let myself come between them but still somehow I was hesitant to let the other pass me. I’m not sure what was happening there, I heard one call out, that’s my family there, scrunching up my face I thought well thats my family there too. Were we both left behind? Or were we just equally slow in catching up? Regardless there was no sky in sight, no ground below, we were encased within the enormity of this tree. Was it a lote tree? I don’t think I have ever seen one but I know I would recognize it.
Within my palm I held tightly onto a key, the likes of which I have never seen. Was it a skeleton key? It was curvy on the sides and pointy at the end almost like a dagger, made of iron perhaps but no larger than my pinky. When I panicked thinking I had lost the key I found it resting safely on my chest, how was that possible when I was crouching on hands and feet and climbing my way up? How did it not fall? You would think I would have held it even tighter to not lose it again but I think we know by now how much of a scatter brain I am. Within minutes I had lost sight of it again.
A larger than life stallion, blacker than night
A black feathered eagle, its wings expanding wider than the surface of the earth.
Here i am, I hesitate to even acknowledge my own dreams because there is noway I could dream of something that divine… and then there are others, who without a care in the world can own their dreams and even share them with others. Me, most days I can’t even replay my dreams in the privacy of my own solitude. Not good enough, must be my imagination, I think a million times before I even spill half my vision and even then I paint it in different colours to let most of it remain hidden.
How does one measure loneliness?
Is it how they measure beauty? Judging only by what’s visible on the outside…
Does being in a room full of people invalidate your loneliness?
What have you been dreaming up these days?
I hesitate, this was the one person I would tell my most unbelievable dreams to, but recently something within me refused to share.
I smiled and said nothing then.
But tonight after a very long time I dreamt of this person again, a dream I didnt intend to share. Within the dream itself you had managed to cause me such despair then why would I bring that into the realm we share? But I did. And ever so nonchalantly I poked my nose around your corner and shared some of what I had seen. Some, because knowing it all wouldn’t have made any difference, our ships had sailed and we were both docked on different shores. So i shared the part i thought, no I knew, you would like. Funnily enough even that much you were willing to deny. Do you see how the dream says exactly what it is you have been doing but refusing to acknowledge? No, still you dont.
I woke up today and the year was 1999.
1999, it was a very different time, sure we had cellphones back then but no camera apps. We did however have Snake preinstalled in the Nokia 3210 and that was enough back then to kill time.
Can we say it was a simpler time? Growing up I always heard the elderly say that theirs was a simpler time, and I wondered how they managed things when I struggle on a daily basis even today, but now I can see how the past can seem simpler now that it’s just that, in the past.
All this technology and I still find myself thinking back to the years when things were very different. It’s hard to explain but it’s almost as if that time will always be savoured. I have found myself experiencing life on both ends of the spectrum, I had everything money could buy, yet growing up once a year I also experienced life without all those privileges for atleast two weeks.
Two weeks doesn’t seem like much right, but in the beginning it was challenging, visiting my maternal grandparents in a city far away nestled in between mountains that were almost always cloaked in snow. Not always having warm running water or electricity for hours at a stretch, remaining sick with the stomach bug for the entirety of the visit was just not what I looked forward to. But it was worth it, because at the end of every visit I never wanted to come back home. There was just something enchanting about that time, having 30 of your cousins under the same roof, uncles and aunts and extended family you had never even heard of all surrounding you, sharing stories, sneaking out for breakfast at dawn, water fights, and barbeques, smuggling out food for those late nights we would spend on the roof top while the adults slept.
The roof tops, perhaps some of my fondest memories were created on those two rooftops. I say two because there were so many members of the family that my grandparents had to build two connecting homes to accommodate all their children and then their grandchildren, you see my mum was the only one who moved to the other side of the world, everyone else remained there. So in a house that big with an even bigger family it got a bit chaotic from time to time, there were so many of us kids that we had formed alliances between age groups. There were my elder siblings who were too cool to hang out with us twleve year olds and then there were all the ones younger than us (who as you can guess were not cool enough to hang out with us).
Every morning my siblings and I woke up sick, but that didn’t keep us from enjoying the food or our time with the family. We spent our days smuggling snacks, and then hiding said snacks from other cousins, for our midnight gatherings. After dinner we would each sneak off making our trips to the roof to set up for a night of endless talking and goofing about. Because even the summer there was cold we would place old newspapers in a bucket and light it to keep warm, everyone snuggling under old raggedy blankets that did very little to keep the cold out. We watched many sunrises together, the sounds of the neighbour’s roosters alerting us that the world below would begin to stir about soon would shake us from our reverie.
As kids you see we weren’t allowed up on the roof, with good reason too, the highest of the roofs had the guard dogs and well they were ferocious to the point they would chase anyone who wasn’t there to feed them. One of them had jumped off of the roof several times and landed in the veranda below, they weren’t very smart but they guarded the house well. But that was the roof with the prettiest view, so whenever we could we would persuade one of the older cousins to tie up the dogs on the opposite side of the house so we could truly be out of sight of the world below. I suppose sneaking about was part of the charm the roof top held for us kids. It was daring and dangerous and we very rarely got caught.
Most nights we spent giggling, sometimes fighting- especially over who ate more than their share, singing songs and attempting to learn folk tunes I had never heard at my side of the world before. It was also where I learnt how to make whipped coffee for the first time, it’s all this talk of Dalgona that’s brought these old memories flooding back. Dalgona they call it, we just called it coffee. It was hard work, to sit in the cold, under the stars, stirring a teaspoon ferociously between the sugar and coffee in the mugs nestled in our laps. Someone would always give up too soon and beg one of the others to continue for them, we almost always ran out of milk before even half of us got our coffees, we never learnt from that though, which meant lots would have to be drawn to decide who would sneak down into the kitchen and grab more milk, without getting caught.
Having seen all these recent posts of Dalgona, of people making it with electric mixers and battery operated whisks, makes me wonder, if we went back in time would I choose to experience those muscle cramps from vigorously stirring a teaspoon back and forth (for a good twenty minutes atleast) or would I, if it was possible to plug an electric mixer up on the roof, rely on technology. But I can’t go back in time can I? Even though now of all times I think we all wish to be some place else, some time else, where the world as a whole is safe or atleast safer than it is now.
So today I found myself smiling fondly at the caramel coloured coffee peaking back at me through the sides of the spoon I was stirring. The whirring of a mixer or a whisk just doesn’t bring back those same emotions. Those simpler times I spent under the stars were entwined within each stir of the spoon, and i have had the laziest and silliest of smiles on my face all day. As if with every stir and then every sip I was back on that roof, breathing in the night air, free.
Hi, did I wake you? I dont know if you’ve been waiting to hear from me but I have been meaning to write to you for a while now. The universe; it seems a bit crazy right now for a lot of people out there, but everything is mostly the same within my four walls.
Alot of people have been posting things about checking in on your friends in this time where everyone seems to be anxious, lonely, and vulnerable. So I did just that. I checked on people. That’s a good thing right? But then why did it make me feel like I was shattered crystal and someone just absentmindedly walked over me with their shoes on without feeling a thing.
To be fair I have only kept in touch with very few people over the years, so naturally it was those few I asked. Some of them in return asked how I was, and it bothered me had I not messaged first would they not have wondered about my well being? One of them actually broke my heart. It’s silly I know but I have decided that I am allowed to feel however these things make me feel that as much as I automatically put myself in another’s shoes to understand why they say the things they do, I am allowed to feel angry or upset with their response, I’m allowed to do both.
It was your basic check in conversation, how are things at your end, are you staying safe, do you have everything you need, hang in there a little more time and this will pass. What you should probably know is this particular person is someone I’m very grateful to, they stuck around me when a lot of people had good reason not to. And that means the world to me. So I have tried over the years to repay that kindness, but somewhere along the lines I had begun to feel like an extra in this person’s life so I stepped back a little. In any case the point is, our conversation went about its way and when I said not much has changed for me since I’m mostly always home anyway, I got, yea I have a lot more respect for your patience to stay home now I’ve only been home for a week and its driving me crazy.
I told you it wasn’t a big deal. But it still broke my heart. Because what I heard was that this person didn’t think much of me before just because I stay home. Because of my circumstances I dont need to work, that doesn’t mean i dont want to. Because of where I come from I dont get to just hang out with people every single day, no my socializing is mostly around gatherings for a cause or familial obligations. But that too does not mean that I’ve never wanted to just be able to go watch a movie late at night, or meet people for dinner for just having a good time not for any agenda. That comment made me feel invincible. Like I have not mattered. Does it make any sense?
Anyway, like I said, not much has changed for me personally, yes I am very anxious for the health of my family, yes I’m willing now more than ever before to sit at home so I dont pose a risk to anyone else. I am blessed that I have a family that’s able to put food on the table for a lot longer than an average person out there, for surely these are trying times for many, I dont take that for granted, but that one comment still made me feel like like finally my uselessness had come to be of some benefit. And I know this person did not intend to make me feel that way. But that’s how I felt. Isn’t it silly, in the midst of a life and death situation for so many this is what made me feel insignificant.
Lush green velvety mountains. The kind I dont see here. My mountains are more of the silent observing kind, they stand tall and protect. But those mountains were alive, they had branches reaching out and waving and inviting you to come forward and smile. I just wanted to sit down and bask in their greenery. But someone lured me forward, and on my path I found these earrings of gold and a lock of Silver. The earnings I had reached out and collected but I walked past the lock leaving it where I had laid my eyes on it first.
It’s right through this veil, you can cross but just as long as you are not denied entrance by the one at the door. How do I pass? I usually find myself underground trying to squeeze through invincible tunnels, and I never get through those… I always turn back. But this was a veil, and I felt very tiny but very visible. From beneath the veil I saw a pair of sleek black hooves. Bismillah Ar Rehman Ar Raheem. The corner of the veil was lifted and I was allowed to enter. By far the easiest way through I have ever experienced. The hooves didn’t frighten me, they stood strong and tall, like my mountains, maybe that’s why I felt protected.
What happened next is blurry. I found myself hunched over trying to quietly make my way around a rectangular boundary. In my ears came a silent voice, this is a cloak from me, I didn’t acknowledge it because just like that every cell in my body was asking me to dodge the arrows that were aimed right at me. I made my way around the four walls, hunching, falling, hiding. Through a crack I saw them and they saw me. Stunned I stood still. This was it, no one could miss a clear shot like this. Maybe I stopped breathing, but I did not move to save myself. And then I heard, “where did she go?” But I was right there within a breath of them. Like a revelation dawned on those two, frustrated they said out loud “YOU have cloaked her from us!” That’s when I remembered the voice from before, the voice that had silently commanded a cloak of protection, a cloak of invisibility over me. Just like that before I could blink or breathe the scene had changed.