Planes of Existence
Vasudev Murthy © 2006 blah blah
There it was again. A peculiar dream, and, like all such dreams, strangely vivid and incomprehensible. With events and people floating in and out, connecting without reason, dissolving before you could focus on anything. And of course, like all good dreams, finishing before you came to the climax, whatever it was.
I remembered the details even though I couldn’t see why I had to do that. For one, it was in color. The background was a surreal, light blue with a throbbing life of its own. The characters themselves were either bright red, almost crimson or just a slate gray. I never felt repulsed by the automatic assumption that this signified blood or the pallor of death. Everything didn’t need an explanation. It just – was.
The men seemed to have tears, heavy tears, almost viscous, which never dropped to the ground. They never seemed to wipe them away. None stood erect, all slouched as though their existence had ground them to the earth. As though life had defeated them and their existence was part of a grand master plan of torture.
The women seemed to be always moving. None were beautiful and yet the eyes of the men seemed to gravitate towards them and keep them in focus constantly. Were they important? The women were not feminine – rather, boyishness marked them as also restlessness, as I’ve said before. Their eyes were hard, yet with life of a certain kind in them.
The children were always shrinking away from them and yet being dragged along, almost as though trapped in a vicious magnet. Fear was written all over them. In their eyes, in their limbs, their gait. It seemed obvious and not surprising that they would occasionally play a game of snooker before returning to their relentless orbits around their mothers. Dreams, in themselves, are obvious. The analysis, afterwards, rejects them.
The animals were all dead. And they appeared again and again. A dead dog on the road. Another in a jack-knifed posture across a bench in the park. A calf rotting in a ditch with its tail oddly lifted and hanging limp just over the edge. All their eyes were open. They were dead and yet, they were crying. Preposterous.
Whenever I awoke from these recurrent dreams, I noticed that my heartbeat was abnormally fast. I would not be sweating. I would look around wondering if I was still in the dream hoping for the story of that dream to come to its conclusion, whatever it was. And, as you know, one never does reach a climax in a dream, unless it’s of a sexual kind.
The morning was unusually heavy. A lack of freshness marked it. Or perhaps it just reflected my own state. The sounds of birds just outside seemed harsh and mocking. The ceiling fan moved slowly, laughing at me with its deliberate clack-clack. A gecko darted across the wall, stopped and stared at nothing. Without warning its tail fell off. I remember thinking that their tails were supposed to fall off only if they are being pursued. So that they could escape. The gecko just stayed put. I saw its tongue flick out lazily and grab an insect that flew by, too close.
I went to the bathroom to brush my teeth, following the set pattern of years of existence. With half closed eyes, I looked towards the mirror as I put the brush and toothpaste together into my mouth.
It was not my reflection that looked back.
A young boy stared out. His eyes open, as in shock. I remembered having seen him in my dream, though I could not recall what his role had been. He wore a green shirt, open at the neck. The shirt had no collar revealing a thin neck with purple veins. He was unremarkable in his looks, with a weak mouth and eyebrows that met in the middle. He had that slate colored pallor which I remembered distinctly from my dream. I could only see his bust, of course. I did get a feeling that he wasn’t of my time. He seemed about 15 years old with a moustache that was struggling to emerge. He then seemed to look down at his left hand and I saw him raise a violin to his chin. With the other hand he raised a bow.
I saw that the violin was very old with curves and tracings from a different time. The dust of years of rosin was sprinkled on the ebony and the wood near the bridge. I saw that the strings were of that same crimson color from my dreams.
I saw that the bow was made of bone. A very unusual one with intricate geometrical carvings. Hexagons within squares inside triangles. Lines that seemed parallel at one end of the bow and converged at the center and then diverged again at the other end. At the end of each line was a satyr each of whom was looking at me and smiling. I remember these details.
With his right arm raised, he started playing. Music came out from the mirror. Pathos, indescribable emotions, serene lonely notes pulsating for completion while they extinguished the previous ones brutally. The violin itself changed color, moved by this extraordinary display of beauty and ugliness, of hate and love, of venality and tenderness, that it had helped bring to the world. The world as it was.
Then he finished and lowered the violin and the bow.
For a wordless minute, we looked at each other.
Then he seemed to shrink slowly to a point, while at the same time, another figure grew slowly from a speck. And that figure was my own reflection. And that reflection was smiling.
While I was not.