The dreams, they always ended the same way… with my death.
I had heard such dreams signified something- a wake up call? a reminder to introspect? Or the ending of an important phase in my life?… It was intriguing and I wanted to know more about it.
But the people who lived with me had quite a different perspective to it. In fact they advised me to get accustomed to it.
“You don’t have to waste your time on it my dear… Such dreams are normal for the ones who are about to die…” they had reassured me with a pat on my shoulder.
‘Well, the people of their caliber and intellect, they can never be wrong.’ For me those knowledgeable people who were well aware of their actions were next to God! Thus I considered it all to be normal, until I had ‘the dream’ today.
This dream, unlike the other ones, seemed too real.
The smell of burning human flesh seems to be lingering in the air, even hours after waking up! I had a feeling I would never be able to get the awful acrid odour of burning meat and charcoal out of my nose ever in my life. And maybe that’s the reason why I still felt I was the monk in the dream, the one who had set himself ablaze in the middle of a crowd!
I can still remember it all with utmost clarity. Flames of varying heights were dancing on my body, even when my nose blackened and fell off. And though it was an excruciating act, I, rather the monk endured it all in peace, in fact he didn’t even move a muscle! Legs crossed in lotus position, he was in a state of serene meditation; in sharp contrast to the wailing people around him!
It has been hours since I woke up but I couldn’t keep it out of my head- especially the similarities I had with the monk!
Like me, the monk in my dream too was fighting for the rights of his people. He too was willing to die in pain for his beliefs- like me, by embracing fire. And both of us had it all planned- How, Where, When, even the exact time of death!
But there was a difference- while making it practical, he choose to immolate all by himself like a Lotus in fire. While I had plans to include a few innocents from the crowd!
Of course, I knew my act was going to be brutal. It would be like going completely against my morals, I had genuine doubts of it’s nobility. But the elders guided me well, taught me that my sacrifice would become a far greater deed in the future and I shouldn’t care much about my morals. They were always right and I was confident!
But now, after the dream… I dunno… it brought back the questions I had conveniently discarded,
‘Did I end up learning something wrong?’, ‘Was the dream an omen?, ‘What’s the renown in being a suicide bomber! What right do I have to take a life?’
Predicament was in the air but my trained mind was never going to give up. It knew that predicament is the breeding ground for desperation which would ultimately lead to resentment and sadness,
‘You must not succumb to such feeble thoughts- you are a warrior entrusted with a great deed, your focus must be…’
I couldn’t finish my thought, the loud cry fell on my ears like a totally unexpected bombshell; hairs stood up my nape!
It was the voice of a woman and it seemed to be coming from somewhere near the house. But who could that be- a trapped woman?
I scrambled out of the bed, grabbed the revolver from underneath it and tiptoed out. Her voice became louder as I unlocked the door in stealth and stepped out. The voice seemed like the cry of someone who was desperately in need of help; and it seemed to be coming from the well!
It was weird! Weird because the well… it was not closed when I visited it the evening, yesterday!
Did something bad happen while I was asleep? She… was she trapped in it?
“Please.. somebody help me” her wails gained clarity as I moved ahead. This time I was confident- the voice did come from the well.
‘Who could it be- someone from my group? Or a spy, someone shovelled down into the well by the others in my group! But if that’s true then where are the others!’
Everything seemed to be out of place! I had an equal and irresistible urge to go near and away from it.
But 2 minutes and I couldn’t stop myself from running towards the well; because soon, the voice had become familiar, it was reminding me of someone special, someone who was dead… my mother!
The moment I was near it, I ran my eyes through the fresh wooden panels, the wood was recently sanded. And as if to make my confusions worse, I found a note on one of those wooden panels- DO NOT OPEN!
It forced me take two steps away from the well. A warning from the elders. I knew I should abide the note, that I am not supposed to go against it.
But her wailings were too hard to ignore. The love of a daughter for her mother was much stronger than the loyalty she had for her elders. The next moment I was running to get the axe!
Though I was not that strong, I tried hard. With the first blow, the axe fractured the panels into pieces, one small piece pierced my skin between the left index and middle finger, blood oozed out; blow after blow, the pieces pierced elsewhere, even near my eyes. But it was never a concern; saving her was my utmost priority!
One final blow expelling a grunt and the whole structure collapsed. I threw the axe away, wiped the sweat of my brow and gazed into the well.
But I couldn’t make out anything from it, it was pitch dark.
“Hey… Are you ok” I called out and waited for the reply.
“No I’m not! Please save me..” the voice seemed to have echoed a long distance before it found me.
And this time I was sure, it was my mother, she was pleading!
‘But how could it be possible’- I was told that she died a month ago… Or was that… was that a lie!
I couldn’t stand there for more. I dashed to the store room, found myself a rope, sprinted back and gripping its one end on my right hand, extended it down into the darkness!
“Don’t worry, I’m here to save you..” I shouted as I lowered it down the well.
“Thank you my child!…” She exclaimed.
But her happiness didn’t last long, “I can’t reach it… it’s short… Can you get a longer one!”
My heart sank. No, that was the only rope in the storeroom. But she doesn’t want to know that.
I leaned onto the well, bend down and extended my hands into its depths when I felt the rope tighten- she had got it!
“I’m coming up” she called out from the darkness!
Though I could feel the tension in my hand, it was hard to believe that someone was actually climbing up through it. I was carrying her whole weight on my right hand, while leaning down into the well! She was mysteriously light!
A few moments and I saw a hand coming up from the darkness. But there was something peculiar about it, the hand… it was bleeding, it had a similar piece of wood between its index and middle finger, like mine!
And soon she began to talk “My child, only you can save me.. “
“Don’t worry, I will get you out of this well… I will save…”
“Please don’t do it… I don’t want to get out of this well!
“The people out there are dangerous! I am safe here…
“What! Then what do you want me to do..”
“I want you to save me”
“By jumping into this well!”
‘Something is not right, I shouldn’t have done this’
My heart skipped a beat and I left the rope that slithered its way like a snake into the darkness
But the hand, it never went down with the rope! As if acting against gravity, it flew up like in magical movies and held my wrist. And that’s when I realised it- it was a hand without a body!
Terror shook me, I knew this could become my end.
“Do not listen to them!” the voice retorted from the darkness beneath. “They are all wrong… I will show you the truth”
In the spit of a second, the hand pulled me down and I was falling into the depths with my screams illuminating the darkness!
But I never crashed, even after a few minutes! I was falling and falling and falling when a flickering light appeared. In seconds, it flamed up into a blinding bright light forcing me to shut my eyes close.
Well, what I had regarded as my end was the beginning of new horror!
I then as in the sky, rather I was falling out of the sky; I could feel the punishing wind all throughout my body! And I was falling towards a land below, which seemed to be a town shaped like a human.
But as I went down, I realised that it was never a town- someone huge was lying deep down, a lady! I… I was falling towards her face that became bigger and bigger as I traversed down! And she… she looked exactly like my mother, rather a younger version of her!
And that was when I saw it- she had traces of blood all over the visible part of her body. Especially the skin between her index and middle finger; it was bleeding! The blood from her hand was flowing like a river all around the town!
‘Does that mean… does that mean… the one inside the well… it was never my mother!! It’s..’
The blinding speed was torturing my eyes. I toppled around once in mid air, lost my vision again, and when it came back, I could only see a dark black hole surrounded by a white pool that had a lid, that closed like the eyelids… no it was… it was an eyelid!… I was… I was falling into someone’s eye- the eye that reminded me of someone from my past, the dreamer girl in the mirror!
Was it mine!
‘Is it some sort of punishment! A torture for forgetting the words I had learnt in my teens- ‘Violence can never bring in peace!’
That was it, in the next moment I fell with my face hitting hard on the freezing dark water!
“I know it’s wrong… I don’t want to do it… I don’t.. .I don’t…”
“Relax… relax… it was just a dream!”
“It was a dream”
“Who… who are you!”
“I was the one who slept in the bed beside you”
“What.. I don’t get it…”
“I came to this dorm a bit late… you were sound asleep then. I felt I shouldn’t disturb and thus settled myself in this bed, beside you. I had a long walk the previous night and thus had a great sleep until a few minutes before, when you disturbed me”
“I woke up to see you shuddering in fear- you were talking fast, uttering something unclear, as if you were falling! It terrified me, I feared it to be a seizure- I was seeing such a thing from a grown up man for the first time! That’s why I sat near you, are you okay”
“Ahh… I hope so”
I was completely embarrassed! I shouldn’t have… After all, it was a dream!
“I know we are strangers who have met moments before in this hostel… but I am going to explore the eastern beaches today, I heard there is a secret cave beneath the cliff above it. You wanna join?
“Ahh… No… I am not in a mood… I need some rest… And sorry for disturbing your sleep… ah… What’s your name…” I wanted to know more about her. But it seemed she was more interested in me, rather my dream.
“So what was it, the dream?”
“Ahh.. I have been seeing it for a while… not the same dream- the characters, situations, even my perspectives are different in each of them… I don’t remember much but this time I was a stupid lady in her early 30s who jumped into a well!”
“Ya.. that’s the similarity. The dreams, they always ended the same way…
“What! You always jumped into a well” Her eyes popped out.
“No, not in the well but they all ended with my death! It’s too..”
But before I could finish, she burst out laughing!
Well, the girl seemed to be nice; we had a brief conversation before she left for her adventure.
But before she went out of the room, she said something weird,
“Hey, I wanted to ask you something, have you had a dream where you were being burnt alive?” And started giggling.
“Hey, how did you..
“You said they always ended the same way… with your death. Don’t you think it’s the other way around… ”
“What are you trying to…
“Listen, I think your dreams, they always starts the same way… with your death…”
And with that, she climbed the stairs to the reception area and disappeared.
‘How did she know about my dream? Does she know something that I didn’t!’
I couldn’t confine myself to the bed for more and sprinted after her, even till the beach. But in vain- I couldn’t find her anywhere and had to walk back in despair!
And as if to make it all worse, I met the owner of the hostel who surprised me with his words,
“No sir, we’ve had one guest for the night and that was you; the girl… it must’ve been your dream!”
What! How’s that even possible!
I was so very sure that it was never a dream! And that’s why my next question was about the secret cave in the eastern beach!
“How come you know about it?” He was both amazed and terrified. “Never ever try to go under the cliff; none who has tried has ever returned! It’s said that death awaits everyone who are trying to go under it; promise me that you won’t go!..
The shadow of fear was evident in his damp and rheumy eyes, and I replied in haste,
“Of Course I promise, I mean who would do such…
I went on talking with him.
But I had made up my mind- that a visit to the cave would be the first thing after breakfast!
‘Death awaits everyone who are trying to go under it’- hmm… I have a feeling there is something more there, and I am supposed to go looking for it!
Picture Courtesy: Ana Pejovic