I am not a dreamer, at least not in the literal sense of the term. I have dreams, yes, but I don’t see snippets of my subconscious playing out in some distant corner of my sleeping mind, only to realise that I remember but traces when I wake up.
Sometimes I fancy I could perhaps hang a dreamcatcher on the largish window that overlooks the gigantic Peepal gnarled and scarred by the ravages of time. You know what a dreamcatcher is, don’t you now? It’s a chime of sorts, you see. The Native Americans believe if you install one in your home, it will ‘catch’ good dreams for you.
But alas, I have no such dreamcatcher to catch dreams for me. In its puritanical form, the catcher’s a hoop within which a loose web is woven, much like a spider’s web. Then it is adorned with sacred and symbolic things like feathers and beads. The loosely woven net is meant to catch your dreams; the sacred adornments supposed to make them pleasant. It’s an ancient belief but in its commercial form, the catcher’s nothing more than a contraption. Oh, yes you get to buy dreamcatchers these days just like you buy feng shui wind chimes ardently hoping for a brilliant stroke of luck or a miracle that would change your life for good. But dreams don’t change your life…
On a particularly rainy afternoon, while reading an exquisitely nondescript contemporary thriller and sipping on a large mug of coffee, I find myself becoming increasingly restless. I shut the book and look up at my window. It’s drizzling outside. The water falling off the slim ends of Peepal leaves. White mushrooms, fungi – whatever you want to call them – gawk at me out of the nooks and crannies of the worn out trunk. I leave my reclining chair and walk up to the window throwing the panels open. Droplets caress my cheek. On a whim, I decide to take a walk in the rain.
I am walking down familiar alleys. The same old sodden smell, the same shops with shutters down, the same old neighbourhood, only quieter and peaceful. It’s a slow and steady drizzle. I trudge along, not a soul on the streets. And then… I see her. A lone woman resting pensively under a street lamp. The lights never go out on such dark and cloudy days. The woman intrigues me. She’s wrapped in a tunic spun of gossamer clinging to her silhouette. Her head is covered in something that looks like crude a shield against the rain. The details belie me though. The weak yellow light above her, casts eerie shadows. She looks strangely alien yet so intimate. Her face is a blur in the rain. I instinctively want to know more about her.
But she starts walking. Moving away from me. The gossamer makes her frame grotesque. Soon she’s going to melt into the misty oblivion. I break into a sprint to reach her. But she’s moving so fast that I fear I might lose her. I run faster to catch up, just in time to see her entering a gate- a big black one with pointy grills – to her right. I follow suit. A meticulously paved driveway with tall palms running down the middle. Carefully manicured petunias on the sides. Cottages lining the winding driveway. Do I know this place? Yes I do but can’t quite put my finger to it. It’s exasperating, the kind of exasperation you feel while untangling a mass of earphones and data cables. There, yet not there. I am lost in my musings and I lose sight of her. I run around a bit. The familiarity is astounding. I rack my brains but still I don’t remember. In my exasperation, I start looking for the woman or was it an apparition?
Then I see her again. My heart jumps a little. She’s under that tree. Under that gnarled, scarred tree. It’s not blurry anymore. The palms, the manicured plants, the cottages. The woman is staring ahead at a window, a big French window. I turn towards the woman. She’s still unknown to me. But there’s an angelic light emanating from her. It’s an Indian headgear that covers her head. Not a shield. Her face is clearer. It’s got a native look. Small kindly eyes. Tanned wrinkled face. Two long plaits tucked behind her ears. She’s smiling at me pointing towards the window. Something’s dangling from the pelmet. A hoop, a web, a net, beads and feathers..
I wake up with a start. The book has slided down my chest. The coffee’s gone cold. The drizzle has stopped. I hear a faint noise. Not the metallic clinks of the wind chimes but the soft sound of the wind whooshing past tiny pebbles on a sea shore. I adjust my glasses and look up at the window. And there it is, the ancient dreamcatcher with the loosely woven spider-like web, bejeweled with the last drops of the rain, glistening in the weak sunrays…