The crematorium of my life is alight. It’s dispelling darkness. The flame is sky high. I’m floating on the flame. I’m sinking. I’m embracing light and fire. The lump of flesh and blood is in ashes. I’m still there. Floating. Flying. Free. Above the fire and light. I’ve escaped. It cannot touch me. Nothing can. I smile at the rising embers. All that I was I’m not. I’m free.
-He must dream well. It is the only cure.
-It’s going to be a long September. Time won’t move. It will remain steady.
-The drilling machine! Can you hear? Through the walls! I feel something rising in me.
-It must be some ailment you’re engulfed from within.
-He holds a cigarette between his ashen fingers and takes three deep puffs; the ash still there, holding onto the edge, and then puts it off while watching the ash fall onto the ground, looks at me and relishes the last puff; waving off the smoke with the gentle stroke of his hand. Sixty cigarettes, he said, looking pensively at me. The count is ten, three and one; less carbon, less dreams, a dreamless dream; some empty space and the voices.
That’s the cure.
-Look. I’ve reached. That’s the place. The doctor must be here. I’m at the right address.
-I’m here for treatment.
-Tell us what do you feel.
-Why am I here? I don’t know. I should go back home.
-I don’t get you.
-The disease isn’t real. It’s illusory.
-What do you mean?
-I’ve diagnosed it. The other day I could see it with the torch when I slipped it down my throat.
-Red throat. Stinking. I could see vapors rising from there.
-Take this pill. Swallow it. Some water. Now the deep sleep.
-What did you dream?
-Does it help?
- I’m dreamless. I see nothing. It’s all dark.
The memory of war overcomes him and sets the limbs writhing in the trench. The voices start speaking incoherently, contorting his mouth. He wakes up buried in the snow. He’s been in the war trench for several years now. His only vocation is dreaming. He dreams day and night. This is home. The war started a long time back. It will take him to a distant land close to the borders. It’s afar. He wants to go home. The war is over. He isn’t home.
He must rest well. They are scheduled to meet in S5. A sea of pregnant women had gathered in the semi-dark space. One woman isn’t able to deliver. Others are trying to help; huddled around her. The morning sun has just risen; shining bright on the newborn. The mothers with their babies held close to their bosoms are crossing the holy stream and marching towards the mountain top. ‘Where are you going? I don’t know. Will you ever go back? I don’t know? What will you do here? I don’t know?’ Look at the houses made of marble. Marble houses. They are for the exiles. It’s the valley of mirrors. Each inhabited with a dream. They call it the mirrored dream. The plane has taken off. They will reach in an hour. We’re waiting at the airport. It has started snowing. Large flakes. The airport has run out of electricity. The plane might not land here. They’re fixing it. We don’t know what to do. Some are moving towards Gate no 5. Where are they going? The plane is yet to arrive. The announcement was made. All flights cancelled. They are landing ST-132 in a distant town. It’s a desert. They’re going to announce the landing on the wireless. It will be aired on the airport loud speakers. We can hear the sound of the plane cruising through the smoggy sky. She must be frightened. It’s a desert. We might lose it. The wireless radio is mute. There’s something wrong with the transmission. Some noise. The plane is returning back. They’ll not land it here. A yellowish sickly tiger has sneaked into the hole under the pond. A skinny tiger. The gate was thrown open to all of us in the asylum. The garden was in full bloom. We ran onto each other. We were blinded by the colors. Some climbed the walls. It had everything in it. I shifted my gaze and looked at everything I could see in it. All the colors of the world. We were allotted some time to roam around. We filled our baskets with everything. Flowers, fruits, petals, leaves. All the colors. It’s 7:53 am. No message received. I hope she’s well. It has stopped raining. Sun is beginning to emerge. Am I with you? Do you feel me? I’ll miss you. I won’t forget. You’ll be here. Always. I’m not trying to forget. I won’t. You see. Time. It’s the enemy. The destroyer of great loves. It’s there. At the door. I don’t know where she is. Is she well? She hasn’t replied. A day has passed. This mute night. The dead sky. Red dot of the mobile tower. Sky high poplar trees. The monotony of life. My frozen feet. The sound of the overflowing water from the tank. The vain murmur of heart. Recurring hunger of the stomach. Midnight. 02:30.The road has widened. It’s of infinite length and breadth. The driver laughs at the man standing on the other side of the road. The vehicle falls into a deep gorge. He survives. One of the fingers isn’t moving. It has to do with the blood supply. A hemorrhage somewhere. The car is being driven fast. The temple priest is reading a story from the ancient scriptures. The war between the Pandavas and the Kauravas. His voice is incongruent. It was but a road, a wide one. The giant wall. A tall building of enormous height with several thousand balconies. Everything was monstrous. A flock of birds hopping from one lamp post to the other filling the mute night with different sounds. I forgot to mention that the birds too were big. I was filled with dread while looking at them. One of them flew past me. What struck me most is the wide road, spanning the entire universe. I entered the giant hall and sat silently in one of the corners. My heart started beating faster. They were talking through me. I ran back to my room. The candle has been cut into three pieces of unequal size. He’s trying to build it again, to its original form. He burns the half-candles. The room is filled with light. He looks with awe at the lightened room. He had sheets of paper in his hand. His face had squeezed into his skull and his skull was reduced to the size of a cork ball. He had a few strands of hair hanging from his head. His eyes weren’t completely visible; appearing somewhat like two holes in a large well. They had sunk into the socket. He was draped in a long overcoat. He was looking at the tall building. Nausea overpowered him. Every nerve and atom of his body was filled with it. A sudden spasm hits you with its brute force. A ball in the stomach finds its way to the mouth, reaches the threshold and goes back. The ball enters the head and you start reeling. Your mouth stinks. You become a mute spectator and suffer in silence. I’m climbing a labyrinth of ladders. It was but a memory. A dream followed by a dream. A memory of her fading silences; of the words that were never spoken. I lost my vision on the second day of our parting and my memory on the last day of the first week of our parting. From there on. Toward death. Devoid of memory and life. An eye on the floor of a dilapidated building. Of the several thousand eyes present on the floor of the lobby, the narrator is narrating the dreams dreamt by one eye, the eye that’s at the right side of the elevator. The first floor of the hotel has large flabby ears on its floor. Each one is alive, moving. The story happens there. The arrival of eternal winter. The sky, the air, the smog, the city, everything appeared suspended, coagulated, fixed, never moving. The dark sky was prowling around every house, lane and street. The air was dense. It carried the city in its folds. Everything seemed to be proceeding to the cold. The air was seeping through the walls and the closed windows. Everything was leaving. There was silence in the air. All I remember is the cold and the winter that was devoid of a distant warmth, of a distant summer. The only thing that stayed in people’s memory was the everlasting winter of that year which extended for a time we had no measure of. I never saw the sun come out from the dark clouds. All what was left was smog filled sky suspending from the skies, never moving an inch. Minutes, hours, years that followed seemed all frozen. Clocks had stopped functioning in the second year. The winter lasted for three cycles of time. Darkness pervaded the entire length and breadth of our city. They had planned to meet that evening. He woke up on time. The moment he waited for all his life had finally come. This was not a dream like the other days. It was morning. He could see everything in the only room he was having. Shaving kit, scissors, voltage stabilizer, refrigerator, plastic chair, copy of Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita and the black diary. He rose from his bed and touched the things one by one. He moved his gaze towards his wrist watch. He then looked through the window. Autumn was slowly turning into spring. The long winter was about to leave. The birds had flown back to the town from the mountains. He moved his right hand carefully, watching it glide towards the cup of coffee. He took it all in one sip. He pushed the empty cup towards the edge. The cup broke. He saw it lying on the floor. All the pieces. It was Monday. It wasn’t a dream. The day had begun its march. The first cycle of the eternal spring. It is his only chance. The promise must be kept. She will be going back this evening to the distant city she belongs to. Several time cycles away. He rushed through a sea of people in the station towards the train. It was the only train that operated in the town. There wasn’t an inch of space to sit or stand. He moved through all the coaches and found some space at the corner in one of the coaches. S5. The entire train was enveloped in silence. Nobody spoke. All the passengers were looking at the screen placed at the start of the coach. White screen. A man on the bed. Forest. Rivers. Screen catching fire. Speeding trains running parallel to each other. Mountains crumbling to dust. A woman on a mountain top holding the moon. The giant bridge spanning several rivers. He looked at his watch. The minute hand was missing. The day had started proceeding towards evening. He was thinking about the meeting. The long wait was about to end. The train will reach its destination in an hour. The screen is still alive. People are glued to it. There’s silence. He looks outside through one of the windows of the train. The town had disappeared. They were in the plains. The train is speeding through a dense forest. It’s yet to arrive at its destination. He woke up to the rains in the dead of the night. He clears the misty glass of the window. The lamp-post is blinking. They had all started speaking through him. Innumerable voices. He had no control over it. His mouth lay contorted after every minute of uncontrollable speech. It started all over again after some time. He couldn’t rest. It was a strange affliction, never heard of. All those voices emanating from his larynx caused him great pain. His leathery tongue was continuously beating inside his mouth. The voices spoke about every intricate detail of their daily lives. Their moral and religious philosophies; the past and the present lives. They spoke for days together. It tired him to the last bone. He has curled himself into one of the corners of the room. He isn’t opening the door. He couldn’t stand it. He has grown frail and fearful. He held his tongue between the fingers but to no respite. He wasn’t able to stop it. A few days later, he dreamt a dream. He learnt about the hymn. The fatal cure. He choked himself with the ancient hymn. He stacked it between the voices. From thereon, not a single word has been uttered. His larynx fell fluttering in the gut. Nothing can cure it. It reaches back to its original position. It’s like a living organism. It has eyes. The tongue is alive again. The torment ensues. The sun has risen. It is about to set. He looks at the girl sitting next to him. He doesn’t recognize her. She hasn’t spoken a word since the first morning. She’s looking at the screen. He enquires with her about the station. She doesn’t respond. He asks her again. She’s asleep. He wakes her up. The girl in a bout of anger informs him that he has missed the station by one year. The train has crossed the bridge.
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