October 2050, Bombay

I don’t know why all my apocalypse dreams begin in Bombay. Mahim, to be precise. Mahim of the old, blackened buildings. We are on the 4th floor of a building with no lift. I like it when dreams don’t improve memory. If there was no lift in real life, you don’t get lift in the dream – it is sad but so reassuring.

Outside the huge window, Bombay dawn is breaking the sky into blues and darker blues. And even though it is apocalypse I am excited about going out because I have never been up so early in Bombay.

My family is on its way out. In all my dreams, they never wait for me. This doesn’t make me unhappy but I worry that if I choose my own way or wander and get lost, they will be the ones to panic. And I hate knowing that they were afraid and panicked when I was off looking for an adventure. The thickness of dad’s belt on my shin is a permanent reminder of this.

I gather my things with panic boxing my ears. I take coat, earphones and I know I took my bag because I stuffed my socks in the corner pocket. Socks, why would I need socks? No reason, maybe just so I have an excuse to take my bag. In all apocalypses – whether imagined or dreamt – to take or not to take bag is the real question. Even if I don’t make it alive, the fact that I am with my bag means I am prepared for whatever lurks out there.

But more than the inconvenience, I am worried that a bag with things in it only for me means selfishness. My father will frown and be mad. He won’t approve of this independence. Even so, I launch my bag on my back and walk down. My uncle is in his white panche and white buniyan, waiting by the door, saying bye.

When I am down, my family is nowhere to be seen but I am acutely aware that it is October 2050. Then I remember that the apocalypse is right on time because everybody knew that there was no space on the calendar anymore – not even for 2 tiny boxes next to each other to meekly say ‘November’ and ‘December’. There were no trees left.

Now it’s not dawn anymore but bright and noisy. My family still nowhere to be seen, I walk on the main road where there are buses and children and cars and lots of people. At the bus stop there are a few men who are sitting. A double-decker bus pauses at the bus stop for a moment. It is full to the brim with Hindutva-Goondutva type men wearing black, they leap up together and cover the bus stop with a terrifying national flag. Then they scream at the men sitting down and laugh dangerously. They must have thought the men sitting must be Muslim so they start swearing. Before the bus has turned at the corner, the men who were sitting all stood up suddenly and pulled the flag down. I start cheering and clapping. I recognise a student on the bus. He motions the bus to stop because some passerby has brought his attention to the flag that was insulted.

There’s no difference between patriots up top and down below. I know I should run faster now because the apocalypse has become a Hindu-Muslim thing. A man with no sockets and no eyes runs with murder towards me. I run away from them all like I have no lungs. I run run run. Up ahead is a slope and I don’t know if I am still in Bombay but at the top are two churches.

I must have given up because in the middle of many apocalypses (apocalypsi?) all I want is to find a quiet place and sit. I run towards the churches. I feel someone following me. I turn back and throw a stone. It hits another stone and a boy emerges. It’s a small, sad boy whose face is the face of a student I teach. Small boy small face who had once written about a teddy bear that he hugged while he slept and how one morning it was wrenched away from his hands and dumped into the garbage truck. He stood on the balcony, watching it, weeping, waving his hands slowly even as the teddy bear turned to him and looked at him mournfully.

I do not want to be followed. I have only one pair of socks I might not even need. He trundles towards me and complains about a sick grandmother and how afraid he is about leaving her behind. At this point, I start wailing loudly. I cannot take it anymore. His small sad face made me cry for his grandmother who was going to die, along with the rest of us. I was touched because his face still didn’t change now that I was crying. It showed no satisfaction of having had the desired impact and I felt bad for the boy and said ok, I will help you.

I was woken up because I was still crying and my grouse this morning is that I wasn’t able to steal time to sit quietly by the church and watch the apocalypse.

***

Dreams and Demons

“We are not always what we seem, and hardly ever what we dream.”
― Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn

Dreams by Duchess Flux via flickr

Dreams by Duchess Flux via flickr

In the first one, the sun is hanging dangerously low in the sky and yet it’s not a very bright day. My family and I are in a pit that has a bit of turquoise water in the back and enough dry land in the front. In the beginning we all stand precariously by the edge and watch. I am carrying Chiru who is delighted by the water. His mother is standing with his father, holding hands. They are both getting into the water. Then we all slowly walk towards the water. We are happy, there is chatter in the air, there are many families who are laughing and throwing handful of water on each other.

Suddenly the water goes back and we don’t suspect anything bad will happen because there isn’t enough water to drown us all. But with a nasty speed, a wave of water lunges at us like an anaconda, hitting us all squarely in the face and back to the edge of the pit. I hold Chiru tightly because he looks scared and it worries me that he’s not crying.

The sky breaks into multiple hues of the strongest purple I have ever seen. There is thunder and everytime it is heard, the purple becomes a shade darker. We all move at once to scurry out when four big boulders come in a menacing speed to kill us. But they all come at the same time, so they get stuck to each other at the top of the pit. It is funny but we don’t laugh. And it must seem darker now because I can only see purple everywhere.

Heaven's gate by Kainet via flickr

Heaven’s gate by Kainet via flickr

I wake up and still in my drowsy state, I try to go back to the dream to rescue myself and the family. Maybe dad has organised vehicles or a plane. Mintu is bound to get lost. We must make sure to hold each other’s hands.

***

In the next, I am watching a film but soon, I am inside the film. It is Golden Star Ganesh’s hit film – (not mungaru male) and has Sonu Nigam singing. The heroine has left him in my dream also (!) and he is singing mournfully. Flashback – goondas have kidnapped her and we are all on some hill. I am waiting for Ganesh to come save her but just when he has arrived, goondas cover her mouth and take her inside. Suddenly I am flung back and I wonder if I can rescue her if I throw snakes on the goondas. All around me are big anacondas. Bigger than the ones I have seen in films, bigger than anything I have seen. They seem brilliantly alive and yet they are muted, like someone said statue to them or something.

***

In the next, I am a boy and I am waiting to make out with my girlfriend. She is wearing a hot pink top and a black skirt (something that I have always wanted to wear) but I am a good boyfriend so I am waiting to drop her back home on time. But she wants to do me and keeps telling me that her curfew is 8:45 pm, not 8:00 so I take her to my home. Suddenly she is not wearing the hot pink top anymore. She is now wearing Aishwarya Rai’s blue fairy tale dress, without the fluffy skirt. It’s shorter and I’m hornier than I’ve ever been. We do the deed quickly and then I go to my computer to finish writing an article that’s due.

Image Credits: Reuters Pictures

Image Credits: Reuters Pictures

I barely finish when she wakes up so I have to take her home. We sneak out and then I wake up.

***

Best way to begin a Sunday.