Why do we dream? I really don’t know. Some say that dreams are the manifestations of repressed memories. Freud would probably try and relate every dream including the happy, mundane, bizarre and horrific to some kind of sexual fulfillment. I think dreams are just the brain’s way to try and make sense of this world. Why else should it conjure up convoluted images, smells and feels when the eyes are shut and the thoughts are at rest? Why else should dreams be so elusive that the moment you open your eyes, the only thing that you remember is the fact that you have been dreaming, yet you do not always remember the dream?
For many years, I have had nightmares. I don’t usually remember dreams, but since my nightmare has always been the same night after night, I can almost conjure it up even during my waking hours. My little nightmare always begins with me stranded in a lonely desert strewn with dead soldiers of countries without names, and ends in me being chased and captured by some unknown beings, whom somehow in my wakeful silliness, I interpret as cannibals, and just as I’m being throttled to death, I wake up, gasping for breath. Now, I’ve never been stranded in any desert, nor have I ever been caught in the middle of any kind of war or violence of any sort, except the kind that even children are exposed to on prime time television! Rather I believe that it is my brain’s effort to try and put myself into a certain scenario that I had read in a book a long time ago. A book that I never got around to reading till the last page because a paragraph about cannibalism that is still lurking somewhere in the middle of its pages made me faint and still gives me the chills whenever I think about it. Somewhere deep inside me a fear runs that I may one day end up on somebody’s plate! An absurd fear when you consider it at first, but then there is a remote possibility to it. The reality that cannibals exist and the thought that somewhere at this moment, a human being is being cooked by another because it gives satisfaction to his/her taste buds is a very disturbing thought indeed…..
I digress. Coming back to dreams, I find dreams fascinating. I think a person’s dreams, whatever they may be, reflects on the kind of life the person leads. It may be a manifestation of one’s memories, aspirations, likes, dislikes, everything that makes one an individual. Dreams can also be a doorway to creativity. Artists are generally said to be dreamy. One too many scientists had seen the solution to their questions form in their dreams. Like August Kekulé, who dreamt of an ouroboros and interpreted that as the structure of benzene being a ring.
Recently I had some most bizarre dreams. One after the other, on the same night, a series of dreams attacked me, all unrelated to each other. I say attacked, as I kept waking up after every one of these short dreams and as a result ended up being sleep deprived in the morning, which isn’t good for someone trying to be a researcher into the complexities of the human brain. In one of these dreams, I ended up being a passive witness to the humiliation and bullying of a little boy by his teacher in a classroom. The most intriguing aspect of the dream was that I remembered it vividly even after I woke up, and also even though I was there in that classroom, I was not a person in that classroom. Now, as I try to recall it, all I can remember is that I remember being on the wall. I might as well have been a fly on the wall or the wall itself which in my dream collapsed into the classroom and onto the teacher just as she whipped her cane out in order to hit the hapless boy for being crude enough to raise his doubts in class.
In short, I like dreaming. Whether its beautiful dreams like being on a valley full of tulips covered in dew drops, or nightmares in which garish creatures come to visit me, or sweet and fancy dreams of being in love, I like dreaming. Because I sometimes believe that life itself is a big dream or may be even a journey through dreamscapes. As we flit from moment to moment, from conversation to conversation, from wakefulness to sleep, we might as well be flitting from one dream portal to next, until at the hour of shuteye you finally reach the door that has to be opened or not opened on that night. Like when I dreamt of being a vengeful wall just because I am perpetually angry at teachers who shut down a child’s curiosity. Like when some little child somewhere dreams of being loved by a parent and gets adopted the next day. Like when a dream becomes an idea and then reality.
As Edgar Allen Poe once said, may be “All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.”
Hence I sit here, dreaming of dreams on a sleepless night…..