Wednesday, 19 December 2012

When Monsters Become Real

Last night, I dreamt I was back in Delhi.

I was taking the metro train at 9pm on a weekday, back from Hauz Khas, a time and direction in which the train is often barely occupied. I was in the women's compartment as usual. It was winter so I was wearing my favourite grey jacket.

I hadn't even got to the blue line yet - there was more than half an hour to get to my station. We slow down to a station and I notice a group of boys get on in the next compartment. They're noisy and chattering, they look like college students, my age. The usual.

I'm staring out the window and watching the buildings rush by. Suddenly I hear someone has been addressing me, snapping me out of my reverie. 'Hey... hey! How are you?' a male voice says to me in Hindi from the next compartment. I turn and it's the typical leering, jeering face of a young man that we females are so used to encountering, at the mall or on the street or in public transport, whether in India or Sri Lanka (I would like the boys reading this to take a moment to consider this reality - to try and imagine a life in which being jeered and leered at by strangers is a 'normal' 'every day' occurrence).

I ignore him as I do every one of these types, brushing it off as we always do, turning back to the window. A moment later he is standing a foot away from me, in my compartment. I suddenly become acutely aware that I am the only person in my compartment. I remember feeling an inexplicable gripping fear.

He was not doing anything. It didn't turn into a 'nightmare' - his face wasn't scowling, he hadn't put his hands on me, the florescent lights above were still brightly lit. Just that I was aware that I was the only person in my compartment, and there was a man my age now standing a foot away from me, and his male friends were standing a few feet behind him, laughing and poking each other, throwing sidelong glances at their pal. My heart was pounding in my chest and I felt a sense of dread filling me up. I remember becoming aware that he was taller and quite obviously stronger than me. 'What happened?' he mumbled in Hindi, a laugh in his voice, as he sensed my tension.

Then just when I was going to move away from him, he raised his hand - in a non-threatening way - as though to put it on my arm. Before he could, I let out a little yelp, and I woke up.

I woke up like you do after a fast-paced nightmare about being chased by rabid zombies, sweaty palms and heart in throat and all. What was so scary about that dream? The whole thing felt like no more than 5 minutes and had virtually no action, featuring only my apprehension at being a few feet away from a group of men in an isolated metro compartment. The realness of the dream also struck me: those feelings of apprehension and anxiety were very real, I would have reacted the same in real life.

The thing about nightmares, is that usually you can wake up and say 'Phew! It was just a dream - rabid zombies aren't real!' I can't say the same for this nightmare. (Click Here). 

No comments:

Post a Comment