Gautam opened his eyes with his hands on his stiffened, clogged chest. He knew his lungs had enough tar, but there was something else too that gripped his molecules. It was loneliness. Although he hated waking up like this, it had been the only feeling that never left.
His eyes hurt as they do after a long day out in heat and dust. But now the pain was simulated by a nightmare. He weakly shifted in bed and lay on his stomach, feeling the weight in his skull slowly shifting toward gravity. His face pressed on the mattress.
In the dream, it was his parent’s house. He felt in the vibes that Subha was around. That was what made him catapulted from his room in the long corridor he never knew existed. There were many rooms at both sides.
The walls felt supple; the floor felt supple; and everything around him looked like a black & white oil painting, where every shadow had its edges blended in grey. It was hard to find a beginning or an end. The echoing voices reminded him of the place in space where all the voiced gathered and repeated on a loop.
As he stood confused, he saw a silhouette entering the first room. Struck with familiarity, a lump in his throat twisted. He went after it. Although he wanted to rush, he couldn’t increase his pace. Anxiety overwhelmed him, but strangely, he didn’t feel his heartbeat.
Gautam squinted across the crowded room that silhouette entered. He took his time, but it was a waste. It wasn’t there. Then he found a door connecting another room. What the hell! He instantly recalled that the rooms were all connected from within.
He moved to the adjacent room’s door and squinted again. It wasn’t there either. He moved to another. No. Then another. No.
Gautam searched through every room before he found himself standing in a hugely crowded living room. Who are all these people? He didn’t think was a question worth wasting time.
He struggled for breath. It was daytime, he could feel, but his vision was still a blur. He rubbed his eyes and squinted across the blending shadows. He didn’t find it.
Then he did. He followed as the silhouette moved outside.
Outside, a black wriggling trail stretched beneath his feet, which he thought must be the charcoal road; an endless grayish something wriggled above his head with a white, hot but blur, object at ninety degrees. Feeling humidity, Gautam rubbed his eyes, frustrated with his hazy vision, and squinted at all the black and white and grey shadows those swiftly moved around. Nothing familiar.
He tried again, this time harder and minutely scanned every shadow, near and far.
Then he saw it swaying away from him. He fixed his gaze and moved in its direction.
For the first time, his heart churned. He wanted to talk; wanted to say that how long he waited; that how much he still loved. But with his rising anxiety, the charcoal beneath his feet diluted, taking him in. He struggled for pace, struggling with vision and breath.
Then the silhouette stopped. His heartbeat quickened feeling it looking at him. He raised his hand as a signal to wait and crawled in the charcoal dragging him in.
Somehow he still managed to move. The distance shrank a little and the silhouette got bigger. He felt his heartbeat load and clear now.
‘Wait,’ he called.
It was then the silhouette turned from him. It rode two big circles, paddled, and faded away.
A warm tear felt like lava on his nose as it made its way out, despite Gautam tried holding it back. He couldn’t understand why everything turned so negative. Why he couldn’t see Subha or talk to her in his dreams anymore.
Photo Credit: menoevil