I observed him carefully as he walked to the door. I knew that time was running out but suppressed the urge to check my watch. I took a deep breath and started counting in reverse under my breath. "Ten, nine, eight, seven..."
Opening my eyes, I quickly got up, scrambled through my bedside table, turned on the voice recorder and started speaking:
I felt a cool splash on my face as my feet grazed the surface of the ocean, while my outstretched arms tried to feel the thrust of the winds. I looked up - there were no branches or ropes supporting my swing; it was suspended on an invisible rope from the heaven! It felt as if I was at the edge of the world, swinging to faraway places beyond the realms of reality. The sky seemed resplendent in its royal blue cloak while the ocean down below was in an oddly reflective mood. But they seemed to merge at the horizon, weaving a beautiful seam, as if with pearly white thread. The beautiful imagery in front of my eyes gave way to greater clarity of thought in my mind, a sense of deep calmness!
I didn't know where I was, but I knew I was happy! We held hands and walked through the sands of time, for long... His presence gave me such confidence! We walked away from the ocean, over the mountains and the forest; it felt as if we had already spent ages together.
As we stepped into our little cottage near the forest, I realized that our life together was about to begin. I wouldn't give it up for the world. And as days turned into months, months into years, we had built a perfect little world around us. Our world had just the two of us in it. The more people tried to come closer, the more we pushed them aside. We are happy in each other’s company, we said. Suddenly, there was a splash of soapy water on my face - the huge bubble that had been floating over the ocean and the mountains and the forest for so long, our perfect little world, had burst!
As I observed him carefully while he walked to the door, I knew that it was imminent. I suppressed the urge to check my watch. I took a deep breath and started counting in reverse under my breath. "Ten, nine, eight, seven..."
BOOM An explosion of yellow light came in through the small wedge where the closed door met the floor. The door itself couldn't hold up for long, as it quickly gave up the resistance and flung back. As I looked on with wide-open eyes, I could see his body getting torn into pieces, flying in all directions - blood and gore beyond imagination. I tried to move, but my hands and legs were tied! I screamed and screamed, hoping that it was just a dream and that my scream would jolt me out of this nightmare. I was heaving and panting, struggling for breath! My dream was turning into a nightmare, and I was losing control of it. Damn, I need more practice!
I thrashed the voice recorder on the floor, as sweat oozed out of my face and I struggled for breath. I knew that I was in the real world, but I needed to calm down. I took some deep breaths and tried to go back to sleep. But I couldn’t help but think of that night. The frightful day, when the ‘Soldier’ in him wanted to walk away, while the ‘Husband’ in him was trying hard to muster the courage to fight the urge. He struggled with the thought for a while, but wouldn't look at me. I knew his eyes were tearing up; I knew I had to be strong. Call of duty! I was the one who consoled him, asked him to take care of his country first. But I could have never imagined that, from a mesh of safety, through the familiar corridors of promise and hope, he was walking into the dark terrains of treachery and death. I tried to imagine how his last moments would have been. Did he realize that he was about to leave this world? Did he think about me? Did he worry about me? I hope the terrible explosion was able to deliver him to the other world at a moment’s notice, not giving him enough time to think about anything else. I would have hated to see him suffer...and he would have hated to be in such a helpless situation. With that, I slowly drifted into my sleep...
Reliving that fateful day is too much of a torture, I know. But it's like a medication to me, the drug that keeps me alive - being with him every night, trying to focus my last ounce of energy on recollecting our wonderful days together. That's why this has been my routine for the past few months. I don't hate him for leaving me alone here; I know that’s the last thing he would want. I feel that he is still with me, not as a ghost, the kind that scares you to death, but like a powerful presence, a positive energy that encourages me to wake up every day and be grateful for what I have in my life. My life is a lot better now, but battling Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and finding my way towards a peaceful life was indeed an ordeal!
To say the least, his death had completely shattered me; I was in a limbo for days! I didn't even know for how long I had existed like that. I had pushed away every single soul from my life for him, so I could fill my heart completely with the love for him. Little did I know that one day, it would leave a huge void in my heart! I started losing sleep, I started getting nightmares. I would sit up all night to avoid sleeping, for fear that the nightmare would come back. Days and days of pure self-defeating torture!
Some of those dreams were terrifying; I remember one of them distinctly:
I got into my house one evening after work, only to quickly realize that I might not be alone there. The entire floor was a mess - my clothes, my favorite books, my framed pictures - everything was scattered on the floor. I looked up and noticed that there were 3 men perching dangerously on top of my wall cabinet, trying to lay low. Chills ran down my spine! I started screaming and shouting for help, but there was no one around to hear my scream. I knew that they were about to kill me, so I started running toward the front door. As I ran, these men quickly got out through the back door and escaped. I couldn't stay there any longer, but I didn't know where to go. My entire body was shivering with fear; I froze for a while. Then I ran to the back door to try and lock it from the inside, but soon I realized that they had broken the latch while entering the house. I was terrified of the thought that any minute they might be back to kill me, but felt totally helpless as I couldn't even lock the door to escape them. I remember locking the front door and sitting with my back against the back door shaking with fear, in an attempt to keep the door closed. I didn't know for how long I had stayed like that, but when I woke up, I was sweating like a pig.
It was as if my dream had a mind of its own! Every day, it would ensure that I felt lonely, worthless and completely left out in this world; I would feel as if I had no place in this world! It just kept on reminding me that I am now alone in this world and that the world will be mean to me. On some days, it felt as if I had lost my mind. One night, I suddenly started feeling that I was going to die any minute. It was such an uneasy feeling; heaving for air, I just lied down counting seconds till I dozed back into my sleep after a long time. My parents couldn't let this go on for long; they took me to a therapist. However, they soon realized that mental healing wasn't something that others could do for me; I had to find my own way of overcoming my grief. That's how I got to know about lucid dreaming - my therapist had suggested it as a solution to my nightmares. Being aware that I am dreaming would calm me down, he had said. Some call it lucid dreaming, some, by its age-old Hindu name, the Yoga Nidra. I thought I’d give it a try anyway.
Let what had started with dreams end with dreams, I’d thought.
Lucid dreaming talks about being aware that you are dreaming and trying to manipulate your experiences in the dream by controlling your degree of participation. It had started off as an interest initially, but it sounded a bit spooky and dark. I wasn't sure whether it had any scientific grounding. Slowly and steadily, I started getting the hang of it. I knew it wasn’t going to come easy to me. I am still learning, but I can see the difference already.
Awareness is a beautiful feeling; it helps you to be mindful of the moment you are in. Being in the moment means doing the task at hand with full focus and not worrying about the fruits of those actions. It teaches you to treat success and failure with equanimity. That is how I became more calm. I couldn’t help but notice that there is always a difference between reading about something and actually practicing it. In reality, reading about the concept of self-awareness is easy, understanding it is difficult, following it is even more difficult. It’s probably one of the most difficult things I have ever done in my life. But I keep pushing myself to follow it. Most of the times, it would just be as simple as reminding myself of my belief when I am about to lose it! Whenever anger and frustration threatened to take control of my life, I had to intentionally push myself into believing that life is full of ups and downs, and that I needed to handle it with grace. As I practiced it more and more, I realized that lucid dreaming might be able to help me; it is like 'Yoga Nidra', the art of relaxation through awareness in your sleep. I just needed to learn to relax.
Every single night for the past few months, I had been trying to prepare myself to be awake while dreaming. It feels great to be a part of something that you can architect, and I am slowly becoming the architect of my dreams. My dreams often seem so real that I could feel my heart beating with excitement. Now I feel empowered to truly live my dream, both literally and figuratively. Probably, it might take me a while to turn all my nightmares into dreams, but every day, I close my eyes in the hope that I will soon meet the man of my dreams! He is the ocean that grazes my feet, the wind that hugs me, he is the beach, the mountains and the valley, he is within and without me, and I have promised him that I would meet him every single night for the rest of my life.