Last night I had a dream. It was not a dream. It was a nightmare. I had watched a very scary horror movie late at night before going to bed. It is no surprise the movie affected my mind.
In my dream, I was transported back in time to the house where I lived as a child. The house where I spent the first 11 years of my life. As a daughter of a father who retired from a transferable job, and a woman who has had not a very linear path in life, I have lived in many cities, and many houses. Yet, the only place that has ever registered in my sub-conscious mind as home is that house where I grew up. When I dream of home, at any age, at any place, it is always that house.
In my dream, I woke up in the bed where I slept as a child with my parents. Except that I could not find them. I was alone. I was scared. I got up and looked around but no one was there. I stepped out of my bedroom into the living room to walk towards the only other bedroom, which my sister shared with my grandmother. I could not find anyone there either. This was very scary. I had never been alone in that house. Between my parents, an elder sister, two grandmothers, house helps, a dog, and the numerous people who visited there – aunts and uncles from both paternal and maternal side, extended relatives, family friends, I don’t have a single memory of me being there alone.
And yet, I was alone. It was a small house. When I had looked at both the rooms, the only place left to look at was the drawing room where the main entrance door to the house was located. This was especially scary because that room had a window and I was scared to see a stranger, or worse, a ghost! I was not even allowed to open the door! Would I even reach the latch?
I did not have the courage to go to the drawing room. Somewhere in the back of my mind, there was a thought that all of this must be a dream and that I would wake up any minute. Strangely, I found my mobile on the bed (there were no mobiles then) and decided to call Maa. At this point, something did not add up and I thought that if I call my mother, I would wake her up. The realization was coming back that I was an adult, and I am not supposed to wake up people at night, just because I am scared. This was slightly confusing. I was not sure whether I should call or not and what if it was just a dream?
Just then, I heard clinking of bangles. This meant someone was around. Someone familiar. Someone my own. I need not call anyone. I was not alone.
This is when the dream ended and I woke up.
When I woke up, it was a strange thought. Part of me was glad that none of that was true.
I was not alone in the house. I was not scared. The little me did not need to go to the drawing room and look out from the window.
But part of me wanted to go back to the house. Part of me was mad at me for willing myself to end the dream.
The feeling of waking up in that bed was so real. I could feel the pillow, I felt the blankets, and I could see the ‘Maharaja palang’. The walk from my room to the other room was a short one but it had been so long that I had taken the walk, that I so badly craved to do it one more time. The drawing room that I was too scared to enter had hosted so many parties with balloons and handwritten ‘Happy birthday’ with crepe paper. I so wished I had gone inside the drawing room. I so wished I had opened the main door and gone outside to the garden. I could have seen the many trees and plants. I wish I had gone to the back of the garden to see the ‘chapakal’. I wish I had gone to the roof of the house. I could have slept there while gazing at the stars, something we did when there was a ‘load shedding’. I could have seen so much more…
Why did I wake up? Why was I not brave enough in my dream? I wanted to go back…
I went back to sleep. This time hoping I would see the house again. The house gave me comfort. It gave me warmth. It made me feel safe. It held me and so many other people I grew up with. It was the only place I knew as a little girl. And it was the only place that knew me as a little girl. I wanted to feel the house again. The house that was my home. The house that will always remain my home. The house that no longer exists. The house that has been sold. The house that has been demolished. There are only ruins there. They will build something else there, that is what I last heard.
It is hard to imagine that there is ‘no house’ there anymore. The house holds so many memories. People lived there. People died there. The first death I remember of my life is of my maternal grandfather. I was three. My father had picked me up from school, and on the scooter ride from my school to my home, he had told me that my “Babuji” (that is what we called our Nanaji) had died. My father told me that my mother and my grandmother are very sad. But that I am a strong girl.
When I went inside my grandmother’s room, I saw her sitting next to the lifeless body of my grandfather on the bed. She had covered her face with her hand. My father had already told me she would be sad. I could not see her face, she had covered it. But she was covering it because she was crying, I understood that much. The image of my grandmother is vivid in my memory. I don’t remember much else. I probably did not understand much either. My cousins had arrived and I was excited to see them. A full house meant fun for me.
There are so many memories from that house. I have heard many old people say that they would never sell a house in which a loved one breathed their last. I can understand the sentiment.
But you know what, even if that house is ‘no more’ in the physical sense, it can never go away. It will always stay in my memories. It will always stay in my dreams.
I will always find myself there, whenever I feel lost.
And out of so many loved ones who lived there once, someone will find me too.
Image only for representation purpose.