A dream without a door

 


The two weeks of Covid, it seems, wiped my memory clean - but given me new ones. One of those is a dream - of the most feverish nights - in which I was in a room where all doors out led back into the same room again. Its mosaic floor was of the room I grew up in, back home in Kolkata; its door a white one like the one in Croydon; its windows showed nothing but an endless array of houses nearby, somewhat reminding me of a flat in Hyderabad where I spent some time. In the dream, I was forever trying to go out of the room and turning back up in it, again and again, even when I was not sleeping anymore. It was one of those that extend from sleeping to waking to sleeping back again, making me more desperate to escape in every turn.

If I ever write a story about it, would I call it 'No Exit'? I thought about it later on, as I continue to limp back to normal life. The jarring point is the existence of the door though, a wide white-framed one, which was there for a reason. It was perhaps less about not having an exit and more about not being able to escape. The whole mishmash of rooms that make up my life, apart from the endless arrays of hotel rooms and airport lounges, perhaps meant that - I am forever in it even if I thought I left! Eventually, of course, my normal life caught up with me, leaving little opportunity for any elaborate deconstruction of the feverish dream.

The trouble is, it kept coming back. It seems that most of my usual dreams are gone, died in Covid. It seems that my entire imagination now consists of this one room with cream wallpaper, square mosaic floor and a white door, an entirely absurd combination when I try to visualise it. Of course, it's easy for me to accept it as a parable of my middle class life, one that I can't escape either in imagination or reality, which is defined by its stellar boredom and deep meaninglessness. I have perhaps reached a stage of spiritual covidity, the long covid of the brain rather than of the lung - or perhaps this is a fitting moment of truth, after a rather meaningless year spent in pointless isolation. 

But, perhaps, this was me talking to myself, just as all the other meaning fell out of life. My journey has indeed been circular and I have put a positive spin on this once in a while - 'knowing the place for the first time' - but to be honest, that was not the point of the journey. I did not leave India to be stuck in a 'mess they call a town' suburb, exited a life I loved to be caught in its exact replica in an alien context. For me, the journey was the point, before it got gobbled up in the whirlpool of business plans and down payments. Perhaps it was the Matrix that I was seeing in my dream, never from the outside though - as if there was no outside! Of course, there was no conspiracy about it - everything was so voluntary - and the self-imprisonment was almost like love. 

I am, therefore, planning to embrace the road, again. Do the most irrational thing, perhaps! I never explored it in the dream but the exit may have been through the walls: I never thought - even in my dreams - that it would be rational, even when I was caught in a completely irrational no-escape situation (Indeed, one can point out that I did not have the courage of jumping out of the windows either). So that's the narrative I am on to building - and recording here - now: The attempt, perhaps my last, to find an exit, from the dour middle-class mediocrity that I am trapped into.

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