“It started out as a feeling,
which then turned into a hope,
Which then grew into a quiet thought,
which then turned into a quiet word.”
They are the ones that you don’t expect to get fulfilled. They are your favourite dreams. She had plenty of them. She had a little antique wooden box at the corner of her heart in which she collected them. Most of these were about him. She was just the collector. He was the owner of the box and of all her favourite dreams.
Like the other day, while sitting on the windowsill and feeling the rain drops on her palm, she dreamed he would just emerge from somewhere. She saw him standing before her, his army uniform wet and the lieutenant’s cap shielding his half wet hair, grinning. And without a greeting, without a word, he sat her on his lap and they both stared at the rain. She cajoled him to release her so she could bring a towel and hot tea. He bent to kiss her and then let her go. She snatched his cap, wore it with a deliberate precision and gave him a bow before disappearing into the kitchen. This particular dream kept her in jubilation during the entire monsoon while he was away.
“And then that word grew louder and louder, till it was a battle cry”
They had fought over phone once. So in that sleepless lonely night, she dreamed of surprising him at the army base camp. She imagined herself going all the way to Siachen, taking turns on trains, buses, flights in her desperation to reach him as soon as she could. Then when she did reach his post, she learnt that she wasn’t allowed to go further. So she sought a high rank officer and begged him to take her to her husband. They both drove in a Gypsy on a snow-clad road. Her feet froze beneath her jeans, the jacket struggled to shield the chill of the air. Yet her heart was warm. A little while and she would meet him. Hours later, beneath a dark twinkly sky she saw him emerge from his tent. Even in darkness, she saw his eyes light up. She ran towards him on the icy, bumpy path. He caught her arm seconds before she was about to slip and gathered her in his arms. Later they both sat beside the fire facing each other. He just sat staring at her for a long time. Eyes aglow with love, face red with desire. That was why she loved making dreams. Beautiful and silly things did happen in them. She wove them in details much the same way she would knit each thread of the pullover for him.
“You’ll come back, when it’s over,
No need to say goodbye.”
This time on his visit she shared with him her favourite dreams. She told him that she often dreamed of singing for him over phone while he was away. She wanted to make him feel how distances could be met, how miles could be crossed just by walking on the path of feelings. She also had a song in her mind – ‘The Call’ by Regina Spektor. It was a war song, full of hope. But his long-distance calls had to be short. So he asked her to sing it for him right then. He looked at the curve of her lips as she crooned the melody innocently like a child reciting a poem. As her eyes spilled out her feelings, the words melted in his heart. And he felt a longing for her like never before.
“Pick a star on the dark horizon and follow the light”
One afternoon when she smelled his fragrance around her, she dismissed it as her imagination. She was still knitting. She had to jerk herself out of the chair to realize the door bell ringing. She ran to embrace him. That was the thing with her dreams. They were pieces of her subtle imagination, timeless and immaculate as against the crudities of reality.
He did walk towards her but this time inside a sleek wooden coffin carried by several pairs of hands. All she saw was her wooden box, her dreams locked inside it. A few moments later, she wiped her tears from his forehead and recalled his favourite dreams. The ones that he shared with her for the first time three months ago. Next day he left for the mission he didn’t know about. He had wished that if he died, she be not informed over phone. He still wished to keep his promise of surprising her and fulfill at least one of her dreams.
She sat beside the coffin, looking at his calm lifeless face. She held on to his crumpled note in her hands like the way she had held a precious stone near the beach as a kid. He had written down his last favourite dream. He had imagined himself fighting at the border, shielding his fellow brothers. He knew death was inevitable. So he longed to make the most of it. He wanted to die while saving his friends. He also wanted to hear her voice singing the war song as he closed his eyes for the last time. He wanted to see her. That face, crimson in his gaze. Those eyes, speaking of her desire. That steady voice, echoing her longing. He had wrapped up the note with his favourite lines from the song.
“I’ll come back, when you call me
No need to say goodbye.”
PS: In your favourite dreams.