Saturday, 6 October 2012


Part 12 of Lakshmi Raj Sharma's new short story set in India.


                                                         THE STARCHED WOMAN (Part 12)

I wanted to ask her something but I awoke and realized that it was only a dream. The dream, however, did make me think. My dead grandmother had come in my dream because I was trying to enter the domain of the dead. This meant that the dead could feel the thoughts and actions of the living and could actually come back to the living. Neela Ghosh was making the best use of this principle but she had become a dried up soul in the process. I had to use the other method, the method of the dream-world, to solve my problems. I had to reach that state in which the soul finds its answers to questions intuitively or in the world of dreams. I had to become like those very few individuals, William Shakespeare being one, who could find solutions to the mysteries of life intuitively. These were not matters of the mind or the intellect; they had everything to do with the soul, the self without the body. In a state where the soul awakens, matter, the body, this world, become secondary or even redundant. The intellect can merely get caught up in the realm of logic and sense, but the soul can transcend the world of logic and see things clearly. In such a state the world of the dream and reality become one, or, better still, the world of the dream takes precedence over the world of reality. This was an unexpected realization for me and I suddenly became interested in dreams as I never had been. I began to see the connection between the world of logic and sense with materialism, political power and even bodily perfection. The desire for a beautiful body, or the will for a display of the body’s ability like flawlessly synchronized group-marching or a perfect P T display, these were all activities of a kind. But there was another kind of desire, the desire to know about the soul, the Creator, the other world. This was a yearning that could merge opposites. The ugly could become the beautiful; the fair could be the foul; death could be life. All this could happen beautifully in dreams or in a life that was made of the stuff that our dreams are made of.
I began to read more and more about dreams and then found so much truth that was conveyed through dreams, when they did come. They were great pointers to future happenings. Then one day I dreamed of Neela Ghosh. I saw that I was following her to the wooded patch of land. I saw her son there too. She looked so enlivened in the presence of her son. Her son looked grand almost a god. She sat in admiration of him. He told her that his father was in a poor shape in the world of the dead. He was paying for his sins. He was upset by what he saw happening to him. After all he was his father when they were alive in the world of the living. Neela Ghosh wept to hear that. Then her son told her something that upset her further. He said that he would be probably taking birth again within a year’s time, once again in Alipore. She was miserable to know that. How would she find him? How would she ever know where he had gone and taken birth? He said he would be born again as his soul was struggling to take birth again. But she did not feel convinced by what he said. She wept violently thinking that now she would actually lose her son and her weeping woke me up. I sat thinking of how real the dream was. It had revealed a great deal to me. But it was after all only a dream, I thought, and went to get ready to take on a new day.
Just as I got ready to set out towards the office of the newspaper I wrote for I heard a knock at my door. I opened the door and could not believe who I saw. It was my life standing there in a visible form. She was smiling but she seemed to have come to me in some distress. I kept looking at her face, not knowing what to do or say. She too looked at me meaningfully, trying to read the reaction in my eyes.
‘Won’t you ask me to come in?’
‘Yes, yes . . . of course,’ I said, ‘Come in, please come in!’

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