Friday, May 09, 2008

Another passing shadow

It was one of those days when you wake up feeling as if things have been suddenly put on fast forward while you were obliviously dozing off to Never Never Land. Only this time you weren’t coming from a cute little dream about flying boys and girls that your kids love to watch or read about. Rather, it was that quite familiar sensation of falling fast from a height. And it was not your bed you'd land on, but a casket. You quickly recognized your face in that split second before you hit the ground. Then the point of view changed from that of the falling heap of flesh to the cold cadaver that was about to be crushed underneath. It was one continuous flow, a seamless series of images on film. No camera tricks. Just that singular sensation of falling and that sudden shift in perspective that has no determinable beginning. Only a predictable end. Or does it? Because what you first thought was a corpse suddenly opened its eyes and jerked up gasping for air. You realized you’re awake. But reality somehow retained that hazy quality of a dream. Like there was a small glitch in existence, and everything was fine and running again.

You are assailed by all these thoughts and images the moment you opened you eyes for the second time. Past, present and future scenes in one strange brew inside you head. You were moving to another house once again. A wan smile forms in your mouth at the thought that you’ve done this several times before, in another life with other people. You had this rickety cart then with all your things – covered appliances, rolled up mattresses, disassembled shelves, boxed books. You tied everything down on the cart and you pushed this whole pile along the road side. A cold drizzle bathed your sweaty face and arms while the exhaust from passing vehicles mixed water, perspiration and dust into an oily grime on your skin. This time you’re calling for a trucking service. You try to take down the rate and other details from a woman at the other end of the phone. Her voice comes out muffled with all those noises coming from the television. The old man is slumped on the floor and reading aloud a passage from the bible.

You then recall the many times you imagined strangling this pastor who you believe has brainwashed your father into this mindless and bigoted state. What else should one do with someone who calls every woman a sinner when she challenges her husband’s views or goes against his wishes? But you realize that like all charlatans, this wily creature is simply taking advantage of your father’s fear of inevitable death. Just like your mind has been obsessed with thoughts of your own demise these past few days. And visions of a car or plane crash keep flashing in your head. Or you become more anxious over these recurring migraines and numbness in your shoulders. There’s only this oppressive listlessness that seems to have taken over your entire being. And in one of those restless wanderings, you come upon this book that tells of ghosts and other things that refuse to die. It speaks of apparitions at the dinner table, of a dog that plays with something or someone that couldn’t be seen, and of these eerie visitations in one’s sickbed. Very familiar.

Confusion sets in. And panic at the thought of things that have to be done and the lack of will to see these through. It was quite something to push back the depression and picture oneself as somehow lording it over those dark episodes of the soul. There is this persistent image though of being carried away and languishing in pain afterwards. You try to write it all down. But what ultimately comes out is this whole mess of still-born ideas, half-muted emotions and amputated tales. One should not even try to put much sense into it. There’s this new song by Neil Young that you’ve been listening to while you were trying to put everything into words. It must have been inspired by Young’s bout with aneurysm. It’s only a dream, he says. One just hopes that all those bad things never come true. Everything is supposed to fade away, leaving memories that aren’t staying anywhere as well.

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