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Last Updated : Apr 11, 2020 08:16 AM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

To sleep, perchance to dream

At this rate, and at the rapid speed with which the economy is nose-diving, a tax may just be levied on dreaming. This is the only activity that has seen increased productivity in recent times.

A. Sleeping while at work – Dont overdo it though :)
A. Sleeping while at work – Dont overdo it though :)

Under the new coronovirus regime, the masses are reporting massive dreaming. With nowhere to go, with nothing to do and with no one to speak to, the subconscious mind has gone into a tizzy. Uncontrolled images are disco-dancing under everyone’s eyelids.

Fear and insecurity over what is happening and what will happen in the future gain fluency during sleep cycles. Also, insomnia or oversleeping lead to sleep quality itself being disturbed. Headlines lobbed at us during waking hours, the dismal statistics and the constant update of fatalities, the relentless checking and cross-checking of house and hands for germs, are bound to impact the dream factory. Far corners of our mind are in a constant race to absorb latest data. ‘Iron currency notes?’ one asks when awake; while fast asleep one has neither an iron box nor any money.

There is also Netflix. Well-enacted dramas on crime and hauntings extend their tentacles into our unconscious states. Pre-coronavirus we have bragged about binge-watching TV series now and then, groaning about hangovers, but that seems kindergarten compared to current 24/7 addiction levels. Now we totter about in a daze talking anxiously about the same plots and endings, as worried and tense as the detectives and policemen we watch. As someone who overdosed on cable TV put it, ‘Please, can I watch some Krishi Darshan?’

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A necessary interaction, however minimal, with a vegetable vendor or masked banker leaves us in a hallucinatory state for ages. We are a hundred percent sure we are infected and infecting all our loved ones. When pleasantries seem beyond us even during waking hours, they are definitely dead on arrival in the land of zzzz.  Once the lights are off and we have bid goodnight to ourselves, all gloves are off; To sleep, perchance to dream – ay, there’s the rub, for in this sleep of death what dreams may come… as the famous quote goes.

No wonder then that a lot of our current chats with each other are about what I dreamt and what you dreamt. Nightmares have taken centre-stage, with attempts at decoding our minds taking up our waking hours.

In writer Jeet Thayil’s latest novel Low, there is a mention about dreams, how they give us away to the random people we reveal them to. We reek of our frankest feelings while discussing passionately the minor details of our nocturnal ramblings.

At this rate, and at the rapid speed with which the economy is nose-diving, a tax may just be levied on dreaming. This is the only activity that has seen increased productivity in recent times.

None is more alone than in his bed locked into sleep. The global epidemic of loneliness infects us completely then, at our most solo and vulnerable. Helpless in the hands of our deepest paranoia, we try to cope with the new bewildering realities of our era, twitching and grimacing in the privacy of our sleep. As some singer in an attempt to woo a dream lover once explained, ‘So I don’t have to dream alone.’

Shinie Antony is a writer and editor based in Bangalore. Her books include The Girl Who Couldn't Love, Barefoot and Pregnant, Planet Polygamous, and the anthologies Why We Don’t Talk, An Unsuitable Woman, Boo. Winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Asia Prize for her story A Dog’s Death in 2003, she is the co-founder of the Bangalore Literature Festival and director of the Bengaluru Poetry Festival.
First Published on Apr 11, 2020 08:16 am
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