I was shivering now, with the cold, and with the emotion that the dream had evoked in me. Hurriedly, I wore my sweater, and then wrapped a shawl around myself for good measure. It was, after all, December, and the peak of winters in the northern plains of India.
My head covered in a cap, a shawl wrapped around my body, I opened the door of my bedroom and was greeted by a blast of cold air, as I entered the living area of my house. The house that I live in is built for summers, not winters, and thus is open and airy. It serves its purpose well for almost nine months out of twelve, and even two months of mild winters. But when peak winters hit, it is not so comfortable.
I shuffled towards the kitchen, and put the pot on the stove for making the morning tea. Might as well utilise my time, I thought. As the brew boiled in the pot, and the flame from the burner warmed my body, I felt the effects of the strange dream recede. I allowed myself a smile, I was going back to Banaras again!!
Carrying two cups of tea in a tray, and atta cookies in a box, I made my way towards the bedroom again, and gently shook Vaishali awake.
Good Morning! Rise and shine! I said.
Vaishali opened her eyes, her lids still heavy with sleep, and smiled at the sight of the steaming cups of tea in my hand.
Smells good, she said, and then hesitated as she looked into my eyes.
What? She asked.
Nothing, I said.
Don’t fool me, I know you better than yourself. What is it? Out with it, she admonished me.
It never ceased to amaze me that Vaishali, my wife of over eighteen years now, could still look into my eyes and sense when something was wrong.
Ah, it’s just a silly dream I had, I said, as I recounted the dream to her, quickly. She listened, sipping her tea, and looking at me talk.
When I had finished, she gave a long sigh and said, It is Banaras, isn’t it? It is your going back to that place that has triggered these dreams, no? You have still not been able to put it behind you.
Yes, I think, I said, and then we finished the rest of the tea silently, each knowing what was going on in the mind of the other, the feelings that chased each other in our hearts, the past that beckoned us, the city which had built us……Varanasi, our association was long, and difficult to explain, spiritual almost, and yet most banal…..
Some things cannot be explained. Some things are better left unexplained. It only causes pain, and questions, and uncertainty.
The children were awake by now, woken up by the alarm which we had set for 5 AM. The alarm woke them, and broke our reverie…..
To be continued……
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