What Was He Standing Between?

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There is this dream from my college years that still is a mystery to me. I could never bring myself to narrate it here among so many narrations from my life. Never found a reason to and never could unravel what it meant. It always felt like a message from the mystics, just that I still have no clue what it meant. And this week Blogadda came up with such an apt WOW Prompt. They have asked bloggers to write about a dream that often makes us sit up and wonder about its mysteriousness. And I can’t love them more for this. For giving me a reason to write about the strangest dream I have ever had.

Back in the days when I was still an undergraduate student I used to have these scary sequence of dreams, where there were two characters who where a permanent fixture – Me and a snake. A huge python to be precise. Everything else in the dreams changed. The other people, the locations, the passageways and roads I would run trying to get away from the snake. Another thing that never changed in the dreams was the ending. Irrespective of how hard I run, how much I tried, the snake would end up eating me. Yes, complete annihilation.

I used to be so scared of these dreams that sleep was becoming an unwelcome thing for me. I wanted to decipher what they meant. I wanted to know what were these dreams trying to tell me but I had no reliable means, really. While some of my friends said it is good to see snakes in dreams, they symbolise Lord Shiva some said it is a bad thing to be eaten up by a snake. Something bad is coming for you. I don’t have to tell you that scared me more than having a god in my dreams. A friend even got me an iron blade to keep under my pillow to ward off bad dreams!

Nothing worked though; I kept having those snake-hunting-me-down dreams. It was soon weighing heavily on my mind. I wanted them to stop and was desperate for a meaning to these dreams.

I was back to college for the final semester of my graduation after the spring break. It was a break that did not go off well. I had seen death for the first time up close. I had lost my grandfather; a man I had many summer time memories with, was gone forever. All that remained was an urn of ashes and memories that will keep coming back for a long time.

It was a long day at the college and I just wanted to crash and sleep. After I reached my hostel room, I was even ready to skip food. I just wanted to sleep. I hope it did come by; I want no snake adventures today please! I never had those dreams at home. It was always in the hostel. I switched off the light and simply crashed on my bed into a dreamless sleep. But it came by. I don’t know when did it start but I was not able to open my eyes. I can see myself clearly though. I am in my aunt’s house in Kerala and everyone is sleeping. Suddenly there is a commotion outside. Lights are being switched on. Uncle, dad, bother, cousins, even aunt are outside. I am just standing at the door; sleepy. They are saying there is something in the chicken coop.

Someone said, “Stand back…stand back.” And then I saw a tail.

I start running down the slope that my aunt’s house in on. I am running as fast as my legs will carry me. They are still waking up. They are shaky and paining. But I can’t stop. It is behind me. Slithering is faster than running, I can tell you that. I have been beaten in all the dreams so far and eaten. I don’t want to die today. I need to keep running for that. And I need to run fast. I Look behind. It is catching up. The slope is ending and the flat road is starting. Where should I turn – left? right? My brain has stopped worked. My legs will have to decide on their own.

My legs have taken a left turn and I am still running. Alive. My speed has come down on the flat road. It is close. I pull in a lungful and run with renewed strength. I have started panting. The sun is out now. It is suddenly bright. But there is no one on the road. It is as empty as it was in the night. I don’t know for how long have I been running. I don’t look back. I know it is still slithering. I am still running.

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I see an old house on the left with a boundary wall and a wooden gate. It is built in the *padipura style. There must be a house inside. The gate is closed but I turn left and run towards the house, hoping to live. Somehow. As I turn, I cast a side glance to my left and I glimpse a flat reptilian head. It is coming for me. The path to the house is just a narrow mud road. I try not to fall into the paddy fields on both sides. That would be the end of me. And I try not to slow down. It would be the end of me, too. I don’t want to be eaten alive on a mud road!

I pull in another lungful and dash towards the gate. I crash into the door, which surprisingly is open. My hopes are dashed. There is no house in there. The courtyard is a ruin!

Only the skeleton on a once prosperous house stands. Walls crumbling, red tiles from the roof are on the ground,  fast becoming mud, and the wooden planks stand tall but are being eaten away, slowly. I turn back to look at the gate. It is slithering in through the gate. I will be the wooden plank soon. I ran myself into a trap! I step back slowly, trying to live a few seconds longer. It is now opening its mouth and standing up; It is no more a python! It is now a cobra. This is unusual; it has never happened before. It was always a python. But now it is a big king of snakes with its hood spread out majestically and menacing. I can see the sharp fangs that will bite into my flesh as soon as it jumps on me. I know I have lost. Lost to the nemesis once again. A shape shifting oppressor this time. I close my eyes. I am no hero. I don’t want to look death in the eye.

My eyes have been closed for a while. 3 seconds…10 seconds? What is taking it so long? Or did it bite me and I am already dead? Did not feel anything, though.

I partially open my right eye and look. It is still standing there – fangs bared but there is someone else there. Between us!

Grandfather!

I call him but I don’t know if he can hear me. He doesn’t seem to. He is concentrating on the snake. Looking it in the eye. I see him raising his right hand with the index finger pointed at the snake. He twirls it towards the gate. I don’t understand. The snake puts its flat head on the ground and slithers towards the gate. Away from ME! The snake did not kill me. I won for a change, thanks to this timely intervention by my grandfather.

I call him again but he can’t hear me. He doesn’t turn and look at me either. I am his eldest grand child but he doesn’t seem to see or hear me there. He simply walks towards the gate and he is gone by the time I look.

I wake up in sweat, like all the times before this but this time I know I have beaten whatever it symbolised. It was the first dream when someone came to my rescue and it was also the last time I ever dreamt of snakes. Why did it stop? I don’t know. But it did. For good. But I still wish my Grandfather would have atleast turned around and smiled at me like he always did.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

*Houses constructed as per ancient architecture of Kerala, have 2 or 3 rooms constructed along with the gate. This structure is called ‘Padippura’ which means ‘house at gate.’ This is for unknown visitors,who need accommodation for a night during travel.

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