Most nights I find myself in a staring contest with the ceiling fan. I try and count every circular motion. My eyes can never keep up. I can remember each and every time how it feels to fail at this. I am always sure I have lost count before.
The hours tick by, they roll over like tumbling dice. The television watches me fall asleep. The bathroom door is ajar; the lights – switched on. I hear a muffled sound, and I look around, in vain, for the source – like a confused mongrel. Right then, a well-dressed man screams on television, asking me to please drink Pepsi and be happy like I am supposed to.
I know better though. I know things. I read stuff. I have 3G. TED talks to me too. In fact, things will be fine if I can just find a way to get some sleep. So I eye the books stacked up in a pile by the dressing table. I look at them, lovingly, but I don’t reach out to them. Where once, in-between these sun-burnt pages, resided many an escape route now rots a slew of bitter truths that I want nothing to do with.
I toss and turn on the bed, looking for precious sleep.
Then, I smell something burning. I wonder if it is the security guard outside, starting a fire to keep away the mosquitoes. Maybe I have a fever. Perhaps the sofa in the hall is on fire. Now I panic a little. I wish I had a Pepsi in my hand.
Begrudgingly, I squeeze my eyes shut, seeking blankness and for some reason – noticing that the room smells like butter. The air inside tastes like iron rust. As I begin to arrive at strange conclusions, out they come – in motley crews, the bloodthirsty mosquitoes. I often make mountains out of molehills when I run out of meaningful things to feel insecure, sad or angry about. Not today though. I don’t mind the mosquitoes drawing a little blood. Not at all.
I know it’s a good day when there are only mosquito bites to complain about. I also know it’s going to be a while for the morning to distract me.
How I ache for her moaning sounds – a garbled and beautiful mess of dew-scented melodies.
Hours go by, and still – no luck. No chance of sleep. No possibility of light. Nothing. Only the strange, muffled sound seems to be getting louder.
I get off the bed and saunter towards the door, hoping that an alien abduction is in progress. Much to my dismay, I trace its source to the engine room in the building next door. It wasn’t even a mystery, much less an opportunity for intergalactic travel. I am still here, swaddled in-between clean sheets, begging the night to deliver me. I promise to spill my secrets. Succumb to its depths. Find myself, dazed but without disaster, in its sweet, sick embrace.
I just want to sleep, counting last year’s rain. I wish I can close my eyes, reciting lyrics to soundtracks of summers gone by, drifting into starless skies.
Un-break me, beloved, thankless and unmerciful night. Un-wound me.
If I have to, I will strip my soul bare, right down to its dirtiest linen and dare the sun to put me to bed. Like my friend, Eyewin – a Spotted Owlet in Vedanthangal – I will nap when everyone else is wide awake.
Please don’t ruffle our feathers.
All we need is some sleep.
(Photographs – Vedanthangal)