Saturday, June 17, 2006

Robbed of Sleep

Ever had one of those nights characterized by restless turning, a dry throat and random out-of-the-world thoughts? I’m sure everyone does once in a while. Well I had one approximately four weeks ago; except that the thoughts were not so out-of-the-world, but based a lot more on reality and yet quite scary at the same time.

However, as I enjoy the delicate feel of my pajamas on my skin, recovering from the most hilarious episode of “The Simpsons” that I have ever watched – ending in a typical Indian dance (the kind that usually features in films) with hundreds of Indian “extras” in the background and each one of the Simpsons playing the main roles – unable to decipher a single word being sung and yet managing to comprehend the hilarity of the entire scene courtesy to my faint acquaintance with Hindi films through friends, it is another night that lingers in my mind, one that was not quite as restless, but good enough, nevertheless, to keep me awake for the better part of the third of a day that I lay in bed.

Whew, now if that wasn’t the biggest sentence that I’ve ever typed. While “Footie Fever” was part of the reason – with England due to play their first game the very next morning – my lack of sleep was mainly caused by a certain lady going by the initials J.L. Impressed by what I have learnt so far, I’d definitely have asked her for coffee if I’d lived around New York or gone to college with her.

Jhumpa Lahiri’s “The Namesake” kept me thinking that night. It kept me thinking about the characters, about the differences in the thought-processes of back-to-back generations, the first being immigrants from a rather conservative part of the world and the second struggling to cope with the same fact, being born as Americans to Indian parents. What impressed me the most was the author’s ability to see through the eyes of both parties and outline, to a great degree of accuracy, the daily lives of such people. Although monotonic at times, having read through two-thirds of the book, I can tell that she knows a LOT about cultures, religions, art, music and what not. The mere fact that the story is somewhat a reiteration of her own life does not stand as a solitary explanation either.

I wouldn’t deny that that being a Friday night had allowed me the luxury of cutting down on sleep, but I do find myself with my eyes glued to the book for an appreciable stretch of time every now and then.

I remember having sleeping problems as a kid. I’d stare at the ceiling hours on end, to finally fall asleep at the break of dawn when it’d already be time to kick the day off. My brain would get excited, the therapist would say, resulting in a state of mind from where going back would be close to impossible, and my sleep for the entire night subsequently destroyed. The key was to clear the mind – by power of will - of any thoughts that might be invading it. I had mastered the art pretty easily back then; but last Friday, I didn’t want to exert such authority on my thoughts. I was enjoying the way things were going, and the way I was struggling to fall asleep – a sensation that I had dreaded a long time ago.

Perhaps I was getting bored of falling asleep so easily every night, and thrilled by this sudden abnormality in what has turned out to be routine stuff.

As far as my memory can take me back, the first time that I had failed to go to sleep at total ease was when I was around five or six years old, sandwiched between mommy and daddy, staring at the reflection of street lights coming off the window panes. I had stared on for a long time, when suddenly I saw a body approaching me from above the bed, its eyes glaring down at me. We were staying over at an uncle’s place that night, and my scream had woken the whole apartment up. The next thing I remember is a group of people at the door, the lights turned on, my parents scampering on the bed in confusion, and my heart beating fast, not fully convinced about the disappearance of the ghost. I can still remember its face, and when I recall this incident today, I realize that it was anything but scary.

However, I have been informed by my parents of several other all-nighters that I’d pulled as an infant, and how they’d try in vain to make me doze off; and when they themselves would finally close their eyes in the morning, I’d wake up, needing either a meal or a diaper change. They also talk about this one night when I had watched Chucky-1 at a party, and come home scared and unable to sleep. I faintly remember the course of events that night, a lot of it due to that being the closest thing that I can remember to a first date. Nusrat was my first crush (according to my parents; I, however, argue that it was Mahreen – 2/3 years older than me), and I still remember how we had cuddled up on the carpet as we watched the movie with two pairs of terrified eyes, surrounded by a bunch of grown-ups who were completely indifferent to the horrifying ongoings on television. I was four, and she was three, and none of us understood why on earth the adults were ok with what they were seeing.

I wonder whatever happened to those two ladies. I also wonder what happened to that blonde that I drew a picture of a princess for on my second year of school (the one before kindergarten). She had rejected the picture, referring to it as “ugly”, advising me to present it to someone not as good-looking as her, breaking my tiny little heart in the process. Of course, I had forgotten about it when I had woken up after my afternoon nap the same day.

So I guess going a night or two without sleep isn’t bad, unless it’s something that’s happening on a regular basis. Note that I am only talking about the ones that are involuntarily spent sleepless, and not the ones where you have to work your rear off for a school project. I wouldn’t really mind thinking about random stuff through an entire eight hours or so in bed on a weekend; after all, that is the only part of the day when you surely don’t have a life, and can devote all your energy to your thoughts.


At 7:36 PM, Blogger nhannan said...

You should try and get back in touch with Nusrat and Mahreen. And maybe the three of you could watch Chucky again ;)


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