After a long and tiring day which included the usual thrashing from her boss it was time to pay a visit to the dreamland. She got into her favourite night dress and got the small device out from a cabinet and moved to her bedroom. The device appeared to be an old and non-functional apparatus from a 20th century laboratory. A glass tube and a cone shaped vessel located adjacent to each other on a wooden plank. The plank was about 1 foot wide and 8 inches thick. It was hollow with all the nuts and bolts hidden inside. A thin zinc wire came out from a small opening in it. She filled up the tube with half a litre of mountain water and carefully poured a measured quantity of coffee beans into the cone. She smelled the aroma of the beans as she plugged the device on power. The better the beans the clearer the dream. This lot of the beans was the best that she had got. Imported from Africa. It was the first time she was going to use them and that called for a very special dream. The small machine churned as soon as it was turned on. When the device was quiet she rubbed her index finger on the left wrist. This was the hardest part. She picked up the loose end of the zinc wire and closed her eyes hard. Then she rammed the zinc wire into one of her veins as if an intravenous therapy. A blood drop trickled down. She could see multiple marks on her wrist that have been formed by the various trips she had taken to the land of dreams. She rested the left arm on the bed breathing heavily and thought of the dream she wanted to have as dessert that night. It was time to fly on a plane called DreamWeaver.
Location: Somewhere in or around New Delhi. He knew because that's all a forty minute drive from his office in South Delhi could do in the peak hour. Time: past midnight. He no longer had his watch but he knew. His instincts told him so. There is more, lot more to night-time than the dark. More so for him. He hadn't seen much light for some time now. He recognized midnight by a depression that engulfed him completely. A storm outside, a silence within. Or was it the other way round? Unsure he laid there tied to a bed. How long had it been? More than a month? Possibly two. He couldn't tell. He didn't know that she was watching him. That was her favourite past time. To watch his wretchedness. He tried to feel for his limbs. The knot around the left leg had troubled him since that afternoon. He arched his back an inch, which was the most he could do and twisted the leg in an attempt to get the blood circulation going. This movement made him feel the sweat on his back. Thin air passed between his sweaty t-shirt and back easing his misery momentarily. The leg though hurt him even more and after a couple of futile attempts he gave up. In any case it was about time that she appeared. Mithya. Mithya 'bitch' Sengupta.
The door opened with a creaking sound and rays of yellow light passed in along with her. That was the only time he saw light and heard a sound. Scarcity does wonders. Living in that room, lying in that bed for the last two months had made him love and look forward to the creak and two seconds of a light bulb. He saw her silhouette before the door closed. "Can you please loosen up the knot on my left leg? It's troubling me." She walked towards the leg and with one quick jerk tightened the noose. He squealed. "Why are you doing this to me Mithya? What have I done? Please for God sake let me go." She lit a cigarette and stood there watching him. Her face if he could see wore thousand expressions of angst. He started to cry. She let loose his left hand and served him food. She stood there and savoured every single second of his misery. "You have got what you deserved K. This is for ignoring me. This is for all the harsh words" she thought and lit another one.
She woke up with a smile. It was a dream vivid than any dream she had had since she lay her hands on DreamWeaver. She pulled the wire out of her vein carefully and tucked the device in the cabinet. She looked at all the blue and black marks on her left wrist once again but that didn't impede the smile. The smile was placed on her face even when she showered and hurried through the early morning traffic to work. She rushed to her office and was immediately summoned by her boss. It was that then that the smile evaporated. She expected the lashings from the last day to continue. K the boss. K the bastard. K the dog. He was immersed in his laptop when Mithya entered her room. He looked up. "Good morning! Mithya, that's a very nice dress. You are looking good." he said as if that was the most natural thing to say. Mithya was taken aback by surprise with what was unmistakeably a huge grin on his face. "Thanks K" she replied blushing. What had happened? It was as if he had completely forgotten where they finished last evening. All these years he had never paid any heed to her existence. His sheer presence was enough to make her feel weak in the knees and this sudden praise swooped her into a trance. She had always known that he was aware of the soft corner she had for him. She also knew that he completely ignored it intentionally.
That day however was different. K the dog had nice words to say about her. What is his sinister mind up to? "Have a seat please. How about some coffee?" he asked. "Yes". "How many sugar cubes?" She didn't need sugar that day, so sweet was K. "What games is he up to?" she thought. He handed her the coffee cup and started with the project report that had lead to her thrashing the last evening. The politeness was evident. She watched him with affection, her eyes glued on him, her mind completely enchanted, and the dream from last night forgotten. "Very good. Keep up the good work. I will talk to you soon" he ended the meeting. He stood up to open the door for her. She came out literally jumping out of his room. As soon as she settled on her seat however she saw the wretched him crying profusely. That dream had taken her to higher scales of ecstasy. She was reminded of years and years of humiliation she had suffered at his hands. Five minutes of smile was too small a price. How could she forget it all? The storm within was back and she immediately wanted to drive back home and take a DreamWeaver ride.
She loved him. Just how she fell for her tyrant boss she couldn't explain. The only daughter of her parents who passed away in her infancy she was brought up by her autocrat grandmother. She was a single parent who had raised Mithya's father singlehandedly after her husband fled chasing other pleasures in life. Mithya was put in a girl’s only school and as a young kid always longed for male company. Even in her professional college there were strict rules set by her grandmother that she needed to abide to. She was to maintain distance from boys. Men are evil. She had to curb all her basic instincts or face the wrath of her grandmother. She did well. A feeling for someone here and there was natural but she nipped the evil in the bud. Despite the autocracy she loved her grandmother. She was the only one Mithya could cling onto. Mithya started working still living her life by the norms set by her grandmother. Then one day she passed away. The void she created broke her apart before she was moved to a different department and K was appointed as her boss.
K the dog. A dictator who would define all the rules and listen to no one. He would not let a chance go by to humiliate or curse her every time she crossed a line that he had drawn. It was all so similar to what she had seen all her life. He was so much like her grandmother. The male form of her. Love was the most natural thing to happen. She worked with him for three years, the years spent in wait, in wait of an iota of attention that he would bestow upon her. Justice wasn't delivered and when K ignored her completely after they accidently bumped into each other outside office hours she was left livid and gave up the pursuit. A gold medallist in his university and basketball team captain, K was always popular amongst the females and had had many girls falling for him throughout his life. Mithya was just one of them. He couldn't care less. She was just another one of those girls whom he could have at leisure. He detested the category that didn't offer any resistance. Years of success had turned him into what the world knows as an arrogant bastard. He enjoyed thrashing and abusing the "no resistance" category. They were all spineless in his opinion. You have to put a price on yourself was his firm belief. It was during the phase that Mithya was going through a sea change in her feelings that she got the gift of her life. A gift that had the ability to turn her daydreams into dreams. Dreams that were dearer to her than reality. Dreams that she could cling onto and take her to a world where she could for once make the rules. A gift that the old man had called DreamWeaver.
"I was told you are a great cook. What have you got for lunch today?" her chain of thought was broken by K who stopped by her desk. "I didn't get lunch today. Just some fruits". "I understand that. Someone as good looking as you must go through these hardships" he remarked and left her smiling. She couldn't get him out of her mind with fluctuating feelings of love, anger, and bitterness. Every change in the emotion would want to make her cry. Late that night she decided to not dream about his misery. He had been good to her that day and deserved a break she thought. She decided to dream of Istanbul, the same dream she had had many a times. She had always been fascinated by the town seeing thousands of its pictures clicked by her colleagues who had paid a visit to the megacity because the company's headquarters were located there. She had longed to get a chance to make a trip to the city and even expressed it but K the dog had never pushed for her case. She set the DreamWeaver up and with the zinc wire in her vein once again was ready for the adventure ride. A trip to Istanbul without a visa, in fact without a passport.
She found herself on top of a skyscraper and took a 360 degree view of the city. It was night time and the city was blazed with colours. Lights so bright that a dead man couldn't keep his eyes closed. She got onto the edge of the building and jumped. The feeling of a freefall can never be explained. It can only be felt and she felt it that night once again looking at the streets below, the whooshing sound, the reducing gap between her and the people walking on the street, and the cars that with every split second became larger in size. She was falling down but in her head the freefall only took her higher. A hundred feet above the ground she touched her back with both her hands. As soon as she did that two large wings protruded from her back. She flapped them and in that frame everything went still. She stayed there flapping her feathers enough to keep still and observed the night traffic. People, cars, trams moving in all possible directions. She enjoyed the madness. She flapped her wings and up she went. She flew over the buildings, some modern some old. She paid a visit to Hagia Sophia and sat on top of a waterfront house. Finally she went over the Galata Bridge and then rested on the Galata tower sipping martini and gazing at the Golden Horn. She rested on the top till she woke up.
What was his mood going to be today? That question drove her early to work that day. "Mithya, Can you come to my office please?" K called her up before lunch. "I have good news for you. I know how dearly you have been waiting to hear this. I recommended your name to accompany me for the next board meeting in Istanbul. I have got all the approvals today. It's a two week trip and I am sure apart from work we will have some good time in Istanbul. This is for all your hard work and dedication. Congrats. I am looking forward to the trip" She couldn't believe what she heard. "Thanks K" she said excitedly. "This I believe is your first international trip so let me know if you need any help" K said. As she walked out of his room he stopped her and said "Sorry for being rude all these years. I am trying to make amends". Mithya was for a second day at crossroads. One trip to Istanbul was not enough to wash away all the pain she had suffered. K however had mentioned himself that he was making mends. Better late than never she thought but then wasn't he too late? Perplexed she spent all day waiting for the sun to set and a chance to sail to the far oceans.
He was still there tied to the bed, asleep. The creak woke him up. The light wasn't there when he opened his eyes. He cursed himself having missed his only chance to wash his eyes with the light. Mithya moved to his left leg and put her hand on it. "Does it still hurt"? He groaned. Then he realized the enormity of those words. They were the first words she had spoken. She let loose the knot around it. "Feel any better now?" She lit the cigarette and observed him. "Do you want one?" He nodded. She let loose his left hand and handed him a fresh cigarette that she had lit. Smoke and silence are a heavenly combination. No one spoke. "So why this sudden change today?" K spoke handing her the cigarette butt. "Just the after effect of a good day spent with you at work and the Istanbul trip that you promised" she said serving him food. "What? Please tell me why have you put me here? What do you want from me?" Laughter was what he got in response. "Please let me go". The laughter continued. Then there was silence again and she tied his left hand again after he finished his meal. "I am sick of eating the same food again and again. Can you get me something else? Please" he remarked. She didn't say anything and stood there watching.
"Can I have some of those fruits?" K asked smiling. Mithya turned around from her desk and stood up. "Please sit down. I was just kidding. In fact I was thinking maybe we could go for a lunch today. I know a great kebab place around the corner". "Sure" she said trying hard to hide her happiness. That was the best lunch she had had in a long time. K was all jolly and spoke about all his plans for Istanbul. He had the entire agenda jotted down. He had of course been there before. He even asked her if there were any places where she would like him to take her. "You know better" she said completely mesmerized. He mentioned once again how sorry he was for her insensitive and boorish behaviour. "How about I take you out for a movie this weekend?" he asked. "I'd love to. Thanks K". The weekend was still four days away and K took her out for lunch every day. From K the dog to K the saint. What was he up to she did not understand. Every moment spent with him would make her forget years and years of loutishness but as soon as he went away she was reminded of the pain. "I have to observe him closely. He is definitely up to something" she thought frozen on her seat in the movie hall where for the first time he held her hand. The Istanbul trip was two months away.
"Thanks" K said munching the goat leg. "This mutton tastes heavenly". He gulped the beer and kept on thanking her. He could only use his left hand which made him switch between the food and the beer can but at that point in time those were the details he didn't care about. "I'll leave some more of the meat and few cans of beer. I will leave your left hand untied and tie your elbow so that you can move your arm. You deserve some fun". "Why are you doing this to me? I don't understand. Please let me go Mithya. Do you want to go to Istanbul? I will take you there. I promise. Please let me go". Once again all he got was laughter as his answer. She went silent and stood there once again watching him.
The next morning she got up to realise that she was soon going to run out of coffee beans and a new supply was needed. She decided to buy some from the local store and also let her friend know so that she could get some imported ones for her. Like any other coffee lover, coffee for her was a catalyst. A chemical that could trigger a change in her mood. A few sips that had the power to open up the neurons that have been dead for years. A cup of coffee can wash the clouds away and present the mighty shining sun, even in the night. She however never knew that the same coffee could motor an engine. An engine that could fly faster than light and visit the entire space in a matter of seconds. She realized this power few months ago.
It was a day that started like and chugged along like any other day. It would have ended like any other day had she not found an old man dying on the road side. The wretched old man who no one came forward to help was bleeding profusely. She parked and with the help of a couple of gentlemen she got him inside her car. She drove him to the hospital where he was declared dead. Before he died however he gave her the power that she would live by. "My child, I can see it in your face that you are made of tears and sorrows. You have waited endlessly for love, passion and companionship. A wait that is your only friend and will accompany you even after you are dead. Your life is a daydream" he stuttered lying in her car's backseat. She looked at him from the car's rear view mirror. How did he know that all her life she had chased smoke and every time she folded her fists to get hold of the smoke she caught nothing. He handed her a note that contained a safe deposit box details. "I will not live. You are a kind soul who despite of her pains and sorrows came to rescue me. Go and get the package form this security box. It contains hopefully the lotion that can heal your life. Please park the car and listen to me carefully" he said gasping for breath. "No, you can be saved". "Trust me, please stop". She obliged and turned around after parking the car on the roadside.
"The package contains DreamWeaver, a device that will let you dream the way you want to be". "They are not that far apart. Only a miniscule line of slumber separates them but for reasons better known to the wise men a daydream is rated much higher than a dream. One aspires a different world in a daydream but a dream is a world in itself. Sturm und Drang and exhilaration that explores sub consciousness that’s deeper than the Pacific and jaunts beyond the Milky Way". "Sir.." she started to speak. "Please let me speak. Time is of the essence" he interrupted her and continued his monologue. "After you get hold of DreamWeaver all you need is water, coffee beans and electricity. Water that is crystal clear and the rich coffee beans will result into a clearer dream. Clearer than reality. Any impurities will lead to hazy dreams. Also, please ensure that you have a quiet place to sleep for if there is anything that disturbs your sleep during the dream it will disturb the dream pattern and present to you fuzzy scenes you didn’t imagine". Before he died he explained how the device was to be used. The water, the coffee beans and the zinc wire. One needed to imagine scenes that they wished to be their dream with the wire stuck in before going to bed. The required ratio between water and the beans. More the water, longer the dream.
It all seemed a dream to her. She got to the security box and sure enough found DreamWeaver. She used tap water and filter coffee. She imagined her grandmother baking her cookies, and taking her out to buy her a dress. The next morning she knew she has had that dream. It was not clear enough and seemed to have happened in a land far away from earth but she was certain she saw the old lady. Thus started her pursuit to happiness. Her pursuit to inflict pain into the ones who had all but given sorrow to her. "Its time to abandon these castles" she said. It felt like twenty tequila shots in one shot. There couldn't have been a better time. She had struck gold in her darkest hour.
"If only you had been good to me the way you have been these days there would have been no need for me to put you in this condition" she said handing him a cigarette. The room was lit. For the first time in the last few months she had turned on the light. K looked miserable. His beard looked filthy and he stunk. Dark circles loomed beneath his eyes. He must have lost a lot of weight. He started to cry again. "Shut up" she screamed. "You have humiliated me for years. You knew I loved you and you didn't pay heed to my affection. You cry today and ask me to let you go. Why should I let you go? For a trip to Istanbul? You think that's enough? No Mr. K your sins can't be washed away with a simple act of kindness. Besides I am not really sure what you are up to? What games are you playing with me I have to find out".
"Can I take you out for shopping this evening?" K asked with an air of confidence knowing that she would agree. Later that evening he bought her an expensive bag. They walked hand in hand and she wanted time to stand still. Even if K was playing a game she was ready to fall for it. It was the best evening she had spent. They decided to catch a movie that night before K dropped her home. She adored the bag. She could hardly sleep that night getting up from her bed like a small child and looking at the bag as if it was toy. K asked her out every day. Lunch if office schedule permitted, dinner dates, movies and shopping sprees. K the gentleman. It was a couple of weeks later that Mithya got the gift of her life. A gift that surpassed even the DreamWeaver. Her door bell rang ten minutes after he had dropped her. There he was on his knees with a wedding ring in his hand. "Will you marry me"? She could hardly believe it and started to cry. He got up and held her in his arms. "I love you Mithya". "I love you too" she said sobbingly. They kissed that night for the first time. For Mithya it was the first kiss of her life. "Let's get married before our Istanbul trip. We will extend our trip by two weeks and stay there after the work is done".
The next day Mithya was introduced to K's parents who immediately had a liking for her. She loved them too. She was going to be part of a loving family. The marriage date was fixed to be three days before their planned Istanbul trip. K picked up Taj Palace hotel for the wedding ceremony. Mithya's to be in-laws kept her busy with frantic shopping. They showered her with love, bought her clothes, diamonds and gold jewellery. She had aspired to be loved all her life and it was in abundance. She didn't have any one that she could invite but K had a huge set of family and friends who were going to attend the wedding. An estimated five hundred people were supposed to attend the grand event. The air of doubts around K were clear and she anxiously waited for the day. K was definitely in love with her and the love was no game. K had redeemed himself. K the love of her life. She didn't need to visit the dark room anymore.
The next month went in wait of the big event. Like any other bride she wanted to look the best and spent four hours getting ready for the wedding ceremony. She wore a beautiful red saree that her to be mother in law had gifted her. A diamond necklace around her slender neck and laden with gold jewellery she looked stunning. Time stopped when she entered the wedding hall. Everyone turned their heads and was visibly mesmerized by her charms. She blushed watching their reaction. K got on his knees and asked for her hand. He looked enchanted himself and couldn't stop gushing. "You look beautiful" he whispered. It was going to be a perfect wedding. The marriage ceremonies went underway. The pandit started chanting mantras as per Hindu rituals. He asked Mithya to put her hand on K's as part of a ritual. She raised her hand but it was at that point that the pandit screamed, "Stop!!!".
"What's that smell?" he exclaimed. She smelled it too. It was a strong odour of a dead animal. Everyone got their handkerchiefs out. Suddenly there was a hush hush in the crowd. The next moment the gathering started to disperse. The big crowd disappeared and only a few near and dear ones remained with their nostrils covered. "What is going on?" K's dad shouted lividly. He got up in search of the source of the bad smell. One of K's friends who still stood there vomited. The vomit spewed all over her saree. At that moment everyone started to laugh. She looked to her left and found that K was no longer seated there. "Where are you K? What is going on?" she screamed. She could hardly hear her own voice amongst the laughter. She looked up at set of people laughing like mad. She saw K's mother bursting with laughter. "Whore" she screamed. Then she saw K who unzipped his fly and started peeing into the holy fire. He laughed frantically as the fire extinguished. "I trusted you. You set me up, didn't you?" tears started falling on her cheeks. K had betrayed her. Once a dog always a dog. The ear bursting laughter was too much for her to handle. She fainted.
She found herself in her bed. She could smell the foul dead animal odour. She drew her left hand to cover her nose. A metal wire winged from the battered arm and fell on the bed.