Tomorrow I am about to get my doctoral certificate. Hundreds are getting their doctorates every year. My thesis paper has as its subject : Indian Writing In English : Emergence Of A New Phraseology? .
Sleep seems to elude me tonight. I began counting sheep, from the digits 100 backwards…100, 99, 98… When I had reached the numero uno digit 1 and s-t-i-l-l , I lay awake, I decided that this time I would utilize another sleep-inducing trick which my grandmother and later onwards, my mother had used in my childhood when all the lullabies had failed. Excitement and anticipation always had kept sleep at bay, remaining forever elusive to me.
I closed my eyes and visualized white sheep , jumping across a wooden bridge , one by one. 1, 2, 3…. When I had reached the number 100, I decided that it would be futile to seduce sleep by any other means too. Insomnia is not a disease that I happen to suffer from. That would undermine the years of toil that my grandparents and later my parents, took to put me to peaceful slumber. The prospect of achieving a doctoral degree by an underling like myself, had, frankly speaking, kept me awake all night. In my family, almost all the members of my generation had opted for the analytic and deductive methods of science for their higher studies. But I always believed in that age-old fable of the turtle : slow and steady wins the race.
The race was not against time or of competition . But the need and the desire to prove myself, my metier, mettle, call it whatever you like. Well, now that, sleep had forsaken me for greener pastures, I decided to get up finally and go to the kitchen to make myself a cup of hot coffee. The clock above my bed struck one. The door of the kitchen was locked. But surely I am mistaken! Because gentle sounds were emanating from within. The sounds seemed to me like those of tinkling crockery. I found it strange that the kitchen door should be locked at this hour.
I decided to place my eye, upon the keyhole and have a ‘peep’ inside. What I saw sent shivers down my bloodstream. An ‘alien’ meaning an extra-terrestrial personage ( like the one seen in Spielberg’s film) was eating fruits and cooked meals which were spread out on the granite top of the kitchen and the door of our refrigerator was open. The intruder, a unexpected guest hailing from another planet and constellation, seemed to be famished for days. Bewildered and awe-struck, I decided to tiptoe back to my room.
“ Ashok, ASHOK,” someone was calling me from a distance. “ Wake up. Look you are drenched with sweat,” Uma, my wife, woke me up. I got up from my bed , unable to believe that this had been a dream. Or was it a nightmare?