It was a dark dismal place. I remember no faces, just forms. There was a crowd of spectators. I was in excruciating pain and yet I could not scream. My lungs were bursting with the desire to blow out all the frustration but I could barely breathe. I wanted to listen to what the crowd was saying but my mind kept on replaying old memories, the good ones and the bad ones all in a nonsensical collage. There I was taking my first few faltered steps as a toddler and then came the day of graduation. The seconds ticked when I almost drowned and could see the light coming into the swimming pool and didn’t have the energy to kick myself back to the surface. The day I met him and saw his smile for the first time. The moment when my father died. Everything was connected and yet disconnected in mere moments. My eyes were open wide but I saw nothing of any consequence. Perhaps it was the tears or the warm gush of blood from my forehead. I will never know what glistened on my face, but I could smell the unmistakable reek of blood, sweat and fear. I knew I was hurt and the fear should be in my heart. But my mind was frozen in the past and the present was nothing but a haze. The heightened pain caused my delirium as a blessing and I could separate the physical agony from the mental torture. I was watching in awe as the execution proceeded. The thought that all my memories and ideas and words will be wiped clean and I will be lowered into a hole in the ground and people will tell the story of my demise in every way except what I would have written it as. I smiled in my head. My face was incapable of making the muscular effort to do so.
There was one glimpse that shone through all the mist. I kept on seeing my brother among the faceless crowds. My long deceased brother was watching with tears rolling down his face. He was always closest to my heart and aware of all my joys and miseries. I blinked away the scarlet blood to try and catch another glimpse of him. Maybe he was there after all or maybe I was about to join him in the afterlife. The very thought of reuniting with my dear departed made me cry and laugh at the same time. It sounded like a wild cry and I heard the crowd hush down. The prisoner was maybe asking for mercy. I breathed slowly and deeply. Mercy was not to be asked or expected of the vile. Why would I seek ease where there is none left to offer. Why would I attempt to save my life that was already wasted? I have always had a high nose and my courage has lingered on the brink of madness. I saw an ethereal light surrounding me and then there was no pain, no suffering and no crowd. For moments I kept searching for some vision or sound or smell and I found nothing but a very white spotless canvas in an eerie silence. But my mind was still active and thinking am I dead. Is this how it ends? Where are the angels and the relatives and the promised gardens? There was nothing but a white out.
From a distance I heard some mumbling and I strained every ounce of my energy to find some sign of the here or the hereafter. And then, I woke up. All the lights, colors and sounds came flooding back and I was in my room with warm sweat and tears staining my face and pillow. I will never know until the moment arrives if it was just a bad dream or as is usual with my dreams another premonition of what is to come in future. I splashed cold water over my face and brushed away the dark locks where moments ago I felt matted blood and crumbled bone on my forehead. The dream was too real to be a mere figment of my imagination and yet I cannot think of any situation where I would be so tortured and executed. I breathed deeply and smiled at the face in the mirror. I still have time to smile, breath and speak until that day. No one will stop me until my time comes. I may be dying soon, but so is everyone in the world. And if I know myself, that day too I will be in a haze, smiling for memories that only my mind could pull out and play with. I will be a dreamer and a poet till the end.