When an Insomniac Cannot Dream
I don’t sleep. Not the way the normal do. Tucked beneath their covers before dusk turns to dawn while Queen Mab flutters over their faces bringing dreams of lovers, money, and futures. I stay on the edge of yesterday with my toe stretching out towards tomorrow. It’s not like I’m afraid to dream. I welcome dreams in all their arrays: serene, falling, waking in my own sweat. But what I welcome and what enters is never the same. So I don’t sleep. The luxury of dreams are for others.
Once I was held by a man who swore he could make me sleep. He knew the trick, so he said. Wrapped his arms around my shoulders and weaved his fingers together, clasping them to form a lock as if being trapped in him would make me dream his dreams. There was a story he planned to share, that had brought all he told to Bengal sized yawns. And so I lay there waiting. Telling myself his chest was a pillow, not a storage house for a heart that played an irregular rhythm.
At 21, your life should be made, at least in Bangalore, he said, but mine wasn’t. I was happy mind you, days in my cubicle programming computers and nights at the Skye Lounge where all the Gori could be found. But my father wanted more. That’s when the beautiful red Alstermo suitcase came out. It wasn’t American made, but that is where I was going. In a little over 17 hours, I was being welcomed by cousins, aunts, uncles, that I did not know, in a city that still seems foreign, Glendale. Removed by degrees and generations, and miles I could not count, they looked like me, but weren’t. Those my age spoke without accent, and even now 18 years later, you hear my accent, don’t you Gori?
I did, particularly when he called me Gori, but I had learned it was not an insult, anymore. Fair skin girls were trophies in the dark, and stories to shared over Johnnie Walker black in LA Lounges.
As my father wanted, I did, all under the blessing of Lakshmi, who was so good to me. Within 5 years I had my own software engineer company, and money could be sent back, even when not needed. Time slipped away so easily here, with work, and building my life. When I bought a home at 29, no one questioned why a single man bought his own home. No one complained about the women I dated. No one said a word if I ordered carne asada in a Cantina. As if Indian men were supposed to be found in Cantinas. This was my dream, one I enjoyed with eyes wide open.
I never get to stay awake. I always find sleep that never lets me rest. Every night just before I close my eyes I miss the rain in July, pulling a blanket up to my chin in August, or celebrating Independence Day on 15th. I don’t go home enough, I know. I feel like a tourist in my own country, a stranger to my father, who still calls unaware it is 3am here, because it is 3pm there.
By now you should have your eyes closed.
I cannot love this life more, yet I’ll go back one day, for good, not just a visit. Live the life I was supposed to live married to a Sambo that no one else will have, at this age. But rich, so a single word will never be spoken against us. The model businessman, husband, son. The one who left to return greater than all those left behind, and resented for it. I will be the favored son who misses his waking dream, and is constantly sleeping to bring it back.
See, I told you it was boring, a man given everything he wants complaining about it. Is there anything more boring, then the man who is trapped by a home he does not want yet is where he belongs.
Which home he belonged to I was never sure, but I am sure he forgot who he was with, the Gori who steals dreams to ink them out as stories, because she had none of her own.