By: Nirav Baral
In the classroom, the teacher drones on and on in his maroon colored t-shirt that doesn’t suit him. His empty vibrations ripple throughout the room, bouncing off the glass windows shut tight against the summer breeze, mixing with the clickety-clack of the ceiling fan to create a subtle dissonance, and stretching indefinitely and interminably in time and in space.
The only consolation, the only medicine is a certain girl who is facing a certain degrees away from that maroon-T-shirt-wearing teacher; looking into the window-pane with a certain temperament; certainly thinking of beautiful thoughts. That girl between two other girls in the second bench. We will call her Sabina. She is also the unintentional witch who ensnared my lonely heart with no intention of ever doing so, not knowing that that intentlessness was the strongest incantation.
That girl, with her pretty hairdo and her long, tender neck, has set up an irrevocable residence in the little part of my heart where I plant roses and other flowers. It is of little consequence that she probably keeps me in a humdrum study table of her heart in an unimportant box where she keeps her pencil stubs — that is if she keeps me at all.
When I dream of her, I find myself in an incomprehensible universe where I am without ground or sky, where the angry stars murmur and roar, where she is the absolute and unequivocal queen of the cosmos such that as she walks the space ripples in her feet, and inside her incomprehensible home is the absolute pool of swirling rainbows and sweet water where she lounges with her grandmother. She fills me up with the eternal promise of fragrant flowers. It is of little consequence that most likely she doesn’t even think of me.
Yes, her. We will daydream about her today. We will first pretend that we are secret artists and that we possess all the curves that exist in the universe. We will then pretend to draw her profile with the expert application of those curves which flow gracefully out of the pencil that we’ve oddly sharpened with a knife and which we tuck behind our ears when not in use, while in reality we are just absentmindedly writing her name and circling it repeatedly in our notebook with a dazed, upward gaze. We will, in our reverie, first draw her nose. The small inward curve beneath the brow-ridge, followed by a charming nose made with two curves: the first subtly bumps upward and falls, then the next smoothly turns from the tip to the philtrum. Then we draw the lips gently, as if we are carefully tracing it’s outlines without daring touch the flesh. We then continue on to draw her chin, then with one fluid line we conjure her jaw, then her small, pretty ear. We continue in this fashion, drawing her hair, her neck, and her shirt’s collar and so on. The result is a beautiful picture of a beautiful girl, which is, naturally, to be expected seeing how we are secret artists who possess all the curves in the universe.
After the picture is drawn, imagine tearing it off the notebook and keeping it in our shirt pocket right next to our beating heart that pumps red hot blood through our body but skips a beat when it hears her name.
Now, because this is our daydream, and we are the sole masters of the events that unfold in this contrived sphere, we will engineer the circumstances so that in the recess, as we enter the classroom engrossed in our secret artistic thoughts, she happens to be walking out perhaps agitated by a similarly beautiful preoccupation, such that the scene resolves itself in a mild collision, a whiff of the intertwining fragrances of her shampoo, of her hair, and of her skin; a little bit of that summer breeze; and my own unwittingly committed blunder that allows that secret sketch of hers to find a way away from my heart and out of the pocket. It traces a flourish in the thin summer breeze to land right next to her feet.
By pure chance she looks down and notices the prettiest curves of the universe which we had employed to trace the profile of the prettiest girl in the universe. She realizes the lines: plucked from a rose for her ears, borrowed from a butterfly for her nose, and taken from the celestial darkness with an astral sprinkling for her eyes — could only have been drawn by someone in love. She’s startled but because we are ourselves secret artists and because we like for it to stay that way, we have no choice but to grab her by the wrist, and guide her through between the various bodies and obstacles to a private spot in the staircase which leads to the terrace but which is currently blocked, thus forming a sort of staircasey cul de sac. There we look into her radiant eyes and tell her how we like her very much, how we’d like to spend our entire life drawing her portraits, and so on and so forth until she looks right back into our eye and smiles that bemused smile that says she has understood everything that hasn’t yet been said, and she says something back but we can’t hear it because now the maroon-T-shirt-wearing teacher has stopped talking about the intricacies of the pendulum’s oscillations to focus his energy entirely into spotting the inattentive students and remarking on their inattentiveness.
Daydreaming tip #1: Make sure the teacher doesn’t notice you while you’re at it.
With my head back in the classroom, I realize that my notebook page is covered with various instances of her name in various sizes and with various flourishes, so I must first take care of that.
Then I borrow a book from the guy behind me and try to make sense of whatever the hell is being taught, which is like being thrown into an ocean of sines and cosines, arcane mathematical symbols, and Greek alphabets. But one must try repeatedly and persistently, and that I do. I repeatedly look at my watch and persistently try to not fall asleep.
The bell rings. The slouching ragdolls spring to life and liven the classroom with sounds of desks and benches scraping against the floor. I get up to go to the washroom to splash my face with cool water again and again, until I erase the lines of drowsiness from my face; but chemistry ma’am enters the room without warning, carrying her notes and a heavy book, like a lioness returning to her den, and suddenly the classroom which had assumed the feel of a merry marketplace full of life and energy slumps into the same dull ragdoll showroom. Ma’am starts writing formulas on the whiteboard with benzene and it’s various appendages, arithmetic symbols and arrows, and obtuse combination of letters that fail to make a word; expecting us to copy it all (when will she ever learn?) so, bored and sleepy, I decide to venture into one more daydream.
Suppose we are secret musicians versed in the arcane art of sounds, symbols and instruments so we have no trouble playing cryptic symbols like 𝄞𝄴♪♫♪♪ on the violin. Now, there’s no reason why a college-wide musical competition should be held in the middle of the term but conveniently for us, it’s easy to tweak the circumstances of this fictional universe and architect a tremendous musical competition whenever we like. We imagine that it’s evening and the whole college is there. The concert lights flash in many colors and the smoke machine makes it look like the whole place is inside a cloud and on LSD.
We’re on the stage playing a beautiful melody applying just a fraction of our virtuoso, and she’s in the crowd, radiant behind a mist of smoke, perked up and listening raptly. We notice in her face what she notices in ours: that this melody is nothing but a composition of the songs she hums when she thinks no one is listening, of the innocent lullabies that her grandmother sang to soothe her, of the laughter of her sisters, of her deepest fears and aspirations, and of a deep and everlasting red love so potent that it erupts from our hearts forever as music. “Love is beautiful, isn’t it?”, we say to her with our violin. Having understood everything, she gets chills down her spine and tears up, but that image only feeds into our musical genius so we play with even more resonance, exerting our virtuoso to the full capacity until the hall is swallowed by our haunting tune — which is to be expected seeing how we’re secret musicians versed in arcane arts; until the notes dissolve into the rainbow smoke, until thousands of yellow butterflies come out in swarms to listen, until the place literally uproots itself from the ground and ascends up to the sky because our music is as sincere as Yudhistira, and until gods themselves emerge from the sky and rain flowers on the entire hall. Then a drum joins into the crescendo with a steady rhythm which sounds so off-beat that we wonder why our band-mate is trying to screw with our music. Gods murmur disapprovingly. We lose the sight of her in the confusion. At that point we remember that we were playing a solo piece, and we have neither a drummer nor a band; but the beat keeps getting stronger and louder. Then the entire scene dissolves into the smoke.
I open my eyes to a knuckle that is steadily rapping my desk and I look up to see who it belongs to. As it turns out, I had fallen asleep and chemistry ma’am had noticed. It’s hard to overstate how easy it is to fall asleep on a summer afternoon. She yells at me, then she yells at everyone who was laughing at her yelling at me and finally she asks me to go stand in the hallway.
Daydreaming tip #2: Do NOT fall asleep while you’re daydreaming!
I think what she did was unfair to me but I understand poor chemistry ma’am. It’s hard not to have temper always on your nose when you spend half the day in the laboratory smelling ammonia and hydrogen sulphide, and the other half yelling at students who fall asleep during lecture. There’s no point arguing with her, so I heroically strut out of the classroom. A cursory glance towards her bench shows that she is also laughing.
In the hallway, it is important to seem solemn and wistful so as not to be scolded by the teachers passing by, but there’s nothing to do. So I go drink some water. Standing by yourself for half an hour is no easy feat. It seems that we can afford one last daydream for today.
Imagine that we’re secret poets somber and lonely, walking back home from college. Imagine the skies indecisive, torn between the grinning sunshine of the west and the premonitory dark clouds of the east. First an apprehensive drop hits our earlobe. We continue walking. The next lands on our cheek. We continue to walk. We feel a drop on our eyebrow, then nose, then two drops at once and before we register that we’ve lost count, it starts to rain. “Darkness always wins, dear sky. Rain your tears on me.”, we say with our hoarse, poetic voice.
In the blink of an eye, the world composes itself from scratch. A veil of twilight falls upon reality. Dark clouds roam the sky with silent dominion. Suddenly we’re in a ghost town lack-love and abandoned even by the colorful clothes hanging on the wires. We are enveloped in the silence of the collective suicide of millions of drops ending the journey conceived in the celestial womb with one futile splat. In that moment we are simultaneously nowhere and everywhere. Someone has taken our essence and stirred it into the soul of the universe. “I am an inanimate boulder sitting by an ocean. I am the turbulence of the tides. I am simultaneously nothing and everything”, we think.
We are in that violent whirlpool, thinking dark death poems when we feel her tap on the shoulder. We navigate back through the various shades of darkness, through the relentless currents, through the heart of boulders, and through the very soul of the universe back to reality. We realize that we’d had forgotten that we were secret poets or that we were walking or that warm blood still circulated in our veins. We realize that we are drenched down to bones and shivering. The real world is sad with a bittersweet nostalgia for the sun. The collective longing of mankind for a warm cup of coffee, for a dry towel and for an inviting blanket is as palpable as the fragrance of her neck.
With that shock, the first thing we notice is her blue umbrella. Next, we notice how she extends the horizons of that sky that is her blue umbrella to shelter us from the many angry needles which dived from the empyrean imagination just to land on the hair of a disconsolate poet on his way home. We notice how her shoulder bumps against ours with a wink. We notice how, with a small smile, she extends her definition of solitude to contain us.
It is when she smiles, and when we smile back, that we decide that the small sky of her umbrella is not big enough for two people, so we squeeze her into our being. In our arms, we notice how she is the glorious bouquet of every flower in the universe, how she is the fragrance of the forbidden apple, how her lips blossom with the smile of rainbows and how she is God’s favorite memory. Without really noticing it, we notice how she becomes our warm coffee, our dry towel, our blanket and our bed. She becomes our very own stretch of a cloudless blue sky forever over the head.
The bell rings again and knocks me out of my fantasy. People have started coming out of classrooms carrying their backpacks. It’s time to go home. Chemistry ma’am walks out and gives me a stern look but I flash her an apologetic smile and wave goodbye. As I turn to go in, I notice Sabina is going home, and she’s alone! So I rush in, grab my bag and dash out. I call her name. She turns back and smiles warmly. Even after all these daydreams, and all the rampant imaginings, her dazzling smile still knocks the ground off my feet. I jog towards her and we walk together talking about homework and laughing about the chemistry class incident. All is well.
Daydreaming tip #3: Know when to stop. It doesn’t do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.