This piece was written not more than ten minutes after I have had a long siesta dream. The dream was on a few hours in a day in my life. I was at Kedar-Chowki Ghat region in the dream, nearly eight hundred kilometres and a lifespan away from where I am now.
I clearly remember the half-receded Gangaji, quite inconsistent with my experience of this time of the year in Kasi. I also remember, in true to the life colours and details, the famous coconut shop near Kedareshwar Temple where I had gone with my younger brother. What were we to buy from there? I don’t remember because we neither asked for anything nor bought anything from that shop. Pappu bhaiya was there. So were Babu, Sonu and Sugreev. There were few books at the shop (a collection that is unforgettable because of the impossibility of the pieces in it being actually there, ever). There were three copies of a Word Power book and a couple of spy novels by Surendra Mohan Pathak. One of those novels had sixteen rupees only as the price printed on the spine: a very impossible price because even less than a year ago I had searched for a novel below twenty-five mark and hadn’t found any in the book stalls on platform number one at Allahabad Junction. Sugreev was dehusking coconuts, Sonu was at the front on the street, and all of them appeared as they were twelve years back.
I went to Chowki Ghat alone from there and met a stranger at a hotel I had gone into, for I don’t remember which reason. I have never seen such kind of a building at Chowki Ghat. From the fourth floor rooftop and from the windows on the two sides of a room there, I saw streets I couldn’t recognize at all, neither during my dream nor at waking up. I remember my attempt at reading the name of the location on a few commercial sign boards on shops lining the streets but there weren’t any. It did not worry me in that dream of mine, as I knew that I’d go down and check. It worries me now. As I will never be able to go back and check. Will I be?
The ubiquitous fear of heights was there and registered its presence while I was climbing down the stairs of the top three storeys. The fear had left me on my reaching the first floor. I had climbed down the other floors clinging to the side railing cautiously, but the same set of stairs did not warrant the use of the same technique at the reduced height.
I also remember navigating at a very fast plunging pace through an impossibly dense and hitherto unseen kind of a crowd beteen Sonu’s shop and Chowkee Ghat. There was no space to push forth into. Yet I dived into the crowd and found a path that only fortunate fast moving vehicles find on the roads crowded with other vehicles – space for one body’s passage from between people and from the ever shifting empty spaces in corners.
Another impossible feature of my dream was the motorbikes and scooters that I had seen from a height at Chowkee Ghat. It was nearly dusk and I saw someone lifting the long rope tied to the wall at the front of the compound that opens to the stairs of main Chowkee Ghat. He was doing it to give passage to a scooter wading through ankle deep water. I had then thought that it belonged to a person the main entrance of whose house was through the ghat, although I have never seen any such house. There were many bikes turning towards and entrance cut through the dry alluvium near Harishchandra Ghat (never seen one, it’s possible only at Assi Ghat).
It was less than twenty-four hours ago that a friend had asked me whether I remembered my city on Durgashtami and I had replied that the day was like any other day for me, as I remember my city every day.
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