I can’t recall when I started having this dream. Actually its a set of two dreams, completely different events, switching seamlessly from the first to the second, in a sort of fade-out/fade-in manner. I remember both quite clearly. Why shouldn’t I? They happen to me every night, one night’s dream erasing the one I saw the previous night completely.

Besides being two-part, my dreams always have two other things that are common. The first is that I am always very old in them, doddering like. But I don’t die in them. Others (nameless folk I’ve never met) do the dying. They croak it, kick it, pop their clogs, close their blogs, raise the daisies, turn in their shingles, buy the farm, swim with the fishes, cash in their chips or just fail to live. Not me.

That doesn’t mean I have a rollicking time in my dreams. I face other challenges. Last night, there was Scarlett Johanssen standing right there in front of me, not a stitch on her, as though cotton hadn’t yet been discovered. I tried desperately to reach out for her but I felt like that lone, ashen-faced Knight Templar, who tipped over while guarding the holy grail in ‘Indian Jones and the Last Crusade’. My hands felt like they were made of lead.

After a half hour, Scarlett looked pointedly at the massive watch on her wrist that had a 6-inch dial and made a loud tick-tock noise. She gave out an exasperated sigh and she said, “Time out, homework time now.” Her words degenerated the way a long-play record sounds if you slow it down till it grinds to a stop, like,” Time oughut, hovik tahb nghow….” That’s when I crossed over into the second dream. Scarlett dissolved into a differential equation with lots of delta phies and delta thetas.

And that’s the second thing that’s common about my nightly dreams. They always begin with something very desirable and invariably dissolve into mathematics. Complex coordinate geometry, curves and exponents, sines, tans, secs or myriads of latin letters. Night after  goddamn night.

The second part of last night’s dream, just after Scarlett coalesced into math, I found myself in this great pillared hall, with marble everywhere and a grand staircase leading up into the skies at one end. There were these stone sofas with the s-shape that you saw the Roman Emperor, Nero, reclining on and devouring grapes in ‘Quo Vadis’. On one of those sofas, by a large picture window, I saw Archimedes covered in body wash gel.

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Archie beckoned to me and whispered into my ear,” Omnia quæ audistis de me murmurationis ‘eureka’ est crap. Postquam persecuti fuerant in me ancilla solium redire mecum.” . Relax, here’s the translation- ‘Don’t believe that ‘eureka’ crap, kid. You crazy? Think I’ll run around dripping wet, in the nude, with all them horny gay philosophers around? There never was an Archimedes’ Principle. It was that  Principal in my boarding school.  He saw me prancing around outside the girls’ dorms buck naked and screamed ‘Eureka!’ ( meaning ‘Gotcha!’)  and gave me fifty lashes. My butt hurts even now’.

I extricated myself from old Archie’s grasp and hurried on. A little further down, there was this really really old man with curly white hair, a flowing white beard and dark circles round his eyes. He was stretched out on a similar stone sofa, dipping his quill and scribbling away furiously, his tongue lolling out from one corner of his mouth in concentration. There were seven massive volumes he had already finished writing and he was on his eighth.

I walked up to the guy and said,” What you writing, old man?”

“Iliad. Now scram, kid, I still have ten volumes ta write. Got a lot of noo plot ideas. I’m just beginning on what Ajax the Greater does to Ajax the Lesser when no one’s lookin’”.

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Guy who wrote ‘Iliad’. I swear.

That’s when the alarm rang and I woke to go to work.

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© 2013 Achyut Dutt.