I opened my eyes. My eye lashes were stuck to my darkened under eye skin and my lids felt heavy. I licked my lips. They felt salty. I had to force my eyes open. Yes, I remember now I had been crying but I can’t figure out why. Where am I? It is still dark and the invisible walls feel as though they are crowding on me. Maybe it is night. I close my eyes again. As mum says, “It will be all fine in the morning”.
This time I open my eyes. I can hear faint bird chirping sounds; I am at home and its dawn. “Things are definitely good in the morning”, I tell myself. “Phew!” I sigh out loud and I smile shake myself off my heavy blanket and head to the bathroom to check myself in the mirror. “Yup!” everything looks fine. My eyes don’t look like they have been crying. That seemingly dark room was just a nightmare, I assure myself.
I go downstairs, where mum is busy setting the table for breakfast. “Rain drops keep falling on my head” by BJ Thomas blares on the radio. Tuesdays; so the Oldies played till nine. I see Jeremy pacing along the dining room book in hand, trying to cram all the contents last minute. I never did know how one could study with the radio on full volume. Then again it was Jeremy. The child- genius!
“Jeremy, so you’re prepared huh?” I winked.
He looked sullenly at me. Then in a worried tone, said, “What if I fail?”
I laughed. “Don’t worry my sweetheart of a brother” I said, as I pulled his 10 year old cheeks (something which he hated). “You have the family genes. You will not fail. You’ll pass with flying colors- even though you’ve studied just the night before”.
I was about to mockingly bless him when mum started her usual you-need-to-do-this-and -don’t do-this tirade.
“Stop joking around you two. Jeremy put that book down and have your breakfast. If you don’t eat well you won’t be able to write your paper. Remember to take extra pencils and …don’t forget to revise this chapter in the school bus… and tell him to… and eat slowly… chew you food well…”
Thankfully for Jeremy mum’s voice was drowned by Rain Drops ….
Unfortunately, the radio was switched off when mum did decide to concentrate all her efforts on me and my impending future. “Listen child”, she almost sighed the word child. I pretended to pay complete attention. “It is time you decided what you want to do in life. I know it is just the second year of college and you still have time. But it is not wrong if you decide before hand. I mean you have a lot to look forward…”
I saw Jeremy from the corner of my eye… rolling his eyes, both of knowing how long this was going to last and where mum’s conversation would lead. Another argument was due.
Suddenly, like a flash, I animatedly and purposefully yelled “Oh my god!! Mum! Just look at the time, Jeremy’s getting late. I’ll reach him to school today.” Jeremy too joined in and started to whine. “Mum I’m late” What if I reach late for the exam? What if they don’t let me write the paper?” I loved it when Jeremy was on my side. I loved him anyway. This guy was to be an ace, when he grows up, I thought.
Mom looked at me and then at the watch which clung to the wall and obviously could not deny that it was indeed late. She relented but not before giving me the- we- will talk- about -this -later -look.
While heading out, Jeremy and I gave each other our secret smile. Being together always worked for us. Although there was more that five years difference between us, we gelled, like peas in a pod.
I normally dropped Jeremy by car and today too was no different. He seated himself at the front and put his seat belt on, whereas I sat at the wheel and did the same. I got my licence two years back and was no novice at driving. My dad had complete faith in my ability and so let me drive his car most of the time. I was to get my own car soon, that was as soon as I graduate. The route was simple a right from our drive way, straight for about ten minutes till you hit the highway, then straight again and then finally a left.
We were out on the left of the driveway when Jeremy began to tell me about his crush, Twisha. I started to laugh. What kind of a name is Twisha? I was half-way through making fun of the name when I realized that I had offended him. “I’m sorry Jeremy”. I offered. I turned to face him and my hand stretched to ruffle his hair.
“I really am. I didn’t mean to make fun. So did you talk to her?” He smiled impishly and started to tell me about how he first saw her when there was a loud bang and a thrust. I heard Jeremy screaming or was it me?. Blood spluttered all over the wind shield. And then there was silence.
I opened my eyes. I am in the dark room again. I hate this recurring dream, I murmur. I try to look around. This time realize that the room is not really dark, it’s just hazy. I see a white door, with a circular glass window. Familiar faces. “Mom!! Dad!!” I yell. I try to reach out but I can’t. I see them leaving. “No dad no don’t leave me. Mom I’m sorry. Jeremy… Jeremy, Where is Jeremy?” As mum says, “Everything will be fine in the morning”.
My eyes close. I open them again to find that it is morning. I can hear faint bird chirping sounds; I am at home and its dawn. “Things are definitely good in the morning”, I tell myself. Phew, I sigh out loud and I smile shake myself off my heavy blanket and check myself in the bathroom mirror. My eyes, they look just fine. That seemingly dark room was just a nightmare, I assure myself.
Outside the white door with the circular glass window, two nurses chit chat about the future of the patients in their place of work. “What is actually wrong with the patient? Whispers nurse number Two. “I mean, I just don’t get it. It is like a mini-drama happening in the secluded room. First you hear Jeremy Jeremy!! Then that dratted song raindrops keep falling on my head followed with a conversation about Jeremy getting late and then some person named Twisha and then crying again. Howling in fact. Every day it is the same thing. One more day of this and I’ll know the sequence of events by heart”. “Shhhh” said Nurse number one. The parents are here.
Mr. and Mrs. Syme stood outside the room waiting. They really did not know what to do anymore. It had been a year since the unfortunate car accident in which one of their kids, Jeremy perished while the other was stuck in the memory of the that single day. They left not able to watch their child sing again “Rain drops keep falling on my head” as they knew what was going to follow.
[Image courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/139136870/]