I seldom dream.
Or should I say, I seldom remember them. I have no complaints about it. Sleep is something that I don’t take for granted. Losing it is traumatic. It starts off innocently but as a few nights become weeks, the lack of sleep becomes a pulse in the back of your eyelids, a stinging pain that becomes unbearable. For years, I’ve had problems sleeping. Even so much that waking up at the darkest hour, when the heaviness of the night is overwhelming and the passage of time seems to have seized, made me afraid of nights. Already in the mornings, I was fretting about being awake at the loneliest of hours, 3 am.
I have a memory of a reoccuring dream from my childhood, though. It can’t be recounted with precision but it has left a strong impression that I’m willing to visit now, since you asked me to. It’s not a pleasant dream, quite the opposite. I remember being very young when I had this dream, but it occurred more than once. And unlike other dreams or nightmares, the effect of it, a strongly physical reaction, lingered within me even after waking up.
The dream, or should I call it a nightmare, was very much about sound and once I became an adult, I understood that it could be related to something that has really taken place when I’ve been sleeping: my home was somewhat an unsafe and unstable place growing up.
In the dream, there’s a rhythmic pulsing sound and it's difficult to pinpoint or recreate the pattern. It resembles a fast heartbeat but the sound is much more loud, like a beat of a distorted disco scene from a rave party. It’s akin to a factory with heavy machinery and multiple production lines: hissing, clinking, beating and pulsing. In addition to the pulsing beat, there’s a disturbing overall sound that reminds me of a shower tap left open to its maximum.
There is no drop,
BUT A FALL OF WATER THAT SMACKS RIGHT ONTO A TILED FLOOR.
I think that the dream had visuals but memories can’t be trusted. I can picture abstract forms, very defined in form and color, like yellow squares, which move according to the beat.
I must have been like under ten years old when these dreams occurred. I have a flashback of having this dream and it seems like one of those ones, where you’ve been so horrified that the memory has been permanently etched in your brain. I woke up from the dream with a frantic heartbeat and an unvoiced cry erupting from my mouth. Breathing was erratic and hard to control. What I have realised later was that I was in full panic mode. I felt like something horrible and threatening was happening. As I came to understand that it was a dream and managed to disentangle myself from the horror, it took me a long time to calm down.
I had no tools as a kid to cope with this kind of stuff, so I stuck to routines as a way of getting rid of the experience. I went to the shower and as I turned on the tap, the cascading water and its sound took me back to the dream immediately. It was as if the real world had a glitch and somehow, the dream spilled from some alternate world into that moment. The physical reactions followed immediately, my own heartbeat becoming a part of the horrible soundscape forming a monstrous factory that beats and pumps. I was able to see those visuals as flashbacks even without closing my eyes and they bled into the shower stall, moving to the beat, the crushing rhythm of the sounds.
- from a teacher