He was wearing a creased white suit, a straw hat and a black n white chequered bow tie. Funny way to be dressed so early in the day.
He picked up the newspaper and started browsing through. The language seemed alien. He always ordered an English Daily whenever he traveled, but this was strange. He couldn’t understand anything. Something else didn’t seem right too. Focussing on things. It was an effort to let both his eyes focus on one thing. His head felt so light.
Why was he not able to concentrate?
He felt something wriggle inside the cuff of his shirt. He loosened it and a tiny frog jumped out.
‘Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa’, he shrieked. How did it get in there? How long was it inside? Did he carry it back from his little adventurous excursion from the previous night? Too many questions puzzled his scarce airy head at the same time .
Was he dreaming?
He rubbed his eyes, held his forehead and sat still. His cheeks felt warm. Could he be coming down with fever? The hangover couldn’t have been much. He just had a few cocktails.
His mind wandered to the lovely drinks he had last night. Mai Tai and Blue Hawaii. Very potent if he might add. There was no point travelling all this distance to grab a single malt. He wanted to try what the locals had. Oh yes, now he remembered. He was at theLuaulast night, a Hawaiian feast. What a lovely ending to an eventful day. Not many people get to do that on Company expense.
The memories of last night made him smile. Flowing silks, floral fragrance in the air, cool crisp sea breeze devoid of any trace of humidity, strangers greeting each other like long lost friends. It was quite dreamy, the evening.
Why was he not able to smile like he always did? His smile seemed stretched. These were not his lips. He had a thickset pair, not frayed thin stripes. Why couldn’t he smile? And why was he wearing a straw hat at six in the morning? What was wrong with him? There is a thin line between a dream and waking up. He tried very hard to define that line but it appeared hazy and kept getting foggier.
He opened the full length glass windows of his suite and walked into the balcony. They were sliding glass doors in fact. Huge patio furniture in a tiny gallery was so unnerving. Claustrophobic. Reminded him of his house. It was an apology of a balcony. The wind was strong; he would have fallen if he didn’t hold onto the railing. He sat on one of the chairs, waiting for the sunrise. A faint fear gripped him as he put forward both his hands to stretch. They belonged to a girl. Soft, slender and brilliantly manicured.
‘Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa’ he shrieked and shaked his hands violently, as if wanting them to fall off so that his own hands could sprout back in place. But no. He still had beautiful feminine hands. Elegant, ring less, paint less fingers.
This had to be a dream’ he knew. It couldn’t be true. He couldn’t have turned into a woman. He was pretty sure now. He had to get up and all this would be soon over. He laughed at his inane anxiety.
If he was still asleep then what was he doing in the balcony? This was dangerous, the sleepwalking thing. He must see a doctor about it. He decided on calling upon his family physician the moment he got back home. Thank God for this realisation. Now he must get back to bed and try and wake himself up properly. This half asleep, half awake feeling was quite uncomfortable. He turned around to open the glass windows.
They were jammed. Locked from the inside. When you slide them shut, they bolted on their own. There was no latch, no handle or groove on the outside, to open them. ‘This is absurd’ he thought ‘no one makes windows like that’. He started frantically looking around for the fastener on the glass. There was none.
When the mind wants to play games with you, it goes all the way. Doesn’t spare even one single illustrious detail. He sat back on the oversized chair in his white suit.
The sun had risen. He was on the 33rd floor. He had no clue how to contact anybody except wait for someone to walk into his neighbouring balconies. He loved heights of any kind and challenges, but this was too much for his blase appetite.
The sun started rising higher.
It was getting hotter and the aluminium furniture was uneasy to sit upon.
His agitation grew with every passing minute and the muddled up head didn’t make it any easier. The sun shone brightly now. It got more and more difficult to peer inside the room. He could see a reflection of himself in the glass now. He looked highly emaciated. A stick thin figure stared back at him instead of his own reflection.
‘Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa’ he shrieked and went closer to the image. This couldn't be him. Why was his head shaped like a pyramid? His face was toad like and rest of the body was human. His eyes were as big as his nose and fell on each side of the two ridges that his face was divided into. No wonder he couldn’t focus on reading this morning. He ran his feminine hands over his amphibious neck. Ewww slimy!
He pressed his body against the window, cupped the bony fingers around his face and decided to keep looking inside the room, hoping for a miracle or a housekeeper to enter, despite the big bold ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign.
Now he knew for sure, it was a dream and he was stuck outside his room. He closed his eyes and prayed hard for it to be all over, at the earliest. He wanted to open his eyes and find himself snuggled in the cool white sheets. ‘Zapakkk’ he opened his eyes expecting the miracle to have occurred.
He was still standing in the sun, wearing his straw hat.
He wanted to cry. Why was God punishing him? What had he done? All he did was have a good time, meet a few strangers, made a few friends and gone off to sleep singing a native song. He didn’t think he did anything to deserve such mind games.
‘Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa’ he screamed.
‘Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa’ he screamed again.
He started crying. Uncontrollably. He cried his heart out.
He sat on the big patio chair. The scorching metal was no less than a branding iron, marking his livestock existence. A mustang stuck in a never-ending rat race.
He picked up the big chair, ready to break the glass door and get back in. As he was about to hit, he saw a tiny button on the wall. It was hidden behind the chair all this while. ‘Press to open window’ it read. He pressed it and got inside, rushing to look at himself in the big mirror. He wanted to give himself one big shake and make sure that all this wasn’t really happening.
As he moved from the living room into the bedroom he saw the half empty glasses, dishevelled sofa, sand on the carpet and a few petals from his welcome garland, lying strewn. He didn’t remember any of this. Who was in here with him? Whom did he get back to the hotel last night?
He waited to hear any sound. There was none.
‘Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa’ he shrieked as he ran to open the electronic safe. It was open. His wallet, traveller’s cheques, wads of foreign currency and the wedding ring were intact. He had forgotten to close the safe. He breathed a sigh of relief and looked at the bed. It was untouched.
The mirror facing the bed had a different story to tell.
He was in his floral party clothes, sitting upright on the bed. His grey balding hatless head wobbled for no reason. Glistening beads of perspiration on them caught the light from the night lamp now and then.
As a matter of fact, he had been at the Luau waiting for something exciting to happen last night. Nothing much had happened but for an exchange of some pleasantries with the dancers. He ordered a few too many. The hotel staff had to help him back to his room, along with his drinks. He put up a brave fight with them and passed out before they could dump him on the bed.
It was four am right now and he had just woken up. The delusional nightmare was over.
But somewhere deep down, his subconscious had unleashed all his secret yearnings and doings. They have a knack of running riot and surface at the oddest of hours, these cached copies of desires.