web counter The Madness of MokcikNab: Sleep is a Strange Country
The Madness of MokcikNab
Motives, movements and melodrama in the life of a thirty something mum.

Saturday, March 18, 2006
Sleep is a Strange Country

It is almost four a.m in Jakarta. An hour ago I was roused by the realisation that I have been struggling, in my sleep, to recite every single Quranic ayat and doa that I know, and that's an abysmally short list.

In this dream I had, I am the subject in some kind of initiation ceremony. There were flowers of every colour, and there was an old woman, tall, dark, erect, her hair up in a chignon, her body wrapped in brown batik, shoulders bare. She's teaching me to chant things I couldn't remember, and I was trying with every shred of faith I had in me, to resist. I recalled at one point, having my arms outstretched in front of me, and the woman took my hands, willing my fingers to go this way and that, gamelan postures, and she instructed me to hold my stance because she was about to transfer to me, well, something.

Something vague, it seems the whole ritual is an ancient, incense-filled download. I was given a kain panjang sembilan, of a miring pattern, and somehow the cloth became a coil from which I was trying to escape. I'm aware of being outdoors, in fact, in some dusty street, and I didn't wait for the ceremony to end, because I was running away, flinging the kain panjang about me, and in my path was a hag, her hair unkempt and grey and she was blind, because there was a film of milk over her pupils. She was laughing at my attempts, but I gathered my strength, I turned a corner, with all of God's Words that I could muster in one breath.

At this instance, I woke up, burrowed my face into the bulwark that was my husband's back. He tells me to recite Ayat-ul Kursi, and to go back to sleep. I told him to close the windows and draw the curtains, which he did, but then he had to get up to take a leak and I hid under the covers, just in case, in the meantime, something came leaping from the corners. I recited the Kursi, the Three Quls, tried to slip into slumber with the Salawat on my lips.

But the moment I sank into the subconscious, the dream continued, the ramrod woman still waits, and she now had with her a large brown bull, and there was a pubescent girl astride the brute, dressed in an elaborate costume of blue, green and silver, and in her hair was a headress of white blossoms. Her painted face was solemn, like she was anxious that I would dissapoint. I am determined to; for I commanded my eyes to open. I stared at the ceiling, whined to my husband that I couldn't sleep, and because he loves me he didn't reproach me or anything but instead told me about his dream, which he says is a good one. I worry a little that it might involve Susanna Hoffs from The Bangles but thankfully, it did not.

"The other night", he tells me,"I dreamt the both of us performed the Hajj. Tonight, I dreamt we were going for our Umrah".

I am ashamed I couldn't dream up something as holy.

"The whole trip", Saiffuddin said cheerfully, " was organised by Papa Khalid".

I told him that it was entirely possible because I had spoken to Papa Khalid about the very same thing.

"Anyway", my husband continued, "We were all at the airport, getting ready to leave, and we had our luggage about us, but Abang Polis had to change his clothes right there at Departures because he was wearing a T-shirt and a shimmy-shimmy skirt, and it was all getting a bit kecoh because he was opening his bags to look for a jubah".

I blinked once or twice, and then asked, "Was he wearing heels from Princess?"

My husband yawned and said he didn't see. I tried to close my eyes, but the woman was still in my head and I didn't have the heart to bother Saiffuddin for the third time, as he was already gently snoring. So I got up, and decided to stay up, and blog about this, and watch the remnants of a match in which Manchester City triumphs over Aston Villa, while trying to ignore the sounds of shifting furniture from the apartment upstairs.

Who would be moving sofas and beds and sidetables so early in the morning?


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