I was only six when I first had a dream about an old man. In the dream, he was standing in front of the statue of Lord Hanuman located at Rhenock, my hometown. He was a really old man, possibly in his eighties, wearing a suit, leaning on a walkstick- the carved wooden kind which was curved at the top and had a silver coated base at the bottom. I would go and fold my hands greeting Namaste and start speaking to him. We spoke and spoke for hours until finally he looked at his wrist watched and waved goodbye. At exactly that point, I suddenly woke up and though I felt genuinely happy, I couldn’t remember what we had talked about or who this old man was and since I was only six, I didn’t give it much of a thought.
In the following years, I would see the same dream over and over again. I would see it at least once in a month but when I tried recalling what we had talked about, I could never pin it down; everything else would be crystal clear except the conversation we shared. I never talked about it to anyone else though, simply because I thought it had no context. After all, we all have pretty weird dreams, don’t we?
Once, when I was 13 years old and was going through a rough time at my new school, I saw the same dream everyday for two weeks. Those are the only conversations I remember having with him. He would constantly tell me to be strong, that it’s going to be okay in the end, that I should communicate more of my feelings. Time and again, I would wonder who that mysterious old man was: a figment of my imagination? Somebody I knew but have now forgotten about? There were a lot of questions but not a single right answer and therefore, I decided to let it go. Years went by and the dreams kept coming to me now and then.
When I was 16 years old, my maternal grandmother passed away. During the 13-day funeral, once my aunt asked me to bring some matchsticks from the prayer room and since I had never been inside that room before, I asked one of my cousins to come with me. We walked past the stairs and as soon as I entered the room, I saw it- a big, framed picture of him -the man from my dreams- slightly younger than I could remember, smiling at a book held on his arms, almost like what we call a candid picture. I was so surprised, I could not move. My mind started throwing all sort of questions, Who is this man? What is this picture doing at my uncle’s house? Is this really his picture or am I going crazy?
Meanwhile, my cousin noticed me staring pointlessly and asked me if I was okay. I tried to ask her about the picture but no words came, so I pointed my trembling fingers towards the picture and waited for a possible explanation.“Nikunj, why are you so horrified by a picture of our grandfather? Are you okay?” she laughed.
My maternal grandfather, Mr. Laxuman Adhikari, passed away in the year 1995, three years before I was born, even before my mother got married, so I had never met him and as surprising as it might sound, I had never come across a picture of him till that day.
By now, my cousin had made me sit on a stool and brought me a glass of water and was asking what just happened. I took a long breath, gulped down a couple sips, and asked her a question, just to be sure, hoping the answer was no “Did he own a carved, wooden walk stick with a silver base?” “Yes,” She was confused. “but how do you know that?” I told her all about my dream- how I would see the same person in front of the statue of Lord Hanuman and we would talk for hours. She was astounded and asked me if I was sure it was the same person but how could I have mistaken a face I had seen so often in my dreams? We rushed to our relatives and broke the news and everyone else was equally surprised, I was bombarded with a lot of questions which my 16 year old self found too much to bear so I locked myself in a room for two hours, which finally made them promise they won’t ask another question about the topic.
After that incident, I never saw the dream again. It has been four years since then but not a single dream has occurred. Being the skeptic I am, I normally find a rationale for everything but I haven’t been able to fathom this particular mystery. Maybe, knowing that he is my grandfather was a farewell to us both or maybe, I broke the spell we had by talking about it to someone else, maybe this whole thing too is a dream like any other and I happened to overthink about it. I am still not sure how it was possible for me to have a dream about a man I’ve never seen before in my life. I have thought about it a lot, going through the details over and over again but there never seems to be a satisfactory conclusion; I guess some things are better left unexplained.