Laughter or Life

Last night I had a dream. I was walking out of my house. And with every step I took, the floor turned to green moss, the walls turned to trees laden with creepers, the air changed from the AC room to cool breeze mixed with the scent of too many flowers. I kept walking towards a sound, it was the sound of laughter. It was not the kinds that was scary or eerie, it was real laughter, something that comes from genuine joy and happiness.

A huge towering giant sequoia was in front of me blocking my way. To go around it would take days, but the laughter was right behind it. It was a familiar voice of a man. A man I knew. And the laughter sounded like a sight I would love to see. But this tree stood in my way. I looked up to see that it almost merged with the black sky above it. Few stars twinkled, telling me that this wasn’t another dimension. The laughter grew louder and I knew I had to get to it, before it stopped. After my initial apprehension, I started to climb over the tree. I saw a branch I could reach and figured I could get to the other side by climbing over it. The laughter seemed to grow hollow as I climbed farther above. Surely I must have miscalculated the height. This person was below and was waiting for me to join in his moment of happiness. I finally managed to sit myself up on the huge branch. I looked over the other side and found a dark abyss of forest. I couldn’t see the man, but the laughter was there. Short bursts of gregarious and billowing hilarity. Whoever this was, I was so drawn to him and his careless laughter, that I wasn’t worried for my own life anymore. I tried to climb down now, for I had to reach this man. My foot caught a smaller branch below and a stepped down, holding on to the main branch. The laughter that seemed to pause for a minute, started again. This time louder and somehow happier. I couldn’t understand what made me think this person was so happy, but I could sense that he had found pure joy and fulfilment. I looked over my shoulder and caught a glimpse of the man.

He was sitting by a shallow stream, throwing pebbles across and trying to catch butterflies. He laughed every time the butterfly escaped his hand or every time a fish jumped out. I smiled as a recognized the man and that all too-familiar laugh. I had forgotten what it was like to see this sight and I understood why it called me. He was at peace, careless and free, living his old age like every man would dream. One with nature and away from hurdles of life and misery. He laughed and played like a child and shone his years of wisdom through his aging but gentle eyes. He waved out to me and smiled. I wanted to be with him so bad that I forget the branch I was holding on to. I lost balance and I fell backwards towards the ground. But as I was falling I saw the man smiling softly, calling out to me, to join him in fantasy.

I hit the ground but it was soft and damp. I wondered if I was alive and opened my eyes to look at myself when I found myself in my bed, sweating furiously. I was woken up by the sound of my father, fighting his battles on phone, fighting for sanity. He looked at me and smiled apologetically. The curve of the mouth was the same, but the smile was different and so was the man. This one was old, fragile and tired; a man weighed down by the pressures of modern living. He wasn’t the man by the stream, he was a shadow of a man that he should have been.

Dreams can be funny.

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