Placing a cup of hot coffee in front of her nephew, Genna Tomison said, “Begin.”
It was not a command. It was, rather an earnest request for Johnny to start relating to her all about his dreams.
Of course, Genna didn’t sound like she was asking, let alone requesting. On the contrary, she sounded like she was issuing a command- much like a queen of old might command a servant to bring her her favorite gold-lined pillow on the double.
But her eyes-well, they told a different story. Her eyes were pleading.
For you see, dreams were what, you could say, Genna Tomison lived for.
She didn’t like anything more than to spend her days listening to people’s dreams and the nights thinking about them, trying to decipher the meanings hidden in those dreams.
And it wasn’t just Freud’s ‘Interpretration of Dreams’ that she used in this endeavor. Far from it.
You would find in Genna’s library- a modest one but a library all the same- dream related texts written by folks from around the globe and at different centuries. The earliest of these books in her possession- relating his ‘visions’ and their apparent meanings by an ancient Egyptian king dated all the way back to 4th century BC.
The latest in the collection were mostly written by white women with identically disarming smiles-as though they all went to the same smile-school. (Another curiosity about these ladies were that almost all of them- like Genna were middle aged. But unlike Genna, or anyone in the Indian subcontinent, they were all blonde. Genna ascribed this latte to good old coincidences though as per the texts many of these women have written, there was no such thing as coincidence in dream logic.)
But this is not to say that for her expeditions into other people’s dreams in search of meaning, she relied only on books. Not by a long shot.
In fact, written wisdom was used by her only to bolster what she believed to be an innate gift- for wasn’t she the one who ‘prophesied’ when she was just a tiny 6 year old, based on a dream that she had that her grandma was going to die within the next two days- a prophecy that came true? Sure, family members(read ‘adults’), when they came to learn about this just smiled in that all-knowing manner of adults, saying, “But grandma was been bedridden and even the doctors said she didn’t have long to live!”
But nothing that the adults said took little Genna’s focus away from the fact that she did dream her grandma dancing in a white robe and deciphered correctly that the robe indicated that she was in heaven (In Genna’s dream, grandma was dancing inside her bedroom though, not in heaven.)
And there was the time when Johnny himself lost his favourite toy car- this nearly a decade ago when he was just 8 years old, when aunty Genna saw in a dream the blue miniature car lying towards a corner under his bed.
The next day, she called Johnny’s mother- Genna’s younger sister- and told her about it. Exclaiming in surprise, her sister said that she did find Johnny’s car under his bed when she was tidying up the place earlier in the morning. “How did you ever know?” she has said, hardly able to keep the surprise from her voice.
Though Genna was tempted to flaunt her ‘dream prowess’, she didn’t. Instead, she said she just had a hunch.
Her sister’s name was Genny.(Their parents were obviously not the most inventive of namers. In fact, Genna herself has criticized her parents for not trying a little harder when it was time for them to name her. “You just had two kids and you couldn’t even think of two names with more difference than an alphabet!” But his father simply yawned whenever she brought this up and her mother just giggled- as was always her annoying habit. God rest their souls.)
But notwithstanding the similarities in names(and also the looks- they both shared their mother’s small eyes and their father’s long nose and had huge breasts that turned eyes), they were practically the opposite in character.
For while Genna was a dreamer (in more levels than one), Genny, on the other hand was the most pragmatic person you could hope to come across on an average day- and as if to prove her adherence to practicalities, not only was she an accountant, she was also married to one. (The couple also held hopes that their only child would also grow up and follow in their footsteps. They way they saw it, since money makes the world go round, accountants were definitely extremely important parts of the machinery responsible for that circular motion.)
But when little Johnny learned that his Genna aunty has dreamed of his little car lying under his bed, he all but flipped.
That childhood enthusiasm for an aunt who had a special relationship with dreams waned in the intervening years. For one thing, even more interesting topics like girls’ breasts and girls’ armpits and girls’ vagina began to infringe into his mind, making fascination for a dream that didn’t involve any of the aforementioned topics moot point.
However, when earlier today, Genna brought up the topic of dreams, as they were sitting in their living room drinking coffee- they were both heavy coffee drinkers which was one of the things that united them- that old fascination for aunty Genna’s dream-fixation was reignited in his mind.
Perhaps, it also had to do with the fact that Genna- who got divorced two years ago-lived all alone in this house now. Or maybe simply because Johnny was feeling bored- school was closed for summer and all his friends in the neighborhood had gone to visit relatives.
Whatever the reasons, when Genna told him, “Why don’t you tell me of any of your recent dreams?” Johnny found himself saying “Yes”, without much hesitation.
© Dhinoj Dings, 2017. All rights reserved.