“She wore blue velvet….” crooned Bobby Vinton as I watched the snow fall intermittently outside the window. I turned around and said, “Do you know what all this reminds me of?” No one bothered to acknowledge the interruption. Carrying on I recited, “Wave white wedded words shimmering on the dim tide.” I looked around the room hoping someone would recognize something about the line. Each person sat like a block of ice as though petrified by my voice. Muttering under my breath I gathered my books and huffed and puffed to the ‘Borrow’ counter. I waited for my turn very impatiently, shuffling on my sole two feet. When my turn finally came I dumped the books in front of a blued eyed, brown-haired guy. He looked at me quizzically. “I’m sorry ma’am but you cannot borrow all of these books at once.”
“I am regular.”
“We do not make exceptions.”
“I did not ask you to.” Confused, he ventured to state the library policy when I triumphantly placed six library cards in front of him. “I’m helping out a couple of friends who do not know how to look for books in the library.”
“I see.” Then complete silence as he mechanically went through the process of checking the books out. Once he was done he pushed the books towards me and muttered a ‘have a nice day’. I quickly piled the books and walked to the nearest table to shift a couple into my bag. I could hear a faint ringing in the background and I looked around to see who had forgotten to silence their phone. That’s when I realized that everyone was looking at me. The ringing seemed to increase in sound every second. Then I felt someone nudging me. My eyes fluttered open and I slowly rubbed the sleep dust from eyes. Dreaming again. Why am I always in the library reciting Joyce and making a complete fool of myself? I pushed myself up and petted my golden-haired canine. “What’s up girl? Hungry ehh? Gimme a minute to freshen up.” She jumped off the bed and followed her nose out of the door. I had a quick shower and grabbed my things from the chair where I had dumped them yesterday. I checked the machine for any messages and got a solemn “You have no messages”. As I made breakfast I tossed Tesla a slice of bread as and when she nudged me. “Tesla dear, I’m going out today. And I won’t be home for a really long time…” I stopped and contemplated my words. But why won’t I be home for a long time? I couldn’t seem to remember what it was that I was supposed to be rushing off to. I pulled out my phone from my back pocket and checked if I had put down a note. Nothing. Just the usual ‘Movies to figure out’ and ‘Random lines’. I clicked the “random lines’ note to see what was the last few lines I had put down –
your world crumbles like biscuits
powdering into fine sand
building castles under the covers
blue hooded death knocks,
the echo resonates through you temporary life
the curse remains as a reminder of your folly.
Hmm, blue hooded death ehh? Not bad at all. But I need to work on this. That’s when I heard a knock. Startled, I fumbled with my phone and left my eggs on the fire and walked to the front door. I couldn’t see anyone through the peep-hole so I opened the door and there was no one. I turned around wondering why Tesla didn’t bark when I saw a blue light from the far end of the hallway and then complete darkness.
I could feel myself coming around but I couldn’t move my body. I don’t feel like I have a body. I seemed to be able to see all around me at the same time. I could see in front of me and behind me and it was as though I had eyes all over me. I could hear a voice talking and soft chuckles once the prominent voice stopped speaking. I willed myself to follow the voice. I came out of the corner and saw numerous spherical globes filled with pale blue vapours floating around the room. The room was dark, as though painted black like the background of a portrait. It was like a black box with no windows or doors. There was no ventilation. Hmm, if the vapours escaped from the globes, they would also be able to get out of the box… The whole thing seemed absurd. That’s when the voice began speaking again. It was the brightest blue sphere in the box. Its voice resounded all around the room as though we were in college gym. “Hear this one my dear friends. I went to a museum – it had all the heads and arms from the statues that are in all the other museums!” All around me I could hear each sphere spurt out a giggle which sounded immensely foreign. The voice continued, “It’s been a rough day. I got up this morning, put on a shirt and a button fell off. I picked up briefcase and the handle came off. I’m afraid to go to the bath room.” I heard a cheerful guffaw from the corner of the box. Even before I could think I was there. The blue light emitted by this one was faint and it seemed liked it would go out any minute. If that can tell jokes then I talk. I tried to talk. But nothing ensued from my collection of molecules. I thought about what I wanted to say and hoped the faint blue could hear it. Nothing happened. Suddenly there was a pop behind me and slowly each blue light went out. Pop… pop…… pop… Pop… pop. Whatever was causing each light to die was working its way across the box and was nearing me. I panicked and I could feel myself being gently smothered and I heard a large pop from within myself and then complete silence.
I woke up on an extremely fluffy bed which for some reason was pale blue. I pushed myself out of the fluffy bed and heard a familiar voice. I couldn’t place it. It was disconcerting. I rubbed the sleep dust out of my eyes and walked to the door when I heard the voice again. I peeped through the peep-hole and saw a large shouldered man whose back was towards me.“Hear this one my friends. It is a poem about losing my glasses.
the place is unfamiliar
my face is bare
I’ve mislaid my glasses
I’ve looked in my glasses case
but they’re not there
and I need my glasses
to find my glasses
but I’ll be alright
I’ve got a spare pair
I read this in a book long ago.”
The sheer absurdity of the poem struck me. What the heck? Who is he? I turned around and looked at the room. It was beautiful, but everything was blue. The drapes covering the windows were dark blue with intricate white embroidery. The rosewood table had a single blue parchment with a blue quill next to it. I approached the table hesitantly. I picked up the parchment and this is what was written on it –
Custard, n. A detestable substance produced by a malevolent conspiracy of the hen, the cow and the cook.
I looked around to see if there was anyone else in the room. The sudden silence was disturbing. I tip toed to the door and peeped through the key hole and saw an eye staring right back at me. I started backwards and stumbled on the royal blue rug. The door opened and the last thing I saw was the barrel of a shot-gun and the blue velvet gown in the man’s hand.
I couldn’t see the audience because the spot light was blinding. I blinked and began speaking into the grey mike. “Here this one my friends,” I said with a flourish, “Two cannibals were eating a clown. One said to the other: ‘Does this taste funny to you?’” I could hear the collective laughter of the audience and was mildly reassured. “I overheard a man praying at a restaurant the other day. Dear Lord, for what we are about to receive, may we be truly able to afford it.” More laughter. I subtly glanced at my watch and saw that my time was up. I wrapped it up and walked of the stage to the green room. It was ironic that they called this room the green room because they had everything done in blue. Blue lamp shades, blue wall paper, blue carpet, blue glasses, a blue sofa. I didn’t wait around for my friend to finish his act like I always did; instead I grabbed my bag and walked out through the back door. He’ll be mad. Ahh, screw him. He knows where to find me. I’ll be a couple of shots ahead of him. I smiled at the thought and began crossing the road. I heard a shout from behind me and turned when the big blue bus rammed into me.
White. Everything was white. I couldn’t distinguish between the floors and the walls. The white ground was icy, like cold metal and I quickly got up wondering where I was. I couldn’t remember where I had been. There was nothing in sight. Just an immensely huge white room and me. That’s when I caught sight of my hands. They were royal blue. Completely blue. Blue like the ink I used to write with. In fact, I was blue all over. Did someone dip me in a bottle of ink? “Correct answer.” Shocked, I looked around but I couldn’t see anything or anyone.
“Who’s there?” I shouted. Silence. “You can’t hide forever you know.” There was no sound. I started shivering. It was cold and I was blue and I had no idea what was happening. I sat down on the icy white ground and wrapped my arms around my legs. This is a dream. This is a dream. This is a dream. ”Correct answer.” I got up, now scared and unsure as to what to do. I am dreaming. So I just need to wake up. I need to scare myself into waking up. How do I do that? I expected an answer like before but there was none. If I ask the right questions, somebody or something, somewhere will answer. “Correct premise.” Brilliant. But what are the right questions? I could hear a faint rumbling in the distance. Well, something is happening. That’s better than nothing. I waited for the rumbling to get closer and I saw that it was a huge military tank that would crush me irrespective of where I was. Umm, okay, I prefer the not happening situation. Dammit! I realized that there was no point in talking to myself and there was nothing I could do, so I sat down and closed my eyes and heard one line echoing in my head. “She wore blue velvet….” Blue velvet. Blue velvet. What is blue velvet? Why is this song in my head?! I didn’t get an answer from the mechanical voice. The tank was getting closer. Maybe I should shout it out. “BLUE VELVET!” Nothing happened. The tank steadily drove towards me. I was desperate now. I could feel the tears inching down my cheeks. I don’t want to die. I don’t want to die. Wait, but this is just a dream. “Correct answer.”
“That helps me alright!” I shouted back, angrily. I wiped the tears from my eyes and sat down once again. I looked at my blue hands and wondered how I came to be dreaming about this. I let the tears fall seeing there was no escape per se. I turned around to see how far the tank had progressed. It was clearly visible now. I turned back, not wanting to see the approaching tank as pictures of my crushed body flew through my head. Ohh, please stop. Please just stop. Wake up. Why won’t I wake up? That’s when I noticed faint blue fingerprints right next to me. I peered down and looked carefully. I held my hand over the prints and they seemed to be the same size. I got up expecting to see blue marks wherever I had sat and stood. But there was nothing except those faint prints. The rumbling was loud and the tank was inching closer. I fell on my knees and tried to think as to how my finger prints could possibly be on that white floor. What did I do? What was different?
“You sure are a marvellous help,” I said sarcastically. “Correct answer, correct question it seems…” I went over the last few minutes carefully. What happened? What did I do? I shouted blue velvet and then I sat down. Then what? Suddenly it clicked. I cried. The tears. “Correct assumption.”
My head snapped up and I gingerly poked my eye. I carefully placed the now wet finger on the white ground. There was bright blue finger print on the floor. Okay. Big deal. But this is not going to help me. “Wrong assumption.” I could still hear the song in my head. “She wore blue velvet, bluer than velvet were her eyes… “Blue velvet, her eyes…” They must mean something. But what? I followed the song in my head till it reached the line – “And I still can see blue velvet through my tears”. Through my tears. See blue velvet though my tears? “Correct rhetorical question.”
“So you do speak more than two words.” So I am supposed to cry my way out of this?
“You are joking right?” More silence. “Ugh, cry. Now I need to cry. Cry already. You are going to die if you don’t!” I was scared but the tears refused to flow. I looked up and saw that the tank was 50 metres away. Shit. I’m so screwed. I looked the other way and decided to run as far as I could and then try to cry. I took five steps and reached a white wall. Okay, no running away. I slithered down and sat against the wall. I tried to think about all the sad, depressing things I could but nothing worked. What about saliva? Why not saliva? I was slightly disgusted by thought but I licked my finger and pressed the ground. It worked! Shit. It works. But how exactly does it help? I looked up. 40 metres. Should I draw? “Correct question.” Okay, I have to draw. What do I draw? No answer. “A little help would be nice.” I remembered all the movies I had watched. If I draw a door can I walk through it? “Correct question.”
“Finally! I’m getting out of this white hell hole.” I licked both my index fingers and drew the outline of a door on the wall. Nothing happened. What’s wrong?! Ahh, door knob. I drew a door knob and the blue outlined door inched open. I pushed it open and shut it behind me. I was scared to turn around. I looked at the door in front of me and realized that there was no door. The door was gone. Instead there was a layer of soft blue velvet. I looked sideways and the whole room was covered with a layer of blue velvet. The floor, the walls the ceiling was all covered with blue velvet. It wasn’t a big room. I could see each corner. I slowly crumpled down. From one horror to another. How is this even a dream? I didn’t hear the voice this time. Instead, on the opposite wall I saw a slit opening and a package fell out. I ran to the opposite wall and searched for the slit but there was no opening there. I looked at the brown paper wrapped package. Is this is a bomb? Am I supposed to escape from this room too? I opened the package and found a bottle of ink, a blue quill and a dozen blue parchments. Am I supposed to write letters now? To whom? But why? I just want to wake up!! More silence. Just the silence I had yearned for when I went about my normal day. Nothing seemed to happen in this room. Oddly I never seemed to feel hungry or thirsty. This is a dream. This is a dream. I kept chanting that or the song. I knew each and every line in the song. There is ink. There is a quill.There is parchment. Might as well write.
“She wore blue velvet….” crooned Bobby Vinton as I watched the snow fall intermittently outside the window. I turned around and said, “Do you know what all this reminds me of?”