36. Strange Dream

 
Thirteen years have come and gone since Subarata passed away, yet she remains embedded very deeply in my everyday life, always present as though a part of me and my experience of living. Guru told me, “She is not around you, but inside you.” I don’t really have visitations by her, or dreams – these would imply a separation only bridged by such experiences, an occasional coming together from separate realms. Rather, in some way she has left an imprint of our friendship and our bond in my being, and we somehow remain together. There is no forgetting, because she never really left my life in the first place.
 
Recently, though, I did have a very human encounter with her. I lay down one afternoon for a nap, feeling suddenly tired. I don’t think that it was she who came to me, but me, my spirit or soul or perhaps only my imagining reaching out to her. I was neither sleeping nor dreaming, when quite suddenly I was travelling very far away. There was a strange impression, as though I was venturing to another, co-existing realm and had passed beyond our human sense of time.
 
Then I saw her and reached out both of my hands to her – we were each a little awkward after such a long time apart. She seemed quite thin, frail and vulnerable, and I felt rather sad, as though I had neglected her.
 
Later, wanting to talk with her, I found myself climbing up a very familiar staircase that I knew so well. Subarata lay under a blue quilt and was about to sleep, and I was trying to speak with her, to recapture our old closeness. A little distance had grown between us, though not deeply. I understood that she had been working for Guru, a separate mission far away. I felt again my old promise to Guru to look after her as her human friend, and sitting there, I resolved to move back to be with her. Then I was travelling back to my room and my life here, and resuming wakefulness.
 
When I returned, I knew the experience had been real. I lay there in wonderment at the great mystery of it all, the parallel worlds, the unremembered realms, the littleness of our human life. It was puzzling to remember this place I had visited. It seemed so familiar – the staircase, the room. Sitting on the edge of my bed, I trawled back through all the places where we had lived together, but I could not find it among the places we had shared and I began to realise it was not in this world. I was remembering somewhere else from a faraway time. I wondered if my decision to go back and join her was perhaps a premonition of my own death, as if I had decided to join her again, wherever she was, after a long absence.