Thursday, 9 April 2009

Unforgatable Dreams

Jit Man Basnet

It was another gloomy day, and I was not able to recognise day from night. I had a dream in which I was in another world. I was unable to recollect the scene exactly, but I felt strange feelings. My head was full of peculiar and terrifying images. Many fearful shapes moved around in my head. The frightening images haunted
my mind. There were men with guns, dead bodies, and pictures of drowning human beings that moved to and fro in my mind. I felt as if I was in a graveyard, or perhaps I was already in hell. Those horrible images were a result of the classical mythology in Garudh Puran I was familiar with, which deals with how bad people suffer in hell. Other captives had had these same kinds of nightmares and exchanged their stories of them later with me.
It troubled me for a long time and continues to haunt me. Though I was not fully conscious, I was curious about my surroundings. I heard the guards cough frequently, and I acquainted myself with a detainee who was sleeping next to my tent.
I had many nightmares. I used to cry in my sleep but would wake up with the guards kicking me.
“You terrorist!” they yelled. “You have killed many people and now you are crying at night.”
I had to remain silent as they reprimanded me. I thought their hearts were filled with stone. They never showed any sympathy. I was tagged as a terrorist, and there were many innocent people like me who were blamed. I knew that the guards knew nothing about me.
Someone asked to use the toilet. The guard ignored him and instead kicked my cot. I guessed it was morning.
“Oh, bloody Maoist, you are not dead yet,” he said.
I didn’t respond to him but instead moved my body a little. Then he left me.
Later I learned that this was their method of checking the condition of captives so they could report it to the next duty officer when their shift finished. I understood that there was a possibility of finding dead bodies early in the morning so this process was necessary to check who was dead and who was alive.
Gradually, I realised there were new guards. They would ask many unnecessary questions whenever they saw new detainees.
“Where’s your house? When did you join the Maoists? Where were you arrested?” they would ask me.
I replied to all these questions.
These were the normal questions new captives were asked by the guards. They sometimes spoke in a lower voice: “A new terrorist has come!” Then I knew there were more detainees in custody.
After a while, I heard someone blowing a musical instrument and some people chanting religious hymns. I even heard bells ringing. I was amazed and wondered how the army had become involved in worshiping God in such a graveyard-like place.
The barracks was actually a place for “sacrificing men and women,” and there was no point in worshiping God. I thought, What was the use of worshiping God where people cried in extreme pain?
After about an hour, the hymn stopped. Then I slept.
The next morning I heard the movement of people here and there. I also heard some crows crying as if they had found a corpse. I imagined that some person like me had lost their life.
Instantly, I thought that these crows might be broadcasting the message of my death. There were armed guards standing nearby. I heard some people weeping far away in a desolate area.