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Papa, please help me to Sleep

By Nirmal Kishor Prasad

It was already 11.45 PM. Too late for a healthy bedtime, my 8 year-old daughter Anya, as usual requested me to come and help her to sleep, “Papa, sleep is not coming! Please help me to sleep.”  In response to her request, my reply was as usual, “You’re going to bed so late, how sleep will come to you, and now sleep has gone to attend someone else!”

This is one desire she used to place before her papa almost every night. I’ve to attend her despite of any mood.

While we’re in bed, she used to ask many funny things like my childhood stories, why we’re so afraid of Dadaji, our childhood games, nuisances at school which we did in our time and such stories.  She used to take pleasure out of all these. Our talk continues, continues for hours and all of sudden she will raise few unusual questions, arguments and finally there will be lot of laughter.

During our interaction, whenever I feel like sleepy, my word falters and there occurs disconnect between the sequence and logic in narration, she can very well guess that I’m about to sleep, at that moment her sweet voice touches my ear breaking the silence, “Papa, sleep is not coming,” and I’ve to awake and continue again.

Many times, it so happened that she had realized Papa is almost sleeping, happily advised, “Papa, sleep, I’m also sleeping.” One can never know when she would wake up and request Papa again to help her for sleep! This is the chemistry of love between papa and his sweet little daughter where papa feels the unmatched eternal contentment and little daughter gets satisfaction of being secured and safe from all anxieties of the world in pretty hug of dearest papa.

Don’t know, but this may be the rationale why every girl has special attachment to her papa with firm believe that no one can shower that love, security and safety in this world other than her papa. This may be a myth, but later course of her life, many times such occasions come to her life when she feels Papa the best!

We’re in the bed, Anya had put her left hand in my chest, looking at me said, “Papa, tell me your childhood stories.”

I said, “I’ve already told you every story of my childhood, nothing is left…”

“Papa, every person has some secret which he/she doesn’t wish to share with anybody, even not within oneself.”

“Means! I didn’t get you?” I said.

She explained, “See, I’ve one secret, at times I put my thumb in my mouth and other index finger in my nose simultaneously, which nobody likes, mamma gets angry, you also warn me. This has become a habit to me, unwillingly it happens. I know, it’s a bad habit but still it happens…this secret I don’t wish to share with anybody, not even with myself…”

I took a pause then said, “Oh, I see…I’d one such secret when I was of your age, probably I’d also told you before. I knew it’s a bad habit but still, unwillingly often small portion of my tongue was peeping out in between my lips, for this I was regularly warned by my mamma, didi and bhaiya. Sometimes, they lightly hit my tongue by folding their thumb and index finger together.  It took long time to come out of that habit. This secret I never wanted to share with others, through just shared to my Anya!”

She was quite satisfied with my secret as it had confirmed her anxiety of a raised curiosity that everyone has some secret in life which he/she does not want to share with anyone.

After a while, to continue talk further, she said, “Papa, have you ever dreamt of such incidences which are dreadful and frightening, where something very adverse is happening to you and you’re not able to escape despite of your all best efforts?”

“Oh…yes, many times I have seen the same incidence, a big snake (anaconda) is after me. I want to escape from its bite, I’m running fast, still faster, it is coming too close to me, anytime it may bite me, kill me. I’m feeling suffocated. At once, I awake and found myself alive. What a great solace! Afterwards, I try to forget the incidence…” I said to her.

“Papa, your dream is very exciting and adventurous…” She said in reply.

“This dream I used to see when I was young. Now-a-days I’m not seeing Anaconda rushing after me. Yes, another fearful dream I have been seeing repeatedly. It’s equally terrible and exciting!” I said.

As expected, Anya had the eagerness to know that dream.

“Papa, what is that dream?” she said.

“It’s a full moon night. Everything on the earth appears just silvery by the moon’s intense light. I’m far away from home, missing the right path to my residence. Wandering here and there, reached a dense forest. Nobody is there, there is deep silence. I saw a very old mansion (haveli). It also looks silvery. Suddenly cold breeze starts blowing. I’m inside the mansion, seeing statues, trying to recognize them.  It seems as if I know a few of them. All statues at once became alive and started expressing their sorrows by crying. They elongated their hands for seeking help from me. I’m helpless, can’t do anything, even I can’t escape from there. After a while, I woke up and realized that it’s a horrible dream and I am safe!” I narrated the dream which comes very often to me.

During my narration, many times Anya had come very close to me. It may be terrifying story for a child of her age, but she loves to hear such horror stories when her papa is with her.

“Oh…Papa, it’s just another horror movie!” she said.

After a pause, she again said, “Papa, will you hear my dreadful dream?”

“Yes, why not…” I said very casually.

“Papa, many times I too see a dream repeatedly like you. This dream is very painful for me. Seeing this dream I’ve also cried a lot but don’t know the reason why I dream such incidence!” She said.

“And what is that painful dream of my dear Anya!” I encouraged her to reveal.

“Papa, I see a dream where you have left me alone somewhere. After sometime I find none of you there. This is a place where neither you, nor mamma, or bhaiya is there. I’m absolutely alone, alone in this world.  After some time, I start crying. My loud cry is very feeble and unheard by the surrounding intense noises. From that unknown place, even I’m not able to recap the path of return to my home. I look around for help, anyone to guide me to my place of destination.  But alas, nobody is there in my favour! Nobody can even hear my voice in noisy crowd. I realize that I’m lost, lost forever. Papa, I never come again to you!” she said staring my open eyes.

I was just stunned! Anya was looking towards me with glittering eyes. I too was looking at her. After divulging her dream, she tightly hugged me.

After a pause, she further said, “Papa, just see, the dream is so frightening and painful that my eyes have become moist even now…”

I could hear her choked voice and see her eyes moist. She was completely drowned in the sea of emotional outbursts by that worst ever dream!

I couldn’t understand what to say and how to react! My eyes were also wet. I put my palm over her forehead and appeased her with gentle touch.  After a while, I said, “Beta, you might have seen some movies or TV serials, which had impacted your dream. I know my dear Anya is a brave girl; she will take on all big challenges of life happily and come out successful, never frightened by such dreams, rather her brave gesture will terrify such dreams, and they’ll never venture to my sweetheart!”

 “Yes, Papa, don’t worry, I’ll never succumb to such terrible dreams.  Whatever comes in my path, I will overcome them with courage and smile,” said Anya.

She went on looking at me for quite some time and the same way me too.

I started patting her, murmuring all time favorite song from her papa, “Anya is my sweetheart, dearest to all, friendly, lovely and smart, too courageous and never ever fall…”

After sometime she went into deep sleep.

I was awake for quite a long period.  How can papa be in rest, when his Anya has consciously or unconsciously unlocked her angst in the shape of terrible dream - a vital aspect of her future life pattern to her papa anticipating him as sensible person! I know she had a dream, but why such annoying dream? Why such loneliness? Why she felt as if she has lost?

At that moment, many questions were clashing in my mind. I was wandering in the twilight for ray of hope which can enlighten the answer!

My mind was overfilled by possible causes for such unconventional dream of Anya. Is it a fact that today little children specially girls are becoming more matured ahead of their age with free flow of news, views in the electronic media like Television, film, eMagazines and in print media like news papers and magazines? Do they understand the social evils, crimes that are occurring very often in our society?  Are all these unconsciously impacting heavily to their subconscious minds in the shape of such terrible dreams?

In fact, I was taking to myself, my conscience, my soul. Though advancement of technologies has landed us in global village and it appears that we’re more closure to each other through electronic gadgets by communications, net meeting, but paradox is that we are becoming more introverts, confined to smart phones, laptops and notebooks and becoming shrunk and unsocial to each other in family as well as outsides. Today, children don’t go outside to play in evening with friends, attend schools in 2nd shift i.e. from 12.30 PM to 6 PM, go to bed after 1 o’clock night, get up in the morning around 10.30 to 11 AM, and fond of junk foods. Today, children talk and share less among family members, devote more time with internet, earphones and smart phones. Are all these gratuitous interests, unwillingly forcing them towards isolation, loneliness!

I was becoming restless!

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