June 04, 2009

The Pond In My Dream

The Pond
One night in 2001, some months after my last job in the government was terminated, I was stuck in bed gazing at the ceiling and was in deep thought on what to do then with my life. I had a job offer from a friend but the pay was way too low compared with my last paycheck that I much rather tried some other options then, like taking the bar examinations the following year. It was hard turning down that job offer especially when the offer came from someone I knew too well. What if he had needed my services that badly? But then, I had a future to take care of and so I had to inform him quite honestly that I was preparing for the bar that summer and it wouldn’t be in my best interest to have my hands full on an accounting/marketing job. I had to take some risk I had decided then and go for the farsighted plan that could offer me probable long-term benefits than be stuck with a dead-end job.

Perhaps it was too much of youthful diffidence in me that at some nights I had shivered just thinking how the realities of existence is not what many of us had supposed to be when we were much younger, that the world is at times a dog-eat-dog existence where one must claw up the ladder just about every time, even to the point of elbowing others and stepping on their shoes just in order to find a semblance of meaningful existence.

That particular night, the weather was so warm that even when the electric fan hummed at its fullest, I had perspired so monstrously that I could almost hear my sweat dripping from my skin. Drip…drip…drip…I turned on my stereo and listened to an aria of Andrea Bocelli and the coolness of his voice made me feel a little better. Conte le partira, Paesi che non ho mai…Vel dutto ver sutto conti….Conte le partira…

And then I fell into a sleep that wasn’t like sleep at all for it felt so much like I have just glided from one dimension of existence to another. Unbelievable as it may seem and yet those who believe in parallel existence may just sympathize with me on this. Perhaps you’d start to think that I have become so much of an inexhaustible dreamer that I started to live more of my life in dreams than in the real world. I won’t blame you for that for sometimes I feel that way already.

In that dream, I found myself suddenly bursting into a barren landscape where the ground was red all over and the air was smoky as yellow smog floated like grimes on the atmosphere. I gazed around and I could see a nearby hill gradually rose from the ground and I could see wide plains and gray mountains from afar. The sky was red, like a bleeding wall to my sight. I could see no bushes or any form of greeneries around and if you’d seen some photographs of Mars, then you might have the best of idea of how the place appeared to be. The air was so still that I could hear no sound whatsoever that every step I made I could clearly hear. I felt my feet a little harassed by the crackling ground below me, those plates of mud solidified by too much dryness. I decided to walk further until I reach a point where the smog cleared and in a sudden I saw a small pond just in front of me, with a leafless tree standing along its shoreline. The tree reminded me of the guava tree that I used to climb when I was a child. I could remember that guava tree only too well because I had fallen from it twice before and it was there that I saw a strange creature of the night, a huge manlike being with the head of a horse, with some burning object flickering from its mouth, perhaps a giant cigar, just like what our elders had always said about kapres.

I stared into the pond and saw that the water was a familiar blend of yellow and green, like dew, and it was so calm that its surface didn’t moved at all. That was how I reckoned that it was a very deep pond by just looking at it. Shallower waters are always fragile to the eyes.

The water in the pond looked so inviting and it seemed to have spoken to me like it had a life of its own. I went to my knees and smelled the water. The scent that it evoked gave me a mild exhilaration of emotions that it became all the more tempting for me to dive into the water. I touched the water again and a small amount of it in my hands was enough to quench the waterlessness of my body. Still, I was hesitant to go into the water as its depth intimidated me so much and I wasn’t a good swimmer. Suddenly I heard some rustling noise behind me and I immediately turned to look at the direction of the sound. As the smog cleared, a women in a white gown appeared and she initially smiled at me. It was a little unusual that I never felt any kind of fear the very moment that I saw that floating woman even though as I write this particular passage, I have goosebumps all over me. I stared at her and wondered what’s the purpose of her calling me into this dream. I wanted to ask her why she wanted to meet me but spoke nothing instead. In that dream, I did not remember uttering any words; in fact not a single word was spoken by anyone in that dream. I really had initially felt that it was the woman who had called me to that dream and that she had some important message for me.

I wanted to express so many things to the woman hovering just in front of me but I struggled to mumble even a single word. After a while, the woman stared at me so intently and it was a little strange for me to realize that she could actually speak to me by just merely looking at me. And slowly I had also realized that I could get all my thoughts across to her even without uttering any word. She told me through mind talk that there was something that I should know and some person had called me into the dream and not her. Then she moved slowly towards me but as I thought that she was coming closer to me, she actually went farther and farther from me until she disappeared from my view. It was a completely spellbinding distortion of distance and space.

Then my gaze was turned towards the nearby hill that I had mentioned earlier and there appeared another person that was also in white gown, just like the woman had worn. I thought at first that the woman and the person floating above the hill was one and the same person but as I examined more carefully, the person on the top of the hill was actually an old man with a white flowing hair that was too long; too long in fact that I had mistaken him for a woman in a glance. He had the face of a very old man and to tell you quite honestly, the old man looked like Leonardo da Vinci, the one most of us had seen in many self-portraits of the legendary Italian artist.

The old man caught my eye and without saying a word, he ordered me to dive into the water. I hesitated at first but the old man was too insistent that he kept on pointing towards the pond. Again, it was sort of a distortion of space and distance that despite of the distance of the hill from where I stood, I could see the old man quite so clearly like he was just nearby.

As if the old man had suddenly gained control of my body and mind---even from a distance---I slowly took steps towards the tree and climb it, this despite my clear wavering. My climb was swift like I was a trained scaler of trees. As a child, many of my playmates teasingly dubbed me as “Monkey!” for I had always loved climbing trees when afternoon came. On a period of the day when most kids in the neighborhood took their catnaps, I go play by my lonesome instead and climb trees. My favorite tree to climb then was the Datiles beside a small fishpond that bore so many ripe fruit that I picked and gobbled in my mouth. I have grown to like the sweet nectar coming from the Datiles fruit. The guava tree on the one hand does not bore any fruit that we kids rarely climbed it. There was also a Chico tree about five thousand feet farther from the Datiles and it is where most of us kids love to climb the most and where we play catch-me-if-you-can games atop that huge tree, would you believe. It was so dangerous to play games while hanging on branches because a simple mistake or a broken branch would surely send the unfortunate kid plummeting down to the hard ground. It was so risky but as kids, we did not realize that.

Let’s go back to the dream. And so I was finally atop the leafless tree looking downward to the small but deep pond below me. I had gained enough balance on top of it that I virtually stood upright like I was standing on a diving platform. The height of the tree was a little mesmerizing to me, about the same height of a two-story house and this had made me more hesitant of jumping into the water. The particular inhibition I felt when I was atop the leafless tree always gets back to me as a familiar memory every time I was in the same circumstances in the real world, even when I was still a child. This dream of the pond happened only about four years ago but some scenes in that dream came to me as a form of déjà vu even when I was still so young and fond of bathing in many rivers and oceans that are found in Zamboanga. Perhaps just like any locality in the Philippines, Zamboanga has just too many places where one could enjoy the water, from the beaches in Cawa-Cawa (its so polluted now that bathing there is prohibited) to the gushing riverways in Pasonanca, far deep into the forest. It’s sort of a strange distortion of time and space when the scenes in a more recent dream came as déjà vu in my childhood days.

It took me some moments in deciding whether to finally jump into the water or not; until that final moment I held my breath so steadily and immediately dived into the water. I felt those moments while I was on the air, as if in a slow motion, as my body plunged right into the water. I felt those feeling of free falling again, like falling from cliffs and beds in my other childhood dreams. Finally, I hit the water and heard the water splashing just as I was entering it. I found myself inside the pond looking upward to the surface. Above me I could see a ray of light while down below was complete darkness. The water was so cool to my body that I felt a sudden elation and regretted for a while why It took me a while to decide to jump into the water. I felt a general happy feeling, an indescribable feeling that made me forget all those previous fears and hesitations I had earlier. The water was solid and thick like it wasn’t any ordinary water at all and I could feel them strongly on my skin. I did not sway my arms or shuffle my feet in order to stifle my fall into the pond for mostly, I had enjoyed being inside the water that as I fell deeper, while I just let my body gradually settle into its depth, the more feeling of elation I had felt. My body went deeper and deeper into the pond and I did not fight my fall even though there was some moment that I realized that the pond may be a bottomless pit that even while I was getting deeper and deeper into it, I could see nor feel any ground below it. Worry started to descend upon me when I could not still see the bottom of the pond. I started to panic but before panic had taken hold of me, I felt some hands grabbing my shoulders and suddenly I saw two persons pulling at me and steering me towards the surface of the water. The three of us swiftly returned to the surface of the water and once I came out from it, I paddled my legs so furiously to stay afloat and see for myself who were the two persons that pulled me out of the water. The two led me to the shore and I climb towards a drier area and stared back into the pond. I examined the two men who remained afloat in the pond as I realized how strong they were for they had pulled me out of the water in such a swift manner; they must have been learned swimmers. They remained afloat the water and yet I could not see them move their hands or feet. It was a cunning way to swim I thought then and I concluded that they were not just ordinary swimmers, but extraordinary ones. I gazed at the faces of the two men in the pond and then I started to realize that they both looked alike and that they may as well be twins and that they both looked like me although they had longer and much muscular body. I mistrusted them for a while for they seem to be mocking me by pretending to look like me and my distrust had become more emphasized when the two men maintained stern faces all throughout, like they were soldiers, like it was illegal for them to smile or show a gentler countenance. I turned my gaze towards the hill and wanted to ask the old man what was going on and I saw him still hovering and his white dress flowing steadily from a passing wind that I did not feel or see, as my immediate surroundings remained so very still and not a single sound could be heard.

The old man stared at me so meaningfully and then I could see how he had the gentlest of faces, one that evoked great love and adoration that I immediately felt assured that he won’t lead me to any harm or injury. He had seemed to be so fatherly and I could feel his great warmth even from a distance. He signaled with his hands to me once more and urged me to dive into the water. This time, my earlier hesitation and uncertainties had already vanished and I climbed the tree with great confidence. I dived once more into the water. I heard the water made the splashing sound again, a noise that was refreshing to my ears and once again, I felt the elation that remained indescribable; a certain feeling of sudden joy, like a narcotic perhaps if one could actually know how this element works.

I floated again inside the water and all around me was the thick yellowish-green hue of the pond and I could see no walls nor bottom but the water was clearly refreshing and my soul was lifted again. I still did not fight the gravitational pull of the bottom of the pond, which actually appeared to be without end, as if it goes on and on until forever. I had wondered what the bottom of the pond looked like and what it had to offer me. Maybe there was a lost kingdom down there or a secret hideaway that could give me more joy and elation. The feeling of elation was so addictive that I wanted to go deeper and deeper but the two men who looked like me appeared again in the scene and pulled me out of the water. This time, they did not have to grab me as I rose with them towards the surface of the water and I had risen on my own accord---they just had to notify me this time that I was already getting too deep into the water. I remade and remade my dive into the pond and clearly I had grown ponder of it all the more that with every splashing of the water---as I break into them by a nose dive---the feeling of elation gets more and more emphasized. The last time I went into the depth of the pond, the two men did not have to grab me anymore for I have already decided on my own to rise to the surface of the water when I had reckoned on my own that I was already so deep into the pond. I was left alone the moment I finally gained enough discipline and patience not to go too deep into the water.

The last scene of this particular dream was me standing on the edge of the pond and watching the old man swaying his arms to and fro, from east to west, from north to south, like he was dancing some sort of an exotic dance that was completely unique and never heard of. It was a ceremonial dance it had seemed. As he swayed his arms from side to side, the wind move more dynamically and the yellowish tint of the atmosphere vanished gradually but swiftly and became clear like the atmosphere that we have now. And clouds in the horizon suddenly appeared and moved like there was a swirling storm until they settled over the hills and mountains. The old man was apparently controlling the weather and he was making the environment more and more pleasant to the sight. The brown hills became green and grasses and bushes started to grow from the ground until all around me was thick with lush greeneries and there was a forest just nearby. Then the sky became blue from its former hazy shade of red and I could see winged creatures gliding through it and everything became brighter and sunnier.

That is why I have said once before that when I saw an angel dance in the Manila sky in the year 2002, while I was there preparing for the bar examinations, the dance of the angel was so familiar to me like I have seen them once before. Now I can now point only too well that it was in the dream of the pond that I had seen the dance first. Nights after I saw that dancing angel in the sky, I was alone in the boarding house where I stayed in Manila (the boarding house was named BH Boarding House, a former office building that was turned into a students’ lodge, and it is just right beside a catholic center named after St. Lorenzo along Legarda St. in Sampaloc, Manila) as the other occupants went for a weekend getaway. It was nearly midnight and I was still awake reading law books. I felt the urge to drink some coffee so I went to the kitchen to prepare hot water. As I entered my room, I felt that someone was following me and I turned immediately to examine my back and for a split second, I saw the image of the old man hanging just above the air, right at my back and he looked so much like the old man in one of my dreams, which is this dream of the pond, and no matter how I saw that apparition, the old man looked like Leonardo da Vinci with a very long white hair, sharp noses and a very old face. I should have scurried away out of fear of the apparition but it was strange that I had felt no fear whatsoever in that particular moment. It was a span of days in my life that angels started to appear in my view, whenever I stared at the night sky and shadows on the wall and a bearded man on a huge throne that perhaps, the sight of the old man hovering just above me was not that surprising to me anymore, that I just disregarded it and proceeded to read my law books that night.

In the morning right after I had dreamt of the pond, I immediately went to search for a pen and paper so that I could write down the details of this vivid dream. At that time, I hadn’t still an inkling that I would be seeing angels in the future but I had felt so strongly then that the dream was too real for comfort like it was a story by itself, complete with plot and characters. I had in fact written down the details of that dream that morning and even typed it in several coupon bonds in order that I may be able to keep and preserved it. The way I wrote down the tale of the dream was in the form of a short story that in fact when I finished writing it, I had mailed a copy of it to the popular magazine Free Press hoping that it would be published as a literary piece. But after waiting and watching out for over one-too-many many issues, I have given up expecting that it would be published. Maybe, if one has connections in the Free Press organization, you could confirm the veracity of my story by looking for that submitted piece titled “The Pond” which I sent through mail in 2001. I lost the only copy of that written narrative about that pond and so I have to reconstitute it this way, remembering the details even without any aid of past writings, and completely writing from spontaneous memory.

What did the dream meant to me? Perhaps you might ask this question. For me, it was a dream that foretold to me so eerily of the things that I have to encounter in the future and how every dream of mine has a certain singular thread in them that every one of it evokes important messages to me and to humanity as a whole. I’d elaborate more in the coming entries about these messages because this entry has gotten too long and long entries often go unread. So I hope you’d be watching out for my next entries.