Esther Leihang | July 2022
“I had the creepiest dream last night,” Kimi said over her cup of morning tea.
“You and your crazy dreams,” her mother scoffed.
“What happened in this one?” Kimi’s sister, however, asked with great interest. Kimi was known in her family to have elaborate dreams – dreams that were entire stories, dreams of entire conversations with people who had passed, dreams about people and places she had no knowledge of but seemed real enough, elaborate fantastic dreams. Her dreams were tales worthy of bedtime stories.
“We were travelling, Pa Sanga and I,” Kimi said, referring to her driver. “And we felt that there was someone following us. But the road was completely deserted and there was no one around. In fact he kept asking why there was no one around because surely we would have met at least one other vehicle seeing as this road led to Aizawl! Every day someone goes to Aizawl, if not anybody else in their own cars but at least the Maxicab services!”
“Or the areca nut transporters,” her father grimly interjected.
“Yes, thank you,” Kimi said. “Did you know one time we went past them and we counted up to 200 trucks before we gave up counting because there was no use?”
“Where? On the road?”
“No, at Khankawn,” Kimi said. “They weren’t permitted out so they just sort of stood in line with their bags upon bags of areca nuts. It was crazy.”
“Are they still there?”
“Somehow I don’t think they are. Definitely not all of them, but they find ways – I don’t really know – and then they go on different routes, some even make new roads; it’s insane!”
“And your dream was about areca nuts?” her sister pointedly asked.
Kimi laughed. “Okay so the road was completely deserted! Which it shouldn’t be because of all that –”
“You said it was deserted that other time you travelled during the first phase of Covid-19 lockdown,” her sister interjected. “Like a ghost town.”
“Do you want me to tell you the dream or not?”
“Somebody give me tea!” her father said.
“It was completely deserted, the road I mean. But as alone as we knew we were, we kept feeling there was someone tailing us. You know how the hairs at the back of your neck rise
s? We felt that. And then I thought okay maybe we are hungry and we are imagining things so I said let’s eat our tiffin. So we pulled over at the side of the road. I was just about to open my door when we heard a clear thud of a vehicle door opening and then closing. There was no one there! So my hand stayed where it was and the pair of us just waited in abject fear.”
“I really want tea,” her father said.
“And we heard the rustle of leaves and we knew and felt someone approaching us from behind us. We were completely paralyzed. Then someone knocked on the glass of the window on the driver’s side. You know how our windows are sun-proofed? So we couldn’t see the face with absolute clarity but the silhouette was telling. That was Pa Sanga! Or someone who bloody well resembled him!”
“But Pa Sanga was sitting with you on the driver seat,” her father said, momentarily forgetting his tea.
“Exactly! And the man outside was saying something but it was completely muffled so we couldn’t hear. Which should not be the case because it is not like our Bolero’s glass windows are sound-proof. So Pa Sanga looked at me and said: Miss, I think we should roll down the glass. I said: no, absolutely not, that man does not look human. Pa Sanga quietly said: he looks like me. I said: exactly. Meanwhile the man outside rapped on the glass again. Pa Sanga said: I think we need to roll down the glass, Miss. And he rolled down the glass and I woke up.”
Kimi told her dream to her driver as they were driving back from Aizawl to Champhai the following day.
Pa Sanga laughed. “You have a strange mind sometimes,” he said.
“I get strange dreams sometimes, yes,” she agreed. “One time when I was in hostel, I saw a beautiful meadow in my dream with an old rundown godown nearby. I didn’t think much of it until sometime later I was going through this new girl’s photo album and I saw that exact scene in one of her photos! That was spooky.”
“Maybe you’re a little prophetic,” he said and laughed. “That might be handy.”
“If only that were true,” she said and joined in the laughter.
“Should we stop for sugarcane juice, Miss?” he asked once they reached Tuirial. “They have lemon juice to add if you want. It’s quite refreshing.”
“Let’s,” she agreed.
They had sugarcane and lemon juice from a girl who was wearing too much makeup but was perfectly friendly and charming. She told them it looked like a good day to be on the road and that she had never been to Champhai. Kimi told her to come visit one day because Champhai had many sights interesting for the Mizo.
“Most of our folktales have their origin there,” Pa Sanga said. “In fact, 90 out of a100 probably!”
“Is that true?” the girl said cheerfully. “I will definitely have to go there someday. We might have some relatives there that I can visit. Would you guys want to buy a bottle of juice?”
“They’re always nice,” Pa Sanga said once they got back to the Bolero. “People say it is because of the competition.”
“Possibly,” Kimi agreed.
She looked out of the window and wistfully at the river. It was not very imposing right now. It would be so much better to spend the day by the river than cooped up inside a metal container on wheels.
“Oh,” she said suddenly. “That vehicle registration is so close to ours!”
“Which one, Miss?”
“That one, see? The white Bolero in front of us?” she asked.
“But Miss… that’s our registration!” Pa Sanga exclaimed.
A chill went through her. Her dream.
“How can that be?” she asked quietly. “You can’t have two vehicles using the same registration.”
“It’s also the same make and model as our Bolero. It also has the government property sticker, Miss. I think that may be us.”
Kimi scoffed but it was only to reassure herself that such a ridiculous notion cannot possibly be realized in real life.
“Do you believe in prophecy, Miss?” he asked. His voice was also quiet now.
“It was only a dream,” she replied. “Just a strange dream. I have weird dreams all the time.”
“How did you say it ended?”
“It didn’t really – whoever it was who looked like your silhouette knocked on the driver’s window and you rolled down the glass and that was it. Nothing happened!”
“Maybe we should see it through, do you think?”
“If they stop, maybe.” She shrugged. “Also, maybe we’re tired and seeing things and our minds are playing tricks on us. Look – we aren’t the only ones on the road. In my dream, the road was entirely deserted.”
“Although if my knowledge of paranormal fiction is to be engaged, I would argue that maybe their existence is tied to ours because we’re connected or are the same people. Maybe they only exist for us. And vice versa, of course. But only like a dream. Maybe they are my dream manifesting.”
“Ah Miss, that is not a comforting thought.”
“They’re pulling over,” Pa Sanga said. “I think I want to go and check. You stay in the vehicle, Miss.”
He was out before she could protest. All the hair on her body were standing. She had never felt fear like this. But she wanted to see for herself. After all, it had been her dream.
So she opened her own door and walked out.
“Miss, you should not come out. It may not be safe.”
“If it is the paranormal, who really is safe?” Kimi asked.
Pa Sanga did not have an answer for that. So he rapped on the window and said, “Hello. We just wanted to talk to you if that is alright with you?” To her he said, “Miss just stay behind me in case –”
Of course there was no real way to finish that sentence.
“Is the glass down?” Kimi asked, approaching gingerly.
“No,” he said. “And Miss, they appear to be us.”
“What? You can see them?”
“Not really but it’s like looking at a very dirty mirror. And the person in the passenger seat… could be you.”
“I want to see.”
“Miss, I think he is rolling the glass down.”
Mumang: Dream (Mizo)
Esther Leihang is a hobby writer and a reader of fiction, mostly sci-fi and fantasy literature. She is inspired by the writings of Douglas Adams, JK Rowling, Andrew Kaufman, Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett and the likes. Her voyage in fiction is often interrupted by her job in the civil services which pays for her daily eggs and tea. In the hopes of hitching a ride through the galaxy in a passing TARDIS, she knows where her towel is. At all times.
Photo via Unsplash
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