The Bull Run
It is afternoon or nearing noon. A friend (whose face I can’t see, but I ‘know’ she is my classmate from college) and I are walking down a road. It’s one of those narrow roads of Bengaluru – the one you find in any old area of the city that’s not been touched by builders. In my dream, I’m in one such older part of Koramangala. Anyway we are walking and from somewhere this huge black bull appears. It’s like one of those Spanish fighting bulls.
Next thing I know my friend and I have run inside a compound of sorts to get away from the bull. There is no house here – just a ledge...a porch actually....what we call as ‘jagli’ in Kannada. Seeing that the bull will be upon us, I communicate with my friend to clamber on to the ledge...sure that the bull can’t reach us there. We both are now on the ledge – but the bull begins to buck. I can sense that in a couple of attempts it can easily jump on to the ledge. I motion my friend to run to the far end as the bull continues its attempts.
Once we reach the other end, we leap to the ground, and are out of the place in a jiffy. We run out to the road, and from this point onward, it is just me in the dream...although I ‘know’ my friend too has run to safety. So I begin running. Unlike in a typical nightmare where you cannot run, here not only am I running, but I’m also strategising and thinking. There is no fear. As I run, I keep my eyes peeled for a safe place to hide. But almost all houses have very low compound walls, or worse broken walls. I run for a good measure and finally turn into a narrow street two lanes away. I see a multi-storeyed house and I dash into it. Presumably I climb the stairs and am hiding in a place where I can see the road.
I see the bull. But next thing I know, it’s been lassoed. Children – all as young as 5-6 – are dragging the rope, as the bull struggles. I am worried about the children...how can those tiny hands have strength to match a tug-of-war with that mighty beast? What if they come under the feet of the bull? But the bull loses. Now some elders have joined. The spirit of the bull is completely broken – it is now tamed. As I watch, the whole crowd has now brought the bull inside the vatara. (The stairs are now very wide). There is some kind of magalarthi kept on the bulls head. There is some ritual (but it’s not clear)...but I remember seeing a man pat the bull – a job well done – of taming the wild; as if it is a regular practise. I remember thinking how quickly and deftly they subdued the animal.
Anyway I catch hold of someone in the crowd ...a young girl...and ask her if there is a rear exit to the building. She is all sweet and friendly and says yes. The next thing I know, the bull has turned into a woman. A woman who is probably in her 40s. Dark skinned, single plait, kumkum, in a very ordinary saree. She is sitting on her haunches on the road in front of the house...as if recovering from a bout of dizziness. I once again ask someone else – an adult, a woman this time – if I can use the rear exit. I tell her I was running away from the bull, and it would be awkward to walk in front of it/her. Even as the woman says of course I can use the exit, the Bull Woman is now climbing the stairs.
For some reason, I feel very embarrassed. Won’t it be insulting for the Bull Woman to see me...after all I was the one who ran away from her and brought her here? Even as the other woman is (probably) pointing me to the direction of the exit, I say ‘It’s okay; it’s okay.’ Now, I don’t want to further insult the Bull Woman by slinking away. I decide to go down the stairs, even as she is coming up. We see each other; I don’t think there was any exchange of words. Just a glance. Then I’m out on to the road.
But I start running again, you know...just in case. The road is different this time – it’s not like those narrow roads I saw earlier. This is a main road – wide, wide. Traffic. But hell, the whole footpath – a very wide footpath – is crowded with oxen as if in a cattle fair. I even spot a camel (I think). I weave my way through them. Finally I’m out on the main road, lit by the orange mercury-halogen lights. My mobile is out of charge; but I figure my friend is safe. I think about how much money I have – should I take an autorickshaw or the bus?
The dream disintegrates from here. And thankfully I woke up. And yeah...I did not watch anything remotely connected with any animals. Most of my dreams are lucid and ridiculous – I mean once I dreamed that I was reluctantly getting ready to go to college. Amma is yelling at me to finish my uppittu. I open the main door and hello...the road has disappeared. In it's place there's a very muddy river. Not just that - there a good number of hippos too, yawning and lolling about. I remember feeling glee - abba! Now I can't go to college and when Amma sees hippos, she'll forget about uppittu.
But as far as my lucid dreams go...this bull run one really takes the cake. So...any ideas what on earth this dream means? :) If not anything...this can be a future fantasy fiction project.
© Sumana Khan - 2014