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Rahul Bhandare



Rahul Bhandare


Shared Dreams

Shared Dreams

4 mins

“You know I had this strange dream last night!” exclaimed Preeti.

The gentle strains of instrumental music echoed through the dining hall at the wedding venue.

Digging into their meals, Preeti, Ashton, Gautam and Zeena were huddled around in a circle. The relatively empty hall was filled with many such small circles of people seated in plastic chairs.

Munching on his paapad, Ashton loosened his tie and raised his eyebrows.

“Really? What was it about?”

Clad in a golden salwar kameez, Preeti looked lost in her thoughts.

“So I saw that in 2020 I got the marketing job in Mumbai. I rented a good apartment, began my new job and in some two years I was doing lots of award-winning work!”

Zeena squeezed her eyes shut after biting into the overly sour pickle. Looking confused, she asked “As in, all of this happened in between the lockdowns and everything?”

Preeti shook her head.

“No no! That’s the thing. In my dream there was no COVID pandemic!”

Gautam chuckled, “Great one Preeti. I wish even I’d had such a drea…”

Suddenly Gautam’s face froze with a morsel of paneer tikka held an inch from his nose, slowly dribbling onto his kurta. He slowly lowered his head and whistled softly.

“Now that you mention it Preeti, it’s strange really. But even I had a dream last week.

“I saw that in 2020, after the Delhi riots, citizens all over India came together. Everyone was demanding that this hateful politics of the BJP must end. And then over the next two years, it did!”

Zeena smiled sarcastically as she shifted in her seat and adjusted her Banarasi silk saree.

“A world without the pandemic still seems realistic dude. But no hate politics, come on now!”

Ashton snorted.

“I guess these two have been on some pretty weird drugs huh? Anyway let’s not talk about this dreaming-sheeming business, you know just last month…”

Ashton’s jaws dropped open. “Holy shit! I had a dream too! And in it there was no pandemic in 2020!”

There was a moment of silence as the friends looked around at each other. All eyes finally turned to Zeena.

“What? Why are you staring at me?” Zeeena stared back uncertainly.

“Oh don’t be so slow Zeena! Did you also have a dream about there being no pandemic?” Preeti demanded impatiently.

Clicking her tongue, Zeena was about to shake her head but then she froze.

“I…I completely forgot all about it until this moment. But I did. I did!

“A few weeks back I dreamt that I was able to get my scholarship grant to study in Australia. I could then come back here and work on different environment initiatives!”

Zeena sighed.

“I had almost forgotten how badly I wanted these years to go differently.”

Gautam turned to Ashton, “So that just leaves you bro.”

Ashton nodded reticently, “Hmm, yeah it does.”

With all eyes on him, Ashton remain focused on his dal rice. Zeena finally kicked his chair.

“Arre bolo!”

Ashton spoke haltingly, sounding embarrassed, “Uh listen guys, I don’t want to talk about it.”

Loud boos and swears echoed around the circle, with Ashton meekly looking at his plate.

Preeti shrugged.

“It’s okay Ashton. Don’t tell us. We’ll just assume that you had another sexual fantasy about running naked through every scene of Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham.”

Ashton groaned.

“That wasn’t a sexual fantasy…It was a nightmare!”

With a mischievous glint in his eyes, Gautam dramatically whispered aloud, “Well we haven’t talked to your girlfriend about that story yet have we? If you can’t tell us your dream, I guess we could…”

Sighing, Ashton finally looked around.

“Okay okay, so even I had a dream last month where there was no pandemic in 2020. But mine wasn’t about a career, politics, education or anything cool like all of yours…”

“Haa, so what was it?” Zeena demanded.

Ashton coughed.

“Well see, in the dream I just saw all of us meeting regularly through these 2-3 years. I guess I have been kind of lonely maybe.”

Preeti smiled kindly at Ashton and Gautam patted his back.

Looking around at her friends Zeena sank back into the plastic chair.

“I guess we have all been lonely.”

For a few moments, the friends remained absorbed in their own thoughts.

Preeti’s eyes suddenly widened and she exclaimed, “Yes we have! And I think I know why we have all had these dreams!”

 “Because of regret?” Ashton suggested.

Preeti nodded her head impatiently.

“Yes yes, but that’s just a part of it. In some way, I think all of us are trying to remind ourselves of what could have been.

“But now that we are fortunate enough, really fortunate enough, to still be alive, maybe we are also wondering how the future could be more meaningful!”

Ashton and Zeena slowly nodded their heads while Gautam looked thoughtful. He turned towards Preeti.

“You’re saying this is about ambitions?”

Preeti smiled.

“Nope. It’s mostly about hope.”

The light instrumental music echoed in the dining hall as the conversation among the friends veered in different directions – All of them filled with hope.


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