‘…if you have ever experienced that mystery of nature that men call ebheshina…dream…then this is for you…’
Just about the time I start to scream, the dream ends. I awaken and in a scene nearly reminiscent of my childhood days, though I am not splattering on the floor but sweating as though a bucket of water had been emptied on my body, even though my LG air-conditioner is switched on and working at full capacity, I am spread out. I had rolled out of bed, staring blankly at the ceiling I am trying to convince myself that this dream means nothing. That it is just a by-product of work-related stress and the movie I had watched the night before on Channels Television in their late night programing. Yet this did not solve the problem. This is because the experience, the ebheshina I had just had was too real to be tossed aside.
From my learning, I know dreams are successions of images, ideas, emotions and sensations that occur usually involuntarily in the mind during stages of sleep. The content of dreams I am told, are not definitively understood though they have been a topic of scientific speculation, as well as a subject of philosophic and religious interest throughout recorded history. The scientific study of dreams is called Oneirology. And I have read a number of books on Oneirology. In modern times, dreams have been seen as a connection between the real and the unconscious mind. They range from normal and ordinary to overly surreal and bizarre. Dreams can have varying nature, such as being frightening, exciting, magical, melancholic, adventurous, or even sexual. The events in a dream are generally outside the control of the dreamer, with the exception of lucid dreaming, where the dreamer is self-aware. Well, this to me is the literal definition of dream. What deeper meaning does dream hold? What is the real meaning of dreams?
Again, opinions about the meaning of dreams have varied and shifted through time and cultures. The earliest recorded dreams were acquired from materials dating back approximately 5,000 years, in Mesopotamia, where they were documented on clay tablets. In Greek and Roman period, the people believed that dreams were direct messages from one and or multiples deities or from deceased persons and that they predicted the future. This I know, may have led even some cultures into the practice of what is called Dream Incubation with the intention of cultivating dreams that are of prophecies for use in the future. Even in the Holy Bible it is written, ‘…..your young ones shall see visions and your old ones shall dream dreams….’ This may explain, like I pointed out earlier why the emperor Constantine took his dream about the Chi Rho sign so seriously. He eventually made Christianity, a group of a small, yet once persecuted people into a state religion, part of the reasons why the faith became the greatest religion planet earth has ever known.
Well, to my mind, all of this is theory and scholastic paper works which does not really satisfactorily explain dreams to me. But even so, can I reasonable wish away this dream that I have just had? This experience, the little girl, the old woman, the ebheshina, what meaning does it hold? Why was it so real? I am not a religious man. I don’t believe in signs and omens. I am a man who believes in the rational explanation of things. Of science. Of knowledge painfully extracted from nature over the millennia, through many trials and errors, empirical studies and rational thinking. Not some dogma as propounded by some religious creed. Despite this, I still am not all that convinced of the process and meaning of dreams as propounded by science. For this reason, I will not be quick to find some spiritual explanation to the dream I had. Maybe this is the reason am still a bit confused. What does this dream mean? The scary tiny girl, the old woman, the dog and so on.
These questions kept dancing about in my head at about the time I rose from bed. Even though I am not a religious man, my ebheshina had given me some real reasons to say a prayer before getting myself prepared for work. As I hum songs inside my bathroom, as the warm water from the water heater attached to the shower trickled down my body, the trees that were now forming a forest of questions inside my head began to take root.
It was a Monday morning and my boss doesn’t tolerate late coming. I left my home a little over 8 AM. I soon arrive our office complex, manoeuvring my Toyota Corolla into the staff parking lot, amidst the vast arrays of staff cars, signalling the fact I was already late for work, I pulled over.
Nodding my reply to the greetings of Seun, the ever lousy MTN card dealer whose little kiosk was situated near our office complex to tend to the communication needs of staff, I made my way to my office, clutching my laptop bag. Instead of going through the usual main gate that led directly to our office, I decided to pass through the small gate behind a corner where the office canteen is located. Through that gate was a lobby.
This hall was always unlit and a bit dark because of the electrical fault with the Junction Box that supplied electricity to that section of our office complex. This electrical fault has defied all solutions over the past months. I had decided to pass through that gate through that lobby because I had seen a colleague I didn’t like and didn’t want to spoil the rest of the Monday by allowing him to be the first staff I would exchange pleasantries with that morning. To avoid bumping into him, I took this decision. There is a superstitious belief amongst my people that, the first person one saw and exchanged greetings with in the morning would determine how the rest of the day went. Why I decided to act on this superstition even though I didn’t believe in superstitions is strange. It was this fetish colleague I wanted to avoid when something uncanny happened…..
As I was coming close to the canteen, I bumped into an attractive young woman. She was walking a little girl of about 6 or 7 years who I assume is her daughter to school. So we both walked into the dark lobby together through the other gate. At first I didn’t bother to take another look at the woman and her little girl until she and I exchanged greetings. Soon after the greeting, I had barely walked pass mother and daughter, just a few feet from them inside the lobby when her daughter, the little girl turned around and,
“Uncle! Where do you think you are going? How many people can you see in that direction you are heading…mama is-”
She was addressing me for sure because apart from her mother and me, there was no one else inside the lobby. Not just that, the words that poured from the mouth of the little girl were chilling and frightening. They stung me in the ear like a rapacious bee for one single reason; they were strangely familiar words. Shocked, I turned to face the little girl and her mother and then…