Sleepy Head

Yesterday was a long day for me and when I say long, I mean 24 hours or more. So I wasn’t surprised that sleep hit me the moment I hit the bed. I slept soundly for long hours till I was woken by a strange feeling in my chest. The room felt terribly cold and my lungs were tightening up into coiled bags. I was sleeping on my side with my right hand trapped under my body; the hand had gone numb. I rolled over to free my hand and tried to wish away the uneasiness in my chest. Eventually, sleep got the better of me and I dozed off again.

I must have slept for an hour or so before I became aware of the same sensations. My lungs were constricting again, and my hand was numb. The left hand this time; it was wedged below my head - a proxy pillow. I tried to lift my head to free it but I found myself pinned down. I felt tied, glued and nailed to the bed, with not an inch of myself free to move.

And then, the shaking started. My legs started shivering first, gentle tremors to begin with but gaining energy quickly. The ripples then moved up my body - as slow as a herd of snails and as quickly as a charging school of piranha. In an agonizingly slow stretch of time, I could feel each and every part of my body, one by one, being caught in this torrent. And in an instant shorter than an electron transition, my whole body was rocking uncontrollably.

If panic hadn’t already seized me yet, it certainly did at that point in time. I forced my eyes open. Through the dull haze of the morning light, I could make out the door. It was closed. I tried to scream to summon help from the other side. But no sound came from my throat; if it had, my seizure stricken mouth would have muffled it to an inaudible moan.

I had to break out of this! With all the will power I could muster, I tried to lift my left leg. It came off a couple of inches. And then more. I raised it to about a foot above the bed and looked at it - to see and confirm that it was actually in air. It was.

From below the blanket peeked out the long foot that I have trouble buying shoes for, in the grey trousers that I had bought in Bangalore. As I looked at my leg, it was some seconds before the meaning of what I was seeing hit me - I was still in control! And the instant that thought sprung in my head, the shaking stopped.

I should have felt elated or thankful or at least relieved. I don’t remember what my feelings were - I was so completely drained that I immediately fell asleep again. It was a few hours before I woke up again. The early morning haze had gone - the sun was high up and the room was as bright as on any summer afternoon. The air conditioner was in high gear, fighting a valiant battle against the heat pouring in from the glass window.

I got up and out of bed. As I stood up, I looked down at my left leg. No grey trousers, no trousers whatsoever - just a pair of shorts.