Tome & Plume: When Boy’s Dreams Turned Nightmares For Murderer

Tome & Plume: When Boy’s Dreams Turned Nightmares For Murderer

Dreams with a painful content are to be analysed as the fulfilment of wishes – Sigmund Freud

Arup Chakraborty Updated: Sunday, June 16, 2024, 11:23 AM IST
article-image

Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): Dreams inspire you to hit the bull’s-eye. Yet dreams sometimes become nightmares that scare your midnight pillow. Analysing them is one of the best ways to get rid of such a traumatic experience. A ten-year-old boy Raja (named changed) in a nondescript village on the outskirts of Ranchi had such an experience. He woke up every night and began to yell, gesturing his fingers towards a window. Jovial Raja suddenly became quiet.

As the boy’s father was an army officer, he would stay away from his family. When Raja’s teachers spoke to his mother about the sudden change in his behaviour, she related the story to them. His grandparents thought Raja had been seized by some evil spirit. They called a sorcerer, but that was of no help. When Raja’s father came to know of it, he visited his family and consulted a psychiatrist who advised him to admit Raja to his clinic. The doctor asked the boy a few questions that he replied. At night, he advised Raja to go to bed and told a nurse to observe the boy. It was midnight.

The doctor heard a few knocks on his door. Just as he opened it, he saw the nurse who told him that the boy was yelling, gesturing his fingers towards the window. The doctor went to him and put his hand on his head to allay fears. He gave Raja some medicines to put him to sleep. The doctor observed the boy not only signal his fingers towards the window but also hint with his hands as if something had been lopped off. Freud’s theory on the interpretation of dreams flashed in his mind’s eye.

The next day, he called Raja’s parents to discuss with them the nightmares the boy had. His parents told the doctor that there was a pond nearly one hundred metres off the window that the boy indicated with his fingers. They said there was nothing wrong with the pond where his family members would take bath and children play on its banks. A mysterious smile flashed across the doctor’s face. On reaching Raja’s house, the doctor advised his parents to hire a boat to reach the other side of the pond with Raja. Just as they got off the boat and neared a bamboo grove, Raja yelled, “It is there.”

But for the doctor, his shrieks stunned everyone present there. He advised a villager to dig up the place. As he excavated a few feet, he came across a skeleton in a torn blue sari. Raja said it may have been the skeleton of the woman whom he would dream. The sight shocked everyone. Then the real story came up: a man had murdered his wife nearly six years ago when Raja was just four years old and buried her body there. The doctor said Raja had somehow seen the murder through the window. In his dreams, the details of that experience had combined in an unexpected way with his memories going back to his early childhood, the doctor said. The skeleton was handed over to the police who caught the murderer. Afterwards, Raja never had such nightmares.

Dream-driven stories

A few writers made something artful from the stuff of dreams. One of them was Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein that was written in 1818. Mary was roped into a writing contest. The host of such a contest, Lord Byron, announced: “We will each write a ghost story.” Neither came up with much. Yet two monsters were born – ‘The Vampire’ through John William Polidori and ‘Frankenstein’ through Mary Godwin Shelley who said, “My imagination unbidden, possessed, and guided me, gifting the successive images that arose in my mind with the vividness far beyond the usual bounds of reverie…. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out.” Mary believed she had ferreted out her ghost story. She wanted to describe the spectre that scared her midnight pillow.

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

In the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1885), RL Stevenson portrays the split personality. Stevenson’s wife told the author’s biographer that in the small hours of one morning the cries of horror of her husband had awakened her. When she tried to wake him up, he said, “Why did you wake me? I was dreaming a fine bogey tale.” From this dream was born The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

Catch-22

Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 (1961) is another fine work of literature that saw the light of the day through a dream. Heller said when he was lying in bed, he dreamt these lines: “It was love at first sight.” There are many more great works of literature which were born from dreams.  

RECENT STORIES

MP Shocker: Class 9 Student Sexually Assaults Minor At Scindia School, FIR Filed Against Accused...

MP Shocker: Class 9 Student Sexually Assaults Minor At Scindia School, FIR Filed Against Accused...

Bhopal: Lawyer-Cum-Artist Showcases Artworks Depicting India’s Rich Heritage In A Month-Long Solo...

Bhopal: Lawyer-Cum-Artist Showcases Artworks Depicting India’s Rich Heritage In A Month-Long Solo...

MP: Tecnimont Sets Up GAIL’s 1st Green Hydrogen Plant At Vijaipur

MP: Tecnimont Sets Up GAIL’s 1st  Green Hydrogen Plant At Vijaipur

MP: Amit Shah Participates In Record-Breaking Tree Plantation Drive In Indore; Highlights 'Ek Ped...

MP: Amit Shah Participates In Record-Breaking Tree Plantation Drive In Indore; Highlights 'Ek Ped...

MP News: Ceiling Fan Falls On Girl During Class Hours In Private School Classroom In Sehore, Video...

MP News: Ceiling Fan Falls On Girl During Class Hours In Private School Classroom In Sehore, Video...