03 March 2013

Waking up

I woke up sometime between Friday night and Saturday morning to the sound of Yoko shouting out my name in another room--my body full of adrenaline and intense pain in my left hand. I was standing, but I quickly slumped down and my brain went through the process of orienting itself: a process that takes less than a second, but feels much longer. I'm not wearing a shirt, I must have been sleeping: it's hot, right, I'm in Malaysia. I'm terrified, I thought I was dying, I was being crushed: Yoko must be in the other room sleeping with the girls, I must have been sleepwalking. I touched my left hand in the darkness: I was bleeding, why was I bleeding? My brain went back to the dream: you were being crushed and you were trying to get up and out of something. I must have stood on my bed and put my hand into the metal ceiling fan.

I went into the bathroom: my hand was killing me, but the cut didn't look bad. I got it to stop bleeding and sat on the toilet seat, letting the adrenaline get out of my system. It was a death dream: I have them every so often and sometimes they are more vivid than others. I don't usually remember them except that I wake right at the moment I would die. Although I suspect my real death will come after a long struggle with colon cancer, in my dreams I die being crushed or buried, and it's always terrifying.

I've been thinking about truth this week and how I see autobiography in the way that I do it on this blog. My favourite line in the Bible is when Pilate, having listened to Jesus say that 'Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice', rolls his eyes essentially, asking, 'What is truth?' (John 18:37-38) A brilliant response, and a brilliant answer to questions about the truth in reporting about one's life. What is truth.

Anything you do in Malaysia, when done to the backdrop of the Maghrib prayer around 7:30, feels like postcard come to life, the kind of quintessential Malaysian experience you want to bottle up and send home. Today, the call to prayer came as I was adding leaves to a burning pile of trash outside Auntie and Uncle's house, the kids playing in the street. Our Chinese neighbours coming home in their beat-up 1990 Honda Civic on its second engine and there was a moment of the perfect Malaysian multicultural experience--four countries, four languages, five ethnicities--pulling rambutan out of a tree. The story can stop there: it's enough.