Not a lot of things make me lose my sleep. If I’ve had a productive day, and I feel tired enough, a long uninterrupted slumber is inevitable. But there are those days when try as I might I cannot get myself to sleep.
I try and think of something that will hopefully engage me until sleep encompasses. Counting sheep never works. I have a very bad imagination when it comes to picturing sheep in my head. I can at the most picture one sheep. I am reasonable at counting numbers in order. It doesn’t take me long to get to one, and its never been enough to validate a speech bubble over a drooling face that says zzz zzz. I’ve always had a problem with my position. When I was a baby and used to be rocked to sleep in those cradles made out of a cotton sari, hanging from a hook in the ceiling, my mom used to shake the cradle wildly so that I’d be forced into a new hopefully sleep encouraging position. When I finally stopped sucking my thumb and got rid of my security blanket, the question of where to keep my hands became unanswerable.
There are about a trillion positions for my hands, each as uncomfortable as the next. There’s exactly one position that my hands will find acceptable. The odds of my finding that one position is distressingly low.My legs are fine. One knee over the pillow, the foot under it, the other leg pretty much anyway anywhere ( nope, its not a prosthetic limb, anywhere within the realm of being attached to my hip) and I’m set. My hands aren’t too easy to please. But I have gotten better at it over the years, and I’m making tremendous progress in hypnotizing them to do exactly what I want. Hypnotizing of course requires tremendous concentration. Just when I think that I’m there, that I’m finally going to be eased into a dreamland where nothing makes sense, there’s a phone call that requires my hand to be projected from its current very stable hypnotized position and phut, my hands go back to their tantrum throwing selves again.
Afternoon naps are another thing that I’m incapable of. When I was a toddler I’d spend afternoons wreaking havoc in the kitchen, breaking pots and pans, slipping in water and my parents would sleep blissfully through everything, only to find the kitchen in an utter mess. When there’s the odd free afternoon I can only manage a half hour, even that at the risk of unmanageable hands at night. I’m sensitive to a rustling leaf, a dog barking, and a phone ringing about three houses away, and those irritating tunes cars play while on reverse gear. Sometimes I hallucinate a noise and awaken. My family is blessed with people who can sleep anytime anywhere anyhow. It used to be one of the reasons that convinced me that I was adopted. I’m not apparently. The one time I truly slept in the afternoon was when I went on a self-designed diet. All I drank was water for one and a half days, and I ended up falling flat on the bad, completely oblivious to phone calls, doorbells ringing in which time my mom almost went to the police. She could see my footwear and bags inside the house through the window, but couldn’t get me to open the door. 2 hours after she came home and found that she couldn’t enter, I woke up and opened the door vaguely hearing banging. I opened the door with a knife behind my back, because I’ve never known my mom to bang, just as she had never known me to sleep through the sound of a doorbell.I use my sleeplessness as radars. Unlike those blessed people who can sleep regardless of what happened in the preceding day, my day affects my sleep to the extent of depriving me of it. When I find that my hands are behaving as though they belonged to someone else, its always one of two things. Either I’ve had an exceedingly unproductive day, a day during which I did nothing and spent most of it doing something very similar to staring aimlessly at a white unblemished wall. Or I’ve done something that I ought to feel guilty about, taken a decision that wasn’t completely thought through, rash, irrational, and in a wild passion to please/infuriate someone else. Somehow the signboard that says “exit to a good night’s sleep” always evades me and I end up taking a U turn a long time later. It may be staring at me right in the face, but what use is that to someone whose eyes are shut. More often than not, I end up reversing my stand the next morning, all red eyed and gloomy faced, causing a lot of people to believe that this new decision is even more hurried, anxiously taken and unreasonable than the first one. I’m asked various forms of the question “why”- from “how can you”, to saying my name repeatedly, to comical looks, to “huh”. Hell, I’ve just got to have a peaceful night’s sleep, because plainly put I cannot count sheep.