April 2007: I self-analyse my dreams and invite you to do the same with yours.
I’ve never read Freud. But my Literature classes contain a reference to him at least once a week. And terms like the ‘Oedipus complex’ and The Interpretation of Dreams are traded fairly freely in regular life. (This is especially true of when us girls get together. It’s a great way to justify why that worthless sucker our friend was dating had the balls to dump her. I mean, the boy has some serious issues. So once we’re done with all the tears and snot wiping and reach the stage of semi-drunk boy-bashing, the Oedipus complex is a trump card! “Oh babe, he’s just not worth it. Such a mama’s boy!”) So as I was saying, one can’t help having some of Freud’s notions and theories floating around in one’s head in a rudimentary, if half-baked form.
A part of me is fairly sceptical about this interpretation of dreams thing though—not that I know much about it. I mean, why can’t dreams be just dreams—a movie in your head, entertainment, Spielberg-in-the-making, a Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi-style recap, your brain's way of beating boredom? Why must they be a thesis on your thoughts? Why?
Needless to say, the last para was my way of forming my defence. Pre-fabricating it. Because, just the other day, to kill pre-exam studying induced boredom, I analysed my own dreams using my rather sketchy knowledge of Freud’s principles and symbols. And here’s what I discovered.
I am a complete pervert. Complete. I should be locked up and have the key thrown away. I should be in a mental asylum seeking shock therapy for sexual depravity. I should be kept miles away from other life-forms including cockroaches and lizards—you never know what I’ll get up to. I should at least be under house arrest after dark. I should not be allowed into public toilets and other people's homes. I should have to wear a t-shirt saying 'I am a sex offender'. My two stray doggesses and family and many friends (who have obviously been traumatised by depraved ways) will have to seek therapy.
I’m presenting the tame examples of my analyses. Ones that don’t desecrate the memory of my father who recently past way (given that Freud’s most popular theory is the Oedipus complex). And ones that won’t get me stoned on the street.
I am boarding a local train in Delhi. (As if I’ve not been traumatised enough by my because-of-poverty DTC bus days!) I’m first in line and enter the empty compartment followed by throes of humanity. And there, on the seat, is a little panther cub. (I have no clue how I arrive at this conclusion because the cub is brown, and looks like a combination of Simba from the Lion King and a Bull Mastiff puppy!) Anyway, to save this cub, I have to take him to Chandigarh. (Of all places?) The cub and I hold hands and skate-fly all the way to Chandigarh. (The cub, by the way, is also flying on skates, standing on his two hind legs, and has suddenly morphed into a larger-than-life Scooby-Doo-type cartoon dog.) I reach Chandigarh and meet the Sardar who owns the famous animal shelter. (This has obviously come from Lucky Singh’s character in Lage Raho Munnabhai that I’ve just watched.) I feed the cub (who is now back to original size) some water from a tap, leave him at this animal shelter and leave for Delhi in a car.
Here’s what (I think) Freud and other psychoanalysts may have thought of my dream. I enter a local penis (train = long slithery snake-like thing), where I perform a rescue operation (= cure erectile dysfunction). Flying through the air means one of three things to Freud—that I a) have an erection (a biological impossibility), b) have penis envy or c) have an erect clitoris as I’m aroused. As a symbol, water gushing from a tap could mean nothing but male ejaculation. And after this, having accomplished my mission (= cured an erectile dysfunction in some sort of sexual surrogate role!), I leave the scene happily.
Analysing ones’ dreams is such a simple and fun way to pass time, isn’t it? Let me teach you how to with a practical exercise. Let’s try and analyse my next dream together…
I am (finally) a multimillionaire. (Dreams!) I enter the huge penthouse that I have just bought. I open the first of many zillion rooms. (Okay, let me change that to multibillionaire!) As I walk in, I see a box that I open. Inside the box is my old maid, Mary. (Old, as in, maid who took care of me when I was very young. She wouldn’t be older than 40 now.) An autopsy is being conducted on Mary, even though she’s alive and smiling at me. (Dr Frankenstein, anyone?) My scream echoes down a tunnel. I leave the room and enter another, where I see a bed and a writing table, on which I find a big, thick pen, which is a permanent marker. (Studies and sleep, the two constants that have an inverse relationship in my life.) I pick up the marker and go to the other room where I write on the box ‘This pen works’. (“Oh does it now?” says Dr Freud…) As I walk away, I realise I’m leaning on a cane, though I’m perfectly okay. I fall into a hexagonal tunnel. (My sense of aesthetics remains intact.) I land on a soft, gold hammock, where I’m sit cross-legged, with a bottle of Diet Pepsi in the triangle of my legs. I am fiddling with the cap and then the bottle erupts.
No, this dream isn’t about ambition or wealth, as I’d you’d assume at first. Can’t you see? Oh come on, it’s so obvious! Interpret my dream and here I’m a bisexual with much penis envy. It’s like this—I finally manage to enter a world with many vaginas to chose from (many rooms = crevices, silly! Start thinking perverted). Inside a vagina inside a vagina (box inside a room) is my old maid (woman, not Mary specifically. This is what is called ‘symbolisation’—when repressed urges or suppressed desires are acted out metaphorically. See, my analyses have got better, more in-depth and all). Besides, the fact that she’s having and autopsy is a positive thing—it could mean that new and interesting experiences are ahead for me, especially in a sexual context. (You didn’t know that, did you? The net serves up many such interesting bits of absolutely useless information.) And then I scream (in pleasure, perhaps?) down a vagina (tunnel! Oh come on, this was easy)! I walk into another vagina, in which I have sex, or want sex, with a man (marker = cylindrical = phallic symbol = man) on the bed. And yes, I assert my bisexuality (over boring-old simple lesbianism) by telling the vagina (box) that the penis works. (Oh really now!) But then I abandon a useless man (cane = phallic = man = patriarchy) for the comfortable cushion of a vagina (that inviting and soft golden hammock) where I fantasise about having a penis and ejaculation.
Fun, isn’t this?
Disclaimer: Play this game at your own risk. The management is not responsible for any of the following scenarios—
1) You actually think your analyses are right
2) You loathe yourself to bits
3) You scare yourself to death
4) You stop sleeping for fear of dreams
5) You become religious to prevent impure thoughts
An edited version of this article appeared in Man's World in April 2007.