>Sleep came over her with a vengeance.
The Clouds couldn’t hold any longer, they had to let it rain. And because the wind had not let them when they wanted to, now they were going to be merciless. They brought those two fiends, Thunder and Lightning along. And a jolly loud party they had. So there’s that.
But she, she just wanted to sleep. She had to. How else would she dream?
The Neem outside her window began to wail. A whiny plea for relief. What had she done now? She knew she would break with the storm. But that didn’t make it any easier. An insurmountable bitterness rose through her. She shook with the wind, with anger. If only she could uproot herself and lie down on the soft pliant earth and become one again.
She heard the low patter of feet, a hush paddling towards her. Someone in the next room started clawing at the walls.
No, that was Neem. Her branches flailed at the window. She would have entered the room, had it not been for that high-quality mosquito netting. Lightning. She glowed blue in the violet night.
Someone flicked a switch on in another room. She prayed it was morning and someone had woken up. She chanced a look at the window. She could hear that clawing again. This time accompanied by sound of cracking twigs.
Had Neem really freed herself from the concrete and gone on a rampage? She was not too old, and certainly strong enough. But the Clouds were still there, lashing away at her skin and bones. And then came a deafening roar. Was it her or Thunder?
She clapped her hands over her ears and yawned widely. Exhaustion ran though her veins, the iron in her blood heavy and pulling her down. All she wanted was to sleep. But the noises never ceased. In her head and without.
The gentle drip on her window annoyed her. That tinny tip tip tip, of drops jumping from leaves and eaves into their own hasty graves, melting into mud after the fall. Torrents or drizzles, they all fell down. Descending from the clouds, sucked up by the earth. Maybe that’s what kept her calm. Wish she would keep Neem still.
Neem was now sobbing uncontrollably. You could hear her heaving gasps and piercing screams. She was no longer angry, just defeated. Her breakdown seemed to have stirred them. The Clouds started showing off, wringing and emptying themselves of everything that had made them for months.
She heard it then. Someone turned on a tap. Yes, someone had woken up and was going for a bath. It must be morning. Why wouldn’t the sky lighten? Does it have to play accomplice to the Clouds?? But her patience was running out. She was agitated and nervous. Some people overshoot on caffeine, she had overshot on lack of sleep. She didn’t care any more. She would go to sleep.
And she dreamed. Of brides in red and white on green plains. Of clear summer days seen from under old ruins. Of goats and violins. And bells. Bells rang. They clanged against each other in merry abandon. They shined golden and tinkled. They came to her from a distance, from another far away Milky Way. The sounds pulsed inside her, blinding her million neurons. The muffled rings echoed, fell and rose again, reverberating with her bones.
She felt breathless. Water flooded her. The alarm rang somewhere within the deep ocean in which she was floating, perhaps sinking. She didn’t know how to swim. She had forgotten how to. She kicked furiously at the entangled bed covers. But she couldn’t see anything beyond green. Rain and Neem were drowning her.
Swiping and swinging her arms blindly, she caught hold of steel. The cold numbed her fingers, the soft breeze biting her skin. With a huge push and rush, she came up to her window. With an effort that almost crippled her, she slid the horrible grimy net away.
And there she was. Neem. Lying on the cold gray street. Broken down, bruised. Stripped naked of her shame, beaten by million sharp needles, shoved and jostled by haughty currents. Her roots were still deep inside. Seemed like she had not been able to make up her mind. Was that why she had suffered this? Was she dead now? Worse, she had fallen. Between a restless sleep and uncertain awakening.
There was no sign of the Clouds. They had moved on. Emptying and collecting themselves on the way.