Dream weaver on a forgotten island


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Category: Reflections Date: 12 Nov 98

ĎDream when the day is thru,

Dream and they might come true,

Things never are as bad as they seem

So dream dream dreamí

Johnny Mercer - from Dream, popular song of the 1940s


There once lived a dream weaver on a Caribbean island. I donít know exactly how she came to do it because people all around her did real things. They wove baskets, cut cloth in shops, or counted money in banks and factories. Some made their living by slicing open the tops of coconuts with sharp cutlasses and offering the cool sweet water and tender jelly to hot thirsty people. Others hawked scent and scarves, shoes and sunglasses on the streets. Still others were schoolteachers, secretaries, lawyers, and doctors.


People here were capable of doing all sorts of work and were endowed with no less intelligence or talent than anywhere else.  Now, for those of you who have never been to this part of the world (it is small and often we are forgotten here, sliced away from vast continents, some say cut off from life itself, a semi-autonomous planet) there are no seasons here.  There are no rusty autumns and icy, snowy, sludgy winters, or springs where soft rain and sun nurture delicately-hued flowers. The only thing that changed  here were the colours of the light provided by the sun and rain; silvery dawns, lemon mornings glowing like a freshly starched petticoat, a blinding white midday sun, orange and grey sunsets. Otherwise nothing changed, nothing happened. Each day was like the day before.   


Most mornings she was awakened by the twitter of a dozen birds and insects and would get on with her daily work of weaving dreams. From her window, the dream weaver looked out on huge dense vegetation so green it can look black on a rainy day, on thick sculptured flowers which last almost as long as the plastic ones. When the plants are not matted and the earth is not dry and callused from lack of rain, it can be beautiful but in an angry threatening way. Landslides left houses suspended on hills, snakes coiled around electricity poles, trees with enormous trunks fell in the middle of the road, brown water from rivers entered bedrooms, destroyed crops, while strong currents carried away children in drains.  However, the blue and brown sweep of the coastline remained serene.


People in her country were poor until oil poured like molten gold out of the water surrounding it and suddenly everyone was so rich that they lit up $20 on the street to look for 25 cents in the drain. They stopped working and began to sun themselves on street corners or dance the streets all day if they wanted to. Then, the oil trickled down and they were poor again. However, this time, having tasted riches, the people became disappointed, bitter and lazy, expecting manna to land in their laps. And when it didnít they became angry, bitter and rude.


They no longer took pleasure in the way the light was soft and bright at the same time when it rained through pale sunlight. They didnít notice the white curls in the sea, or the curve of the hills. Their mouths drooped. They were too depressed to dream.   The combination of heat and anger drove many people mad so they began barking or even clucking like hens and then had to be put away in an asylum. The dream weaver started working furiously. She knew dreams would be the only thing to save her people. For now she put aside dreams of far away places, strange and wonderful events, of achieving the impossible - going into space or getting a cure for a rare disease. She had a harder task at hand - of weaving dreams that would restore hope to people.


For those who loved the sea she created one about their building a magnificent boat; for those who loved children she wove one about running a school; for people who wanted to stop smoking she would make one where they didnít need to. Then she wove dreams of a salon for people who liked making people beautiful; for people who loved the law, she created challenging and rewarding cases. For people who cared for the sick or disabled she would make one of raising huge amounts of money. These dreams were truly magical because they would give people discipline, and the will to go on even when they felt they were tired and spent.


According to the rules, dream weavers could only plant dreams in people with the capacity to dream. Dreams didnít stick on people who simply dreamed of material wealth or power for the sake of it. So a lot of her dreams went to waste. She had many spare dreams about writers and poets and playwrights but most of these went to waste. The only books people on this island knew about were ones with dull  mathematical and grammatical equations so people didnít associate books with pleasure or flights of fancy. They didnít know that books were a way to get into other peopleís souls and discover that really there is no need  to be lonely. 


And she didnít get to put the dream of being a playwright with the capacity to truthfully mirror peopleís lives, move them, and give hope to anybody here. Although she went in many politicians and journalists heads, she didnít get to use the dream of educating and uniting people through the media and good governance. Journalists prodded at the politicians, not for the good of the people but for the fun of it, and asked questions rudely just to get noticed. They didnít do their jobs properly and most people in the land knew nothing of what went on in the neighbouring islands. They didnít care if a ship carrying more than 30 people sank because they were busy talking about themselves. They didnít report that a storm in their region killed more than 7,000 people in Honduras and Nicaragua, that there were corpses everywhere and frightened people who needed help desperately.


The politicians in turn were vicious and instead of concentrating on the number of poor, uneducated, mad, homeless, angry, wasted people on the land, launched an attack on the journalists.  She couldnít use the dream of joy, generosity of spirit and affection or creativity. And this one surprised her most because in this land there was a huge Carnival every year, which the people looked forward to, even lived for the whole year round.  Instead of creativity, she found predictable tinsel which is unfertile ground for dreams. Instead of joy and high spirits she found profanity. People would turn their groins inside out and flap them to the sun but they didnít  touch one another with affection.


However, every now and then, she would come across a real artist (not simply one who dressed like one) and give them double doses of dreams because they would often get scraped out and depressed in this land. And then they would come out with another song, another picture, or another costume, which would uplift the people for a while. Or a dream would stick in someone who had a truthful, curious and generous spirit. Still this didnít happen very often.


However, the dream maker had her own escape. She still believed (being a dream maker) that one day she would be able to plant a dream in everyone, that one day people would see how boring the pursuit of material goods, wealth and power is, or understand that dreams prevent despair in even the most wretched soul. She would lie awake at night, listening to dogs howl and put herself to sleep weaving dreams for people who couldnít use them.

Itís quite a sad story really.

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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur