Well, his name wasn’t really Silas. Bloggers do this all the time, right?
In the second year of my course for bachelors in engineering at MIT, Manipal, I was acquainted with a certain dude. He and I had mutual friends, a lot of them. For the purpose of this post, let’s refer to him as Silas. Silas was quite vastly knowledgeable and we had a lot of shared interests. We spent a lot of time discussing theories of everything at length – a common occurrence with budding engineers. Silas was the only one, among my very limited circle of friends, who truly believed the many impossible seeming, albeit true, stories I told him. The kind of connection (for lack of a better word) we had was something that I had never experienced before, so naturally my immune system made every attempt to prevent our bonds from strengthening.
As it turned out, I wasn’t the only one experiencing internal torment. Every mutual friend, of his and mine, had similar complaints. It took me longer to get there and when I did, I started to notice that most of the time, he would force feed us stories from his dreams, tidbits about his girlfriend and, at times, the girlfriend’s whereabouts in those dreams. The stories were messy; they’ve scarred us beyond repair. Until now, he’s been the the only one who could, with just his words, make me nauseated. I couldn’t help the fact that I knew the names he’d given to his girlfriend’s boobs and her southern trench. Nevertheless, I can’t but admit we all did have a lot of fun that year.
Sadly, the year ended with Silas screwing up his academics to such a degree that he had to leave the institute and go back home to start afresh. We all patiently waited for the nostalgia to kick in. Ah! Those were the days. We did a lot of crazy… wait! We didn’t really miss Silas. It got really weird the next couple weeks because we actually talked more about how we didn’t miss him. I did try to keep in touch for a while, though, which at this point was a mere convention. After a while, I entered a phase of resentment toward him. I was overwhelmed by the realisation that I had been stupid all this time. I started firing insults his way, subtly mentioning how he wasted two years of his life and one year each of two of his friends. It seemed as if Silas was a few brain-cells short of being a half wit; he kept replying to those insults as if it were a wordplay session.
I de-friended him on Facebook, because that was somehow the worst I could do at the time – my life was pretty dull. I decided I wanted to have nothing to do with Silas ever again. I vowed to punch him once for every second he stays within a 2 metre radius from me. The next term began and I started living in a house of my own far away from my friends in the hostels. I actually liked it better now – I was not expected to meet anybody on short notice and if I ever did have a long enough chat with my friends it would be over the phone or online or a previously agreed upon scheduled meeting.
None of them knew my address, and unless they were willing to follow me – I know some have tried, more flattering than creepy – or knock on every door in the building, they’d not know it. So, you might imagine my surprise when, one particularly not-quite-fine morning, I was woken by an unexpected knock on the door and it turned out to be none other than the last person I’d ever have wanted to see.
Yes, Silas was at my door. What I did next would be the first on the list of reasons I’d want to kill myself (and I did). I had absolutely no idea what was preventing me from swift kicking him at the sack of testicles – they also had names, by the way.
I said, ‘Why don’t you come in?’.
Yeah, I invited the vampire into my house. He got in, took a seat and started talking about whatever it was that happened in his life since he left for home. As he puts it, during his time at home, he “found his true passion” – he still wanted to continue his course for bachelors in engineering. The epic screw-up didn’t faze him much and he appeared determined to try and try till he succeeds, whatever that meant. He convinced his parents to let him do so at Manipal itself so that he needn’t have to re-create an already established friend circle. He would, effectively, lose only a year and clear all his subjects in the mean time.
‘Yawn, I’m tired, dude. Long journey.’, he said and asked me if he could rest at my house for a bit. Maybe, I wasn’t thinking straight at the time; I pointed to the bedroom. As he rested, I kept asking myself, ‘Is something wrong with me?’. Was he really just going to “rest for a while”? I have been known to be pretty optimistic but realism kept the fight on.
In the past year when I lived at the hostels, Silas made it a habit to sleep in at least once a week. It was great for him and his roommate – he gets to experience the Air-Con for a day and his roommate had one less day of troubles. The only casualty in this arrangement was me. It just sucked and yet, I didn’t know why I always let him in. He would just show up at any moment and tell me that he needed a place to crash. Every time, I would let him stay, thinking it could do no harm. He would wake up in the middle of the night and strengthen the evidence against it. He’d start gaming on my laptop whenever he pleased; I used to be too sleepy, at times, to even care what he was up to. That is just the tip of the iceberg.
Silas would wake me up from time to time and make me give up the only bed at the room to have some sleep. I’ve always been a good host and I let him do even that. Besides, I like proving I can do stuff – like, in this instance, sleep on a chair or the floor and waking up without a back-ache. I kept pondering the stuff I could do with the DNA samples he left behind in his uncontrolled drool sessions. He wouldn’t even bother leaving me alone the next day. He would stay and continue using my laptop to watch TV shows. Silas might not know it, but he has ruined many of my priced hassle-free sundays that way.
I decided to tell Silas that he was being imposing. So, I went to him and talked about how I couldn’t let him in my room any more. He used every trick he could to subvert that. ‘Whatever I do in your room will not disturb you in any way. You can do whatever you want just the way you did.’, said he, a man of vast knowledge of how to a person ought to be manipulated. I argued for a bit, being proficient at spotting mind-control, but there is always an endurance limit. So, I cut to the chase and told Silas that he was never allowed back to my room – my room, my rules.
A few days later, we had our in-semester examinations. Silas coaxed me into letting him stay at my room because he would, as he put it, “fall asleep at my own room and fail my test”. I let him stay after some pestering. I had to admit, though, he was right – if he would have been at his room that day, he would have fallen asleep and failed the test. Unfortunately, there was no way to test that statement for logical fallacies. On the one hand, he didn’t go back to his room and yet, he managed to fail his test. Of course, that would make perfect sense if he actually believed my room was his own now.
I discussed his behaviour with our mutual friends and most of what they had to offer was laughter. They usually spoke along the same lines – your problem, you solve it. One of them said and I quote, ‘Dude! He is the Silas. He had been doing this to us for a long time and we always wanted him to get off our backs. He is now yours. You’re screwed.’
Where were we?
Oh yeah! Silas took “a nap” in my bedroom. I was pretty tired from hearing of his chronicles. I had taken a nap too; I was up at around 8 in the evening. I saw him still asleep. I woke him and reminded him that he had to…
Wait?! He didn’t tell me anything about where he was going after that. I expected the absolute worst I could which was him pleading to stay a little longer. I didn’t know if it was just downright predictable but his words, ‘Dude! I don’t have a hostel room yet; can I stay here until then?’, certainly seemed like it. I was pretty pissed and told him to get out of my house at that very instant. Surprisingly, he complied.
The next day, I got up and ready for college and was about to leave. At the threshold, I truly wish I had stepped out without looking down. Silas was lying asleep outside my door with my foot 2 inches above his throat.
The thing that happened next was a total blur; I don’t recall what could possibly change my mind that time. Was I a masochist of some kind? Did I need professional help? Those were questions I asked myself when I permitted him to stay. I did lay out a few conditions though. First, he should not mention living in my apartment to anybody and, second, he should find a different place to live during my parents’ routine visits. Silas agreed.
This takes me back. There have already been countless times I’ve been victimised through Silas’ unnaturally stupid ways of handling things. One time, he asked me to accompany him to get printed copies of the question sheets of examinations held in the years before us. I waited at the photocopying stall with him for about an hour. When it was, finally, the time to pay the guy, he suddenly remembered he only had money enough to pay for about a twentieth of all the papers. Of course, he had other plans for that money – recharging his girlfriend’s prepaid phone. Obviously, I ended up paying for it.
So, he lived at my house peacefully, for a while. In a few months, however, he got frequent calls from his girlfriend – let’s call her Ms. Schmidt; I like European names. Apparently, she was coming to Manipal for a few days. That, to me, meant I could uproot the, now quite a menace, Silas forever. He’d want some privacy and would thus stay in a lodge close by. But, he has a peculiar way of surprising people – this one pretty unpleasant, might I add. He brought her to my house. It was a nightmare; literally, as it turns out. For the next few hours – hundreds of them actually (the universe is my time-scale) – I was in a state of depression. See, I had to borrow his amazing noise cancelling headphones to shut my ears and keep my mind open about coitus.
Schmidt left in a few days and I was left with a Silas. Not for long though. Once in a couple months, he’d made sure I’d get his money’s worth off his headphones. By the end of the year, I had grown accustomed to it; I began to discover that I had started to evolve some special skills. I was able to hallucinate at will, imagine and visualise things and people as if they really existed and I achieved one of my lesser dreams – the gift of voluntary noise cancellation.
The new academic year had arrived and Silas failed to make it to the third year, again. He discovered he hadn’t much in-semester scores to clear his pending subjects easily. So, Silas did some brainstorming – my brain did the storming – and he arrived at the conclusion – my conclusion – that it would be better and more effective to repeat the second year completely. Only this time, he’d go for every class as if second year never happened, either of the two times. I was now in my fourth and last year of engineering. Ah! Last year ever of this nonsensical past time known as studying. All I had to do was complete that last formality and start working.
I was psyched, but you and I, both, know by now that it won’t last long. Silas didn’t get a hostel room because he never made it to the allocated room list, because those rooms are awarded on merit. I hated myself that day for living life. I tried pulling some strings at the college, only to find out that Silas hadn’t even applied for a room. He made some other arrangements – got his dad to sign a blank cheque for the hostel and wrote his name in it instead. He offered me part of that money to begin staying on rent this time, as if it was any better. I’m a benevolent god. And yeah! I’d get some extra money for my final project that year, so I agreed.
I graduated that year. My project was mostly financed by my parents and Silas’ money definitely helped. I then got some electronics intensive companies to sponsor me a small business I started. I’d provide designs and tutorials in return for free components and a huge pile of money. It still seems weird how much I could make out of a simple thing like that. I visited my home – the home sweet home at Bombay – once a while but I’d get bored and come live in Manipal again. I had never liked staying away any better. The frequency at which I visited home after a few months kept reducing and it eventually just came to a stop. I had grown into a workaholic. I worked, day and night, to create something new and everything I had to offer had buyers. I actually settled in Manipal – the last place I’d imagine settling down, which meant I could have guest lectures in MIT all the time. That was another one of my lesser dreams becoming a reality. I knew I could do better than that disaster of a lecture I first attended.
I tried hard to do my part to change the system of the institute and, later, other institutes. Manipal was the place degraded my life to levels I couldn’t imagine and yet, I decided to help them out. I built kits that could be used by the students to demonstrate any of the few thousand phenomena they had learnt in theory. This was not invading the prevalent teaching practises and I didn’t violate any of their laws being an ex-student. Surprisingly, they changed their system in a few years to accommodate my business into their curriculum. I was asked to place their students in my company. My life got brighter. The sun seemed brighter and warmer on my skin than usual.
As for Silas, he still lived under my roof and was in the process of graduating. He had different obsessions every year. They either didn’t interfere much with anything I did or I grew accustomed to his nonsense. I had episodes of an annoying nag at the back of my brain from time to time. I remember this one time when he used my position in the university and his, now well known, guest status at my house to somehow extort the faculty into waiving off the rule of graduation-in-8-years-or-less for him. I was about the big picture. Maybe, I could use the university’s compromise to their disadvantage if I had to lash out some day. Plus, I got someone who would, what might seem permanently, take care of all the maintenance of the house. You might find it hard to believe that Silas took fourteen years to graduate. I didn’t know what was happening. Did his parents just give up? Why the heck are they not cutting him off?
He really didn’t actively disturb my life as much as he did twelve years ago, but I always felt something was off. He managed to stick to that one girlfriend, Schmidt, and stick it to her, if I may. Which girl would be stupid or patient enough to be by the side of a guy who can’t get his shit together? Never mind that. Shortening that story, Silas and Schmidt got married and he finally moved from my house to live at his wife’s place. My life was back to… well, not back to anything, but better than ever.
I’m not a believer in luck but Silas’ departure and an immense boom in my business happened way too close, for many an illiterate folk, to have been considered a co-incidence. He was like a lucky charm, but, you know, in the negative way. Silas, in a way, kept me from progress leaps, and I don’t know if that was a good thing or not, but I’d have liked having much more money a few years ago.
Maybe, just maybe, there was a slight possibility I was starting to develop symptoms of schizophrenia. The world around me stopped making sense. Days were unusually bright, which I think was a pretty usual occurrence now. Nights, however, were bright enough to toast a vampire. At times I would just feel like I’ve been plugged into the Matrix and somehow what I was seeing was simulated reality. I always felt like I was wearing cotton gloves when I had nothing on.
For three years, other than my disinclination to getting tested for mental disorders, there wasn’t much that kept me worried. I was on top of the world, looking down at creation, and nothing could faze me. Well, almost nothing. Nah! There is no way Silas would show up. What if he does? Great! Now there are two things that bother me.
Even I’d doubt random co-incidences if they just keep happening, but it did. Three years after they left for good, Silas was back. This time with a kid. I’m a bit fuzzy on the story but apparently, Silas sold his house because he could not get a job, so he decided to stack up his life savings from his properties and continue to live in my house because, he says, ‘Dude, you don’t have anyone who’d take care of you.’. I started questioning myself, ‘Why am I not getting him out?’
‘Huh?!’, said Silas, which made me realise I actually said that out loud.
‘Dude! YOU’RE NOT EVEN MY BROTHER.’, said I knowing full well he got the message loud and clear. I swift kicked him in the chest and shut the door.
My brain went into overdrive and I thought to myself, quietly this time, ‘Where have I seen this happen before?’. I searched for my laptop and found it along with some hard disks. ‘Ah! I remember those. I used to store all my TV shows on that one hard disk. I was a huge computer enthusiast once, wasn’t I? Where did all that go?’, I thought to myself. I browsed the disk and found a beloved show named Two and a Half Men.
I started a TV show binge and watched the whole series from start to end. By the 7th season of the show, I realised my life was getting very similar to that story, by the way, Silas recommended I watch. Silas, as I remember was very similar to the character Alan who lived off his brother’s wealth and then continued to live in the same house now belonging to a complete stranger after the death of his brother. So, I was essentially the same as Walden Schmidt who just co-incidentally happens to have the last-name I chose to give Silas’ girlfriend for this story – total co-incidence, honest!
I went through many other TV shows after that to divert my mind off the sad similarities between my life and, what was now no longer, a sitcom, to me. Then I moved on to movies. I watched the Matrix trilogy a few dozen times. A little deeper search and I came upon something that would open my eyes – Inception.
Inception was an awesome movie; it still is 15 years later. I liked it a lot as I could relate to all of the concepts discussed. I’ve been a practitioner of lucid dreaming for over 20 years and while the movie doesn’t depict the truth accurately, it did pretty close.
Time in the real world does seem to fly slower while dreaming – I never imagined how slow it could truly get. I exercise my mind in my sleep and try to look out for real world stimulus to interpret or to move my real body while continuing to sleep and dream. I’m experimented quite a bit and found that it works.
There was one disadvantage I failed to anticipate. The problem of falling into a limbo is a real danger as one starts to practice lucid dreaming too often. Once you get the hang of it, your mind fights your foreign invasion of logic into the most illogical territory of the subconscious. When you dreamt unconsciously your brain did everything automatically, but if you become aware of dreaming, your brain tries everything possible to make you forget that and keep you in a state of rest. This particularly turns ugly when you dream something that complies with every law of real world physics and real world logic. Still, it was a rare occurrence. But the law of large numbers wasn’t on my side this whole time.
I suddenly came to my senses, maybe. Lots of questions flooded my mind. Why was I letting Silas get back into my house every time he asked? Why was it that every day seemed brighter than the previous? Why did my hands feel weird? How did Silas get my address? And most important of all – why have I kept away from my gadgets for all these years?
I went down to the pool for a swim; after a thorough session as I lay floating, I started to think my entire life over.
My childhood was awesome; I always considered myself different from the others. I had far keener sense of the world than most. Maybe I was reading too much into it. Maybe I wasn’t just observing the world but creating it as well. I began to entertain the possibility that the last few years might have had me living in a universe with modified physical laws. Was I doing it? Do I have superpowers?
I tried drowning myself. As I held my breath I tried remembering my family. I had lost all contact with them in these years. I couldn’t stand being away from them, once upon a time. What happened? I remembered waking up exhausted and crying from all of the horrible nightmares I had about them passing away. It was pure agony where I was stuck for about fifty years each every single time. Damn! Those dreams were so realistic, I kept confusing reality with those dreams. When I was 19 in reality I was already 19 about thirty different times.
Hmm, where was I now? Oh right! I was underwater and not dead yet.
I realised I was, at present, experiencing nothing but a dream gone south. Having realised this, I bent the laws of the environment to test my hypothesis. I had it all in control. Great! Lower the brightness… and it didn’t. The one thing I couldn’t change was the one thing I desperately wanted to. I flew up to my house, because I could now. I took some rest but I didn’t need any. Somewhere between making it rain violently and experimenting with the planets of the solar system, I came to a realisation.
I located Silas and teleported in front of him. He smiled and was just about to say something. I didn’t let him.
I murdered him. My felt my soul split, but I brought it back together. I tried some Dragonball Z manoeuvres which were fun – always a Dragonball Z fan.
I went back to my apartment, which seems boring now since the entire universe was my oyster then. I decided to jot down all the problems I’d like solved. The most important one on the list was that I didn’t know when the dream began. I tried hard to think when it was that I started dreaming but I couldn’t come to a conclusion. The change in the laws of physics in dream-world must’ve happened so slowly that I couldn’t mark it precisely.
Did I only start dreaming recently? This would means Silas is just a few minutes away and I’d have to live with that sick reality if I wake up. Of course, waking up later is just watering down the problem.
Was I a child when I started dreaming? That would be awful too – I had a great childhood, but I have already seen at least ten years past it since then, not to mention the numerous fifty year dreams within dreams. The only good thing that could come out by waking up into my childhood is that I’d actually be the one who conceived of the idea behind Inception, Two and a Half Men, the Dragonball series, and all the TV shows I liked a lot in the second half of my life. I could just wake up and be the one who created these shows; that is, if the world, I wake up in, was the same as in my dreams since…
Is my entire life a dream? What if I’m just a living being that looks nothing like those in my dreams? In such a case it would be a stupid decision to end it all and wake up. Then again, from Matrix, I know I could be living a life that is not real in the slightest.
I decided to wait. I could not think anymore; maybe this was my reality now. Maybe I really did learn how to fire beams into people I didn’t like. Maybe I could cause meteors to strike the earth as I pleased. Maybe every thing I felt all my life was not true. I waited for a sign, but in the meanwhile, I played with my powers.
As a few years passed I noticed nights got as bright as a normal day. The moon had stopped being visible. The sun would just scorch everyone around and I had to fix them all up at the end of the day.
Luckily for me, there was a way out. One fine night there was an earthquake, a wave so strong it shook my whole world. How could it? I had it fully under control. Soon enough, the world felt aftershocks. After about an hour of enduring these waves of doom, there was thunder, but no noticeable lightning before it. Somehow, I knew it was time to die. Maybe, if Silas had never come across it would happen in a different way. I used my new found powers to create an energy source strong enough to blast myself to smithereens. That happened, and nothing.
I was felt completely powerless now. I was higher in the atmosphere scorching from all the concentrated sunlight in the ionosphere. As I fell back toward earth, I felt more and more calm and I wasn’t scared to die. I hit the ground in a couple minutes with a thud soft enough to keep me alive. I began to hear a sound – a ring from a phone. The phone was barely a few inches left to my head from where I had fallen. I mustered enough strength and reached it, peered at the screen and discovered it was an alarm. I put the alarm on snooze.
I’m felt my life getting out of me and in a few seconds I was dead. I hoped for my afterlife to take over. At least, I tried. Wait! No, I don’t believe in such things. What is going on???
A few seconds later I opened my eyes to see a daylight, and it was good. Is this my afterlife? Was there no better beginning to an afterlife than waking up at my bed in my house? Just then, I heard the same annoying ring before I succumbed. Ah! This was just my phone. Did I get to carry my phone to the afterlife with me?
I just laid down for a while with my eyes shut until I was able to move my limbs perfectly. I counted down from three and had a peek at what was in front of me. It was the very familiar ceiling of my bedroom in my Manipal house. I had a headache when I finally got up from the bed. I was still anxious to know which day it is when I woke up? As I started walking into the living room I made deductions.
Since it was my house in Manipal, I’m definitely older than 20 years. Maybe Silas had gone out at the time. I walked into the hall and found my long lost laptop on the coffee table. I hadn’t used it since I completed my engineering course, which meant I’m younger than 22. Of course, the true answer was right on the screen. It was September 12th, 2011. I looked around for books, and found I had my Mech Lab, of the fifth semester, that day; disappointed. I called home and told I wasn’t well and that I wouldn’t be going to college that day.
A lot happened after that. I got in touch with my long lost friends and found out that Silas never came to my house. I had lost all my superpowers and worst of all, I didn’t get to create all of those awesome TV shows. My blog list was open on IE9 in Windows 7. Wow! I hadn’t progressed much further in my dream which was really sad. I created a new blog for casual writing and got busy with this very post. Every bit of the story is true, by the way.
There’s just one thing I hated as much as it made me happy – this corrupt world. I hated the fact that I woke up in a place that was run by the most corrupt the world has known. I’m happy, knowing the idea of corruption was not conceived by me.