After three hours of sleep, Baba woke up with a jolt, now sitting bolt upright, as if right after a nightmare. From his quickened breathing and sweating face, I could tell it was the same dream again. I’d heard him tell Ma about it once.

He’d said that he finds himself standing atop a sand-walled void, an enormous emptiness that whirls and whistles like a tornado. He tries to hold on to the breeze, but the very air pushes him into the blank. His body then jerks him awake, saving him from dissolving into that infinite hole.

Fright grips his bones thereafter, and the void continues to dance before his open eyes. Like a wanderer, he keeps peeking into the golden-walled, dark vacuum. Minutes pass before his heart stops with its furious thumping, his pulse slower, and his mind, once again, is able to separate the real from phantasms.

Ma told Baba to inform her when the nightmare revisited, and after a few months, our resident psychoanalyst had a diagnosis: “You twitch yourself awake when you’re stressed or afraid,” deduced Ma. “It happened when your father started losing his vision to cataracts, and we did not have the money to fix his eyes. It…

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