I woke up breathing heavily and drenched in sweat. I glanced at the clock. It was 2:30 in the night. Engulfed in darkness and brooding silence I came to realize that my heart beat was racing against time. I reached for the bottle of water and glass kept on the desk. As I gulped down my second glass I felt a chill down my spine. I turned but there was no one. I looked around the room, searching through the darkness, absurd shapes forming in my mind but there was not a trace of my oppressor. I went back to bed exhausted but wide awake. The rest of the night was spent tossing and turning until the chirping of the birds put me to sleep. It was one of those nights where I encounter uncountable horrifying images surrounding me. Other times the sickening memories of my troubled past come looking for me. Anxiety builds during some other nights where I spend the whole night anticipating about my future. All I want is peace. And sleep that brings forth peace.

I retire for the night. Today I was lucky to have my cousin come over to my place to accompany me throughout the night. I could not take chances after yesterday’s night. I tried to close my eyes but found myself looking for shapes in the darkness again. I turned by back towards my cousin who was sleeping as if she has sold horses. A moment later after calming myself I turned to face my cousin. To my utter horror I found someone sitting at the edge of my bed. I let out a groan and slipped under my blanket. In a slow motion I started to pull down my blanket revealing my eyes to see if the apparition was still there. What I had thought to be someone from underworld was just my cousin’s knee thrown high up in the air. I heaved a sigh of relief and nudged the figure beside me so she would change her position. She and her faulty sleeping habits.

As I positioned myself to sleep again I heard a thud from the next room. I gathered some courage and got out of bed. I stuck myself against the wall and peeked into the room to see what was there. With horrifying eyes I saw the swing in the room move all by itself. I was dumbfounded. I froze in my place. Then from nowhere a tiny soul appeared and brushed against my feet. It cried, “Meaaow” and yawned and stretched. It was none other than my cat Minty who was up to her regular mischief. Taking her in my arms I cradled her. She purred and slept off enjoying the warmth of my arms. The creature has no such nightmares as I do.

My experiences with these invaders of sleep are numerous. My imagination runs wild with nightmares. The fact that they are a part of our lives cannot be neglected. But sleep is a beautiful gift given to humans. I did embrace the beauty of it. And if you watch me sleeping you will think I haven’t had a nightmare ever. Such is the ‘oh-so-harmless-tender-sleep’.

I can recall lines from the tragic play ‘Macbeth’ by William Shakespeare where he talks of the nature of sleep. Thus says Macbeth, “innocent sleep that straightens out the tangled silken threads of care, sleep that brings each day to a peaceful end and is a relief to a wearied labourer, sleep which is a healing medicine to the troubled mind and the most nourishing dish served by nature in the feast of life”.