Induced somnambulism

Arshid Malik

I guess our readers are familiar with the term “Somnambulsim”, generally referred to as “Sleep Walking”. For those who are not acquainted with the term, “Somnambulsim” is a disorder that occurs when people walk or do another activity while they are still asleep.When people sleepwalk, they may sit up and look as though they are awake when they are actually asleep. They may get up and walk around, or do complex activities such as moving furniture, going to the bathroom, and dressing or undressing. Some people even drive a car while they are asleep.

I hope now “Somnambulism” rings a bell. Come on, Qadir Khan, the Bollywood comedian most often puts up an act where he sleep walks into the house of his neighbours, teases the neighbours wife and ends up beaten black and blue. Now, sleep walking may be an act when we refer to Indian cinema, but actually it is a disorder caused by some kind of a mental disorder, effect of prolonged intake of sedatives or in some cases chronic sleeplessness. Why I am writing about this disorder right now is because if find myself afflicted with a certain degree of this disorder. I do not exactly fall in to the category of sleepwalkers but I do indulge in sleepwalking to a certain critical level but the difference between me and the regular sleepwalkers is that I do not suffer from the disorder as it would be but rather induce the phenomenon of sleepwalking on myself in such a manner that it becomes an indulgence. Another bipartisan difference is that I do not sleepwalk while I am supposed to be in bed but rather during broad daylight. I shut my eyes and go amuck. Why, one may ask? Well I would love to explain.

When I am wide awake I see the whole world going through the insurmountable pain and discomfort. I see, I hear, I read about people who are troubled by our self created inflictions. Whenever I go out on the street I find some poor boy toiling through hard labour to earn a square meal for his family. Whenever I am shopping I find people, poor people, wanting a piece of basic commodities while tears slip listlessly down their cheek.

These people are people who have somehow been abdicated by the very people who thrive around them in riches without caring to notice the suffering of those who cannot even afford a loaf of bread in the name of dinner. Whenever I visit a hospital or a health care centre, I find people writhing in pain, crying out for the attention of the medics while they actually go unnoticed as if they did not even exist. Every morning when I go out to buy groceries I notice the raggedly-clad neighbourhood boy watching the neatly dressed “other” boy accompanied by his father boarding the school bus. This poor boy has dreams hanging by his eyelashes but there is no comfort for him. No one cares.

When I am returning home from my days work, I find frail old people walking down the lanes, clueless in their own world. These people are forsaken parents, more than often. Their children are too busy keeping their lives uptight to care about their folks. These old people have no support and we celebrate to be the world’s largest democracy.

Every now and then when I go through newspapers and journals I come across horrible incidents where people are murdered in cold blood, daughters-in-law are beaten to death or set ablaze by cunning in-laws, people protesting the building of a dam which they know would turn out to be an ecological disaster and these peaceful protestors are beaten to the pulp and quite often shot dead.

Every time I visit a government office, I find “public servants” reeking around their ill-kept desks and extorting people of their hard-earned money. Corruption is what these un-servile creatures feed on. They fill their coffers with gold and silver which in actuality is the blood and sweat of the common masses.

Each time I study the work mechanisms of law-making and implementing authorities, I find it them riddled with holes that in all eternity “hinder justice” and “invoke crimes”. I find the security paraphernalia of the nation threatening the life circumstances of the common people. I find nations spending more than lavishly on arms and ammunition,cutting to size the budgets that are intended for the basic upkeep of the common masses.

All this and more pours down on me as I walk my walk of life. All I encounter in my soulful entourage across days and weeks are sorrows, tears and more of these. So, definitely I am forced to close my eyes and mind to all that I witness as the day slips by and this is my stage of sleepwalking. I sleepwalk to the end hoping to diminish the amount of exposure I have to gruesome and unwarranted pain. I am a sleepwalker and I cannot say no more.


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