But time waits for no one. Ivan knows, he has to wake up from the dream even though he is dreaming a good one now. He dares not blink his eyes. He is convulsed with fear that what is perceived is counterfeited, and where he lives is not where his spirit stays at the moment.
The sunshine gradually turns milky, and is dimmed by the floating clouds. When his eyelids no longer hold after the torturing ten seconds, he droops them down for half a second. But everything changes again: An air of lavender shampoo he no longer smells, her angelic, innocent voice he no longer hears, the verdant lawn, the white birch tree he sees no more…
Instead he smells the choking, acrid smoke emitted by factories, vehicles and cigarette smokers; he hears the ear-splitting, penetrating horns beside the concrete pavement, where the traffic is so heavy that as though numberless ever-stretching, venomous cobras are showing each other his fangs, ready for a ferocious fight. But the pavement is another battlefield, too. Women, some carrying half a dozen of shopping bags and some tugging their baggage as wide as almost two men of average build, heightening their voices, are squalling at their companions just a couple of miles away from them in a language alien to him. The world is not colourful anymore. It goes, from his eyes, monochromatic, insensible and lifeless.
Standing before a fifty-story-tall monstrous building, Ivan heaves a long, deep sigh. Against his will, he has to enter this prison camp and be confined for the rest of his life. “You have to abandon wish,” he once admonished himself on the day of graduation ceremony, for Asian people, he fully understands, have always to work to redeem their sins committed during their previous incarnations.
When he is about to walk past the entrance of his workplace, a sparrow passes by and chants to him in a divine voice:
“Your mind creates this pain to thee,
The old days turns forlorn;
At a dark and sullen alley,
A doleful song was born.
Your mind creates this gloom to thee,
A skinny crow thus mourns,
Your teary eyes shall never see
Another lovely dawn.
Your mind creates a dirge to thee,
In the darkest you hear
Each note was tuned to minor key,
You carry ears too weird.
Your mind creates a fake to thee,
Remembrance now shattered:
You swim around the dark’ning sea;
Your soul’s been tattered.”
At first Ivan thinks whether it is a sign of some auditory hallucinations, since his sensibility tells him that a sparrow can only chirrup, and sparrows in a heavily polluted city usually mute themselves.
“You underestimated me. I am not an ordinary sparrow,” said the Sparrow.
He cannot believe what he heard. “How can it read my mind?” Question marks begin to run towards him like tidal waves. He once imagined that he would only make good dreams, and have never thought of having a nightmare. But if this was a nightmare, it would definitely be one queer, illogical one. His dreams have mostly been detached from the present. “So what? Am I staying at an unreal present?”
[To be continued]
[Featured image taken by James on 19th June, 2016]
 First written on 20th May, 2015