Nightmare, the edge of reason, the endless unappetizing cycle

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“Oh fuck, why am I dreaming this again!”
As a student of activism and humanitarian relief work in the late 1980s, I often had bad dreams. What struck me the most was how lifelike they were. The nightmare followed, stalked me, often senselessly when I was in the field, either endlessly coordinating supplies to be transported or the actual relief work in the zones. More like twilight zones on a backdrop of mayhem.
I have learned over the years to lock the memories in my mind, in my soul ~ an abandoned sanctuary. Locking them in Vaults, securing them tightly with chains made from loss and forgetfulness. It was better to let sleeping dragons hibernate. The challenge was that, to control my emotions in such a way that in the course of my work, I would not accidentally awaken the dragons. Such a thought and determination is not as easy as I would care to boast. Even with an adrenaline-infused will power, I hear the calling, the whispers of seduction, a soothing voice ~ they beg me to open the Vaults. And at times during moments of severe anxiety, I would welcome myself to the Vaults even with a grin, hammer, hard, at the chains, seeking the release of those memories.

For the past two decades, I have been able to control myself, with some occasional bizarre moments of weakness, to let the memories sleep, in deep greyish slumber.

My multi-dimensional dreams do not inspire me, nor do they incite and entertain. My dreams carry the harsh realities and experiences of an old age of radical activism, of deeds committed, and of sheer failures. My dreams are my own, a towering empty labyrinth of cycles, of confusion. Best let sleeping dragons hibernate, for now, let them slumber within a dream.


An avid blogger, twitterer and photojournalist, Zashnain Zainal suffers from an incurable addiction to social work, helping marginalised communities since 1989. Nowadays he travels from the plantations of Malaysia to the slums of Thailand. He can be found at and @bedlamfury

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