Seven Dreams By: Ajith C Herath

Today I will post here a strange thing as conflicting so far though I was continuing with many misunderstood words and contexts related posts till the last one about high definition matrix of the human eye. This poem is by Ajith C Herath, a veteran revolutionist and critical poet in our time. He depicts the reality of the struggle in Sri Lanka for the last forty years since Sri Lanka was conceived the Marxist specters of armed struggle since radical revolutionary party the so called JVP, Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna or the People’s Liberation Front, proclaimed two unsuccessful revolutions in the island since its origin in late sixties. At the mid of the seventies the North Eastern Tamil people were engulfed into a similar attempt towards their liberation through another armed struggle headed by Tamil revolutionaries called Liberation Tamil Tigers of Elam, LTTE.

This poem depicts the final realm both of these struggles had to face in the capitalistic regimes.

Seven Dreams

First Dream -You never noticed

I was falling
from unimaginable points of infinity.
Mucky water surged
through the streets of the city.
Moments before I fell
On to the water,
I woke up an infant
In a cradle floating among debris.
I passed men and women
Smiling and waving at me,
Wading through muddy water,
Gathering up their clothes.

When the cradle toppled
Into a sewer,
I leaned out,
Shivering and unbearably cold
I crawled out of the cradle
Eagerly following you,
But you never noticed!
Suddenly, someone grabbed me
and threw me back into the surge.
Once again I was falling and falling.
Just before hitting the ground,
I felt I was waking up.

Second Dream –Your kiss did not lift the curse I was suffering

the rain was endless.
You stared out of the window.
The mist from your breath
blurred the Knuckles1 mountain range.

I was falling asleep,
knocked out by chloroform,
when I woke up
from a tear slipping out of your eye.
Stretched out on the dissecting table
I stared at you.

Once, for the last time,
You held me gently and kissed me,
Opened the window and dumped me out,
Then left the science lab
Never to return to school.
And your kiss never lifted the curse I suffered,
Nor did I ever wake up, before falling.

Third Dream - The bridge that could not be conquered

Naked they made you kneel down on the bridge,
Tightened your hands on your back.
To save your life,
I screamed and scraped the earth
For the last rifle none of you ever revealed.
It had carved itself underground;
I could not find it!
Corpses were floating downstream.
Whenever I pass this bridge,
I fall into the waters with a wounded heart.
I am still falling.

Forth Dream - I saw the blue skies and the clouds

sitting on a rotten plank bed
under a passion fruit hedge in the detention camp
I was thinking of ways to escape.
Softly you whispered into my ear
that digging a tunnel
I might be able to see
yet another blue sky with white clouds
beyond a range of seven mountains and large forests.

When the public well was abandoned
And the water was calm at noon,
I sat on the rim of the well
And looking down
Found that tunnel.
The bottomless well revealed
Yet another blue sky and white clouds
From the other end of the earth,
And you stared at me through my own eyes.

Ere the images faded:
Blue sky, white clouds and your face,
I wanted to flee through the well
Before the waters were ruffled
By buckets of detainees by the dozen.
Again. Through an endless hole
I was falling towards the blue sky.

Fifth Dream - Blue tarpaulin pyre

When the cradle was burning
Along with the camp hut of blue tarpaulin,
You came out crawling
Your tiny hands and legs burnt,
As I was helplessly watching
Your fearful struggle.
Once, for an instant, our eyes met.
I will never know, if you noticed.
You passed fossilized me,
Fell into a ditch
And disappeared amongst
Dead bodies and smoke …
The ditch that protected you
Was leveled into a tomb by bulldozers.
As they faded into the distance
All I could see was that tiny hand
Above the sands.

Sixth Dream - As I was late, I missed you forever

I woke up in sorrowful vigilance.
Unaware, if it was early or late.
It was still dark.
All of a sudden, a feeling persisted
that someone somewhere was waiting for me.
Who and where was uncertain,
At times it might have been you.
The days ahead, the tasks and appointments,
Were torn off the calendar.
Only the months and days that had passed are remaining …

Walking along the A-9 road,
I cleared the last military checkpoint,
Yet nowhere could I see you.
As I was late,
I did not know if you had left.
I was in the Vanni2, but you were not there.
So I was sitting on the doorstep
Of a house in ruins
Waiting with your half of the cigarette …

Seventh Dream - The past shattered and floated away

Once the search operation had been completed,
The soldiers left.
And in the demolished room I found
our group’s last portrait
Torn into shreds.
Lingering on those time-faded scattered pieces
was our smile
of the last moments we spent together
Just before going our ways
towards unknown destinies.
I placed the pieces on the window sill
wanting to mend them.
A sudden mysterious wind
stirred them up.
Piece by piece they scattered
with the last autumn leaves
Moving to sites far away.
We had become tiny pieces of paper
tumbling away in the wind.

Reflections on the Metamorphoses

lying on a bed early at dawn,
listening to the song of a bird
Is a dream
which may collapse from a fatal scream
in yet another dream.

Who are you?
Dream by dream …
You follow me, while I follow you
and before we can meet
you escape
only to reappear in different form.
Who are you?

Who are we?
Following each other, escaping each other again
through the mountains, valleys and meadows
that once we crossed.
Who are we?
Thousands of metamorphoses in a single soul,
Thousands of souls in a single shape.

Even now,
I can not distinguish myself from you,
As I cannot tell you apart from the others.
You are the prime universal matter,
while I am but the reflector.

With the second wave,
the corpses were flushed out to sea
and the swords were cleaned.
Everything but the difference
between the quick and the dead
was washed away…

The nights they want to erase from our memory
knock on the doors
of wrecked houses full of bullet holes.
The dreams that were dreamt
during sleepless nights
now are but short notes in an old diary…
Paths never taken at the junction of indecision
are blurring in the mist of time.

The cheap coffin which held your corpse
was abandoned in the middle of marshland.
Yet I saw people in a procession holding up high
the golden baldachin of the killer.
The deception passed justly unnoticed,
as similar ones had recurred in cycles.

A frog nailed its soul to the dissecting table
Split its chest and took out its heart,
while, its tongue stretched out,
it enjoyed seeing its own blood flow.
“This is my blood which I had long determined
to shed for your liberation.”
From that time on, no-one would ever die of starvation.

The last prayer rising up from the sorrowful darkness
Of Gethsemane3 gardens
did it not echo the holy truth
Revealed from Parileyiya4 jungle during the cold rains?

The harmonious calm of solitude
Experienced in a lonely school building in Bolivia
Or in the cremation chamber of Borella5 Cemetery
Or on the sands of blood-soaked Nandikadaal lagoon6,
Is the same silence remaining
at the far end of the universe
which the human race will never reach
while lugging their bundles of sins.


Freedom can only be sensed
an eternal prisoner
Held in a dream of itself.

My dreams, while unacceptable now,
Remain my reality,
though you have forgotten,
we dreamt those dreams
Together, a long time ago.

If this is a dream
I would love to live that moment
just before falling on to the earth.
If this is life,
I would prefer to roam through my dreams.

Moving freely
through time and space,
I would rather die forever unborn in my dream
than surrender with raised arms
to a compromising dawn.

By: Ajith C Herath
January 2010

English version by Dawson Preethi , Kalpana Ambrose and Karin Clark

1.The Knuckles Mountain Range lies in central Sri Lanka, north-east of the city of Kandy. The range takes its name from a series of recumbent folds and peaks in the west of the massif which resemble the knuckles of clenched fist when viewed from certain locations in the Kandy and Matale Districts.
2. Vanni is the mainland area of Sri Lanka's Northern Province. It is considered as an integral part of the traditional homelands of the Tamil people. For over a decade, it remained under the control of the Tamil liberation fighters who ran a parallel administration. Eventually the Sri Lankan government troops who pursued a scorched earth policy gain control over entire Vanni mainland in 2009, after massacring tens of thousands of Tamil civilians and completely destroying entire villages.
3. Gethsemane is a garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem most famous as the place where Jesus and his disciples prayed the night before Jesus' crucifixion
4. Parileiya Jungle-In Buddhist literature, Parlileiya jungle is described as a place Lord Buddha chose to live, in order to stay away from his own disciples who fell out with each other.
5. Borella Crematorium-The leader of the People Liberation Front, Rohana Wijeweera, who was captured by the Sri Lankan government troops for leading the second Sinhala youth uprising in Sri Lanka in 1989, was killed and cremated in Borella crematorium. The uprising was crushed by the government troops by massacring over 60,000 Sinhala youth.
6. Nandikadal Lagoon-In May 2009, the final battle between the Sri Lankan government troops and the Tamil liberation fighters took place in the area surrounding Nandikadal lagoon in North of Sri Lanka. It is widely believed that at least 40,000 Tamil civilians were massacred during this massive military onslaught.

The elements of the poem in its fundamental analysis of the reality and its metaphors as dreams has been separated into two major conscious levels which denotes the symbolic and imagery to clear cut the suture of the real. It needs some time to work on to see the deep layers of the poem in each space time continuum of which a total of seven.

Dreams and Photoreceptors

I was awakened by a dream. Suddenly I realized it wasn’t a dream but I have wakened into a dream!

Dreams and Photoreceptors

I don’t know how exactly I have witnessed this dream by my own biological eyes. Just to mention human has an eye made of flesh and nerves connected to the brain, the neural network of nature, which has the capability of distinguishing image data. It works more or less similar to a manmade camera in many senses. Just my belief is human has made a prototype of natural eye using some metals, plastic and electricity. Though we can see images in a flat continuum [say its flat but it isn't at all flat;retina is spherical], I mean we use our eyes to understand images without pixels! Is that a miracle? How we can see things without any distortion or discontinuity even though eye is made of distinct cells that have sensitivity over light in discrete pattern?

Let’s simplify this question.

We can assume the retina, which is sole responsible to convert light signal through some sort of electro chemical reaction into ions that will enable to transport the light data to the brain along the wires of nerves. In this case retina is made of tiny special cells called rods and cones. Both cell types will convert light data into ions which carry signals along the neuron chains.

In this manner rod cells and cone cells will make the surface of retina as a continuum to catch the light image and proportionately transferring those quantum energies into energized electron radicals through the optical nerve. So we sense the imagery data.

My problem is, if these distinct cells or discrete cells arranged over an area must generate light signals individually and those must be acting as separate data loggers hence the image we should sense must be having dots of colors of image parts similar to a printed picture on a newspaper. Because individual light sensing cell produces its own signal and brain is suppose to capture the entire picture by assembling all together. But if this is the process, it is there a chance to reproduce the image as a combination of a data which was generated by individual cells. For example if we have rod and cone cells[these are actually not in the same proportion. Anyway!] in a matrix of 1000x1000 then the image must be having dots or signals of the same 1000x1000 matrix!

wow...this is so mysterious! Is that the Matrix movie all tells about this?

"No.. no... it isn’t, please don’t misinterpret. Matrix is a more general term. Not only the movie itself! ;)"

But in nature we can see objects without the dots of separation so called pixels in digital context.

How can this happen? Are the photo sensitive cells interpolating the missing data at their boundaries through an algorithm who acts in the brains visual area?

Or though we have this nature of discreteness in the seeing objects but we are unable to disintegrate the actual image?

Or are we really getting perception of totally delusional field of light integrated with a seamless color matrix?

My quest finally is whether we involved seeing aspects of retina while we are dreaming?

I was searching some fact sheets available in the web to investigate this phenomenon of the eyes, but I rarely found free content for these areas as shared research papers on the subject. But whatever my argument stands still for the clarity of the resolution of our own human eyes images which should be bound to the limit of the number of rod and cone cells.

If we carefully study the arrangement of the retina we can see these rod and cone cells are discretely organized on the sub surface covered with another membrane of transparent which covers and protect the retina from the internal fluid of the eye which makes the media for the light to travel through the lens to the retina wall.

Retina – A thin multi-layered sensory tissue that lines the back of the eye. The retina contains two types of photoreceptors called rods and cones. Visual information received by the photoreceptors is translated to neural signals by the nerves called ganglion cells. The rods are more abundant in the peripheral retina and work to detect light/dark changes as well as shape and movement. Cones detect color and distinguish fine detail which is why they are denser in the central retina, especially in the fovea.

So it is easy to understand the anatomy of the eye, which shows many details of the eye structure but I want to focus the subject into the retina. So shall I insert another link to pursue the retina in detail?

The human retina contains approximately 120 million rod and 1 million cone photoreceptors. The figure below illustrates that the distribution of photoreceptors across the retina is not uniform. Cone density is highest at the fovea, where recent estimates place it considerably higher than the figure above suggests -- approximately 300,000/mm2; rod density is highest at about �18 degrees eccentricity. Rods are actually absent in fovea (which is why dim stimuli, such as stars, cannot be seen when gazed at directly, but become visible when images slightly eccentrically -- to the side -- where rods are plentiful). Primates and birds have true foveas (some birds, notably hawks and eagles, actually possess two foveas per retina!); other species such as squirrels, cats, dogs, deer, etc., have a less dramatic regional specialization, and possess what is called an area centralize or a visual streak.

What we can say finally? The human eye is the most High Definition screen for mankind rather to the manmade LCD or LEDs upto now. Isn’t it?

But my quest remains. What about dreams? Are they High Defined or not?