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Wednesday 11 March 2020

Musings of a sleep-deprived mind

Eyes still shut, my fingers reach out idly, seeking to wrap around the familiar shape of my hair scrunchie (a hair tie). They are still seeking after a few seconds rifling through the pile of stuff - my other bed partners if you will, and I grow restless. Eyes pop open in discontent. Darn! The scrunchie is not in its designated place - underneath or near about my pillow. Not a good way to start the morning, I need my favourite scrunchie to be just where it is supposed to be to keep my unruly mane and therein, the head in place.

One can argue that this valuable accessory can be safely placed in a number of other trustworthy places, a bedside table definitely would be a great choice, but whaddya know, there's no place handier than the place under my pillow.
I did try to move things to the more sensible bedside table with drawers, but it was no good! The drawers get crammed in no time with all sorts of pseudo-important junk. Then it's a harrowing proposition trying to find anything you want in it. I've even tried drawer organizers. The ratio of the time it takes to sort items into different compartments to the time it takes to mess them up is about 100:1, yeah totally not worth it!

I would say that just like my capacious handbag, the mini holdall or the tote as it's popularly called, you know...the one I lug around whenever I am out, this place roundabout my pillow has everything I would be likely to need while getting my Z's or most often when I am not getting 'em. 
You see, I am a particularly light sleeper with the promising makings of a chronic insomniac.

So getting back to this coveted place - let's give it a name, shall we? Gee, I do so love naming things! From prospective baby names, blog post titles, if-I-ever-manage-to-write-a-book-and-it-gets-published book names, also pseudonyms - if I choose to write anonymously, an a.k.a - if I decide to go rogue and relocate to get the drift? Also, this naming game makes for an extremely entertaining way of passing time when you are done counting sheep. 

Digressing aren't we, so this place under/around the pillow what will I call it? Pillownagar, Pillowsthan...Pillowria, yeah I like this one! 
Pillowria is a small but important province on my bed, yes, like it's the capital city of Bed-is-sthan. 

Pillowria is where I keep all the things I need in the blink of an eye. Besides the aforementioned all-important hair scrunchie, I have a potpourri of bottles and tubes like Vicks vaporub, Zandu balm, Moov, Volini, you know, the usuals to tackle the stuffy nose, the stubborn headache, the aching limbs. Then there are new additions like the lavender oil (purchased solely because it sounds exotic) bottle along with a muslin hanky, my kindle, of course, to keep me late night company, my phone - before you raise your brows, let me assure you it is on airplane mode, it's just to jab in those brilliant writing ideas that pop up at unearthly hours (this one included) and also to check the time so that I can plague everyone the next day with breaking news such as: How many times I woke up last night and till what time I was awake.

You might think that with all this paraphernalia underneath, the pillow would get a tad uncomfortable. While I am not as sensitive as the princess of the 'Princess and the pea' fame, I definitely can't sleep with such a large stash under my pillow! It is stored under an adjacent pillow. Not for nothing did I insist on a king-sized bed. My substantial better-half, I and,' The Pillow Stash Co.' are 1/3rd partners of this bed.

The mention of the better-half reminds me I need to recharge the airpods lying in Pillowria, what with the snore lore emanating from the Mr. becoming more resonant with each passing day. The airpods are meant to mute out the adjacent noise besides listening to soothing sleep sounds, yoga nidra and sleep meditation I've downloaded on my phone. I find them very useful, they help kill the first couple of hours of the night. 

Insomnia while a new affliction for me, is not unheard of in my family. I come from a long line of veteran insomniacs, practically all of my maternal side - mom, aunts and grandmother are/were one. So I've grown up listening to these mighty ladies of my life battle through sleepless nights and live to tell the tale the next day. 

It was rather exciting for me as a kid to hear them having heated debates over who slept the least. Here's a snatch of reminiscence I was having just the other night...

During summer vacations when we visited the native village, it was invariably plagued with the most absolute power-cuts. It was very rare to have the fans running all through the night. Typically the sadistic operator working the power station switched off the electric supply around 12 am and graciously switched it on by 6 am. So yeah, that pretty much kept everyone miserable in the heat. The women slept in the rezhi - large central hall while the menfolk usually took the vasa thinnai - outermost room, the one that had open shutter-free windows facing the road. 

Kids could choose to sleep in either of the spaces but we invariably chose to sleep with our mothers. The really juicy gossip sessions garnered maximum heat (literally and figuratively) and spice when the women were done with the day's chores, and we certainly did not want to miss those! The women kept the gab rolling, absently fanning themselves and us with kai-visiris while we kids pretended to be asleep, surreptitiously lapping up all the yada-yada! In between conversation breaks, they whole-heartedly cursed the wretched electricity dept. When the sessions went on long enough, pati brought out her bakshanam dabbas for the impromptu late-night snack session. Generally, post snacks, there would be a lull and people probably caught a few winks then or maybe that was when I conked off!

The next morning scene during the first kaapi would be,

Aunt 1: (Yawn) These blasted mosquitoes, they didn't let me sleep a wink last night!
Aunt 2: Mosquitoes, pah! I would have slept if it weren't for your loud snores!
Aunt 3, 4: (Giggling) That is true, you do snore too loudly!
Aunt 1: (Indignantly) Of course, I do not! It must be someone from the vasa thinnai! A bear would think twice before venturing in, with their snores!
Pati: (joining in from the chamayal ull) God knows how all of you can sleep so deeply! After you all went to sleep, the drinking water supply started, and not one of you heard the water sound. I was up until 4 am filling up all the buckets and that bottomless trough!
Aunt 5: No amma, the water came in at only 5 am, I saw the time as I was returning from the loo. I was the one who woke you up, don't you remember?
Pati: (Crankily) Oh that was you? Why did you wake me, you might as well have filled up the buckets yourself!
Aunt 5: (Chuckles) As if you'd let me! How else would you win bragging rights to having slept the least last night?!
(Everyone laughing)
Pati: (Hiding her grin) Porum, porum! Now take the kaapi to the vasa thinnai. Aren't the men awake yet? How they can sleep like this in the heat, beats me!

And so this dear lot of insomniacs went on about their day, a bit dazed and cranky but with a whole lot of gusto nevertheless!

Coming back to the present, contemplating the merits of camomile tea, melatonin supplements to cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia is honestly a pretty unappealing way of spending your free time!

What is worse than a sleepless night of tossing and turning? 
The morning after, of course! 
With a demeanour akin a grizzly awoken from mid-hibernation or the jolly Mr Hyde, yours is definitely not the company one might seek out to discuss the merits of a refreshing night's sleep!

What is worse than not sleeping?
Watching the person next to you sleep, blissfully unaware of your travails!

“I don't know why it should be, I am sure; but the sight of another man asleep in bed when I am up, maddens me.”
Jerome K Jerome (Three Men in a Boat)

Adding salt to the wounds,

“The best cure for insomnia is to get a lot of sleep.”
― W.C. Fields

Insomnia is good to joke about when you have company but it is a frightful proposition to encounter alone, day after day or is it night after night?! 
Well, let's plug in those airpods, shall we? "Take five deep breaths, inhale, exhale...."
Where's this going to end, where's this going to end, you wonder...

“One of the Georges - I forget which - once said that a certain number of hours' sleep each night - I cannot recall at the moment how many - made a man something which for the time being has slipped my memory.”
― P.G. Wodehouse, Mike and Psmith



pati - grandmother
rezhi - central hall
vasa thinnai - outermost room
kai-visiri - hand fan
bakshanam dabba - homemade treat box
kaapi - filter coffee
chamayal ull: kitchen
porum - enough

Enjoyed this post? Read more southern-spiced pieces from,

The Mami Saga: Click on tag/label #MamiSaga

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2) Kaapi-ready

3) Of Dangling Drumsticks, Wily Vadus and more

4) Idli Seria Vanduda?

5) Mamievolution

6) Buzz Fuss

7) Yours Generously

8) Those Cold Days

9) Musings of a sleep-deprived mind

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