Kumbhakarna, the greatest and heaviest of all sleepers, has finally got company. Joining him in the Chamber of Eternal Slumber is North Korean defence minister Hyon Yong-Chol. The latter dared to doze off during a military event, and that too in the presence of his baby-faced boss Kim Jong Un. It might have been a power nap of sorts, but the dictator didn’t think so: he put the defenceless minister to sleep for good with an anti-aircraft gun.
The next time you feel like yawning at an office meeting, do remember that your boss doesn’t need a gun to fire you. Still, thank heavens India’s not N Korea. Here, it’s common to spot our politicians in the snooze mode at public functions. They are not to be blamed: the events are so painfully long and boring that all parts of the body fall asleep one by one – arms, legs, buttocks, etc. It goes to the netas’ credit that they manage to avoid falling into each other’s laps. However, the ‘work more, sleep less’ culture is gaining ground in this country, thanks to our tireless Prime Minister. The day is not far when these drowsy leaders would be shown dubbed versions of the James Bond flick Die Another Day, in which the villain stays wide awake 24x7 and calls sleep a waste of time. And once our elected ones are caught on camera with their heads drooping, they’ll surely be ticked off, if not bumped off, by the Big Bother, or rather, Brother.
Had I been at the helm, I would’ve got Right to Sleep inserted in our Constitution itself. It’s among the most natural of all human activities, even more liberating and refreshing than sex, if you think long and hard about it. You are reduced to a zombie if you don’t get enough of it. People like me, who keep tossing and turning in bed all night long, know very well what wonders a two-hour siesta can do during the day. Nothing in this world can pull me out of bed at noontime, not even if it’s Sunny Leone banging on my door or Mukesh Ambani flashing a blank cheque.
An inescapable part of sleep are the dreams: beautiful, beastly or bizarre. You don’t have to be a Dr Freud to interpret most of them. It’s so cathartic to be eaten alive by a dinosaur and then wake up to find yourself in one piece. And it’s so shattering to see yourself hugging a pillow when you had Katrina Kaif in your tight embrace just a moment ago. For better or worse, a majority of the ideas for this column have appeared to me in my wild dreams, though I’ve often had to use the censor scissors to tone them down.
Punjabi movies, especially the censor-friendly comedies, are mostly nonsense, but once in a while they have something worthwhile to say. In the laugh-a-minute Carry On Jatta, Honey (Gurpreet Ghuggi) smartly justifies his Kumbhakarnian nature. He advises his frustrated father to tell all the taunting people: “Ohna anpad lokan nu samjhao ke mere munde de supne bahut vadde ne. Hun vadde supne vekhan layi jyada time layi sauna penda hai (those who dream big have to sleep longer).” For the incurable insomniacs, there’s Andy Warhol’s Sleep (1963), the maverick filmmaker’s five-hour-long tribute to his friend’s myriad states of slumber. Even if you can’t sit through it, you can certainly get your much-needed forty winks.
Now we come to the most interesting aspect of sleep. Not many people know that it izzzzzzz…