June 5, 2011, 12:00 pm
I was at the trial of Josef K, who was arrested by two unidentified agents for an unspecified crime. Everybody in the country began to think that Josef K would finally receive justice as he was arrested unlawfully and arbitrarily. Trial began and I was eagerly watching everything that was happening around me. Court was beautiful with its wooden panels over the rusty walls. The judge who looked smart and old was sitting on the bench and began the proceedings. Lawyers were looking at their notes and files often asking questions from their assistants for clarifications. While the proceedings were in progress, I looked at the judge and was surprised to see that he was, like Gregor Samsa, a travelling salesman in The Metamorphosis, transformed into a monstrous insect-like creature. I closed my eyes and opened them once again to see if I am in a kind of hallucination. No I was not. He was transformed into a monstrous insect-like creature. Verdict was read by the insect-like judge and it said that Josef K should be killed ‘like a dog’ and buried like a dog without performing any rituals. I stood up and wanted leave the hall without making any noise. I felt that I was walking backwards, 23 steps and ended up in a dark room. In the room that was now not that dark, Gunasena Mahanama, who was the General Secretary of the Government Clerical Service Union, with whom I was politically linked by then was answering the phone asking many questions from the person on the other side of the line. Ending the telephone conversation, he turned to me: "We have to leave soon to Tangalla". "What for?" I asked. "Comrade T was assassinated by the JVP" Comrade T, a quiet person, was the branch leader of the GCSU in Matara. In the van with few of us travelling to Tangalle, he revealed to us: "The JVP wanted to bury him without performing any rituals, no funeral speeches. They have even advised not to carry the coffin on shoulders." He further added: "Only family members should be allowed to come, no outsiders". "So why are we going?" I posed a question that sounded absurd to Mahanama. "We are going to defy the orders of the JVP." He replied not looking at me, but the others. Out of fear, I got down from the van and walked back to the court room seeking justice.
The doorkeeper was on guard. There was a man from the countryside who was begging the doorkeeper that he would be allowed to enter the court room. But the doorkeeper told him that he could not admit the man at the moment. The man, on reflection, asked if he would be allowed, then, to enter later. "It is possible," answers the doorkeeper, "but not at this moment."’ Since the door leading into the Court stood open as usual and the doorkeeper stepped aside and the man bent down to peer through the entrance. When the doorkeeper saw that, he laughed and said: "If you are so strongly tempted, try to get in without my permission. But note that I am powerful. And I am only the lowest doorkeeper. From hall to hall keepers stand at every door, one more powerful than the other. Even the third of these has an aspect that even I cannot bear to look at." These are difficulties which the man from the country has not expected to meet; the Law, he used to think, should be accessible to every man and at all times. I was listening to this conversation between the doorkeeper and the villager and found myself spellbound to see that the doorkeeper was in fact the same judge who heard Josef K’s case but now in different attire, furred robe, with his huge pointed nose and long, thin, Tartar beard. The villager pleaded time and again and asked with anger: "Everyone strives to reach the Law, why is it that, over all these years, no one but me has asked to be let in?" The judge turned doorman replied angrily: "Nobody else could have gained admission here, as this entrance was meant only for you. Now I will go and close it." A realisation came to me that there was no use for me to try and enter the courtroom. The villager was trying to obtain justice through law. There was no law but only a web of undefined power relationships in bureaucratic machines that swallow up the individual. No one was responsible. In this matrix of relationships, there was a dialectical tension between the doorkeeper and the villager leading nowhere over the lifetime of the petitioner for justice. I jumped a bus and went bank to attend the funeral. Mahanama was giving a thunderous speech defying the order of the JVP.
I was awoken by this dream. I felt I was sweating and could not sleep. So I got out of bed and went to my study and sat down near a fire place. I wanted to read something, but I found all the books in my book shelves were of no use. I took Jataka Stories the only book in my library that was closer to religion. Almost all Jataka stories connect past with the present. I was astonished to hear my mobile ringing at this time of the day. It was SMS. "Who the hell is sending SMS to me at this time?" "May be someone from Europe or North America" I surmised. SMS read: "Wear cap once again and don’t remove it." No number but the name of the sender: "eqwtvghcrrgcn" I saw the cap I used to wear sometime back. I threw it into the fire and carefully watched the way it was finally burned down without a trace. I woke up and realized it was in fact another dream.
I found the two novels by Franz Kafka, The Trial and The Metamorphosis were still on the bed. Kafka wrote in one of his notebooks: "The myth tries to explain the unexplainable. As it comes out of a ground of truth, it must end again in the unexplainable." "Is it true for dreams?" I wondered.
After these two terrible dreams (I am not sure if it was two episodes of the same dream), I was not able to sleep and browsed through online papers. Financial Times carries this: "As a young girl, Arundhati Roy once raided her teacher’s garden in her native village in Kerala, the lush tropical state in the south of India. She dug up the carrots, removed the edible orange roots then carefully replanted the green tops in the soil. It took four days for the greenery to wither and the crime to be discovered. The culprit was never identified.
Roy tells this story on a sweltering night in May in New Delhi, at the India launch of her new book, Broken Republic. She argues that India’s much-touted democratic institutions now resemble the post-raid carrots in the teacher’s garden: the green tops, or external forms, are present and visible, but the substance, or essence, is missing."