Thursday, August 01, 2013

About intimate dreams!

Vartanama, Aug '13
By Pawan Dhall

Street life in the Kolkata of the late 1970s had at least one entertaining element that probably does not exist any longer. Every few evenings the Baman Para area of Palm Avenue in South Kolkata would see children milling around a brightly coloured bioscope. For a few paise, it would be plenty of fun. The moving images inside and the accompanying sound would almost have a dream like quality. But it was also vaguely odd, bending and peering into a machine in the middle of the road, watching ‘dreams’. Dreams are intimate, and we don’t want everyone to know what they are. Yet we often look out for someone with whom to share our dreams.

Erotic dreams, dreams involving loved ones, dreams around relationships . . . and not just dreams we see during sleep. Aspirations that make our days and motivate us to rise every morning, strive and hope for the best . . . personal career ambitions that keep us awake through the night . . . strongly felt desires to see a friend, partner, child or sibling make progress in life – dreams so myriad, colourful, and yet so intimate.

What if something happens to shatter these dreams or nip them in the bud? What if social norms, prejudice and stigma, continuous teasing and taunts, domestic confinement, sexual abuse or assault, or even killings get in the way of realizing them because of our gender? What if they become out of bounds because we want to remain single or have sex outside wedlock, are infertile or childless, or love someone of the same sex? What if society ex-communicates and destroys our well-being because we are neither man nor woman, both, or simply indeterminate? What if we end up not even daring to dream?

Photo credit: Vahista Dastoor
The fact is all of this is happening even as you read this article – even if not to us, then to someone, somewhere who may not be as fortunate as us. The question is what do we do about it? Silence and looking the other way are options. Varta’s suggestion is, let’s face it and have a dialogue. Silence may be golden, but not when it kills hopes and lives. Dialogue on the other hand is about life. It is about building self-esteem, knowledge, skills, debate, negotiation, and being alert and witty. 'Talking it out' between individuals can clarify doubts; 'talking it out' at a social level can lead to corrective action in many spheres – family, community, education, livelihood, health, law, media, policy and politics. Dialogue allows our reflexes to be alive and kicking. If we get pushed, we push back. We use dialogue to push back ignorance, prejudice, stigma, fear, confusion, ill-health, disrespect and violence around sex, gender and sexuality.

Varta invites you to such a dialogue, and can also connect you to many other similar dialogues being carried out by individuals, groups, communities, government, media and other agencies the world over. Varta itself has roots in an earlier Kolkata-based initiative called Pravartak, a small journal that used to talk about the concerns of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the 1990s. But Varta’s aims are larger.

Varta can be the bioscope that helps us to dream anew. These dreams may be deeply private in nature, but they may well run into public obstacles. Yet, Varta can enable us talk about the dreams and the obstacles, and give ourselves and each other the means and courage to achieve and celebrate our dreams. So here’s raising a toast to our intimate dreams, and to daring to dream intimate dreams!

Pawan Dhall aspires to be a rainbow journalist and believes in taking a stand, even if it’s on the fence – the view is better from there!


  1. Pawan- I am astounded by the write up, you could not have penned it more intricately...Good going and all the best to your venture!!

    1. Thank you Wiloowisp - on behalf of the entire Varta team!