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Aritra had woken up after a strange dream, recovering slowly in a room suffused by blue light. The curtains at the head of his bed were drawn. Like a torrent of water impeded by boulders, the street light had rushed in through the opening, and the blue night-lamp had faded. The blue of the earthly sky. In the dead of night, his sparsely-furnished room had silently merged in its entirety with the external world. The room was no longer recognizable as a room, its six walls seemed to have fallen away. There was only a white strip on the window near the head. The entire western wall was an eagle with unfurled wings. More wide open windows. A desolate emptiness and the sense of an enormous expanse. Not the room but the world, not the world but the sky when it is blue. The sky itself. Uniting sleep and wakefulness, dream and reality. Was it a night of strong winds? And so, formless dreams had arrived at the junction between sleep and oblivion. The night wind had separated the physical Aritra from the mental one, overcoming space-time. Somewhere between deep and light slumber, something moved in a flash from ignorance to knowledge, like a bolt of lightning, before it disappeared. Some dreams are clear remnants of certain wishes, fears, rages and desires. Tamarind seeds used for indoor games were scattered across the terrain of consciousness. But this wasn’t that sort of dream. Someone had appeared, to say something. Sleep had no ears. So it had to be said through visual symbols.

The Fifth Man
by Bani Basu
translated by Arunava Sinha

Photographs taken in Kolkata, January 2017