“The Child in Her Gentle Slumber” (1840) by George Cattermold, published in Dickens’s The Old Curiosity Shop. More about this plate can be found here.
Do you remember dreams well? What is a recent dream that you remember?
I had a nightmare, which consisted of the following images:
- Someone tries to pry open my curtains from outside of the closed window, on the sixteenth floor. It’s a boy and he yells: ‘Someone is at your door!’
- I walk out of the apartment & discover that mine is only one out of many, many, many apartments on the same floor. These other apartments — some are turned into offices, some are classrooms, there is also an operating theatre & a doctor is performing surgery on someone’s heart… I have never seen these other spaces or faces before.
- A postwoman. She delivers a letter to me. I tear the envelope, trembling. It’s a letter I wrote when I was ten years old. I recognise the handwriting: childish, happy. How did I know I will one day live in Whampoa Garden? How did my child self know I am here?
- I do not read it. Instead, I leave the building and run to the Hung Hom MTR station (this is very unlike me). I do not know what I am doing. I carry the letter close to me. On the platform, someone asks me: ‘How did you get here from Cambodia?’ I say: ‘I am not from Cambodia!’
- I think (these are my last thoughts in the dream): Why don’t I have my stupid Octopus card and money? Where am I going? There’s just me, and a letter, and apparitions of faces in the crowd.
I woke up not knowing the contents of the letter. What did my ten-year-old self want to tell me? Did she want to give me a warning? A prophecy? Perhaps she misses me? Is she doing okay where she is? Or does she need help? Where is she? Where is she now? What’s happening to her? What’s happened to the years between us?