I like Stephen King a lot, ever since I read The Shining on a train journey from Delhi to Guwahati and shivered to myself on the upper berth halfway through the book. True to the way I behave, I began to scrounge out Stephen King books right after that. I think I bought close to 7 books in a month, the same month I was coming down to Warangal to join the college. My father and I stayed in Calcutta for a day, and I spent the better part of that afternoon at Gol Park, haggling with the booksellers there for a bulk discount on the Kings I bought from them. Then I bought a couple more at Vijaywada station, where I got them for 50 Rs each, by some strange coincidence.
One of those books I bought and read in that initial white-heat period was Insomnia. Probably not one of King’s finest, the book was engaging enough because it seemed to be linked to King’s other works in odd ways. There were nods to The Dark Tower, and to Pet Semetary, and because most of the characters of all these books were fresh in my mind, I could enjoy the book a lot. You know what the most important thing about Insomnia was? The way it talked about sleep-deprivation. The main character – Ralph, I think his name was – slowly begins to sleep less and less. It’s not like he doesn’t want to sleep, it’s just that he could not go to sleep. He used to twist and turn in his bed and manage to sleep for an hour or so, and even that got chipped down to a couple of minutes per night. And it was then that Ralph starts seeing colours. Auras around living things. And small people in white coats with scissors in their hands.
Needless to say, this completely freaked me out.
Oh yes, I do know how to seperate fact from fiction, thank you. Especially fiction of the Stephen-King-kind. But what happened was – the book made me promise myself that I would never ever forsake sleep or change my sleep-cycle, that every night I would get a minimum of six hours of sleep, regardless of whatever else is going on in my life.
That resolution held good for all of four years in RECian life, except for a night when I had to sit and design a poster on my computer. Photoshop 5, 32 MB RAM. By the time morning came, I was a completely frustrated wannabe designer – woke up the guys who were sleeping on my bed ( they had come on over to offer moral support through the night, and had dozed off at around midnight). Technically, what I am saying is, I have never done a “night out” before, be it before an exam, or after, or because of college fests or whatever. Well, sure, I would stay awake late, but I could not do things like – I had to grab some sleep when it was dark, or else Stephen King’s Insomnia would come to haunt me, and force me to close my eyes and shut down my nervous system. On the positive side, this meant I could fall asleep under any circumstances, with loud music playing in the background, on a bare floor, on a chair, inside a train toilet…
Over the last two weeks, things have changed a bit.
I begin working in the evening, at about five or six PM if things are really tight, and continue until about seven AM in the morning. I see the sun rise every day, and shiver in the cold morning breeze every time I head home. I sleep until about noon, and then I listen to music and read Doom Patrol until it’s time to come to the office again. (Must. Resist. Doom Patrol. Rave. Must. Resist.) Four hours of sleep every day, food at slightly odd hours ( I have been having a very heavy breakfast, courtesy this really swanky restaurant near my place that offers a buffet from seven AM onwards. 45 Rupees only. And they serve pancakes and honey among other things, yummy!) Lunch gets postponed until the evening, and dinner gets done sometime at midnight.
But the fact is, I’ve never really felt better. It’s actually quite fun to work at this time, I have found that more work gets done because of lesser distractions, and also because I am working in synch with the overseas team. I can play Juno Reactor really loud if I want to. I can play anything loud if I want to, hee-ah. I have a secret stash of chocolate bars right here in my office drawer, and the pantry has an ample amount of coffee to soothe my tastebuds at times. It’s not like I stay tired during the daytime, or that I am over-working, none of it at all.
You know what? I think sleep, and the concept of sleep-cycles are a tad overrated.
Social life, you ask? Not too bad, really. My “window” for a social life is between three and six PM, which means that most of normal human society stays away from me, muwhahahaha. But yesterday was good. Managed to catch a surprisingly good Jazz concert at this cafe yesterday evening. Got drenched too, while coming to the office later in the night. I did what a self-respecting software engineer ought to do against natural born dilemmas – I used my credit card. Saw a sale going on at an Arrow outlet and bought myself a couple of shirts. (Had to pinch myself later to see if I was still sane.) But yesterday was a good day, in fact. I found my USB drive again. Yes, the same one that had gotten itself dunked into the washing machine the last time ( that’s called transference of guilt, for the uninitiated). I could not find it for about a week, and just as I had given up all hope of finding it altogether ( I thought it had fallen out of my pocket), there it was, inside the pocket of a shirt that I was about to put into the washing machine. I have a feeling this little bugger likes refreshing its memory every now and then in the washing machine.