a night watchman

What could be the reason? Why was sleep so elusive? Was it because of a crossword right before going to bed or it was something on my mind- and to escape from that thought, I had picked up the newspaper and started doing the daily crossword? I don’t know. Mind has its own ways to deal with ‘thoughts’.

I have endured insomnia and have fought a losing war with it. I lived in Sakardu, Pakistan for almost over a year. Not being used to living at high altitude, I was edgy and restless at first and then developed insomnia. It was really bad. But then after a couple of months things started to improve and I was able to get some decent amount of sleep and felt refreshed. Though, I cannot say that I was completely cured. Without any warning, I would still stay wide eyed till the early hours. But I was young and healthy and a very happy and proud mother of- now, a five month old first born. What was a year or two of sleeplessness going to do?! right?

A friend working in the Pakistan Army was also stationed there. He had the same problem and his doctor had prescribed Valium and told him to have half a pill (I do not know the potency) at bedtime. Being a good friend he advised me to do the same. Who, me? No sir, not in a million years. Thank you very much. I have a mortal fear of tranquilizers. I weigh my options first before a final decision to even take a painkiller like Tylenol.

Anyway, that was a long time ago. We finally bade farewell to K-2 and the other snow bound mountains and came down to the land of five rivers. Sleepless nights lost reality. Only once in a while when nostalgia strikes, we still take those times out of memory bank, dust it lovingly, handling it like something precious then putting it back in the vault for other times. I even talk about my insomnia, like a good old, long lost friend.

So what happened now that robbed me of my good night sleep? I think I have found out why.

I like making crosswords. Have been doing it for years now. But always in the morning, after breakfast I go over the headlines, read, if something seems interesting – a column, a letter to the editor, editorial, some sales announcement – anything.  After that it’s the crossword on the last page and me. Once done, I am ready to embrace my day.

It was an important appointment on the other side of the town and for that I had to start early. Everything was done on the double. There was no time for a relaxed sitting with the newspaper or a game of crossword. After dinner, all things done and taken care of, I picked up the newspaper. Big mistake!

Now that I have learned my lesson, I am going to follow these two rules.

Rule # 1: Never pick up a newspaper around bedtime.

Rule # 2: No matter what, do not attempt to solve a crossword near bedtime. This will jog your brain cells too much and turn you into a night watchman – short of making you, every now and then, shout a warning to the sleeping population… “jagte raho!” (stay alert!).

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