Paris, 2 April 2009
Dreamt that not our real father (although there had been some doubt) but the man my mother was living with when my sister was born was a certain Mehdi Dama, researcher, historian or sociologist from a very arid country, Libya, perhaps. (It was while I was in high school, while writing a newspaper story for a German class that I learnt how to spell ‘Libya’ and ‘Syria’, which is probably how I got Damascus. And the Dame of the lake, though not very arid by definition. I listened to that record at Prangeleux when I was a little girl.) I tried to get to know him at a cocktail party. He gave me a piece of paper with scribbling on it, something like a list of errands or notes that you take while talking to someone on the telephone, which dated from that time and documented the facts. Unfortunately, while I was talking to my mother about it later, I put it on the table and, while cleaning up, she threw it away, on purpose, to destroy the evidence. In the meantime, moreover, I was taken to task by my father who had told me, ‘A father and a mother, that doesn’t make Belgium yet.’ A statement that, in that context, was completely enlightening.
Later, while travelling, I noticed (from the middle of a country field) the towers of Manhattan in the distance, emerging from a yellow industrial cloud.
Paris, 18 July 2009
Last night I dreamt that Venice was actually inside Paris. Somewhere on the rue de Turenne, we passed a porch, entered a courtyard where there was a large, very wide staircase. Below, we were in Venice. I was surprised; in Venice the lagoon is all round you! But there was a simple explanation, which I’ve forgotten. It was wonderful to think that on any given day, on a whim, I could go down the stairs and take a stroll round Venice.
Paris, 26 December 2009
I’m wearing my brown boots, which are thigh-high, but I had to take them off and set them next to the wall to go into the igloo. When I come out they aren’t there any more, I should never have set them close to the trash cans! I spend the rest of the dream trying to track them down.
Mont-Noir, 21 July 2010
Dreamt of G. In Paris, we were walking in a ritzy neighbourhood, in front of the Russian embassy where he had an important job. Turning round I noticed a narrow, forbidden door between two buildings. I was amused when I realized that it was the end of the blocked passageway next to the German Historical Institute, the very place where I went to smoke cigarettes during my breaks. Without knowing it, and without seeing one another, our jobs were just a few feet apart!
Berlin, 18 November 2010
I’m in my apartment in Berlin, which is, however, larger than in reality, square, with a different design: there are double doors everywhere, like in the Rigiblick hotel in Zurich. My mother is there and is looking for a book on the bookshelf, she chooses a children’s book that I don’t really like, an old paperback that came from their house. She is very nervous, she is turning her flight tickets over and over, I ask her why. ‘Do I really have to tell you? ’‘Of course, tell me, I don’t understand.’ ‘Come on, you really don’t know?’ ‘No, I really don’t.’ ‘Well, I went back to work.’ It takes me a moment to grasp the importance of what she has told me. She has returned to work whereas she has officially retired, she risks being sanctioned by the governing council. I argue that it would not be very serious, since she was no longer working. But there is worse, she explains: she was ordered not to leave the country during the investigation, and she came here. The children’s book is an alibi, she has to justify her presence in Berlin by claiming she had important reading to do.
And then my father arrives through the same door. He is looking for a plastic duck, a bath toy, I don’t understand why he needs it, let alone for whom, it can’t be for my children, they’re too old.‘So you don’t know for whom?’ ‘No, I assure you.’ ‘Well, you should have an idea!’ ‘No, I don’t, you have to explain it to me.’ ‘Really, you don’t know?!’ My obtuseness exasperates him. Fortunately, I wake up before he gets really angry.
This extract and the illustrations have been taken from Diane Muer’s ‘In Dreams‘
Translated by Teresa Lavender Fagan, with illustrations by Sunandini Banerjee