I often had two strange dreams: one was about Fatty and the other was about Poker-Face.
The dream about Poker-Face took place on a snowy mountain where he and I were climbing up in single file. He could always find a more stable route, so I was stepping on his footprints and steadily moving upwards.
The wind was blowing in my face, and when I looked up at the top of the mountain, I could see the snow sloping downward.
I knew that we were in an extremely high place because the air was very thin, but this wasn’t very noticeable in a dream. Even the cold wasn’t all that noticeable.
I didn’t know which part of my memory this dream reflected. Maybe it was the illusion I had created when I was meditating alone in Tibet. Or maybe it was that silent journey we took when I was sending him off at Changbai Mountain.
As I continued climbing, I became older and older and gradually slowed down. He, on the other hand, became increasingly light and active. By the time he started supporting me, we had finally made our way to the top of the mountain.
Then, my perspective changed and I felt as if I had left my body and was flying in the clouds. I saw the two of us standing side by side on the ridge of that snowy mountain. I didn’t know whether the sun was setting or rising, but the golden light was spreading all around us. A snowstorm seemed to be going on right under our feet, and even the wind seemed to be coated in a layer of gold as our shadows became elongated.
I could see that I was already an old man with grey hair. My face still appeared as young as I was before, but my hair was all grey. I could hardly stand on my own, so I needed his support to stay upright.
That old version of me lit a cigarette for himself. In the dream, I knew that this was a journey of no return and that I had already reached my destination. It was no longer possible for me to climb down the mountain now. This was a journey from birth to death, just like how life was.
The whole dream was filled with the sound of an unknown song. (2)
It was too cold here for my body to decay after I died, so I would be preserved for thousands and millions of years. I could sit here and let the snow and wind freeze me solid. Based on my previous experience, after hundreds of years, Poker-Face would see the exact same scene that I was witnessing at this moment.
It seemed that I was seriously ill and that I had chosen this ending for myself. I was surprisingly calm and didn’t have any regrets. Although I wasn’t able to live eternally like him, I found a way to coexist at the same time and in the same space as him.
Many years ago, I learned that in ancient times, many old people didn’t really die before their sky burial (3). Their sons and daughters would voluntarily break their parents’ spine, wrap them in a tiny red curtain, and pile Mani stones around them (4). They would then walk around the Mani pile, spinning their prayer wheels and waiting for their parents to die. People could drop by the sky burial platform at any time, and the ceremony would proceed whenever the elder died.
Some elders would take three days to die, which often had me wondering what they were thinking during those three days when there was no way back and no chance to regret it. Did they feel sad or scared?
Would I die this way or would there be a better way for me to die? Poker-Face knew so much about death, so in his world, how would he help his old friend face death with dignity?
I didn’t expect it to be this romantic. In this world, there was no other person who would use death as a romantic spice in such a natural way.
If that day actually comes, I hope that my dream will come true. But whenever I woke up, the Asiatic apples still bloomed like they did yesterday and the world remained ice cold. Only the song from the dream still lingered in my ears.
(1) “The Other Shore” (彼岸) is a concept of nirvana in Buddhism. It’s also an acronym for red spider lily. The red spider lily is a native flower in Asia used widely in tragedies/literature to symbolize death.
Translated by: Yvette
Edited by: merebear226