I play dead. I wonder if it’s something people do in general, or just a habit of mine.
What I mean to say is, I pretend to sleep or be unconscious when I feel like it. Or rather, when I don’t feel like it – when I don’t feel like getting up, or talking to people, or facing certain situations. I close my eyes and will the world to leave me alone.
When I think about it, I guess it mostly happens when there is an impending social interaction that I’m too tired/lazy to be a part of. Sometimes at home, sometimes while visiting other people. And it’s rarely ever premeditated. I might be resting on the bed when I hear someone coming in to call me and then pause. They’d call my name softly, but I wouldn’t budge. I’d make my eyes stay where they are, make my breathing even, and sometimes turn over to a more comfortable posture as if I’m simply tossing in my dreams. I’d listen intently to the hushed voice of my mother telling the relative that I seem to be asleep, and then the door closing softly behind them. I don’t break the act. I lie there awake, with my eyes closed, for as long as I feel like – usually till after the visitors bid boisterous goodbyes and their car drives away.
Some people are persistant. They suspect you’re fooling them, and keep trying to wake you up. I’d pretend not to hear my name till 4 or 5 times. I’d subtly bite the inside of my cheeks to prevent myself from smiling. The right approach in such cases is to half-open one’s eyes and shoot a grumpy look along with a groggy “whaaaat”, or “leave me alone” or, the winner “string-of-illegible-syllables-delivered-with-a-side-of-groans” and finish oft by turning to the other side and non-chalantly shutting those beauties again. Utmost care has to be taken that any utterance comes out in a slur with deep baritones.
Bonus tip: the groggy-groan phrases work well when you’re dealing with phone calls from people too.
So that’s sleep. Pretending to be unconscious is a whole different ball game altogether. The following stunts are performed by a manic professional; please do not try them at home.
I have done it twice. I think I was around 10 years both times, or perhaps just a tad younger. The first time I was at the town hall at the vaccination camp to get my tetanus shot. They gave every child a candy before getting the shot. The smell of hospitals and spirit always made me queasy (funny how that worked out career-wise) and I’ve always hated needles. I get the shot, feel nauseated and kind of melt into a lump on the floor. I’m alright in approximately two seconds, but by then my uncle has picked me up and put me over his shoulder, heading to the doctor in charge. I lie quietly with my body perfectly limp, and as I relax my hands to make them seem more realistically ‘limper’, the candy slips out of my fist. I hear the distinct sound of the wrapper hitting the busy floor, but now I’m in too deep to break character. I get placed on a table, a doctor checks my vitals, and decides I seem to be alright. Till date, I feel for two things – not knowing whether the doctor bought my little act, and the fact that I lost a perfectly good candy and had to look on as my cousin sucked on his.
The second time was in class. Math teachers pulled this clever trick where they would write a sum on the board for us to do, and the first few to finish them get a tick mark on their notebooks with THE RED PEN. It was such an honour, and it was often quite an aggressive competition. So a random day, she gives us sums, I hastily complete mine and rush over to her desk to get the tick mark. In my excitement, I fail to notice a bag that lies across the path, trips and falls flat on my face.
Now, this is happening bang in the middle of the class. In that split second I’m so embarrassed that I do not feel like getting up and looking at everyone laughing at me. So what do I do? Not get up. I lie on the floor on my face and do not budge. Kids crowd around me, and the teacher runs to pick me up and prop me against the desk. Still nothing. Then I feel the cold sprinkle of some water on my face, and decide it’s time for act 2. I blink, look around, and then blink some more at the worried faces around me. A few more minutes of making sure I don’t have a concussion, and then the show’s over, and the crowd disperses. I avoid eye contact with anyone, and start doing my sums again.
Oh what’s that you say? I’m a drama queen?? I wish I could respond but I’m kind of fast asleep right now, so.
Oh well. Snore, snore.