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The Dumbek

October 29th, 2003

Last night I returned in dream to a place I had not gone in years, that of a very strange non-existent DeLuca relative. She was big and round and didn’t care what anybody thought. She was somehow estranged from her husband, but had two or three adult sons about my age apparently still living with her. The house was big and broad and cluttered with strange objects, much like you would expect the house of a DeLuca to be, with sort of orangish cream-colored walls with pastel trim. And the thing which made me realize I had been there before in dream was a section of wall in the hallway between the kitchen and the bedrooms that was actually some kind of enormous, amazingly clear projection tv, that at times pretended to be just a colorful section of wallpaper, but other times came alive. It was across from an arched doorway that led into the living/dining area. In the last dream I had I recall being afraid to mention it, I think because I was much younger and did not know this woman who apparently was my relative. This time I asked about it right away. “Does it stay on while you sleep?” I asked. “I could never stand that. I would be listening to it all night long.”

I was there with the family, and we were bored, so one of the kids offered to play a board game in which none of us were really interested. So instead I suggested Diana play chess with me, and she accepted readily. I went off to explore or possibly to visit the bathroom while she was setting up, and by the time I came back she had played out the game so that it was down to king, queen, pawn, bishop on both sides, and I was in checkmate. I was only slightly annoyed, because I was interested in the house.

One of the woman’s sons had the peculiar ailment of growing up every day from a little boy to an adult, and then going back again. At first this struck me as kind of fun, but then it was revealed that the kid had to kill himself ritualistically in a particular way at the end of every day in order to come back. He was tired of it, and wanted to go on living, just once. But his younger brother yelled at him, saying he would die for good if he did that. A scene most tragical.

It was clear from all the oddball stuff she had around that this woman was a collector of exotic but useless knicknacks, and as a matter of fact she had just recieved that day a wooden crate full of mayan or other tribal artifacts: little stone figurines, tall pieces of polished mahogany with sun gods or little people painted on their faces in black, and a lot of straw, for packing. She was in the midst of taking these items out and setting them up around her house. When I went to the bathroom, I found some of the stuff and was looking at it. Mistakenly I dribbled pee on one of the boards. Then suddenly as I turned to leave, I saw a tiny being standing on the floor behind me. He must have been only three or four inches high. He was brown, wore a large shapeless black hat, and bore an eerie resemblance to the things depicted on the boards. I shivered, but spoke to him courteously. I called him by his name (“Dumbek” or something–it was the name of the type of thing he was, like a gnome or fairy), introduced myself, and asked him if he understood me. He said something back in another language, a very small, froggy voice, then said my name back to me. Apparently he was there to ensure the safe treatment of his artifacts. Like a house spirit. He reminded me somewhat of the little stone-headed spirits of the forest from Princess Mononoke. Anyway, we parted courteously, and I went back to relate this encounter to the lady of the house. She explained that he wasn’t in fact a Dumbek, but a close relation of theirs. I exclaimed in no undue amazement that this was the coolest thing I had ever heard. I had met a magical creature! The world would never be the same.

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