Ira Sukrungruang
Loose Interpretations of the Dreams You’ve Had During Naps in Thailand While Your Mom Listens to Buddhist Sermons About Suffering


In this dream you see your father, who is not the father you know, but a boy of eight or nine. The sun ascends over the sand in Rayong, the coastal city where he spent much of his childhood, a place you drive by to get to better places. The sun wakes the land, and this boy who is your father walks among clotheslines of drying seafood—the smell strong and pungent. The boy who is your father does not notice. He simply walks. The paper-thin squid quivers in the morning breeze. The husks of fish swim in the morning air. Plump shrimp shrink in the morning sun. The boy who is your father is surrounded by decay. He is part of the decay. He is in a state of constant decay himself. But then, in a heat mirage, the boy who is your father morphs. He becomes you, you in pudgy child form. You in yellow, red, green-striped pants. You in your Chicago Bears t-shirt, the one with the “B” in “Bears” fading, turning your favorite team into the Chicago ears. Suddenly, the smell in the dream is overpowering. The smell enters the nose and spreads inside the body. It is a smell that permeates the skin to bone to tissue to blood.  The smell makes you put your hand over your nose, makes you flee from the infinite lines of inescapable drying seafood, flee from this olfactory suffering. Truth: you don’t know what to make of this dream. You wonder if this dream is telling you how similar to your father you are, how you may possess his wayward nature, his desire to serve himself first before others, his habit of loving too easy and leaving too quick. Or the dream simply means you really hate dried seafood. You wake with an upset stomach.


Just yesterday you were twenty-one and stupid, and now you are thirty-eight and stupid. The puppies in this dream are cute, yes. All breeds of puppies—golden retrievers, cocker spaniels, Yorkies, poodles, Labradors. You want to pet the puppies. You think a world of puppies is a perfect world. So many puppies crawl over you and lick your face and toes. The puppies won’t be puppies long, though. The puppies will get older. The puppies will eventually pass. When you stepped out of the shower today, how many more hairs did you lose? When you looked in the mirror, did you see the flab of your life, the fat of your existence? It is a familiar reflection—in dream or in waking life—so familiar that over the years you’ve made it your friend. Still. Puppies. You want a puppy to be a puppy forever. You want the softness of their fur, the plump of their bodies to remain. But everything ages. Age is part of suffering, Buddha said. After the dream, you want to go outside and pet the stray that comes in front of the house and begs for scraps. The one with the rib-caged body and missing patches of fur. The one that waves its right paw when he sees you, like an old friend.