REVIEW: “Seven Dreams of a Valley” by Prashanth Srivatsa

Review of Prashanth Srivasta, “Seven Dreams of a Valley”, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Issue 307 (July 2, 2020):listen online. Reviewed by Richard Lohmeyer.

Appropriately enough, this is a dream-like story told from the point of view of a night watchman in a prison where, “when prisoners dream, it is only the walls that bear witness.” However, when Kalmashi, an accused witch and rebel is captured, something more seems to be at work. Though the guards are warned that even to look at Kalmashi is dangerous, they can’t help themselves. Perhaps for this reason, or perhaps because the night watchman is kind to Kalmashi at different times, he dreams (possibly as a reward) seven times over seven nights about the valley of Kashmira and its people. Or at least he seems to. But is his so-called waking life a dream, too? Where does reality end and dream begin? I’ve read the story twice and am more and more impressed by how successful the story is at blurring the line between what’s real and what isn’t. In any case, this is a story that’s worth reading again and again.