Ronald and the Penguins

I had a dream last night. My late friend Ronald kept penguins in his locker in the library. Of course one would never do that, but it was a dream. Anything can happen in a dream. The penguins were more like pigeon-sized stuffed animals than real-life penguins anyway. Don’t worry, no animal cruelty took place in this family-friendly dream.

Actually, my friend was being really nice taking care of the penguins. They were left behind from an event where lots of people brought penguins to a show and some did not even care much for them, thinking that the creatures won’t last long after. So my friend Ronald took care of them and placed them where he could.

There were two professor penguins. Yes, these penguins were real professors, not just a type of penguin – need I remind you that this was a dream? One was Professor Tamaguchi, who looked like one of those speaker plaques you get with your name carved on metal pasted on wood. Yes, the name is reminiscent of the tamagochi game where you get to take care of an electronic pet.

And there was a Lady Penguin who complained a lot. Life is not the way she had hoped for now that she was living in a locker in the library. We thought she was happy but she certainly was not, as she told us clearly in her very lady-like whine.

Then there were 6 adolescent penguins with beautiful brown designs on their backs – they were batik penguins. Never knew they existed, did you? In the dream, the same way the little baby penguins have a different color coat and look, the adolescent ones had these brown batik design – quite a splendor!

Now my mom was head of the English Department, so she had this big maroon wooden bookcase right next to Ronald’s locker. So we thought there would be more room for the penguins there. The two professor penguins stood nicely behind the glass door of the top rack with the books – they were more like plaques after all. The Lady Penguin fit nicely in the middle row. We were thinking of placing the six adolescent penguins on the bottom drawer. What hierarchy! I know, right? But the bottom drawer had the largest space, they could play and slide around there. We could make something for them.

We thought that in order to do give them that space, we would have to associate them being there with something literary. But the only literary thing I could think of regarding penguins was a children’s book called Ollie the Little Penguin that I had as a child. We didn’t think that was literary enough. The next thing I thought of were Penguin Books. We then thought if we could get the publisher to sponsor the penguins, the penguins might have a nice ice pen appropriate for penguins.

When I went to show Ronald my mom’s bookcase, it was a different dream, so the layout had changed. So I told him that it was in another dream, which is why things were different. I knew this was still a dream. Instead of a locker, the 6 adolescent penguins were kept in a box file this time. I went looking around and my mom’s bookcase was now white and open in the front and back and a bit withered, like the others, including Ronald’s – there were no lockers in this second dream. It reminded me of the bookcase that I once had a carpenter made for my bedroom when I was still in college, at the time when I would hitch a ride with Ronald to class.

So that was the end of the dream. I really enjoyed it. It was good to connect with my old classmate in a happy way after his passing. I loved the penguins. The change of dreams – how delightful! I love it when I am in a dream and I know it.

As a psychiatrist, you might think that I would be eager to analyze the dream, but I am not. I would just like enjoy the dream as it is, like an entertaining story to brighten my day.

The truth is actually very sad. Ronald passed away in sickness leaving his kind wife and beautiful adolescent daughter. He is survived by his two brilliant siblings and his mom. There had been a rift between them due to differences in faith.

For now I’d like to think that his story is kept in a library in my heart, where he lives on like the penguins. My friends (we call each other the rabbits, not the penguins), will keep supporting his family. Wherever he is, I send him my loving prayers.