We all have nightmares. It’s a rite of passage for all of us who outgrow diapers and light-up shoes. Back in our early years, our imaginative minds would be working overtime, turning every darkened closet and dimly lit basement into a charnel house of horrors. I once had a nightmare about my laundry coming to life and smothering me, so I know what I’m talking about. Kids are easy to scare by nature, and many of our dreaming moments were spent in pants-wetting terror.
But then there’s the opposite of a nightmare. You know which ones I’m talking about. One of those dreams that leave you with a big sappy smile on your face. Maybe you were dreaming you were eating three square meals of marshmallow pie, or you were Superman flying majestically through the clouds, or you were having intercourse with a Swedish bikini model on top of an elephant. Dreams like that are rare and hard to come by, and we English- speaking folk don’t seem to have a word for them. But the Bantu people of Africa do.
Bantu is a word used to describe the 600 or so ethnic groups living in Africa who speak Bantu languages. These languages mainly include Zulu, Shona, and Swahili. However, they can all agree that the word for a legendary, blissful dream is bilita mpash.
Bilita mpash is the exact opposite of a nightmare. It’s a word you would think is desperately needed in the English language, but it’s strangely absent. It’s odd to give an awful nightmare the courtesy of a definition and yet deny a state of bliss the same, but that’s just the cards we’ve been dealt.
According to the Bantu people, bilita mpash only come once in a long while and are rarely remembered upon awakening. They entertain and dazzle you for the night, giving you sensations of wonder and euphoria you can barely imagine, and then disappear without a trace as you wake. Wow, by that definition, bilita mpash is starting to sound like a lot of women I’ve known.
I implore you, fellow English speakers! We must have a word like this in the dictionary! Contact the wordsmiths, Oxford dictionary employees, somebody. Too long have the nightmares held sway, with no polar opposite to challenge them. When I sleep and dream of conquering the universe with a golden halberd astride a flaming velociraptor, I want a word for that, damn it.
Jacob Rennick was born in Hamilton, Ontario in 1993. He has lived in several cities during his life, and made the move to Ottawa in the summer of 2012, where he’s currently studying Professional Writing at Algonquin College. He lives with several roommates and his two cats, Virgil and Maximus. He has written several short stories and is working on a longer piece called Cleaning House.
You can friend him on www.facebook.com/jakob.rennick