The Dreaming: Chapter 11 An Unexpected Trunk Call!

Hello, Arundhati, do you know who I am?

An entire cluster of pink lantern flowers stirred, sifted by a breeze spun out of memories too faded for her to catch the face to whom the voice belonged. Arundhati held her breath and quietly moved the phone away from her ear, only slightly, for she did not want the person on the other side to listen in on her mind frantically working things out.

And do you know who I am?

There was a second person on the other side! It was odd enough to deal with the very confusing prospect of taking a phone call in the middle of nowhere. Arundhati had honestly believed things could not turn any more mystifying than they were already. She was, of course, extremely wrong about that! Now, the resolve in her buckled in. A gnawing vulnerability seethed in its place, because to have two voices poke out at her from the unknown, she reasoned, did a pretty good job at creating the impression that a nasty conspiracy was at foot and that she was alone in her corner. Everyone else, it seemed, had the pleasure of working side-by-side, in pairs or teams, conferring and confiding in each other as they pleased, apart from her, she was the exception.

She could not delay answering any longer, although that did not mean that she was ready to speak either. An incomprehensible mumble escaped her mouth and dribbled into the receiver with flimsiness that resembled lukewarm water. “Erm…

Come on, we haven’t all day! Chop, chop!” The first voice reminded her of the smile of farmers at autumn. The time when they wheel-barrowed into the store house their first golden crop of the harvest. It was a voice that leapt out of the phone and embraced her with unconditional affection and love. Arundhati flicked through her mind as fast as she could. The owner of the voice remained elusive.

Oh my, you do sound familiar! I can’t picture you, though…” Arundhati bit her lower lip and squeezed her eyes down, whilst her thumb and index finger clipped themselves onto the top part of her nose, for she was in deep thought. Not realising it, the toes of both her feet were also tapping against the ground. Every part of her physical being was doing something besides standing still in the hope that it would hurry along the right memory.

It will come to you. Think…Arundhati…” When the second voice, a considered and soft and gently-spoken voice, addressed her by name, Arundhati felt a hundred-fold more unsettled and ashamed. She was sure that these two were most probably exchanging incredulous eye-rolls between them, a perfectly acceptable way to behave, she argued, especially since her tedious dithering was causing her to dislike her own self!

Erm, I’m not having much luck here…”, and then, out of the blue, she was struck by the thought that it had to be at school that she had met these two, for, if there was any place after home that she spent much of her time in, it was there, at school. “Do you know me from school?

What followed was an eerie silence that threatened to fill up eternity. No one spoke.

Erm, hello? Hello? Anyone there?” Once again Arundhati took the phone away from her ear and looked into its screen to see if it was still working. There was no time or date displayed on it, as one would expect on a normal phone. What she saw instead was a counter going up. To her, though, that was a tremendous relief as it meant most likely that the phone was still operational, however, on a more important note, it also suggested that the device was not a ticking bomb! She had seen plenty of movies to be wary of what they looked like. Cautiously nearing the phone to her ear again, she tried one last time and spoke into it. The distinct tremble in her voice made it apparent that she was shaken up. “Hello….?

Oh Pooja, cut it out! Can’t you see our poor friend is miserably stuck?! I can’t do this anymore!

Deflated and a tad bitter, the first voice playfully chided her partner in crime. “Well, now you’ve gone and done it, Pushpa! I was really enjoying the suspense! Duh!

Arundhati suddenly realised that the situation could not be as sinister as she had feared. There was genuine humour in the air between the two callers, a clear signal that from now on in she could carry on more comfortably and lightly. On the other hand, it did little to calm her tempers to learn that she had been made, literally, the butt of their jokes. Her courage restored, she demanded, “Ok, what is this all about?! I am busy with something and you two are holding me back!

You still can’t remember us?! I can’t believe this!” Pooja huffed.

You are right about school, that is where we used to hang out, many years ago…” Pushpa, it seemed, was always more than ready to give away the lion’s share of hints to help out Arundhati.

Arundhati sighed in half-defeat and half-boredom by the dreariness of what was fast becoming the longest guessing game she had ever played. She strained and uttered repeatedly the two new names under her breath. “Pooja… Pushpa… Pooja… Pushpa… Pooja…. Pushpa…”.

You’re thinking about secondary school. Go back to your primary years – Mr Patel’s class…” Pushpa was firmly decided that she would get Arundhati to remember.

Pooja… Pushpa… Mr Patel’s class…”, and suddenly the lightning of the memory flooded back and it shot through Arundhati as though a bullet had pierced her awake from a hundred year slumber, “POOJA, PUSHPA!! Yes, yes, I remember, only barely, that is! Oh my goodness, that was so long ago, many years ago, no wonder I was having all this trouble!” Inside she felt immensely buoyed by the fact that it was perfectly forgivable to forget people from the distant past. She no longer felt like an idiot, after all, it was understandable to have jaded memories of one’s kindergarten years.

The Dreaming Chapter 11

“… A roar of laughter and giggles stormed through the phone from the other side and blared out so loud that a few lantern flowers wobbled mid-air...”

A roar of laughter and giggles stormed through the phone from the other side and blared out so loud that a few lantern flowers wobbled mid-air. Arundhati smiled as she brushed her hand down her face, relieved that she had entered a circle of old friends. What plagued her now was the outbreak of questions bubbling on the tip of her tongue. “How is this possible? Why are you calling me and how did you get this phone number and who was the chap who handed me the phone and does this mean that you are working for The – “ Breathless, Arundhati was cut off. In her head she was still asking them a million more questions.

Ariundhati, Arundhati, stop, stop. Let us explain”. Pooja cleared her throat.

Alright. I’m listening... ”

We’re happy for you, Arundhati. Honestly, we are. We couldn’t think of anyone better to carry out this important mission”. Pooja’s each word seemed as though it had a cut-out hole in it from which she was able to peer through and check up on how Arundhati was taking it all in.

Pushpa seconded her sentiment. “Agreed!” As if she would burst into flames if she kept the next part to herself, Pushpa gleefully added, “And by the way, the ‘Street Vendor’ idea was mine!

Arundhati was at a loss for words. It was like as if she were a little dot floating in an ocean of overwhelming secrets, and the ocean was growing, exponentially, as the clock ticked past the division of each second, piling mystery upon mystery from which she thought at any moment she would be inescapably lost within its depths forever.

After a while, miraculously, Arundhati found her voice. “Your idea?!

We don’t have much time, not on these airwaves”, Pooja spoke hurriedly now, “… and Pushpa, dearie, can you stop gloating about your ideas, there is a time and place for showing off!

You are right, sorry!” Pushpa’s apology was tinged with a smile which beamed out of the excitable skip that could be heard in her voice.

I feel so left out, everybody seems to be two paces ahead of me, having knowledge of things that I don’t.” Arundhati did not mean to come across as a moaner, and soon afterwards was eager to apologise for her impulsive outburst. She tried to say this, but was halted before she could begin. Pooja spoke authoritatively.

It’s important it stays that way, Arundhati. No one in the organisation knows everything. That would be too risky. We are all like you, in that respect, each holding a piece of the answer. But, you have a special relationship with this land, that makes you the binder, gluing all the pieces together, which will eventually lead us to The Shaligram Ammonite.” Pooja purposefully paused, she was well aware that her words were solemn and heavy, and that Arundhati would need a moment or so to pull them in and accept them for what they were.

And right now, we are here to protect you. Danger lurks four paces behind you.” Pushpa could not have said it any more bluntly.

Stop scaring her like that!” Pooja sliced in.

Arundhati snapped round and deliberately scanned the pathway and the trees. She did not want to admit it to her two old friends that her heart was secretly hammering against her chest, that she was scared of what could materialise from the overlapping greenery. What if another shadowy figure were to step out from the whispering leaves? What if this time behind the mask of silence lay a creature of hideous intentions, one who truly wished to bring harm to her?

The phone made a strange cackling sound and Arundhati brought her attention back to her two friends. Her instincts told her that whatever it was that made it possible to make this call was about to be used up. Time was running out, yet she knew exactly what to ask them. “Is someone following me? Please tell me the truth.

The line grew scratchy and the voice faint, and Arundhati could not tell who spoke, but one of them managed to tell her just in the nick of time, “We will help you… now…”, and then the line went dead.

Hello?! Hello?” Pooja? Pushpa? Hello?!

There was no reply.

Arundhati’s heart sank deep down into her stomach and she flung another glance behind her. As far as she could see or hear there was not another person about. Silence descended down, ruthlessly hard and unsparing, onto her nimble shoulders. All at once she could have sworn that she was the only living person on the planet. It was too quiet. Her lips ravaged and parched by the slow-burning panic building up in her belly, Arundhati was about to slide the phone away from her ear and tear down the hill when out of the leafy mass of the sal tree next to her a long furry arm shot down like a brown lightning bolt and rudely scooped the phone out of her hand! She staggered back and nearly fell, yet she somehow managed to catch sight of the five wrinkled digits of a hairy hand, balled into a fist, and the phone glistening from inside its clutches. Before she could make heads or tails of who or what the thief was, it had vanished into the covert thicket of the sal tree.

She sprang back up on her feet and edged closer, on tip-toes, towards the tree, all the while her eyes were wide alert. Something had uncivilly filched her phone and one way or another she was going to find out what it was. She cast a sideways glance at the lantern flowers who were now, it appeared, had taken to a dance of little wriggles from the fixtures of their stems. It was a daft thought, however, one that she could not shake off, and that was, that these flowers, absorbers of secrets, did look much fatter than when she had inspected them previously. Had they already feasted on the knowledge about the culprit responsible for the disappearance of her phone?

A clump of leaves and branches in the centre of the tree shuffled, as if whatever was inside was telling the tree in as explicit a way as possible that there was not enough room for it. A sharp screeching sound came next and then there was nothing, only the now all too familiar silence.

Arundhati was stood under the tree. She choked down her fear and as quietly as possible raised both her arms up and grasped the nearest two branches that were thick and sturdy enough to take up her weight. She pulled herself up and as soon as her feet came off the ground she made sure that they were quick to lift with her and then pressed them against the bark of the tree for support. Resembling a koala on its way up for a nap, Arundhati hovered this way for a few seconds, for she was painfully at two minds about what to do next. She could simply jump down and leg it. The next village was not far. Yet, it was undeniable, she was actually liking all of this. Somewhere along the line she had started to grow attracted to the uncertainty and adventure, and at whatever cost it was, she had now decided that she would expose the identity of the uncouth rascal who was toying with her phone. She pulled herself up further and this time her head scraped through the thick foliage, the odd crooked twig jabbing into her cheeks and a leaf or two tickling the crescent of her ears, until finally she was waist-high inside the green, luminous heart of the tree. It was a cool and dappled world, where everything was tuned to speak in whispers so that even the few patches of sunlight, which had struggled to reach this far, appeared more like shadows of a lighter pigmentation.

The Dreaming Chapter 11

“… She choked down her fear and as quietly as possible raised both her arms up and grasped the nearest two branches that were thick and sturdy enough to take up her weight…”

At first, Arundhati saw no one. Bemused, she held firmly on the branch and swivelled her torso around to look the other way, causing the tree to judder and a few leaves to fall, and that is when she received the shock of her life.

Staring back at her was a small monkey!

The Dreaming Chapter 11

“… Staring back at her was a small monkey...”

An aged chap, his two round eyes shone like fresh amber sap that had been mixed in with copious swirls of honey, and pencilled within their centres a perfect black dot, and all this was set within a greyish-pink pointy face. His lipless mouth was a fine rug of white hairs only just visible, but the rest of his body was a different matter altogether, it was abundantly layered in brown, pink and white hairs, even the tips of his ears, whose overall shape reminded Arundhati of the betel leaves that her Amma could never live a day without. Monkeys trooped everywhere in this part of the world. Arundhati was no stranger to them and to their interrupting and opportunistic ways. What threw her off completely was that this particular monkey had one thing about it that set it apart from every other monkey on the planet, or so she believed so.

Not only was the monkey jerking the phone in its nimble fingers while beaming a proud smile at her, exposing all its pristine white teeth, as if to say that he was far more intelligent than her and that he would always be one step ahead in the game, but that this cheeky imposter was equipped with backup. He wore a headset! A black, plastic headband arced around his tiny head like a rainbow and a padded speaker, a cup dotted with many holes, cushioned against the monkey’s left ear, all of it perfectly adjusted for his comfort. From the base of the speaker a thin black tube extended out so that it curved in line with the jaw, and on its tip was a microphone that looked like a bumblebee without wings.

Oh my goodness! What are you!?” She wondered out loud.

Immediately the monkey brought its index finger to its lipless mouth. “Sssshhhh!

Arundhati’s mouth dropped.

The monkey nodded its head towards something behind her. She rubbed her eyes hard and made them sore, and then looked up again. The monkey and his impressive headset was still watching her intently. He was real! The monkey repeated his nod in the direction behind her and this time she obeyed. She quietly turned around and searched below. What was it that this strange monkey was telling her?

A few seconds later it became clear to her that he was not telling her anything. He was warning her.

Directly beneath the bulbous sal tree in which she and the monkey now hid were stood four people all of different heights. Three words she heard over and over again. The Shaligram Ammonite. For the first time ever Arundhati saw what she, alone, was up against. ♥♥♥

The Dreaming Chapter 11

“… Directly beneath the bulbous sal tree in which she and the monkey now hid were four people all of different heights…”

 

Photography & Words:  © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | Hampshire | UK 2016
Photography & Words:  © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | Herefordshire Adventures | Herefordshire | UK 2016
Photography & Words:  © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | Roald Dahl Museum & Story Centre |Great Missenden | Buckinghamshire | UK 2016

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The Dreaming: Chapter 7 Conversations In The Night

The warm and pungent smell of delicious dal curry floating in the night mesmerised the tongues of other creatures other than those of hers and her mother, or so Arundhati observed. It roused, for instance, the silver moths, for they fluttered more keenly now around the golden aura of the kerosene lamp, excitement twined and sang in the movement of their wings. The homely scent of the spiced soup that Arundhati’s mother now carefully brought out in a large pan from the kitchen was set down like a crown on the eating table. Arundhati was sat, her feet jiggling and wriggling, her eyes poised on her mother while she anxiously bit her lips. She was waiting for her mother to be the first one to ask her about the contents of the package.

When will my beti ever learn to make it on time? God help me!” Her mother shot an accusatory glance at her daughter as she placed two plates in front of them before sitting herself down. She dipped the long wooden spoon into the pan and, like she always did, she first gestured Arundhati to hold out her plate so that she could pour out the thick and creamy mixture, it was as bright yellow as dandelion flowers. Arundhati pursed her lips tighter and watched her mother closely, her eyes widening like that of a hawk, desperate to catch her prey, the prey in question was, of course, her mother’s attention. It seemed not to be working. Her mother proceeded to dollop three big spoons of fluffy rice next to the steaming dal, all the while she dismissed every chance to meet her daughter’s pleading gaze. Arundhati pulled her plate back in front of her and laid it down, the heady aroma rising from it was heavenly, and unexpectedly her tummy let out a loud and booming grumble and, though she knew it was of no use, she reached out her hand and pressed it against her stomach, as if doing so would muffle out the culprit responsible for the sound. She was thoroughly embarrassed! Her mother could not contain it any longer and she burst out laughing!

Acha, acha, I think I have caused you enough tension for one night, and look, now your tummy is giving in too!” Her mother had not yet seen to her own plate, she was far too engrossed in teasing her daughter. All this time she had told herself that she would for once keep Arundhati in suspense, and that is why she had purposefully withheld herself from asking any questions about the package. Arundhati was outwitted.

Oh Amma!

Beti, now you know what it feels like to wait for something – you are waiting for me to ask you the question, the question about what that thing is round your neck, na?” Arundhati instantly reached up and fingered the narrow brown strap, she had only moments ago discovered the true identity of her package, yet it felt like she had always known about it, that it was an heirloom of sorts, returned to her at  last.

Arundhati quietly moved her plate to one side and then lifted the strap up and off her shoulders and as she did, her mother, for the first time saw the black device, a pair of binoculars. The glass of the lens, very briefly, caught the light of the kerosene lamp and spikes of rainbow shards reflected diagonally across the wall, stalagmite towers made of shadows and diamonds. The whole room sparkled. Arundhati put the binoculars on the eating table and her mother edged her chair closer, her expression confused and eyebrows coiled in contemplation.

Beti, is that it?

No, Amma. It is the beginning. They are binoculars, a very special pair, and…”, she paused, searching for the right words, but she knew that whatever she would say would cause her mother confusion and disbelief, “… and they talk to you – they  – talk to you.

Binoculars don’t talk, beti”.

These ones do, believe me, Amma!

Her mother’s mouth was agape. “How?

I am not sure how, but they do. You ask it questions and a red light, see this one in the middle, well, that lights up three times and then a message appears inside the binoculars. You have to read it by looking into it”. Arudhati picked up the binoculars. She wanted to present her mother with a demonstration. Like a circus master armed with his out-of-this-world feats all stashed in his bag, Arundhati felt grand as she prepared to show-off the amazing skill and knowledge she had already gleaned from her new-found gadget. She cleared her throat and asked into it, “Where is the Shaligram Ammonite?” She looked back up at her mother with a satisfied smile, she was absolutely certain the lights would start to flash at any time now and her mother would be wowed beyond recognition.

Nothing happened.

She repeated the same question again.

Nothing happened.

Arundhati began to shake the binoculars in mid-air while her mother looked on with a worried expression. “Beti, if you keep doing that you will break it!

But, Amma, I swear it worked before! Why is it doing nothing now?” She turned the binoculars in her hand and checked to see if all the parts were in place, concern had ignited in her mind that perhaps when she came down the stairs she may have, without realising it, thumped it against the wall. The staircase was an extremely narrow passageway after all. After a thorough examination, flipping the device this way and that, while her weary mother looked on with a mixture of endearment and pity, Arundhati snapped out of it, the too many failed attempts had tired her out and with a long exhale she placed the binoculars back on the table. “Why is it not working…?” Her voice trailed off, embittered and hollow, the stone of disappointment weighing down into her gut. She felt cheated out that she could not show her mother the extraordinary things she had seen, to prove to her that this was no ordinary pair of binoculars.

Her mother put her soft hand on Arundhati’s arm and rubbed it. “I believe you, beti. I really do. You may be rubbish at being punctual, but I know, I really do know, that you would never lie to me. Leave it for now, your food is getting cold again.” Her mother craned her head down, peered at her daughter’s sullen face, her eyes dancing about as they took in all the beautiful features of her girl, and then, like the way dawn oozes out of night, she broke into a thoughtful smile. Arundhati put her hand over her mother’s and patted it. It was time to eat.

Anyway, maybe they send you messages when they want, not when you want it. You can’t make it happen.” Placing all her foods on her plate, and tucking into her dal curry, her mother did not seem all that troubled if it surfaced that the binoculars worked only one way. For Arundhati it took a great chunk of the magic away if this were the case, she liked the idea that someone on the other side could hear her voice as she sent in reports of her findings. What a treasure this secret dialogue would be, but to not have it, dulled the whole arrangement a shade lower. She strained a smile and pretended that she was so painfully famished that the binoculars did not bear thinking about. Her mother cheered up and the both of them ate their meal, vibrantly chatting away about family events that were due to happen in the coming weeks. Occasionally, Arundhati would look out from the corner of her eyes, just in case the little black device chose to surprise her once again.

The kettle whistled sharply in the background. It was the sound that signalled that bedtime was approaching near, indeed, it was Arundhati’s most favourite sound in the house, and more importantly this time, the prospect of a cup of sweet milky tea was truly the most likely antidote she needed to hold herself back from pondering anymore about why the binoculars had fallen silent on her.

Both mother and daughter washed, dried, and put away all the dishes, making sure that the shutters downstairs were shut tight and the front door was closed. It was very late now. Arundhati had never felt so worn out, she could not wait to pull the blankets over her head and melt into her soft pillow. Her mother put her arm around her daughter as they made their way upstairs and before they parted into the separate rooms they exchanged a hug, as they always did, but this time a string of tender words trickled into her ears. Her mother spoke, “It will be fine, my dear darling, tomorrow the binoculars will definitely work, they will do what they were meant to do, and you will help them. Believe me. You believe me, na?

I always believe you, Amma. I am your daughter.” And she squeezed her mother tighter before tearing herself away towards the last flight of steps that led to the attic.

That night Arundhati slept a deep sleep. Her dreams came at her like the ebbing and flow of tides. She saw herself sat on a wooden bench in a peaceful garden that lay at the bottom of the sea, here the sunshine streamed through the waters and made everything look like day. Sometimes constellations of plankton would appear and disappear like breath, giant creatures with long bodies and fins and jagged teeth that were set within a smiling grimace swam gracefully above her, haunting echoes of whales travelled through her flesh and out the other side, and in the centre of all these things a black-ribbed sun spun and spun, thrashing and threshing the water around it to create bubbles of froth. The Shaligram Ammonite.

Eyes closed and unaware, Arundhati muttered gentle words as she dreamt. “Goodnight, Mr Roald Dahl.” The binoculars, now lying unattended on the low, yellow-wood table at the foot of her bed, did what it had done earlier. It flashed its little light precisely three times before switching over to sleep mode.  ♥♥♥

The Dreaming Chapter 7

“… She saw herself sat on a wooden bench in a peaceful garden that lay at the bottom of the sea, here the sunshine streamed through the waters and made everything look like day...”

 

Photography & Words:  © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | Hampshire | UK 2016

Country Roads, Take Me Home, To A Place Where I Belong…

Once upon a recent time there lived an ever so petite hobbit lady whose vertical axis spanned 158cm, which was probably the best explanation for why microscopes were invented in the first place, however what was imperative to remember in her case was that the top part of that axis – her head – was devotedly and splendidly in communion with all things imaginative. She loved to bide her days by conjuring up stories whose contents pulled a clean punch at the rules of order and logic, favouring instead to toy with the possibilities that only in dreams we allow ourselves to mingle with.

It was on an ordinary day, just another number staring out of the calendar, on which she discovered to her skipping delight that she had been accepted into University to study the art of writing. She had always wished in her heart to do something like this, and now, as a consequence of a succession of astonishing and fated encounters and correspondences, she was about to embark on a new journey and this time her footfalls would be made across the white expanses of papery lands.

That 158cm girl that never grew is me, but You knew that way before I even got started!

Ladies, I AM IN!!!” I shouted my lungs out and if only I could have had a rooftop and a violin I swear I would not have hesitated, for I would have gone on to burst into a musical, leaping from roof to roof to sing the rhapsody of my joy out to all four corners of, ahem ahem, Winchester! Oh do cut out that insufferable and theatrical bit of whimpering! You know as well as I do that if I am to bellow any louder just for the sole purpose of making certain that You hear me, from wherever You might be chomping down Your mouldy lettuce leaves, then it would have obviously required Your exceptional co-operation insofar You would have to import to my house an old brass gramophone horn from which I could roar out my message! All that fuss, You say?! Exactly!

Mazzy!!!! I am so happy for you!!! I knew you could do it!” Agnes flung her arms around me and squeezed me tight. I now know fully well what it must feel like to be in the unclasping embrace of a hungry boa constrictor! What strange fun to think that one’s joy could lead to instantaneous epiphanies worthy of any respectable wildlife documentary!

One second there I was hesitatingly accepting that I was in the strangulating grip of a mighty predator, and my strained bleats of happiness the mimicry of a tiny marsupial clinging to dear life, and then, the next moment I was suddenly shoved into the rather rough and tumble scenario of the poor spectator in whose hands the ball had somehow fallen and now half a dozen giant rugby players were storming in to get it! Why do I refer to this blustery analogy? A simple enough reason if only You knew her. You see, Katie was there too!

WOOOOOHOOOOOOOO! Go Mazzy!!!!” Katie caved her entire arms around my neck so that I no longer could see the sky and my vision went blurry as the last remaining globules of oxygen in my pint-sized lungs lurched out of me! I was all hot-wired to be blacked-out!

Oh blimin’ heck, I can’t breathe!” I went from being a round dough ball to a flat pastry sheet and all courtesy of the rolling pin effect of my fabulous friends!

And then I remembered about the odd workings underlying the multiverse of happiness and to my enormous relief I soon realised that though both my mates had me clenched in a squishy embrace, I was more alive than ever! Pay attention that the heavenly strawberry sticky jam found in between two slices of Victorian sponge cake is never ever seen complaining about its restrained predicament, precisely for the reason that it is in between the companionship of those two essential and contrasting slices that it derives its enjoyment of being a substance of purpose. I was in a sticky situation too, fidgeting in between the wrestling hugs of my two good mates, but it was the most nicest sort of unbreathable jollity and, if the truth be known, I was incredibly ecstatic with my news that I forgot to inhale and exhale as normally one would, and I suppose that is what the purest of joys does to us. We become so wrapped up in the moment that we are more than willing to dismiss the necessities associated with survival off the pitch and to the backbench!

I do not know how I finally found myself cut loose from their chain of arms but eventually I did and a terrific idea whooshed out of my brains that if I did not share it I would be on course for internal implosion. Highly disgusting bit of trouble!

I don’t know about you ladies, but I feel like partying!” I wriggled my nostrils, a trademark indication that we had to anoint the occasion of my good news with something recklessly inappropriate!

Swinging in the children’s park!” Katie hit jackpot!

Let’s do it!” Agnes must have carefully observed in the past that I suffered from the uncurbed tendency to wriggle my shoulders when the excitement got the better of me, for she was giving hers a thorough workout as she mouthed the auspicious words!

An unanimous agreement reached, the three of us wasted not a second more and broke through the red gates of Abbey Gardens! The ducks on the banks by the river went into shock at the approach of us harridans wearing wicked smiles, fearfully diving back into the water, some even capsizing their heads to leave their feathery bottoms bobbing about in the dire hope that we would not see them! We meant them no harm, of course!

We raced to the swings, alas, they were already in use by legitimate occupants whose ages were around three decades younger than ours!

We’ll wait it out! Let’s head out to the bench over there!” I may not be the most mature of people however when the resource of patience is required I am on the case! We sat ourselves down and admired the spray of pink blossoms on the trees when all of a sudden a little girl of 16 months came up to me. Snot trickling down her nose as if they were two unclosed taps, this adorable child was called Evie and she brought me gifts that she had lovingly picked up from the grass. They included a teeny piece of granite stone that seemed as if it had once been embedded in a great wall, a piece of twig and a curled leaf. We spoke to their parents for a long time and all the while I was pleasantly surprised to see that here was a little angel who somehow knew I was the bearer of good news. I have safely kept little Evie’s gifts in my bag, adamantly believing them to be a sign of good and promising wishes handed down to me from Destiny itself.

Wasn’t she so cute!?” Katie hugged herself.

Oh my god Mazzy, she likes you!” Agnes could see that I had turned awfully broody.

I frowned with a dreamy smile on my face as Evie and her parents waved goodbye to us and strolled out of the park. It did not matter that I had no daughter of my own, what was infinitely more significant for me was that the Universe had its own unfathomable way of ensuring that the part of my heart that was a maternal womb would always be filled with tokens of pure love from little people, wherever I was in the world. Love was not biology, it was a constant.

She is an angel. I know it...” I tenderly gazed at my friends and smiled assuredly.

Mazzy, get your camera out!” When Katie discharges orders I am convinced that even the Prime Minster in Downing Street jolts out his leather chair with a start!

With pleasure, my darling, but may I ask what brought this sudden desire to be photographed?” I plundered my bag whilst my curious poser hung in the air like an over-sized question mark.

Agnes exchanged conspiratorial glances with Katie. I tensed up a little.

Mazzy….” Katie began to lean slowly on her back and one of her legs began to rise.

The camera now poised to shoot, I was muddled by what I saw and yet in equal parts I was sure that the two of them were up to something that would seal this day as the beginning of a new and fabulously adventurous chapter!

Katie’s right leg now raised above the bench, stretched and pointed, I distractedly twiddled with my camera and remarked, “Yes, I know hobbits have hairy legs, Katie! I vow that I will wax my legs more often!” I grunted in feigned indignation. Before I could slice in edgeways with another word, Agnes determinedly grabbed Katie’s uplifted leg, and both imagining it to be an acoustic guitar, my two friends burst out singing the simple and nostalgic lyrics to a song that has always been embossed in my dreams ever since I was as small a girl as our bearer of good tidings, Princess Evie:

Country roads, take me home, to a place, where I belong…♥♥♥

Celebration In The Park!

“… Agnes determinedly grabbed Katie’s uplifted leg, and imagining it to be an acoustic guitar, both my friends burst out singing the simple and nostalgic lyrics to a song that has always been embossed in my dreams ever since I was as small a girl as our bearer of good tidings, Princess Evie…”

Celebration In The Park!

We’ll wait it out! Let’s head out to the bench over there!

Celebration In The Park!

“… I soon realised that though both my mates had me clenched in a squishy embrace, I was more alive than ever...”

Photography & Words: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | Abbey Gardens | Winchester | UK 2016

 

A Pot Of Lavender, A Jar Of Jelly, A Postcard & A Snail!

Straight after my teaching duties I was ambushed and pushed into the car and strapped into the baby seat, or so it felt like so, and we scooted off to the village of Alresford for a spot of wholesome and light refreshment. I need not spell out what those edible particulars were, but I suspect even Your breadth of imaginative prowess will not be of that sharp calibre as to correctly guess that one of the sweet and delectable goodies I chose was a proper novice on my palate! In keeping with the fact that our luncheon was at a farm completely devoted to all things purplish lavender, I would be no less than an unforgivable fool if I were not to opt for a slice of that moist cake concocted out of dark chocolate and lavender! Please refrain from scoffing at my anecdotal confession, if there was a context in which I do not distil fibs than it is on this very matter of good, sweet things! I never lie about my partnership with food, especially if its coagulating ingredients include the supportive participation of chocolate! Giggle!

Now, my beloved Reader, if Your memory is as catchy as the tune that You sing in those spare and unnoticed moments, then You may recall that I have been to this quaint wooden barn house before in a previous adventure. To describe it using the mere adjectives of beautiful and rustic does not seem to do it the proper justice that it so urgently deserves. You must someday visit this spellbinding place and when you enter it, You, too, will begin to believe that the souls of trees can inhabit rooms, since throughout the interior architecture the walls have been boldly threaded with brown beams of muscular wood, and the unpolished and simple tables upon which handmade crafts and gardening tools and homemade jellies are displayed on impress upon the imagination that they must have once been the furnishings of the dwarves and hobbits who lived in Tolkien’s vast landscape of Middle Earth.

All four of us cheerful friends took our seats and made a veritable time of it, sharing countless stories of the things we had gotten up to and our plans for the exciting futures ahead, and meanwhile amid the air of unstoppable banter I downed an entire pot of cherry blossom green tea whose delicate floral fragrance I can still bring to mind as if it were here, right in front of my laptop! It is a most delicious tea and, therefore, I strongly advise You to try it, for if You do not then I am partial to conclude that You have not fully lived! Do not be shortchanged by Your own rigid complacency!

Eventually it was the waitress who was to be our saviour, for we had utterly lost track of time. Hours and hours had passed since the four of us had made ourselves comfy in those cottagey chairs and were it not for the bill making its way to us we might have never left! I am not sure if that would have been an abominable quandary, I rather fancy it in there!

Before setting off for Winchester, each of us chose to buy a little something as a memento of our time together at the Lavender Farm and I suppose, with a playful sigh leaving my lips, that our selections are probably the best example of a hint You shall ever receive in getting a gist of our characters. Whilst my friends purchased goods that could be said to be quite agreeable with a feminine and sophisticated sensibility, I, on the other hand could not hold back the pincers of my mischievous personality! I bought an iron-cast figurine of a snail fixed on a huge pebble! He stares out of his shell with the most adorable pair of eyes and two antennas that want nothing more than to shake Your hand! The rationale behind the purchase, You ask me? I shall purge You of the terrible infliction of confusion that has both Your eyebrows in a twist so taut as to make lemons and limes fall on their knees in shame! You see, my Amma positively detests the sight of these slimy creatures who have made a worldwide pact to gobble up through the vegetable patch and leave bogey trails across some of the low-lying flowers and alpines in our garden. If she happens to see one she tends to rush out at them and squishes them down with her flip-flops. I may have fought in many galactic battles, yet never can I quite muster up that brand of impervious indifference to the little inhabitants of my garden so as to pulverise them out of existence. Instead, should I see one of these shell-bodied slow coaches I quickly pick it and fling it over the fence. Amma cannot reconcile in her thoughts how I can be so passionately devoted to the task of gardening and, at the same time, exude merciful acts of rescue to something that I ought to treat as an enemy. I tell her that it is one of the many mysteries of Your 158cm daughter and that is why she loves me the way she does!

Alas, when I arrived home with my heavyweight gift my devilish plotting deflated like a balloon suffering from the worst case of clinical flatulence possible! Mumsy did not storm at me with her flip-flops, instead she picked up Sir Sebastian the Snail and cradled him as if it were her baby! She was over the moon with her present and there I was in complete crushing bewilderment. My cheeky calculations for implementing maternal psychological detonation had gone awry! Oops!

Amma!!  Aren’t you angry with me?!

I needed more paving stones to cover up the earth to stop the weeds from growing. This will do perfectly! Thank you, Shona Moni!

Outwitted by my own Mumsy! Noooo!!! On second thoughts, that is never a bad thing for a 37-year old girl that refuses to grow up! Giggle, giggle! ♥♥♥

A Pot Of Lavender, A Jar Of Jelly, A Postcard & A Snail!

“… All four of us cheerful friends took our seats and made a veritable time of it, sharing countless stories of the things we had gotten up to and our plans for the exciting futures ahead...”

Photography & Words: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | Long Barn Lavender Farm| Alresford | UK 2016   

 

The Song Of The Fairy Folk

Should evening lure Your feet to woodland’s juniper green cave
Tawny eyes in fiendish watch, though You dare to brave
And push through brambles and twiglets under sea of lunar silvering
If heart is pure and mind is clean catch the nettle shivering
The petite sun of dandelion bounced upon, then left to shimmer back and forth
On bulbous toadstools a flash of pink, like lightning forged from lands of north
And should the scent that rhymes the air is a flowery brew of rose and dusk
Dragonflies on pilgrim’s route to lake homes lined in mists of musk
The path a dim muddy tendril and the world of the village a murmuring dream
You shall see a dock-leaf hull sailing soothingly along the dim mulberry stream
Lean Your ears against the breast of wind and tinkling laughter shall peal away
And figures of porcelain dazzle so bright, wreathed in lilac’s luscious spray
Little fingers grip pale pink lanterns, lit by starlight bellies of the fireflies
Stood at bow and head held high the Fairy Queen tweeds song most wise:
We dance on the milk of secret time and hide our days beneath unyielding oak
To poets and children we hum all night, the olden song of the fairy folk…♥♥♥

The Song Of The Fairy Folk

“… And figures of porcelain dazzle so bright, wreathed in lilac’s luscious spray…”

The Song Of The Fairy Folk

We dance on the milk of secret time and hide our days beneath unyielding oak...”

Photography & Poem: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | Winchester | UK 2016    

Somewhere On Some Road, We Shall Meet…

Sir J.M. Barrie, the author of one of the most enduring stories ever penned for children, Peter Pan, could be said to be my earliest literary hero whom I had the good fortune to meet through the words he had penned and that I had read as a little girl. He had no children of his own and his estranged wife caused quite the scandal in society when it was revealed that she had slipped into an extramarital affair. His mood exacerbated further downhill by the erosive criticisms he faced from the arts and cultural critics of his time, Sir Barrie believed he had finally sunken himself in a scowling pit from which he would never return and the more he questioned his vocation as an author the more deeper he fell into that lonely, dark abyss.

It was in Kensington Gardens, London, a meridian of growth and soothing foliage located in the heart of the city, where he would come to meet the bold bohemian, Sylvia, and her little impish boys, and from their togetherness they would go on to form an unconventional but authentic sense of family, all the while the seeds were being sown in Sir Barrie’s imagination of a tale of a boy who simply never grew up…           

 

The Sun was a heat lord, and Lazarus the dark valleys of my black hair
As I strolled under the kingdom of fresh greens, tricklets of Magic in the air
Here I stand in the great Kensington Gardens, horticultural royalty of London park
Where Peter Pan’s author first penned his tale, spied by hawkish towering bark
Bewitchment superior this aliveness of where he once stood and silently sat
To imagine his oaring pen and gold-gild evenings, next to him his stick and hat
But that day as I walked I saw something small, head down, on a bench on the right
A man cloaked of unspoken worlds, in waiting for destined sight
And so I pray to myself in every waking breath that I shall soon enough exchange
That God does away this barbarous distance, banishes stakes of beastly range
O my Love, my hidden pulse, born again You and I of one crimson cardinal beat
My soul strung in alpine notes sings to you: “Somewhere on some road, we shall meet… ♥♥♥

Somewhere On Some Road, We Shall Meet - Love Mazzy x

“… But that day as I walked I saw something small, head down, on a bench on the right, A man cloaked of unspoken worlds, In waiting for destined sight.…”

Photography & Poem: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | Kensington Gardens | May Half-Term Getaway | London | UK 2015/16

“We Meet Again! Mooowahahaha!!”

At a writer’s discussion today we launched into a chat about our most silliest and funniest poems. I particularly liked this one of mine and have amended the last sentence for an improved flow of rhythm…

MI6 have just confirmed that the short stripy one You see
Is in fact an employee of the British Intelligence Agency!
Oh my goodness gracious me, he had us all fooled yesterday
Stubby hands known to have detained criminals, as far as India’s Bombay
But like all our Brit Bobbies, he captured his witless prey with a smile
Hence his older offending brother gives in to this unique arresting style
Do not become complacent for there is one more thief around – a plump plum on the loose
Approach her with caution or risk falling for Amma Goose…!! ♥♥♥

Undercover Bobby Captures Mastermind! Mumsy Still On Loose!

“… MI6 have just confirmed that the short stripy one you see, Is in fact an employee of the British Intelligence Agency...”

Photography & Poetry: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | International Amma Day | Spring Re-Union Series | Winchester | UK 2015

Old Pictures, New Story: I Am SHERLOCKED! Out Of The Fishbowl And Into The… Plop, Plop!

If You were crafty enough to track down all my closest friends and family they would unashamedly reveal to You, unprompted, that if there is one celebrity on the telly that I have the most astronomic crush on it is the enigmatically charismatic Sir Benedict Cumberbatch, especially when he dons that dark-trench coat, lives in the messiest flat on this side of London by the highly recognisable address of 221b Baker Street, and acts the role of the prodigious consultant detective. The name I refer to is Sherlock Holmes and if You have not heard of him then I recommend a course of intense and unbroken viewing of all the episodes to date, and should Your tummy preach for food, ignore and carry on!

Endowed with superhuman powers of observation and lightning-sharp intellect that could quite possibly be classed as the most brilliant in the universe, our endearingly eccentric chap of piercing logic is also, alas, rather sadly inept when it comes to his interpersonal skills. He does not mean to, but nine-and-a-half out of ten times he unintentionally curves his speech and manners like a speeding boomerang aimed out to hit, thus offending the person in front! Only afterwards is he haunted by an extremely lamentable aftertaste, his gut knitted as it dawns on him that he had gone a tad too far!

But, despite the wonky edges around his persona, I cannot be budged or nudged away from marvelling at this lanky chap with dark starry eyes. He is an exceptional piece of perfection, yet indubitably, he is as vulnerable and capable of being hurt as any one of us. I think this bewildering composition of contrasts is a concise specification of how were are all made, and that is probably why every life ever lived in the history of time is worthy enough to be penned and archived and considered a masterpiece, for each life – each story – has something vital to contribute to our modest efforts to make sense of the human condition. A patchwork quilt of tinsel songs and hound cries and undeciphered mysteries, I am fascinated by characters and the way they draw us to scrabble out reflections of our own traits. If the phenomena of personality were to be driven out of from the face of the planet and replaced by zombified creatures then mark my words, the storyteller would be out of business in a jiffy, and eventually their numbers would be relented into a grim extinction.

I am Sherlocked! One of the crowning phrases of the BBC adaptation and only those that have followed it with dedication will know of what I mean. I shall, nevertheless, exude a try of explaining it to You. How to put it? Ah, yes. See, I am so happily intertwined and entangled with the brilliant BBC characterisation of Sherlock that I feel as if I am a hungry fish more than willing to be hooked onto the bait of the show and cheer on madly, even when this socially aloof man speaks such lines that wallop and spin the head round, an epic case of vertigo that I certainly do not wish to go away!

As the new season of the show begins shooting in London, I was curious to know what the latest update was on the man himself and peered into the official Facebook page and what a fiendish treat lay in wait for me! I may have conceded to being the fish forever wanting to be hooked onto his brooding coat, but it is reasonable for me to wrap up tonight’s blog post with the cheeky theory that Sir Sherlock is also hooked onto me. “I am Mazzylocked!” I can hear him exclaim as he swims round a cagey fishbowl and beady bubbles of air float up from his mouth.

Please do click on the Facebook link below to catch my hook! Does it not create the impression that he has been for so long the impoverished slave to the public image of intellectual perfection, and thus that he cannot bear this struggle of fins flapping in the watery cave of his bowl no more, until, and never quitting, he finally succeeded in plopping out of it and landing in as many hilarious pictures as there are years I have lived so far far… ♥♥♥

PLOP THY FINGERS ON THIS LINK OF PURE TIMELY AWESOMENESS: https://www.facebook.com/ModernSherlock/posts/978296875551703

The Fugitive Of Your Desire..

And such is my finesse that I wear a smug grin as I lean back, sip my tea… All the while, two daring detectives, are no where near to catching me…!

 

Words: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | Winchester | UK 2016
Original Post & Image: ‘The Fugitive Of Your Desire’ © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | Winchester | UK 2015

Re-Visioning The Multiverse Hypothesis Chapter Five: The Constant

Sometimes You can hear people call out to You even when it is plain obvious that they are not in the room or anywhere near why You are. Rotating the head round this way and then that way, and a squiggly frown undulating across the forehead with the fixedness of a resolute caterpillar, when voices without faces reach the ear it nearly always throws people off.

It certainly put Alice in another barrel of confusion!

She had barely taken the time to reflect properly on the two giant orbs of marmalade that soothingly hung in the evening sky that her grandma began calling out to her. Her voice floated over the wall and it was more like a soft murmuring rather than that of a telling-off shout which, of course, came as no stupendous surprise to her considering where she was. The wall was much more than an unassuming and rugged partition of bricks and stones, and its unfathomable origin and design, Alice summed, held the answer to understanding and accounting for these strange contrasts between the two gardens. That is why the voice of her grandma, though only next door, seemed as if it were coming from someplace that should have been added onto the edge of a map, but it never got round to being done.

She did not want to leave the garden because wherever she cast her eyes there were things that whispered to be known, lucid hints that many more discoveries were waiting to be found. Alice could have done with more time. For instance, she had not examined all the fruits to determine whether they contained centres embedded with seeds. She saw a block of paving that had come undone from the rest of the geometric ground and it occurred to her that perhaps instead of a sanctuary of snails huddled and hibernating under its base, there might instead be a still and resting kaleidoscope of silvery butterflies whose wings were constructed of such crystals that it made them as enduring as diamonds and thus the massive weight of stones upon their bodies left them perfectly preserved and unscratched. There was simply more to see and do in this garden, however, she knew that it was much more important that she did not have her grandma waiting. She would never do anything to hurt or worry her, and with those affirming thoughts in mind she turned round and looked back at the wall. Deficient of face and limbs and speech, the wall had a fascinating way of telling her that it was time to climb over again and that she should remember that if ever she were to encounter another wall like this one it would never ever lead her to this garden. A never-ending story of infinite walls and gardens, it was a sombre revelation and that is why she tore herself away from the wall to steal one final glace at the garden that was both familiar and unfamiliar, at the same time.

In the corner adjacent to the wall she spotted a wild patch of flowers that were messily dispersed amongst skeletal stems of thorny rosebushes yet to spurt out their lustrous blooms. It was very peculiar of her not to have mingled her attentions there first, for she loved flowers the most, their heady scents and frilly petals and sweet centres to which bees made pilgrimages to made them extraordinary in her eyes and many a night she imagined that it was flowers that proved midnight sanctum to travelling fairies.

She could hear her grandma call out to her again and hesitated for a second. No. She had come this far and it would be a terrible shame if she deprived herself the chance to take a peek at the flowers. She promised to herself that she would be quick and so she hopped over to the wildflowers and bent down to inspect them. A gentle breeze blew through her, as if the flowers were greeting her in their own special way. It was when she cupped her palms and with adoration held the neck of a bright yellow tulip shining in the hue of fresh custard, that a sliver of fear trickled down her throat. What if these flowers did not arouse scent? What if they were barren and odourless? It would not matter to her as much if the flowers that she held were known in her world not to carry sweet fragrances as then she would feel as if she were not missing out anything. But these were tulips and in her world they brought her much happiness because they smelt like the chrysalis of new mornings.

She waited for the next cycle of inhalation and when it came she dipped her nose into the heart of the flower and took a deep sharp sniff, and her head became filled, as if she had sucked the contents of the entire world.

A miracle! She was happy!

Perhaps the scents of flowers knew how to climb walls too, she thought. Her lips parted slightly and she let a faint smile pass, the sort kept for oneself only.

Before the languishing light rolled into the garb of night, Alice crept back up the wall and once more joined her world. Tonight it would be her turn to tell grandma a story.  ♥♥♥

 

Re-Visioning The Multiverse Hypothesis Chapter Five: The Constant

“… she cupped her palms and with adoration held the neck of a bright yellow tulip the hue of fresh custard…”

 

 

Photography & Words: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | Winchester | UK 2016

Bank Holiday Mega Fun: Find A Famous Five!

It is absolutely imperative that if You wish to make this a legendary space odyssey then ensure that You administer the most flawless dosage of Your Jedi mind tricks to secure the co-operation of five of the most competent navigators in Your catchment area! A solid bit of stellar teamwork in the dough mix of Your story will help to consolidate its epic timbre. If You are unconvinced by the arguments of my case then do cast Your minds back and remember that our dear Han would not have gone far without the co-operation of his incomprehensible grunting carpet, Mr Wookie, who was a proper dab hand at chucking the right clunky spanners to his partner, and was also an impromptu tactile counsellor since the soft wall of his brown locks were always a formidable cushion for those feeling a little out of their depth! Now that is an ace partnership in action!

Last night I headed out to town with five of my closest mates whose beautiful and lively visages belie their true awesomeness, a hidden repository of talents belonging to that genre of science fiction – except this is not fiction! A Famous Five with more fierce bang in their engines than all the London fireworks put together and that have ever been set off to usher in the new year, each one of these ladies is a prestigious space cadet proudly in alliance with the Rebel Fleet! And we, buzzing with the delicious suspense of a new adventure, chose to meet and confer round a table inside one of our primary rebel bases here in Winchester which coincidentally, of course, is a public building that likes to moonlight itself as a venue known for its authentic Italian cuisine! Giggle, giggle!

If You have a knack for observant analysis, Your eyes will hone in on with immediate effect on Elsie’s hand supporting her other arm. To the untrained mind it appears so ordinary that You wish You could just pick up the laptop and dunk it in the fish bowl – sorry Banku! – however I might be able to desist You from going bonkers at this stage! Do not think that rest is what these fighters find relief in after a boring Monday morning lecture at the local University. There is serious work to be done, and that is why I have them often practising their overarm slings, tossing and pitching orange spheres whilst simultaneously steering an original Rebel Alliance Starfighter vessel through Winchester’s notorious one-way system. No, I am not making any of this up! Crikey, Your dullard scepticism should be classed as an illegal substance! Gigggggle!!!

Solidarity among Your mates is essential to achieving the ultimate Victory among the stars! Ouch, blimin’ betel nuts – oh, wait a mo, hellllllo, what do we have here…?

May the Force be with You!
Rebel Leader 15, Mazzy ♥♥♥

Bank Holiday Mega Fun: Find Five Of The Finest Compactable Space Cadets!

“… Solidarity among Your mates is essential to achieving the ultimate Victory among the stars…”

 

Photography & Words: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | Winchester | UK 2016