Her jet-black hair trailing down to her waist like a vertical night, on her head was flopped the cutest woollen hat, a bright and vivacious and startlingly delicious dome of orange that I had ever seen! Her porcelain skin glowed pristine white by the window light, a luminous star of snowflake that tugged in memories of days spent walking through a country lane on a glistening winter’s day. Meet Brogan, my softly-spoken and utterly sweet friend, who was eager to participate in my book project and thus we arranged to meet up in our usual corner of comfort inside the Winchester Library for a casual chatter and to follow it up with, of course, the shoot.
Stepping aside from her hectic University schedule without the slightest bit of unease or trouble, my darling Brogan was delighted at this rare invitation. Looking forward to speak out to her heart’s content about a book that had seen her fully immersed in its pages to the point that it had become an unputdownable object, Brogan sat down casually in her chair, but it was her widening smile that planted the hunch in my heart that she had brought with her more than a book. There was more, a gift – a goldmine of a tale – from her own life, and so grateful I would feel by listening to it that I would dedicate a prime portion of my storytelling canvas, initially assigned for Brogan’s book, to this other story instead.
Once again I rubbed my hands together, clenched my teeth down and breathed out long and hard. By now I had grown accustomed to losing myself in the joy of the not-knowing phase, those few and fleeting seconds before the book was slid out of the bag that were crucial and priceless. Those anticipatory seconds ought to receive some sort of an honorary farewell because I know only too well that once the book came out I would tread further forward, into a new world of old stories, of insights and awareness that I had never before come across of my friend.
As someone who is immediately attracted by the voice of colours, when Brogan took her book out I took an instant liking to the concoction of its paints that veneered across the front cover. To lay eyes on the colour teal is to float between the realm of the sea and the sky and the forest, it is an exceptional hue of blue that bristles with the secrecy of red and the earthen magic of green. I could marry this colour if it were possible! Giggle, giggle! A side profile of a figure lay in the centre of the cover, whose brain was littered with words spoken by the inner critic of the mind, seductively snaked in a red ribbon and on this was written the title of the book and the name of its celebrity author. This was no piece of fiction – the trend shown by every other friend that I had documented so far – and my attention spiked and piqued to the roof and I was fuelled to the full in want for starting my scrumptious inquisition!
“Brogan, my darling, once again someone comes along with a book that I have not heard of! I am beginning to draw the conclusion that, in light of my extensive bookworm habits, there must be a force out there intent on ensuring that I come to meet books that I am meant to shake hands with for the first time!” I sat back in my chair rather content with my theory.
“Mazzy, you would enjoy reading this. It has helped me to see the mind in a different way. Things make sense now.” Brogan’s smile told me with unassailable lucidity that she had really gleaned much from her readings of the text and I could almost make out the aura of the book’s winning content shimmering on the surface of her onyx eyes.
Ruby Wax, a major celebrity of broadcasting and the arena of British television, recently completed her studies in mindfulness – a practice of the mind that fosters living in the present moment – at Oxford University and out of that experience she chose to express her commitment to sharing her discovery with others through the vehicle of a book. Titled ‘A Sane New World, Taming The Mind’, Brogan explained to me that Ruby’s experience with the black dog of depression was in part exacerbated by the incessant and raucous babblings of her mind’s internal critic. A constant dark source of negative self-assessments, the inner faultfinder had marred much of Ruby’s life and relationships, and only after dedicating a genuine study in the area coerced her to realise at last that one could indeed master the cogwheels of one’s own mind, and that consequently mindfulness was one such path available to her.
“It is really well-research, Mazzy and it has helped me, I can read it again if I wanted to.” Brogan wore a smile of simple satisfaction, the nicest evidence any book could gift a person of its enduring presence that reaches out far beyond the pages and cover alone. I did not verbalise it at the time, but I wished that I could have added into my conversation with Brogan about how amazing it would have been if Ruby could have taken up a second course that explored the brains of eccentrics and geniuses. As like a cheeky shadow that defies the imprisonment of comprehension, an understanding of the workings of my own brain remains a mystery to myself. I am not sure if I would want to crack the code that I am, I rather let someone else do it! There is a definitive element of fun in that, wouldn’t You say?! Giggle, giggle! ♥
And this is where the plot fantastically thickens into double cream! I wish to extend a congratulatory applaud to that part of the brain responsible for making us go off on a happy tangent to something completely unrelated and off topic to what was originally on the agenda. That is what happened exactly. Brogan’s book opened the gateway for her to recite to me her tales of her school years and then onto current years and the tricky business that was of adjusting to University life. However, in the midst of choppy waters, Destiny had something else in store for my young friend.
Taming the mind was one thing, taming the heart another, a dimension that was not to be the province of manuals and study. Behind the window of Brogan’s book that promoted the concept of the sane mind lay a mischievous love story that took place one insane November night. Would You like to hear about? Of course You do, if You lean anymore towards me with those enlarged ears I may have to whack You with the fly-squatter! Giggle, giggle!
Shall I begin?
The rain whipped up into a frenzy of sharp blades and the cold night air merciless on the skin, on that fateful November darkness all that busied on Brogan’s mind was the hunger that had suddenly clenched her tummy tight and she determinedly began to ready herself to grab a quick-fix burger from ‘Subway’ on Southgate Street, Winchester. An interesting premises only for me insofar that next door, around the corner, was a flat whose rooms were once penned into the twists of great detective story by none other than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle! Can You guess the name of that beloved detective of mine? Giggle, giggle! ♥
Ahem, ahem, I better return to Brogan’s story! Apologies for the digression, it is a symptom of the staggering polymathic habits of my mind!
Where were we? Ah, yes! Brogan was a stone’s throw away from subduing the manic onset of hunger, however, it was thwarted by the overpowering doggedness of her friend who made it very clear that the best way to alleviate the disgruntled state of one’s tummy was to launch into the kebab shop on Stockbridge Road and gorge one of their meaty creations! Brogan was reluctant to go with her friend, she ached for a ‘Subway’ burger, and so began a tug-of-war series of comical argumentations. Brogan insisted to me at this point that she gave in to her friend’s demands because only for the sheer reason that she had no more energy left in her to sustain her legal fight for the burger! Off to the kebab house it was!
The two girls rushed inside to the kebab joint and the pungent smell of chips and rich strips of meat had them entranced, though not quite completely under the spell of the food, for Brogan noticed in the corner a young man with his skateboard. He was with his friend who seemed to be interested in the same hobby. She felt a tingle and then a spark for the young gentleman and her tomboy spirit re-enlivened inside her heart, the days as a skateboarder when she was a young girl flashed into her mind and, knowing fully well it would be improper, she was overcome by the desire to approach him. She decided she would risk it. Telling her friend to go over to him and give her number, Brogan looked away and said that she would be in the taxi waiting for her.
Moments later her friend jumped into the taxi and her face had swollen up with excitement and a cheerful sort of madness, she was bursting to hand out the fantastic news. “Did you know what he said when I gave him your number?!”
Brogan, feeling tender and slightly faint, replied, “Oh god, what did he say?”
“He asked me if the number belonged to you, the girl with the beautiful tattoo on her leg!!!” The friend was on the verge of bouncing out of the moving vehicle, she had worked herself into a twister of commotion!
“He noticed my tattoo! Oh my god!” What a nice feeling it was, she thought, that her mystery gentleman had remembered the small details about her and that, like her, he too was aroused by her presence.
As the taxi sped into the night, Brogan’s phone buzzed out of the blue and she reached out to hold it and read the message. The words, short and to the point, shuddered the very soft foundations of her heartbeat, reawakening it to the frightening and equally adventurous prospect that this could the commencement of a new chapter that entwined her name with another.
“Hey there ‘Kebab Girl’, how are you?” This chap had a cheeky sense of humour and she liked that very much. The power of the kebab pulsating in her tummy, Brogan swiftly typed in a reply, brief but with enough charge and character to set the ball rolling!
“Hello ‘Kebab Boy’, I am good!”
And so it was that Mr Leo and Miss Brogan eventually mustered up the courage to meet and they hit it off straightaway, and even to this day they laugh about it, their warm giggles laced with the nostalgia of old couples who when they look back lovingly they appreciate that it was the smallest of things that were the miniature masterminds that led up to that pivotal first time when two eyes, stranger’s eyes, met. This is how whole worlds change without anyone else knowing about, and how the most meaningful of histories are the ones that never make it to the books… ♥
Coincidentally, on my way home today, Mr Robin once more jumped in front of me on the pavement and, alas, there was no one around to witness what was becoming a regular rendezvous with my feathered friend, but I paused and admired him nevertheless. I wish I could have knelt down and have him hop into my snow white palm, to stroke his red coat and relate to him that all this time in my life I regarded kebabs as greasy batons of ugliness, but thanks to Brogan’s story, I finally consoled myself and accepted that even a silly foodstuff as a dodgy looking kebab could become Destiny’s instrument to bring one closer to their skater gentleman! Hey, Mr, does the restaurant You wander in and out of everyday have kebabs on their menu? Just asking! Giggle, giggle!
“Ketchirp, ketchirp”, my Mr Robin tweeted with a sweet accent of honey and moss, and then he leapt up to the top of the wooden fence, wriggled his bottom, and proceeded to dart and fly. I do believe his intentions were fixed in the direction of my garden… ♥♥♥
Photography & Words: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | Winchester | UK 2016