Platform Antiques: Mr Ant & I

A verbatim account lifted off from my recent entries in my travel journal:

The modern serpent, a rushing taut declaration of uncatchable steel, sent my gypsy locks into an electrical streak-burst of anarchy. I felt beyond myself. That is when I saw the little chap whizzing towards the vast canyon of my shadow. In my mind I imagined that Mr Ant, who was now scurrying bravely across the baked concrete platform, pausing for breath, and then by chance looking up, discovering that the orb of the sun had mysteriously blacked out. All of it gone. My form elevated to a sheltering eclipse from the heatwave that had for days clinched the English landscape to a halt. To think that a passing train was invested with that level of casual power so as to unleash noble service from my untied hair made me tickle with laughter, and my toes, forever leaning towards the horizon, skipped up and down on the earth. What huge fun this is! I have yet to step foot onto the mat of my destination and already I have offered myself up as an unfathomable adventure for a creature no one else cares to see, likewise he has unknowingly proportioned the same benevolence of magic into the preface of my journey…  ♥♥♥   

Words:  © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | In between cities | UK 2016

Jen’s Graduation Day – In Pictures & Words! Yeeehaaaaaa!

This is the only life we know, what comes before and after is obviously a debatable topic, but whilst keeping to the present and what I have known of this life thus far, I am happy to let myself be flogged by conservative ridicule while stating with utter joyous boldness, that there are potentially two births to our name. As we depart from the maternal tunnel into this waterless and breathing world of air, no recollection of the journey is allowed to be engraved, our memories simply refuse to reach back that far, and so it is that our most momentous time is also one that is cocooned in rebellious mystery, a giant gravity of vagueness and void, it the one root adventure we cannot remember, as hard as we may try.

The second birth is a rare one and not all will be fortunate enough to have the means or desire to navigate through its convoluted procession of trials and triumphs. A path that demands solid guts of steel, a fearless disposition that rises against and thrusts through the tide of social conformity, to follow one’s dreams is a battle that teases us to the point of agony and tests us to the death. If pursued with integrity, the reward is always great, for every pace achieved and that takes us forward cries out a new growth of aliveness, a vibrant shout of ascension pushing through the old fabric of living. It is this rebirthing that we have the means, the honour, to remember.

It gives me tremendous pleasure to share tonight the second birthing of my little sister, Jen, as she, today, against many thwarting odds and hefty sacrifices, became a shining and proud graduate of Southampton Solent University. I should have taken more tissues with me, her joy forced us all to let open the waterworks of our eyes, our faces reduced to leaky taps with no intention to close!

Of course, I did not just arrive there with a dress and dotty shoes! Beaming and bouncing around Southampton Guildhall with my trusty camera, a task slightly complicated by my dreadfully disobedient shawl which I then stuffed into my bag to my astounding relief, I caught up with Jen and her fabulous troop of mates, together with the rest of the hobbits of my own family, to create a photographic chronicle of an unforgettable day that swelled and swayed in lively celebrations, a roaring dawn chorus blessed with soaring tasselled hats and loud cheers of rebirthing, and hearty smooches on cheeks that have made me seriously wonder whether Jen and I will ever need a blusher brush again! Ah, yes, I suppose they can be rather handy for dusting off loose, unruly crumbs of bread from inside the toaster! Giggle, twiggle!

Your 158cm Dreamer of all hours,
Mazzy ♥♥♥

Jen's Graduation

My sister’s shoes are manufactured out of a clever mixture of Dark Matter and Lord Vader’s helmet! I know, seriously cool, right?!

Jen's Graduation

Ever wondered what a disco for ravens would look like? Check out this conspiracy of flighty hats!

Jen's Graduation

Jen stood on the shoulders of giants to reach her goal. There was no stepladder in the art department and she could not get to the paint tub on top of the wardrobe. In stepped human resources!

Jen's Graduation

Emotions ran high and tears welled out of eyes and ears and nose with an intensity yet unmatched in the natural world. Here, Ab, seeks cover from a pair of trendy shades!

Jen's Graduation

There are some exceptional people in this world, like my Jen, who can make sinister capes and cloaks that seem to belong to a certain Professor Snape appear as though they are the latest hip trend in street fashion! Girl, what gives?

Jen's Graduation

I cannot tell whether my brother, Sam, is restrainig himself from crying or holding down a burp! Any advances?

Jen's Graduation

Mumsy is everyone’s Mumsy. That is an unquestionable fact! ♥

Jen's Graduation

Once again Sam throws conundrums our way: Is his tummy rumbling for food because he has gone without it for so long, or, is he the first man ever to be expecting with child? Oh boy, that is a toughie!

Photography & Words: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | Southampton Solent University |Southampton | UK 2016

The Dreaming Chapter 12: When A Picture Spoke & Smelled Louder Than Words!

Arundhati spun her head round to face the monkey. She had figured she had no other way out, and therefore rested all her hopes of a swift and safe escape on the little creature, hoping that he would help her out in some way unknown to her. Her raised spirits were, unfortunately, quickly dashed as she saw before her was an empty spot, a dreary nothingness that made her gulp hard, and she suddenly became aware that she was horribly alone, a solitary seeker of a profound treasure limply canvassed against the whispering and watchful green leaves of the sal tree. Meanwhile, a sinister gathering assembled directly beneath her now unsteady feet. Arundhati bent down a little to hear better of their feverish banter.

I am so, so sure that I saw that weakling walk this way, she has to be here, somewhere! I’ll be damned if she gets her wormy fingers on what is rightfully ours!” grunted Tall Froggy.

I second to that!” cheered maliciously the youngest of the devilish clan, Baby Froggy.

She can’t outsmart us, four against one, c’,mon!” Papa Froggy spoke and yet he was far more concerned about the structural stability of his newly oiled quiff, smoothing it upwards as if he were negotiating with the terms of gravity itself.

Mama Froggy let out a disciplinary cough to hush everyone up and then stepped in front and locked eyes with her accomplices with a stern and steely stare before pacing up and down, her hands authoritatively locked behind her, which signalled that all ears were to come up on deck. She made it perfectly known that if anyone were to so as much fidget she would gladly release a whack to the nape of the neck of the culprit. A strict regime of silence descended and everyone, Arundhati included, waited with bated breath. She was sure the birds in the sky had frozen up there, too, wings half way between opening and closing.

Mama Froggy had hardly opened her mouth to speak when, by one of the bushes, a monkey jumped out in front at awesome ninja speed! It wore a headset around his head.

WHAT THE – ?!” cried out Mama Froggy and she stumbled and staggered backwards, falling hard on her massive, padded bottom. Dust flew out from all sides of the crash, causing the remaining Froggies to choke and their eyes immediately began to sting.

Aaarghhhh!!! My eyes, I can’t see a bloody thing!” screamed Baby Froggy.

My hair, my hair, how will I live now?!” Papa Froggy was frantically running on the spot, scrubbing his hair up repeatedly to save it from a premature collapse, although it would have been wise to sort his eyes out first, they were completely enveloped in sandy dust.

Arundhati’s heart leapt to her mouth and she smiled and giggled and even brought her hands out to clap, but thought the better of it, she did not wish to give away her location.

Tall Froggy was tall enough to have been spared the dust attack. She was the first one to notice that things were about to get worse for them. “Hey guys, it’s doing something and I don’t like it…

Though it was painful to see anything with their faces and eyes smothered to the rafters in grime of irritating dust, it was obvious to even the dullest of minds that what the monkey had up his sleeves next would be a formidable challenge to any nose of standard biology. The monkey bent his knees and assumed the position of one who was about to sit on the toilet. There was no doubt about it, his face was gleaming in the most marvellous mischievous grin ever observed in the animal kingdom. Very quickly, without The Froggies ever noticing it, the monkey shot a conspiratorial wink at Arundhati to which she flinched, and then it dawned on her of what he had deviously concocted in his tiny little genius brain. She carefully raised her right hand and pinched her nose and confirmed her understanding with a gentle nod.

Stand back…”, said Mama Froggy, her hands shaking. The others obeyed and took a step back.

It was nothing less than a monumental explosion of pure smelliness! The universe was introduced to the second Big Bang, and it came in the form of an ejective bubble of gas comprising of 1% Sulphur, straight out from a monkey’s hairless bottom! A superior module of farting glory! The monkey let out a yawn followed by a smirk of satisfaction, relieved that he had at last disengaged from his system this most annoying baggage of deadweight.

AAAARGGGGHHHHHH!!!!” screamed all four Froggies and they all fell to making the most contorted and screwed-up faces they had ever been forced to express as the odious odour unleashed its terror deep inside the delicate olfactory centres of their brain. Arundhati, on the other hand, was nearly knocked off from her perch, saved only by her fast reflexes.

The Dreaming Chapter 12

“… Arundhati, on the other hand, was nearly knocked off from her perch, saved only by her fast reflexes...”

The monkey knew this was the golden mean of moments, it had to be archived for posterity, so from his side pouch he whipped out his 19th Century foldout camera and, like a gunslinger from the Wild West, he pointed it with precision at the four wobbling figures before him. Pressing down the shutter button was second nature to him, he did it before anyone had realised what had just happened. Arundhati could not resist, she drew her hands together, and quietly clapped from above the branches of the tree. She did get a quick whiff of the smell in that brief moment and knew instantly that she would never be able to articulate to anyone the magnitude of its toxic scent. She speedily clasped onto her nose again.

The Dreaming Chapter 12

“… he whipped out his 19th Century foldout camera and, like a gunslinger from the Wild West, he pointed it with precision at the four wobbling figures before him. Pressing down the shutter button was second nature to him...”

Frogmarched out of the way by the worst sort of bad luck ever befallen on them, The Froggies ran down the hill, or so they tried, for the sting in their eyes had only just settled that their faces now itched terribly, and huge sore lumps began to bulge out like burnt cheese on pizza. Papa Froggy began to sob when he discovered that he had lost a patch of hair from the back of his head. In all this pain they could no longer see where they were going and they tumbled against each other before all four violently rolled down the hill, collecting dust and grass along the way, so that by the time they reached the base each one resembled a Chinese spring roll made out of messy tufts of hairy seaweed!

As if the camera was a juggling ball, the monkey casually threw up his box of light magic into the air, its lens joyfully caught the warm beam of afternoon sunshine, and then it fell down and he caught it in one hand. He turned to face Arundhati and she, in turn, took away her fingers from her nose. The air was clear again. The monkey slipped the foldout camera back into its inconspicuous pouch and stood up to its full height. He was ready to leave. She did not wish to forget his face, never, and without thinking, brought her binoculars up to her eyes to see his face properly. It showed her nothing, only the monotony of black discs. A little saddened, she slowly slid the camera away from her face and as she did so, she raised her right hand to her forehead and sent her little hero the proudest salute she had ever done to anyone. The monkey bowed down, with grace and humility and saluted back at her. It made her feel like a hero for something that she had yet to do. A boat-shaped dimple stretched and shone out from inside the trees to which a white cloud of whiskers fanned outwards from below ground. He skipped backwards and made a short wave before he vanished behind the bushes. Arundhati caught herself wishing that she saw him again, perhaps in another story.

If an ancient scribe of Nepal were to cross oceans of time and had sat and watched the spectacle that had just passed, he or she would have taken note that today was the day that saw four beastly frogs be blown way off course, and all thanks to the joining of two forces, two unlikeliest of friends, Hanuman and Saraswathi…  ♥♥♥     

 

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

Turn To Chapter: 5 Diagon Alley in ‘Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone’

It is said in the Magic world that the wielder does not choose the wand, the wand chooses You. Mr Ollivander, an elderly maker of fine wands and whose prosperous and reputed little shop in Diagon Alley has served the wizarding community in Britain for hundreds and hundreds of years, has one day a most intriguing customer pay a visit.

Harry Potter is new to these parts, a world breathtakingly different from the one that he has always known, and yet felt never quite at home in. Donned with round spectacles whose fractured middle is held together by sellotape and a scar streaked across his forehead in the shape of a lightning bolt, Harry is in search of a wand – his wand – so that he may be properly equipped and prepared for his first term at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. No two wands are made out of the same ingredients, Mr Ollivander importantly insists. After a tedious number of failed attempts, Harry finally discovers that one particular wand, when he holds it, makes his fingers tingle with fizzing warmth, and after swishing it down through the dusty air of the little shop – though he does not know how – he causes an effusion of brilliant red and gold sparks to shoot out from the tip of the wand. Both Mr Ollivander and Harry are relieved and pleased, however, the old artisan thinks it is exceptionally curious that the scarlet phoenix who gave away one of its highly potent feathers for the forging of the wand’s internal core had, in fact, given one other feather to another wand. This wand belongs to Voldemort, the arch nemesis of Harry Potter and the cruel murderer of his parents.

Mazzy Tea-Char’s Q: Why do You think the author attempts to establish a connection between Harry and Voldermort in this unconventional way? Answers to be strictly directed to my home address by Owl Post only, and by no later than whatever date You think is wise! Giggle! ♥♥♥

Supplementary Quote: http://i.quoteaddicts.com/media/q4/509764.png

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

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

The Dreaming: Chapter 6 Veena-Oculars

Arundhati closed the door behind her and leant her whole body against its peeling teal paint, she was out of breath, although being in her room, a still lake of greyish darkness, helped to cool and comfort and steady her nerves. She closed her eyes and let out a sigh, a soundless prayer in which she sought her Mother Goddess, to whom she always prayed, asking to now look upon her and to give her the strength to embrace whatever it was that she was holding in her hands, hidden under paper and string.

Darkness drives the instinct to see the world with hands and that is what Arundhati began to do. She had not yet lit up the rusty kerosene lamp on the low, yellow-wood table to her right, and yet without meaning to, her fingers began to ripple over and wander around the course brown paper, eking out any hint as to what could be inside the package. It was not too heavy, and not too light, and furthermore, it was not an object that was perfectly square or oblong, there seemed to be breaks in the solidity of its form, a bit missing from the central part, otherwise it would indeed have been a more simple shape. What could it be, I wonder, she quizzed to herself. She cautiously edged closer to the yellow- wood table and bent down, placing the package beside her, then lit up the lamp. Slowly, the darkness was pushed away out of the room before all began to glow in an orange sea of light. It was now apparent that the kerosene lamp was not the only object stood on the yellow-wood table, there was beside it a framed picture, alive with lustrous colour and energy. It depicted the beautiful and smiling figure of her most beloved Mother Goddess, the four-armed Maa Saraswathi, emerging gloriously upright from the Book of Knowledge and behind her feet peeked out a magnificent peacock of deep blue, its handsome plumes of blue and green feathers fanned down onto the ground, and each was marked with a prying eye. What Arundhati particularly loved about this painting was that Maa Saraswathi wore her musical stringed instrument, her veena, as if it were a rucksack, strapped behind her back. It gave the distinct impression that the Goddess was about to embark on a great adventure in the cosmos.

Arundhati got up from the floor and sat on her rattan bed that leaned against the entire length of the wall on the right. After the bed there was not much more room left, it was a very cramped space, this attic, but still she felt that she had made good use of it. Books and books and more books crammed themselves on the rickety shelves of the bookcase that spanned against the left side of the room, and one of the shelves looked frightfully bent, for any time it could give way and her tomes, heavy and hard, would be helpless but to avalanche down to the floor with a bang.  She promised to see to it in the summer holidays, well, at least she would try!

Arundhati shuffled onto the bed and got comfortable. She cleared her throat and, carefully, oh so very carefully, untied the oat string. When all of it had come off, she thought she had felt the package breathe a sigh of relief, a floundering fish released from the net and into the oceanic hands of its true home. A gust of cool breeze sneaked into the room and stroked her ears, and she looked up, momentarily, in the direction of the window. It must be a sign that something incredibly fantastic is bound up inside the package, she told herself.

Arundhati turned the package over so that the two flaps of the paper that had been pressed down with transparent tape were visible. She did not want to ruin the paper, somehow all of it was important, and so with meticulous precision her nimble fingers got to work, peeling off the tape from both sides, little by little. Now she began unrolling the package, with each roll towards the right more of the paper streamed outwards the left. In all this time she did not breath, not for a moment, in case it were to distract her from the task, for she was adamant to absorb every iota of this moment, a moment that promised to unfurl a secret and reveal something gloriously new on the other side.

The last of the wrapping paper came off and fell to the floor.

In her hand was a black device with glass eyes. A pair of old aviator’s binoculars attached to a narrow leathery strap. Arundhati did not know what to think of the object, what it meant or, indeed, what to do with it. The flurry of questions rushing into her head did not at all hinder her curiosity. She brought the binoculars closer and noticed the slight peel of paint around the rim of the lens, as well as, after touching the haggardly strap, concluded that the wearer was an avid of explorer who did not go anywhere without this second pair of eyes. Right then, out of nowhere, a sudden longing came over her, she did not know why, but she knew for certain that had she met the owner of this device she would have found a good friend in him. They were alike, they saw the world alike. It was then that her eyes shifted back to the fallen wrapper on the floor, and there she saw peeping out of the last curl of the paper, a white piece of card with printed words. She could not believe that she had missed it in the first place, and bent over to pick it up.

Roald Dahl’s Binoculars”, she whispered. She repeated the caption again as if by doing so would provide her with additional information about their use. Nothing came to her. She had never heard of him in her life. However, she remarked to herself that here was a man whose surname sounded like her favourite dish as rustled up by Amma – dal curry! Yummy! She suddenly shook her head and smiled away before regaining composure, acknowledging that this was serious business, she ought to concentrate! She read the rest of the caption and discovered that he was a pilot, soon enough in her mind she painted a picture of him, high in the skies, flying his plane over strange lands while the enemy was intently on his tail. She wanted to live that life of adventure, too. She wanted to be like Mr Roald Dahl!

The Dreaming Chapter 6

In her hand was a black device with glass eyes. A pair of old aviator’s binoculars attached to a narrow leathery strap.

Another lazy cool breeze swished into her room and she looked over to the window. It had grown pitch black outside. She had lost her chance to use the binoculars today, and not only that, she was positively confounded by the object, how was this antique device supposed to help her track down the Shaligram Ammonite? How could one evening pump out so many questions for which she had not a single thread of an answer? Doubtful that the focus would work properly with the short-range targets in her room, Arundhati was about to look through the eyepiece and train her eyes on the books in front of her, when she spoke out loud into them, out of pure frustration. “How do I find the ammonite with a pair of shabby binoculars, you tell me?

A very tiny red light positioned in the centre of binoculars, which she swore was not there before, flashed three times before it stopped. She froze. What was that? She waited patiently for the light to flash again, but it did not. Arundhati shook the binoculars, she reasoned that it was possible the device was faulty, interpreting the refusal of another light show to happen at her request the proof of its malfunctioning. As she flung the binoculars on the bed she chided the device as if it were a person who had annoyed her. “You are not going to show me anything, are you!?” Suddenly, Mr Roald Dahl’s binoculars spoke again, three flashes of red sparked in the centre, and this time her heart lit up as well! She grasped the binoculars and placed the eyepieces against her own eyes, and she looked into them, and saw a message:

The Dreaming Chapter 6

She grasped the binoculars and placed the eyepieces against her own eyes, and she looked into them, and saw a message…

 

All of a sudden it all made sense.

The British Secret Service had chosen an ingenious way to communicate with Arundhati without risking detection! Mr Roald Dahl was an author, she deduced, and it would be by using his quotes that The British Secret Service would relay messages to her which would guide her to the location of the rare The Shaligram Ammonite before it fell into enemy hands.

So the Shaligram Ammonite is hidden in a very unlikely place…. and there’s a magic inside these walls and in the walls outside that will help me to find it.” Arundhati thought hard about this, leaning her head to one side and peering up, tossing many ideas in her overworked mind, as one does with an omelette first thing in the morning! No obvious answer came to surface, even after scratching her head for the tenth time in a row!

BETI ARUNDHATI! Dinner is ready – AGAIN!” Her mother was understandably furious, the poor lady had waited long enough. Arundhati skipped the part where she was going to freshen up her face, instead she determinedly flung the thin strap of the binoculars over her head and the device fell down her shoulders. Since it was a long strap, she adjusted herself so that the binoculars lay over her back. She walked over to the door, opened it and walked down the stairs, a new horizon growing inside her heart. Watching her glide down from the top of the stairs, her figure strapped in a garland of olden binoculars, some might have muttered to themselves that it was no one but Maa Saraswathi herself making her way down. ♥♥♥  

 

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

The Dreaming: Chapter 5 The Froggies

They were possibly the most cutest and adorable children in the neighbourhood, never one of them had ever come under the fire of suspicion from their parents or the locals who lived in the area, they shone as four perfectly taintless cherubs blessed with pink cheeks sumptuous enough to entice any grown up to pinch and squiggle them, and to follow on up by indulging their appetites with liquorice strings and cola-flavoured gums.

Irresistibly well-behaved, there were many instances where childless couples had pleaded on hand and foot to take all four of them in, raising them as their own offspring. The parents of these four, obviously, treated these urgent requests as an exemplary compliment, and it only went on to inflate their doting and mollycoddling tendencies, making it highly impossible for there to be anything in the world that might ever serve to betray the sparkling regard they held for their little bundles of giggling joy. Even if it were that someone were to bolt in the through the door and accuse the children of beating the neighbour’s cat with a stick the parent would turn the other way and ignore the voice, as if it did not exist.

But the moon is said to have a dark side. So did these four, not-so-better-known as The Froggies.

There was the super chubby Mama Froggy who was the ringleader, the cold and calculating engineer of nasty plans. Papa Froggy was, in comparison, a categorical midget in size, his manicured hairstyle took central precedence in his life and he always had an air of aristocracy about him. Tall Froggy was an expert in gymnastics and in the art of the ninja, she could take down anyone in two breaths flat. Baby Froggy was not as naive as she seemed, she was admired by her peers for her fabulous academic know-how in chemistry, ancient myths and beetle anatomy.

When the adults left them to their own devices, they did not stay the same, they became other people, stepping into their true and macabre personalities. But all breeds of villainy had a weak spot. These four had one thing in common, one enfeebling trait that haunted them and drove them to insane criminal ruses. You see, they slept, but not like the rest of us. They slept for excruciatingly long hours, like the fuzzy grey koala bear of eastern Australia, up to 15 hours at a time and no less than 10. Many people, especially grown-ups would, upon hearing this peculiar fact, revolt and put up a kick in protest, arguing that letting the days pass by in comfortable slumber in bed was not such a bad thing at all! To The Froggies, however, those hours were intolerable, a prison of dreamless sleep in which they were trapped, writhing in hours of agonising monotony.

All that empty space of sleep with not a single, cinematically cool dream to remember for the next day, The Froggies had reached the end of their tether and were now stood on a precipice and to go forward was to jump off into the extreme unknown. They were daring to try anything just so that they could fill that enormous nightly sea of grey with an incredible spray of dreams.

They reasoned that there was one cure, an unconventional sort of remedy. They decided they would steal dreams. They planned to filch the dreams of other children and their parents, in fact, to be totally honest, they chose not to be shy on the matter and agreed to rake in the dreams of the whole world if they had to!

A few days ago, The Froggies held an urgent meeting in the garden of a sort-of-grownup lady, and while the lady was on her adventures and oblivious to what was brewing in her absence, the four vile and naughty minds got together on the bench and discussed the progress of their devilish plot.

Well done fellow Froggies! No one suspected a thing, our parents fell for it! A school trip to Lyme Regis, huh?!” Mama Froggy exploded in deranged laughter and then flicked her head, she could not resist herself from loving the aura of the limelight in which she found herself in right now.

It was cool and I want to go there again! But, lets book a five-star accommodation next time, the guest house mirror was way too high for me to look into. I could not comb my hair properly in the time we were down there!” Papa Froggy suddenly realised that the other three girls were staring at him, tediously unimpressed. He quickly shut up to avoid further embarrassment.

Three down and one to go!” Tall Froggy had a formidable knack to getting down to the facts. It proved to be a wretchedly muddy and soggy venture for the others but not for her, out there on the shallows and beaches of Lyme Regis she loved every bit of it, and one occasion laughed her socks off when a mentally unbalanced cormorant had swooped down and nearly picked up Papa Froggy to be taken away for food! In the end, they did it, they finally found what they were determined to find. Three specific ammonites, each measuring across in diameter of 1cm, 5 cm and 8cm, were identified and collected, and brought back to the school laboratory.

And it was super pleasurable to grind down those three ammonites, the powder was as fine as baking flour, and I can’t wait – just cannot wait – to see what happens when I spoon the mixture inside the fourth ammonite!” Baby Froggy leapt about the place, crazed and dizzied as she began to imagine in her maniacal imagination her greatest chemistry experiment whirling away, one that was so close to becoming reality.

Mama Froggy gently raised her hands in the air and the other three became quiet. She smiled, a strange smile it was because it appeared motherly, and she spoke, her eyes decidedly boring into her accomplices like the thrust of a menacing scimitar. “The Sudarshana Chakra…” She let out a long sigh and shifted her gaze up, towards the wide blue sky, “… the spinning celestial energy that contains the power to influence the waters of oceans and of people, once a weapon of the gods, now to be brought back to life.

A hushed silence fell on them, each Froggy knew what it would mean to them if the Sudarshana Chakra were to be recreated once more on earth using the mythic formula of three parts of ammonites – of specific dimensions – mined from the west, and one special ammonite of the east.

With the spinning disk in our hands we can at last dream in our long sleep. It will suck in the tidal forces that live inside all humans, the force that fuels the dreams to come alive. Yes, to feed ourselves of dreams we must snatch it from others. However, it must be said, that is their problem, obviously, not ours!” Mama Froggy said this in an airily manner, there was no sign on her face that she felt any regret for the actions she and her gang were conspiring to commit.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I can’t wait, I can’t wait to dissect the The Shaligram Ammonite into two and pour in its inside chambers our powdery mixture and then put it back together again, and watch it spin and spin and spin into motion!” Baby Froggy was as jumpy and as fast of speech as a box of fireworks gone out of control, spitting and shooting off sparks in every direction. The others could not believe how accelerated her words came out, yet they somehow managed to get the gist!

But what of The Shaligram? Heck, who knows where it is!” Papa Froggy was troubled, they had come this far and now here was a stumbling block that could put a beastly blockade on all their hard work.

Yeah, Papa is right on that one. The last piece is in the east, you told us that, but whereabouts in the east of England?” Tall Froggy, her forehead crinkled in worry lines thanks to her frowning eyes, beckoned Mama Froggy to provide them all with an answer.

A chubby professional with an astounding set of skills, including that of how to allay the fears and tensions of her associates, Mama Froggy smiled smugly, she was as conceited as she was expert in her methods of research.

East means the east, my dear comrades.” She knew perfectly well that none of the other three quite caught sense of her cryptic response.

Well, duh! Of course, east is east, what else could it be? Which means we will have to tell our parents we’re off to a new school trip to – I don’t know…”  Baby Froggy leant her head to one side as she re-created the map in the school corridor, that big colourful poster of a funny looking island floating on a sea of light blue, and as she did so, she tried hard to remember the famous beaches along the eastern coast of England, “….Eastbourne, Hastings, Folkestone, Dover…” As she blurted out names she was hoping that Mama Froggy would stop her to point out that she had guessed correctly, that would be a most marvellous way to show off her intellectual finesse, she thought. But, it so happened that none of her answers satisfied Mama Froggy, who, as it so happened, was patiently waiting for the little one to stop her racket!

Mama Froggy stood up and extended out her arms and then clasped her hands together and cracked her knuckles. The others knew that she knew something that they did not.

We are going to have to come with a pukka school trip form this time, the mission ahead demands it.” Mama Froggy was pacing up and down in front of her juniors like a drill sergeant who had seen the war and was about to enter another one.

What do you mean, Mama?” Tall Froggy screwed her face and then peered at the others in case they were willing to shed some light on the matter. The others were as befuddled as she!

Mama Froggy stepped closer towards the gang and pulled out from her hoody a folded piece of paper. She held it up and stared at it with devotion and then smiled. She placed it on the table. “Go on, open it.” Papa Froggy took a long breath in and then proceeded to unfold the paper. It was a single page, a photocopied page, but absolutely incomprehensible to him, for it was written in ancient hieroglyphic script.

What is THAT?!” They all shouted.

Let’s just say that it is always good to have connections in high places.” Mama Froggy beamed a smile brimming with pure and evil self-satisfaction. “Prepare to pack your bags and your passport. We are going to Nepal, my dear children…”  ♥♥♥ 

The Dreaming Chapter 5

“… But the moon is said to have a dark side. So did these four, not-so-better-known as The Froggies....”

 

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

The Dreaming: Chapter 3 Loos, Poos & Trapdoors

Exactly a week before and many, many miles away from where the white-washed house stood, some rather unexpected events took place deep in the chalky Chiltern Hills of southeast England.

There lay there a quiet village called Great Missenden. So sparsely populated was this place that when one stepped onto its two-platform train station, though it was clean and prettily decorated with flowers, it was never occupied more than five people at a time, and this often convinced the weary traveller that somehow the population who lived there had been evacuated and moved on to elsewhere, leaving behind in the air the trace of a discomforting vagueness. It was an eeriness that did not cause fear, on the contrary, it cajoled the mind to form curious questions. It aroused the feet to investigate more.

The Dreaming Chapter 3

“… its two-platform train station, though it was clean and prettily decorated with flowers, it was never occupied more than five people at a time...”

The silence would occasionally be punctuated, to the delight of the visitor, by the sweet ringing of the bells rung from the Church Of The Immaculate Heart Of Mary. It was difficult to explain, but to hear the peal of the bells, music made by many unseen hands, was always sincere and comforting, persuading the listener to seek the nearest tiny teahouse and take rest, while all the trials of life that plagued the mind was allowed to dissolve away.

Leafy lanes, dense beech woods, streets that coiled and circled with a life of their own, to those who had visited it Great Missenden was undoubtedly an unnoticed gem in the great map of things.

It felt forgotten, when clearly it ought not to be.

Ah, but, things were about to change.

The British Secret Service, MI5, were about to earmark it!

A specialised taskforce of MI5 sought new premises for the expansion of their operational directives. After a rigorous debate, that saw a few of its personnel blow horrendous raspberries at each other so much so that their parents would be ashamed if they had witnessed them at it, a majority vote was achieved. It was decided that the new base of operations should be located in the most inconspicuous and low-profile area in the south of England.

The British Secret Service, by definition, had to do their things in secret. Village or no village, if they had carried out their affairs in open daylight just imagine how, in a swift jiffy, nasty and horrible villains would be able to get their foul minds and dirty hands on precious information and then, quite possibly, go on to destroy the safety of the country and the world beyond. In short, for this project to work, MI5 needed a disguise.

They pondered for weeks and weeks of a shrewd plan that would do the trick, that would let them get away with the building of a large-scale, intelligence-gathering facility, existing right under people’s noses, never detected by civilian eye nor detected by the more seasoned spy of a rival organisation.

Well, a lightbulb moment did arrive, eventually! In every walk of life there is always a genius waiting to happen. On that fateful day in the boardroom, one of the bright young sparks put their hands up and shouted two words, “ROALD DAHL!” His colleagues, dumbfounded by the sheer randomness of his outrageously oddball answer, paused and held their breath for a few seconds before they burst out in laughter, some cried so hard that huge tears squirted out of their eyes, somewhat resembling a leaky tap that had gone berserk!

Oh do shut up, Travers!

Drunk a few too many last night, did you, mate?

Who hired this idiot?

Still reading children’s books, are we?! For God’s sake, grow up!

Suddenly the door opened. A tall and dignified man breezed in. Silence fell on the room like a massive meteor that singed all noises out into irreversible extinction. A long pale face with a roman nose, this man had hardly any hair on his head, only that the long feathery white locks from one side had been pitifully combed and flipped over to the other side to give the illusion that he still possessed something up there. To any child of school age that might have been present in that hushed room, he or she would have quickly pointed out the tall man’s shirt and declared that he was wearing graph paper, for it was checked with black lines. The resulting formation of small boxes made it irresistible for anyone with a creative eye to want to go ahead and conjure up ways the boxes might be filled if one only had a marker pen on them! Tick or colour or join them up?!

Incidentally, this man was called Mr Penton. He had recently been appointed to act as the head of operations for the proposed new MI5 site, his confident and graceful movement indeed confirmed this very well. He coolly strolled over to his chair, sat down and laid his thick files on the table before taking out his wooden pipe, filling it with his special herbs and lighting it. Puffing away while staring questioningly at each member of his team he spoke. “And what might be so incredibly amusing about Mr Roald Dahl? I should like to know.

No one dared to speak. Or, perhaps they had lost their tongue forever. Someone at the back spluttered a bit, but that was it.

Travers…” Mr Penton left the word hanging in the air for a second or two, he loved to fry people with tension, “… has a point.”

Travers gulped and as for everyone else, well, they were still absent of speech, only now a great confusion had set in.

Mr Penton leaned back on his chair and took the pipe out of his mouth. He began to address his team, his voice was calm, laced with a hidden thunderclap of authority.

Mr Roald Dahl – the inimitable Mr Roald Dahl – lived in Great Missenden for 36 years of his life, where he wrote the best examples of children’s fiction ever to be engineered in the history of literature. He is a genius. A masterpiece of an artist. He cannot be replaced. One of a kind. But is it not unusual and grossly unfair that this man – this beacon of inventiveness – had no museum built in his honour?

Some of the team had begun to understand where Mr Penton was going with this.

A great man should be remembered. And greater and nobler still is the effort to action this into reality.” Mr Penton sent a smile of comradery to Travers. A little spooked by the surprising outcome of watching his idea rising to higher places, Travers strained a nervous smile back at the man.

To children and families, both here and across the world, this museum of wonders, a tribute to a fine writer, will be a dream come true. They will flock by their thousands. BUT, oh yes, but, all eyes and all ears, even noses, will be too distracted by the animated pell-mell of the masses to notice our secret operations whirring away behind the scenes, discreetly and safely.

That is a brilliant idea, sir!

You are seriously amazing!

Splendid, just splendid!

Mr Penton did not smile when he leaned forward on the table, resting his elbows in front of him, his pipe clamped in between his thumb and index finger. “Let us begin the construction of The Roald Dahl Museum And Story Centre at once! It is the centenary year of his birth – 2016, a marvellous year to open the gates for them…. AND for us.

Indeed, not three days had passed that The Roald Dahl Museum And Story Centre, with a stroke of magical suddenness, appeared on the main street in Great Missenden. A building had popped out from nowhere! Many of the local residents swore they could not remember any part of its construction. Did a truck come down the road in the middle of the night and unpack the house out from the back of the vehicle and place it on the street? Who knows!

Chapter 3 The Dreaming

“… A kind of white-washed building, its front was endearingly signed with typical Dahlian phrases accompanied with a lovable sketchy illustration of the man himself…”

A kind of white-washed building, its front was endearingly signed with typical Dahlian phrases accompanied with a lovable sketchy illustration of the man himself. As soon as the gates opened the screaming children and their sleepy parents poured in by the bucket loads. Upon entry a team of very lively faces, the ever ebullient front-of-house staff, presented each family with a guide of the venue, and after payment of the entrance fee, everyone received a blue wristband made of thin paper. The children often squealed in excitement at having this tied around their little wrists, whereas the adults could not wait to take it off! There was so much cheering and laughing and giggling that the walls of the building shuddered and shook.

The Dreaming Chapter 3

But is it not unusual and grossly unfair that this man – this beacon of inventiveness – had no museum built in his honour?

After emerging from the ticket booth a colourful map of the grounds sparkled from the wall and this was often the point in the trail where parents received their first bombardment of inquisitive questions from their chubby-cheeked offspring!

Mummy! Mummy! I want to see the hut! Can we go to the hut first, Mummy?!

Dad, I need food! Please, please, can we go to Café Twit now? Please! Pretty please!

Grandpa, are we really going to see a flying plane in that room?

Grandma, what shall we do when we see the crocodile? I’ve never dodged a crocodile before!

Aunty, it says ‘loos’ but there is only toilet paper in there! How do I keep it in if I am desperate?

Uncle, why does ‘Wonka’ look like a big earthworm with a gap in its tummy? Wasn’t he a funny man in the book?

The Dreaming Chapter 3

“… After emerging from the ticket booth a colourful map of the grounds sparkled from the wall...”

And so the questions came and came, and they were endless and awfully funny to hear. It would have nudged even the most depressed person to light up with a smile just by standing there and eavesdropping on these little comedies that were being inadvertently played out by the children and their grownups. It was delightful.

The map was a dazzling preface for whetting the appetites of visitors, fuelling their intrigue, making them wonder as to what scrumptious things laid in wait, however, it was not a complete map. It had a very important part missing from it. Purposefully left out.

The ‘Solo Gallery’ was not completely solo, to speak. It was here that Mr Roald Dahl’s famous writing chair could be found from which he penned his masterpieces, so it was arguably the highlight of the tour, but what none of the children, and nor did their grownups catch a whiff off was that under the chair there was more.

There was a secret trapdoor!

Of course, the trapdoor was not visible, the chair had done a spiffing job in masking it completely from view. If, by chance, the chair was moved a little, any onlooker most certainly would frown and bend down for a closer inspection. You see, the trapdoor was not a plain white door. It had a bright poster stuck on it depicting an old book whose cover was painted of vivid tones of red and yellow, and on it showed a figure of a man with a pipe donned in the strangest looking attire. This book was not written by Mr Roald Dahl! ‘The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’, a classic in its own right, was a peculiar choice and even more peculiar was why it had been glued onto the trapdoor. Whatever could it mean?

When the museum came to close in the evening, and the clamour of voices and rushed feet were no more, and when the lights were all switched off, that is when it would happen. That is when the lights underneath the trapdoor would blink and come on. ♥♥♥  

The Dreaming Chapter 3

“… the trapdoor was not a plain white door. It had a bright poster stuck on it depicting an old book whose cover was painted of vivid tones of red and yellow, and on it showed a figure of a man with a pipe donned in the strangest looking attire...”

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

The Dreaming: Chapter 1 The Keen Mind Of Arundhati Mehta

Arundhati Mehta had a face as small and shy and quiet as the silver moon on a fair spring night. It was this reason why no one ever came remotely close in discovering that she was one of the most brilliant agents ever employed in the history of The British Secret Service. And by golly, she was awfully good at what she did because she did not see the world as others saw it. Instead, she observed it.

In a sleepy village nestled on the Churia Hills of Nepal, Arundhati lived with her old mother in a tiny house perched on a slope filled and squashed with many other houses like her own. Her house was the only one that had white-washed walls that gleamed fiercely under the noonday sun, as if it were a blazing pearl that had formed under the tuition of something mysterious, and that it was this very source of mysteriousness that had also chosen to carve this pearl into the shape of a square. A square of comfort, her home. This fascinated Arundhati to no end. She had noticed it first when she was a little girl, and though the house was of modest proportions and built of common materials, she always thought of it as rather special because of this very startling way it behaved under the light.

Arundhati was a keen observer of other things too. She had an unceasing passion for making silent studies of the whole of the natural world that lay before her, its giant undulating carpet of fantastic landmarks and living things always set her eyes darting in every direction. She seemed as if she were catching something with them, something in the air that no one else could see. On her way to school, for instance, she would take note of the murmuring greens that hummed and sang throughout the vast broadleaf forests and admire how they remained standing straight despite all the elements that came down upon them. The reassuring and magical and unspoken authority of these giant creatures were her personal treasures, she told herself,  and this year she had promised herself that she would go out of her way in the summer holidays and build a den from scratch. She imagined it would grow from under her favourite sakhua tree, a secret place where she could read her best books and write up her stories whilst listening out for the loud calls, and even glimpsing, the lightning-blue dives of the white-throated kingfisher as they spritzed through the furtive lairs of the forest.

Once or twice she had even spotted the wayward sloth bear making his sluggish way to who knows where. She was certain it was the same one because his shaggy black coat was extraordinarily long, so long that only a bear that could not possibly part from his proud hair could ever grow his furs to that enormous length! Oh, and as for the tricky task of jotting down the distinct markings that decorated the regal coat of the Bengal tiger, she had never dared to stay too long to find out. It was not so much that the fear of being eaten overpowered her natural love for discovery, more that when those big yellow eyes turned and gazed at her she felt as if that magnificent face would any time open its jaws and give her a good telling off, as like a teacher or parent would. That is why she carefully walked away and let the tiger go about its own business, but undoubtedly, she had always revered them. Their blood was made of heat, a direct walking descendant of the sun itself, she was sure of that.

But, it was without fail, that she would always get into a spot of trouble with the one person she loved the most in the world. Gazing for hours and hours at whatever came her way meant that she could be relied upon for forgetting to return home on time. Her mother – whom she affectionately called ‘Amma’ – prayed everyday that her daughter would come round her senses soon and realise that it was a naughty and devious thing to do to keep her waiting and letting all the delicious dishes, that she had so carefully prepared, get cold. Once cold it never tastes the way it should, her mother would protest in a huff, but alas, the words would simply float over Arundhati’s head and disappear. Time and again, Arundhati’s mother was forced to stand guard at the doorstep in the evening, her eyes scouring the lane back and forth, all in the hope that her unruly girl would pop out from the diminishing crowds of passing folk.

Arundhati was sat on the forest floor that day not far from her house, sketching away a most handsome bloom of white rhododendron heads when suddenly her Amma’s voice shattered through the silence like a storm, only it was familiar and reassuring.

Beti Arundhati!! Your dhal and bhaat are getting cold – AGAIN! When will you ever grow up?! Come on!!

Amma, I am coming!” But she was in no hurry at all, because her mother never really, truly got angry with her. Her threatening mannerisms, certainly scary to outsiders who did not know her, were actually showy acts manufactured to speed things up. Arundhati slowly got up from the ground and cleared away little bits of the forest world that had clung onto her clothing like orphan souls, shaking off stray leaves and smudgy soil from the back of her jeans, and gently picking off a spotty green and black beetle that had taken a liking to her right arm and laying it with care on a nearby branch.

Beti Arundhati!! Make a move on otherwise….” and then there was a silence in which Arundhati could hear her mother thinking, “… I will throw your letter in with the pile of dried wood that your Uncle Alok has just collected and it will burn nicely and you will never see it!

A letter! Arundhati knew exactly who that would be from! She no longer thought it wise to be as slothful as the sloth bear, there was something at home, waiting, something that needed her urgent attention. She jumped onto the path that led the way to her house. But unknown to her, Arundhati’s hurried paces caused her to step on the tail of a sleeping Bengal tiger that had taken rest in between the dense fronds of concealing bracken. The creature let out a yelp and then felt terribly embarrassed. When it turned to face the path to see what had hit him there was nothing there, only that something had moved fast, leaving an impressive trail of sand and dust. ♥♥♥

The Dreaming: Chapter 1 The Keen Mind Of Arundhati Mehta

“… Arundhati was sat on the forest floor that day not far from her house, sketching away a most handsome bloom of white rhododendron heads…”

The Dreaming: Chapter 1 The Keen Mind Of Arundhati Mehta

“… She imagined it would grow from under her favourite sakhua tree, a secret place where she could read her best books and write up her stories…”

The Dreaming: Chapter 1 The Keen Mind Of Arundhati Mehta

“… and gently picking off a spotty green and black beetle that had taken a liking to her right arm and laying it with care on a nearby branch…”

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

Which One Is My Love Story?

The art of writing encompasses that impressive vastness that is equal to the range of continents. It comprises a multitude of forms and techniques just waiting to be explored and cultivated, and even challenged in the name of liberating experimentalism. It also involves that critical desire and willingness to put oneself in the shoes of others, no matter how discomforting or unsettling that may prove to be for the writer. When there is a lack of readiness from the author to withdraw from one’s usual zone of comfort the quality of characterisation will undoubtedly suffer in its authenticity and the resultant text will come across interminably staid, stilted and unengaging. Characterisation is the umbilical lifeblood of a compelling tale. So, it was today that in keeping that golden rule in my thoughts I cravingly sought to create a brief written piece geared to, as much comically as it would profoundly, challenge the limits of my ability to carve out fictional personalities and contexts that stupendously contrast with who I am. Could I act out on paper the roles of individuals who share not a speck of likeness to my own persona?

As You are an avid reader of my blogs may I be as bold as to presume that You would be more than happy to consent to participate in a teeny test? Yes! Ah, that is precisely the answer I was after! Thank You! Right, let us get down to literary business! I have formulated two scenarios below. Read them carefully, and more than once should it be necessary.

I have a sneaky question for You – oh please do keep thy roguish tempers in check, I am a teacher after all, what did You expect?! Giggle!

Which one of these scenarios is an authentic likeness to me and my existential world? And, therefore, which one would You not associate with me, no matter how much a bribed audience earnestly attempted to convince You?

If You can answer my question in a sporting jiffy, as fast as a rushing bullet train swishing through the pristine landscape of Japan, then I shall graciously accept that as a most touching compliment and a pivotal token of encouragement. It will imply that You know me all too well. Ah, yes, I suppose on the other hand – now I come to wonder about it – should I be worried by the fact that You have acquired such an intimate insight into my otherwise unfathomable character? Giggle, giggle! ♥♥♥

 SCENARIO 1 [By the way, what say You of my Photoshop skills?]: 

 

Which One Is My Love Story?

A Digital Romance

 

SCENARIO 2:

Which One Is My Love Story?

An Unending Love

 

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