A Your Echoes In Space Presentation: The Universe
Words & Picture by © Mazzy Khatun 2017
A Your Echoes In Space Presentation: The Universe
Words & Picture by © Mazzy Khatun 2017
Christmas morning whispered into my ear.
I wriggled and turned on my back, and though my eyes were still kissed down tight with delicious sleep, I let myself rise. Sat on my bed, I stretched and grinned, a grin made of home and comfort and Amma’s old hands. I must have been smiling like that for a long time, because soon I felt the edges of my room wanting to come apart, releasing me and everything in it into the air.
My eyes flickered open.
Something had changed.
I glanced around the room. Even in the grey dimness I saw that an immense stillness had entered the heart of objects. My copy of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, the brass figurine of Horus, the bells from Nepal, each and all, now gazed at me in perfect pause. When I picked up the bedside clock and pressed it against my ear its ticks came out muffled, as though it had lived its previous life somewhere on a deep seabed.
With a sharp turn I eyed the chink between the curtains.
And there I saw what my heart had desired all year long. I knew of that rareness that glittered between the drapes.
Overnight, the world had grown a skin forged of starlight.
Leaping up from my bed I rushed to the curtains and opened them wide.
Snow! It was snow!
As far as the eye can see.
It was so thick and fresh and crisp, that I was certain that the whole world was covered in it.
I must have jumped a few times in excitement, then darted out of my bedroom door, and ran down the stairs, missing three steps at a time, before dunking my feet into my Wellington boots and pulling on my duffel coat.
‘Moni, where do you think you are going?’ Amma had one hand on her chubby hip whilst in the other she held an open box of cornflakes.
‘Amma, please –‘
‘You can’t go like that!’ She waddled over to the wooden chair and from under her shawl she grabbed her red woolly scarf and flung it at me. ‘We don’t want you catching a cold now.’
I caught the scarf and swiftly wrapped it round my neck. ‘Thank you, Amma!’ I beamed a smile at her.
She shook her head, chuckled and swung back to prepare breakfast.
Sliding the latch off, which seemed to take forever, I finally pulled the door open.
The air was clarity itself, laced in ice and quiet, as if history had not found it yet. Chimney tops and the tips of the highest branch, and even the sky itself, all sparkled pristine white.
I drew a long breath in and stepped foot onto the garden path, the sharp crunch under my boot the loudest sound for miles. I took another step and this time I dug my boots down further. I was curious to know if my other world still existed, whether it remained in slumber underneath the white.
As I was about to walk on I discovered that I was not alone. A robin redbreast dipped and dived overhead. It finally perched its tubby little body on the snow-cloaked needle of the spruce tree at the bottom of the garden. He looked in my direction and started to chirp, and with each note a few flakes, like chippings of stars, scattered down below.
I giggled and hopped over to the tree, my woolly red scarf bouncing along, and only once did I glance over my shoulder, just so to admire my trail of deep-set footprints.
The robin sang its sweet song.
And the scarf and I twirled underneath him.
Two red voices in a new world.
Words & Image by Masufa (‘Mazzy’) Khatun | Winchester | UK 2016
When I was but a tiny sprout and my world did not transgress beyond anymore than that sacred periphery of my Amma’s (Mum) legs I would impatiently yearn for the day to turn into evening so that she would sit down and tell me a tale or two, those immaterial and priceless oral gifts that had been passed down onto her by her own grandma when she was growing up in the village back in the distant hills of Bangladesh. My other siblings were not as absorbed by Amma’s hypnotically genius aptitude for storytelling as I was, to hear her every word and capture each nuance and inflection of her face as the tale rolled out from the rich repository of her memory and into my earnest-eyed canvas of the imagination was the epitome of joy, and each evening invited me to discover the same treasure without it ever failing to enthral the beats of my ticking heart with each retelling.
One of the recurrent themes of these olden tales was of Nature and of particular the role of TREES. Of many shapes, sizes and colours, they figured as the abode of both students and sages, yet in some narratives their leafy canopies would be occupied and infested by shabby and disfigured dark spirits, witches for example. My Amma had me hooked so tight with these visualisations that I would pack up and enthusiastically go off on mini adventures to the park, that lay across from my childhood home, to investigate the foundations of these stories, admiring and probing the architectural poetry of trees and flowers much more closely than the other children and pondering to myself whether under whatever tree that I stood in could it have once witnessed a wandering sage taking respite under its sheltering firmament of verdant leaves.
Winter in the 80’s were extremely cold and the thick snow would often reach as far as the height of the windowsill, and I would perch against it, looking out at the gnarled and bare branches but it never saddened me to see them so, for I always thought it quite pleasant that the absence of fleshy leaves meant that whenever a cute fat red-breasted robin chose to settle on a branch I would enjoy the most beautiful unobstructed view. And, were it the case that not a robin but the more macabrely dressed raven or crow were the fleeting visitor then that too was a blessing of a visual treat because it simply took my breath away in awe to see such phenomenal contrast of jet blackness against the pristine backdrop of the whitest snow. Thanks to my Amma’s tales I came to interpret the raven and crow as the disguised embodiment of the good witch, a feathered crone of secret knowledge.
Storytelling, once it arrives and swims into Your bloodstream the world is never again the same. Everything becomes enchanted with limitless possibilities and though I am trained in the Sciences, it has done little to hamper my perception and admiration of the existence of magical stories hidden in the barky and leafy bodies of trees. In fact, I would state that I have successfully married the empirical universe to that of the imaginative one to create a dimension of Vision that can never be truly known for what it is and thus an immortal curiosity flickers whenever I come across the tree. I do believe they are cognisant of my deep veneration for their kind so much so that when I sit under one in my beloved garden I am compelled to feel as if I have arrived at the place that shall always be the destination beyond all other destinations.
A remarkable exemplar of connection absent of language, I pray that You will take time to pause a while in Your hectic day and, instead of dismissing my words altogether, will learn to look at these silent but resonant companions of our world with an open heart, only then shall it be possible to listen in to their whisperings of a wisdom as ancient as the star matter from which You were created from… ♥♥♥
To add a touch of spark to my words, click on the Link to sample the spectacular story of an old-as-the-hills maiden tree who lovingly weaves a carpet of brightest gold every autumn and yet it is a carpet that does not fly, on the contrary, such is the spell of her creation that she draws the people to her, and they do arrive in their flocks, on a magic carpet made of their insatiable imagination – just like the one I was taught to fly on thanks to my Amma’s delicious tales woven in threads of trees… ♥♥♥
To Trees: Grounded, rooted and still, but oh how they walked and walked and walked for me!
Your Woodland Storyteller, Mazzy xxx
Photography, Concept & Words: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | Winchester | UK 2015
On this bitter wintry day, out of town was I, brisk feet to here and there
Suddenly, feet halted! “Ah, my True Love is here somewhere!”
Sat atop a blessed glass mountain, a gluey golden tree, a sunbeam stair
“Dear Madam, I’m always very close by”, assured my loyal friend, Mr Bear…
Photograph & Poem: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | Southampton UK 2014
To the uninitiated, ‘tis a land of green pine needles studded with globules of lights however, dangle and sway an assortment of characters with more to them than meets the eye…
Photograph & Words: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | My Christmas Tree At Home | UK 2014
Presenting a bite-size morsel of storytelling magic that shall refrain from tipping over 123 words…
When Gerda reached the evil Snow Queen’s palace, the sorceress, in her thick fur-lined coat, appeared at the tall gates and snarled in contempt, “Your friend is destined to live in eternal freeze as my bidding servant!!” Paying no heed, Gerda darted into the main courtyard of the palace where she found Kay helplessly trapped in a lake of frozen ice. Gerda closed her eyes and recited a prayer taught to her by her grandmother and her breath, upon meeting the air, turned the falling ballet of snowflakes into shimmering angels. They gathered at Kay’s feet and his shoes disappeared to reveal a pair of skates inked in the deepest blue. “Kay, my Love, you can do it! I have Faith in you…”
Note. The fairy tale of the ‘The Snow Queen’ is a timeless classic that was written by the literary genius, Hans Christian Anderson. The excerpt above is my adaptation.
Photograph & Words: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | Winchester Christmas Markets | UK 2014
I am willing to challenge with cheery cheekiness the establishment of explorers everywhere and declare that the most enchanting streets, lanes and pathways are to be found right under our noses – well, above, to be precise. In our heads, in that gooey jelly that you would quite happily not want to associate yourself with if someone were to present it to you in a clinical jar, is the most intricate piece of architecture known to Itself – the human brain and, its soul, the elusive untouchable jewel of all mysteries that is the mind and which to this day is the source of many head-scratching debates between scientists, philosophers, artists and curious folk alike.
I have no inclination whatsoever at this moment to produce an unsightly dissection of a brain or pull up a cognitive map of the neuronal pathways taken from some of the most advanced instruments available to modern science. Fascinating though these perspectives of analysis are, and to me they have been as such since I am a Psychology graduate but, more so than the academic, I am a relentless dweller of the imaginative mind. Like my fellow Oxfordian and the great polymath, Lewis Carroll, I too exercise the morning habit of conjuring up six impossible things! What a wonderful way to nourish the soul of the mind! After many years of such conditioning, I can proudly say that I am able to draw an impression of my imaginative universe and thankfully, my humble photography skills can be of service here. One chilly morning, on my walks, I came across these tiny snowdrop-like flowers growing out from an old brick wall. They appeared to me like the stringy neuronal pathways of the human brain, except, they twinkled with enchanting secrets, as if a whole undiscovered land lay buried along its canals.
Immediately I knew that I had been gifted with a symbolic representation of my own creative mind. It was a land that I had travelled back and forth since childhood, a place where I could endow animals to talk and let eternal winters to reign, where the Faith of one little girl, burning as bright as the flame of a lamppost, can change the course of history…
Photograph & Words: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | UK 2014
By virtue of my role as teacher – not the sort of stiff-lipped starchy variety I should add – I think it would be extremely useful at this point that a preparatory practical be undertaken by your good self so that the things to follow later will fall nicely into place! First things first, step outside and lift your head up and survey the ginormous sky above. I do apologise if after carrying out this order you have become painfully aware that your old neck isn’t as supple as it used to be! Bag of frozen peas should do the trick! Now, before re-entering the house, I would like it very much if you could inspect carefully where your feet are at. Please do not shake your head, just do as I say! Well done, my nameless apprentice! One final bit of observational assessment from you and I promise the whole ordeal will be over. Make your way to the clock in your house and count – yes count – how many numbers circle round its face. Now, now, wipe that twisted snarl of incredulity off your own face, it shan’t make things any more easier you know!
So, now that you’re back in the safe fortress of your tartan armchair or, indeed, on top of an ancient mountain in Ladakh – and why not, my words are after all travelling on strings of shooting light, they are free to roam the earth and as such free to be read by anyone listening – let us now gather our findings. What did you discover? Ah, yes, I can hear all your voices reaching my ears with crystal clear definition and my word, some of you are rather disgruntled and disappointed by what has appeared to you as a pitifully mundane activity! For instance, there is one who is rolling their eyes around and puffing out the words like a chuntering steam train, “For god sake, the sky is blue!” Oh, and there’s a lady who has slouched back onto her chair and is muttering under her breath, “What an insane writer! Everything falls to the ground, feet included!” I had to save the best till last, that of the livid chap – thanks to me – who now has a mind to bash the clock on my head! He is chiding me, “You idiot, if the last number is 12 on a clock why would I need to count each number!” You should know something about me by now, dear readers: to expect the expected is as extinct as the poor old dodo bird when one enters the circus of my world! You see, what I have proved to you is a very sad fact of the so-called mature adult brain. I know that none of you followed my instructions and, with enormous certainty, I am willing to bet that consciously or otherwise, you all IMAGINED undertaking them in your mind and, each one of you felt compelled to abide by the Laws of Physics in this place of all places. You saw a blue sky because that is the colour of the atmosphere as it interacts with the light of the sun. You shook hands with gravity and thus accepted that your feet would be glued to the ground. You saw 12 hours neatly positioned on the face of a clock since that is how they have always been manufactured, in compliance with the conventions of time-keeping.
Why does our imagination suffer as we grow older? Why does the gateway to the circus of endless possibilities succumb and disfigure into a servile imitator of reality? Why cannot we give ourselves the permission to deny the Laws of Physics entrance to certain sacred parts of our inner world?
Ah, now wait a minute! What do I see here? Did someone just conjure up a purple and orange polka dot sky?! Oh, look, a world where people float! And, yes, a clock with 12 hours but when counted there’s always 11 because the final hour is the one in which you take your last breath in. Does it not feel strangely pleasant when Physics misses a spot…?
Photograph & Words: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | Travelling Circus | Southampton | UK 2014