An Interview With My Protagonist, Alok

A Your Echoes In Space Presentation: An Interview With My Protagonist, Alok

Words and Pictures by © Mazzy Khatun 2017 

 

His eyes were dark and reassuring, two pits of ancient coal. I could taste the light and fire sealed inside them. I cleared my throat, ready to write.

‘Where do your stories come from, Alok?

A koel perched on the window ledge. He glanced over, gave a soft smile. ‘You know that place, you know it well.’

‘Are you talking to me or the bird?’ I grinned, chewed my lips.

He turned and looked at me, tenderly, meaningfully. ‘Far off places that are close by. That’s where my stories first yawn. Oceans, forests, caves; places near to the heat and heart of the earth, so near that if you ask they will tell you everything, they will remember for you as far back as the beginning of things.’

‘What you mean to say is that stories come from deep within us.’ I shifted in my rattan chair.

‘Where else?’ He chuckled.

‘Any stories you would like to tell me that have inspired your own writing?’

He searched my face, my eyes. ‘All the ones mingled with my mother’s voice.’

‘Your mother was a storyteller?’

‘She was. She is.’

I tapped my pen on my knee. ‘What stories of hers do you remember?’

He leaned back, sighed. ‘Myths, legends, fairy tales, folk tales, tales of long ago when people wore bearskin and conch shells and gathered round roaring fires.’

My eyes widened, glimmered. ‘That is an impressive list.’

When he smiled a dimple appeared on his left cheek. It felt familiar. ‘I’ve hardly begun. And then there was – there was One Thousand And One Nights.’

When he smiled a dimple appeared on his left cheek. It felt familiar. ‘I’ve hardly begun. And then there was One Thousand And One Nights.’

When he smiled a dimple appeared on his left cheek. It felt familiar. ‘I’ve hardly begun. And then there was – there was One Thousand And One Nights.’

 

One Thousand And One Nights?’

‘You know it, you know it very well.’

I nodded. ‘I know I do.’

He raised his hand, and with his index finger traced a spiral in the air. ‘A story within a story within a story…’

I imagined the teller of those tales. ‘Scheherazade.’

‘Yes. Scheherazade.’

I clicked my tongue. ‘She told stories as if she were a daughter of infinity.’

He smiled. ‘Yes.’

I looked up at the fan, whirring. A car honked outside followed by the curses of a street vendor. Good old Kolkata. ‘You know, Alok, I remember them: Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, and Aladdin, and The Fisherman and the Jinn, and The Cat and the Crow.’

I looked up at the fan, whirring. A car honked outside followed by the curses of a street vendor. Good old Kolkata. ‘You know, Alok, I remember Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, and Aladdin, and The Fisherman and the Jinn, and The Cat and the Crow.’

I looked up at the fan, whirring. A car honked outside followed by the curses of a street vendor. Good old Kolkata. ‘You know, Alok, I remember them: Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, and Aladdin, and The Fisherman and the Jinn, and The Cat and the Crow.’

 

He came closer. ‘Yes, but which one was your favourite?’

I met his gaze. ‘Why do you ask, Alok?’

‘Because you are making me, right now, right this moment. I am so real that I want to know more about my storyteller. Her story. Your story.’

I reached up to my left cheek, felt the coal pit in the dimple of my smile, so fertile with light, ready to shine out to the world.

Old Pictures, New Story: When Mr Robin Roared The Universe On!

A modest tribute from myself to the artistic genius and fellow polymath, Mr Rabindranath ‘Robin’ Tagore, who was born on 7th May 1861…

I find it endlessly fascinating that I should perceive in Mother Nature’s thriving bestiary and botany even those small things, that would ordinarily not arouse quivers into the attentions of most folk, and yet for me they ignite an all-consuming fire to lovingly compose in their name some sort of recognition, an artistic conveyance of the blessedness I feel for their existence.

Either on photographic canvas or in poetical terms – I am at complete ease in both fields – once my perceptual faculties have been brushed by the magical caresses of one of the umpteen characters from her repository there is no drawing me back from writing about it. I wish I had enough time in this world to carve a space of dedication to all my fellow creatures and plants.

Surprisingly, for me, the gratefulness of being alive is always complemented, ornamented and amplified by my knowledge that I am no more than a speck of stardust in this vast unfathomable galaxy. This sounds disconcertingly strange at first, I grant You that, but that is where it begins with me. From a point of colossal tininess. Yet, I feel immensely alive by my smallness, because I am not for one single moment made to feel invalidated from my right to claim a sense of belongingness to the world around me. It all depends on how wise Your depth of magnification is. If we were all obsessed on the long-sighted aspect of our eyes all the time, then in effect, we would fall prey to giving permission for the horizon to hammer itself down and play the role of a fence, and thus never would humankind aspire to learn and connect with things beyond this self-imposed geographic barrier of captivity. The world would stop as far as our eyes would take us. Likewise, to forge recognition of the intimacy between myself and the natural bounty of my garden, I require to fine-tune my vision so that the closer-to-home things are brought into much sharper focus. When You fiddle with Your vision in this way, the scent of the honeysuckle vine generously filling the air in the balmy twilight hours shall race to tinge the tongue as like the essence of a reunion, and watching the ant crawl up the old cast iron drainpipe would seem as though his tireless ascent was on par with the great explorers of the Everest! When I take time to witness and admire the small things in this way, each glowing with the force of life and riding on the crest of this beautifully woven piece of fabric we call Earth, I am gifted sacred proof that my smallness does not equate to insignificance, rather it announces my characterisation in a framing story and without which many other stories would not be told. The Universe, in its totality, is the grand narrative fashioned out of intricate and interconnecting designs and hence it throbs and thrums in ecstasy whenever it can feel itself being known as it really is.

A case in point is Mr Robin.

I hardly need to elaborate upon the happy enchantment that tides over me whenever Mr Robin drops by my garden for a beaky peck of the earth as he plumbs the brown depths in search of squiggly worms, or, his other firm favourite act where he could be seen hopping dexterously along the tightrope of the wooden fence as if to impress upon me that he is the only well-matched suitor that I would ever take into consideration to! Giggle!

As it so happens today we enjoyed glorious sunshine in the garden with Amma, the air warm and glossed by the ambrosia of emperor butterflies and I even spotted the bushy-tailed grey squirrel darting over our gates, and among all the laughter and ice-cream and grapes, I could hear my melodious and humble friend, Mr Robin, singing away on some distant rooftop. He calls out to me and he knows that I have heard him because I know his song like the back of my hand. He is tiny, and so am I. Perhaps herein resides the case for why we are so unflinchingly drawn to one another: Two specks of stardust in a vast whirling Universe, both carriers of redness and both mounted with an equal aching to share it with those beyond the moat of the evening horizon…  ♥♥♥ 

 

My Constant Red

“… And, then, mirroring the profundity of a lion’s roar, A truce of cute redness: He jumps out and turns on the Universe...”

 

Words: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | Winchester | UK 2016
Original Post & Image: ‘My Constant Red’ © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | Winchester | UK 2016

Belle UK: Chilling Out With A Winter Wonderland Pixie! EPISODE III

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… ♥♥♥

LINK: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/peoplesdaily/article-3330402/Magical-autumn-foliage-Millennia-old-Ginkgo-tree-tourist-hit-leaves-form-perfect-golden-carpet-Chinese-temple.html

To Trees: Grounded, rooted and still, but oh how they walked and walked and walked for me!
Your Woodland Storyteller, Mazzy xxx

Belle UK: Chilling Out With A Winter Wonderland Pixie! EPISODE III

“… 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…”

Photography, Concept & Words: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | Winchester | UK 2015

On Winged Hands, Henna Is My Name

My Dearest and Most Beloved Reader, 

As part of the wonderful and vibrant Eid festivities taking place at my house today, my Mumsy and sister had their hands decorated in the dye of the henna plant. None of us are expert appliers of the ink but that did not matter the least, the deep colour that came through was a magnificent testament in ink of the unbroken Love that existed between us. I had left my hands unpainted as I was the chief photographer of the day however to have seen everyone else awashed and blessed in the Orange poetry of henna was more than enough to have my heart grow beyond the earthly cage of my body.

Eid Mubarak, Eid Mubarak, Eid Mubarak… :)) :)) :))
Your Mazzy xxx


Unfulfilled in Life I am when left to idle flutter on some garden shrub or tree
Desire is mine that I be crushed, pestle pounded and set me free
I pray by day, pray by night to become the daybreak to skin, the Orange Pilgrim of Stain
O ‘tis not death, People: I am the Bride of Change, the butterfly released to kiss the sugar cane… :))

Henna Is My Name 1

“… Desire is mine that I be crushed, pestle pounded and set me free…”

My Name Is Henna 2

“… I pray by day, pray by night to become the daybreak to skin, the Orange Pilgrim of Stain…”

"... I am the Bride of Change, the butterfly that emerges to kiss the sugar cane…"

“… I am the Bride of Change, the butterfly released to kiss the sugar cane…”

Photography & Poetry: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | My Home | Winchester | UK 2015

My Mumsy’s Veil Catches & Lifts Up All Hearts!

If Your powers of remembrance and observation serve You well then You may succeed in recalling that in my post entitled, ‘Garden Party With Alice’, I took the liberty of utilising the phrase ‘triangulation of elements’ to refer to the handsome bounties ripe and shimmering inside my garden – including the fruit trees and a certain White Rabbit – and whose availability led them to be literally picked on the occasion to enhance the storytelling rationale of the shoot. I proceeded to assert that the eccentricity of my methods and style of photography was always underscored by an atmosphere of fun, the ‘very, merry, berry’ sort!  In euphoric leaps that would drive a bunny rabbit back into its puny hole I am thrilled to tell You that today yet another garden party vivaciously took centre stage at our Home and this time my good friend, Sachi, was also present, whom I do fear might have left the house in an unfashionably drunken state after I lost count in my servings of the newest tea that is making headlines in my pantry – a coconut, lychee and green tea mixture! Giggle, giggle!

Anyway, my anticipatory Reader, while my friend and I engrossed ourselves with a healthy catch-up of news, my Mumsy sneaked out towards the back of the garden and using her Veil she began to pick the bulbously and juicy green pears, each yearning to reach the platter of a table so that they may feel their untapped sweetness on the tongue of the merrymaker. As she did so it dawned on me that my Mumsy was the epitome of the Soul of the Giver, to share whatever fell in her lap was the singular feed by which she could ever hope to touch the bright sensation of happiness.

After Mumsy had picked the choicest berries, pears and the heart and affections of yet another friend entering into her aura of Motherly Love – which is very lucidly blatant in the purest bliss that so gorgeously blossoms on Sachi’s face – I soon came across another extraordinary ‘triangulation of elements’. Posted by an astronomy page on Facebook today, there it was, beautifully resonating the cosmic universality of the message that a Mother’s Veil forever seeks to pick happiness and lift up the spirits of all those whom she devotes her heart to… :)) :)) :))

LINK: https://www.facebook.com/AstronomyPictureOfTheDay/photos/a.149744531727683.22546.147511511950985/878072975561498/?type=1&theater

“… my Mumsy was the epitome of the Soul of the Giver, to share whatever fell in her lap was the singular feed by which she could ever hope to touch the bright sensation of happiness…”

“… Mumsy had picked the choicest berries, pears and the heart and affections of yet another friend entering into her aura of Motherly Love – which is very lucidly blatant in the purest bliss that so gorgeously blossoms on Sachi’s face….”

Photography & Words: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | My Home | Winchester | UK 2015

The Heart Of My Father

After lengthy time spent outdoors completing various errands for the household, which took me longer than expected for the simple fact that the small community of my town means that it is certain that you are bound to meet a friendly face along the way for a cheeky slice of chat and giggles, I returned home and decided to take a relaxing stroll through the garden. The summer rains had unleashed a sweet potion of crystal waters on the heads of every flower and leaf that I could not resist to rush back into the house and grab my trusty electronic companion, Lumiere. I could actually hear him pleading me that he wanted to be of service so that the two of us could disperse out to the world the beauty that surrounded my Home. I am sure it will reach You and become the inspiration of the story behind the smile You are smiling right now… :))

I present to you a cheerful red lady growing on one of our fruit trees. It was planted by my Abba (Father) about five years ago. He was always the maverick when it came to the craft of gardening, ambition often overriding realism that once he even dared to plant a mango tree in front of an audience of myself and my Amma (Mother), both of us nodding our heads in frenzied dismay, knowing fully well that it would never grow. Cynicism was not in his dictionary. He marched on ahead! That tree did not quite make it, but this one did. The juices of the sky desperately cling on to body of the fruit, juice seeking juice, juice seeking the Unknown. My dear Abba, I write about you even to this day  – what greater testimonial do I need for believing that the Soul never dies…

EPILGOUE: My mate Sara, a professional photographer, recently scooted off for a wedding shoot. When I landed on this dreamy photograph today I laughed fondly, the words on the glasses perfectly captured the relationship that had existed between my parents! I have good reason to conjecture that YOU, in particular, will be warmly satisfied by this image! You’ll know why when You read the WORDS. Giggle, giggle… :))

LINK: https://www.facebook.com/saramerrimanphotography/photos/a.853800378049885.1073741828.853077824788807/853800424716547/?type=1&theater

The Heart Of My Father

“… The juices of the sky desperately cling on to body of the fruit, juice seeking juice, juice seeking the Unknown…”

Photography & Words: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | Winchester | UK 2015

The Enchantments Of Being A Visual Storyteller

Without expending too many words or labyrinthine explanations, I humbly slide this photograph of mother and child before you and with a fond smile, the sort only reserved for old friends, I tell you, “This is why I have no time to take Selfies…”

Sincerest respect to all visual storytellers who sought their reflections in the souls of others, in the hearts of flowers… :))
Your humblest Magic Maker, Mazzy x 

The Enchantments Of Being A Visual Storyteller

“… This is why I have no time to take Selfies…”

Photograph & Words: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | Winter Reunion Series | 2015

A Study Of My Uncle’s Tea-Shirt!

No, no Rana Mama (Uncle), you have got it all wrong and twisted and misshapen! Diesel does not make for successful living (T-shirt slogans are hugely telling of one’s dispositions)! Wellington boots, violins, books, tea and silver moonlight win me any day but the smoothie sludge of fossilised creatures, I do not think so! Get with the programme, Mama! I shall acquit you this time round since you are doing a most marvellous job in this photograph at making two very fine ladies smile as if they are welcoming a national hero back to the homestead! Close shave Mama, close shave!

P.S. To those who read my previous post, does it not look like as if the luscious vine pattern from our red Chinese teapot has magically teleported and boisterously spread itself across my Aunty’s living room wall….? :))

A Study Of My Uncle's Tea-Shirt!

“… Wellington boots, violins, books, tea and silver moonlight win me any day but the smoothie sludge of fossilised creatures, I do not think so! Get with the programme, Mama…”

Photography & Words: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | Spring Reunion Series | London | UK 2015

Charlie’s Angels: The Director’s Cut

Once upon a time, there were three very different little girls who grew up to be three very different women. But they have three things in common: They’re brilliant, they’re beautiful and they DON’T work for me, I work for them! YIKES!

My name is not Charlie! Ahem, ahem!

In honour of the sheer awesomeness of the Ladies of my family, 
Mazzy x

Charlie's Angels: The Director's Cut

“… They’re brilliant, they’re beautiful and they DON’T work for me! I work for them! YIKES…”

Photography & Words: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | Summer Reunion Series | Winchester | UK 2015 

England’s Three Most Wanted: Have You Seen Them?

For three counts of the most ghastly acts I beseech to thee O crowd
These three possess cuteness beyond legal limits allowed
Not to mention that winking tiddler, the stripy brute stood on my Mumsy’s left
Ignore he is my nephew, consider his irredeemable theft
Snooping round my sweety stash and bagging up my tea
Whatever gave him the idea that my precious tea is for free?!
And that smooth operator on Mumsy’s right, a mastermind swindler
Melt your heart my nephew will but, he’s a trickster connoisseur!
But who am I kidding, the gravest offender is my cuddly-wuddly mother
Flung neon flip-flops on my bottom without a hint of a bother
So, round ‘em up O good folks of England, should you see these three about
Take a deep breath in, then give me if you will, your mightiest deafening shout
For, if I fail to forward these petty criminals, behind bars for each cute brat
Then how am I to round up the One who wears that silly old tattered hat…?

England's Three Most Wanted

“… Snooping round my sweety stash and bagging up my tea, Whatever gave him the idea that my precious tea is for free…”           

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