“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” – W.B. Yeats
I trundled out of my house very early this morning on a dangerous assignment of which if I were to return half-complete I would automatically sign myself up to face the most barbaric humiliation dispensable in the Khatun household: Corporeal punishment involving the airstrike of neon flip-flops, launched by none other than from the militant hands of my chubby Amma dearest! I have reasonable cause to tremble because she never misses! Giggle, giggle!
So, what alarming jeopardy was I forced to consign myself to in those little hours of early morning? I am sure You must have figured it out by now, and if not, then it is obvious that You have not paid any attention to my stories so far! Boo-hoo! Alright, alright, I shall spit it out for You! Honestly! Mumsy sent me on a trip which began by her passing over into my hands a crinkly and creased piece of paper, as if it were an old person flattened into a sheet by a steamroller, and on it were a list of treasures of great importance, required for the survival and running of the house. Grub and cleaning products, were the primary candidates! I was forewarned that if I failed in the acquisition of at least one item on the inventory that my skin would know a new meaning to the rubbery smooches of flip-flops! Ouchy wouchy!
I squeezed my Amma tight and pecked a huge kiss on her cheek and, to be frank, hoped secretly in my heart that something on the shopping list would NOT be stacked on the shelves today so that I would be forced to return with one item less. You see, I think it awfully funny when she chases me round the house with the flip-flops, and recently she has begun doing it with more oomph, after I informed her that to be in a raging pursuit of her daughter was a phenomenal form of cardiovascular exercise which is productive advice since she is a bit – well quite a bit – tubby round the waist! Indeed, currently, I have observed that her movements are dedicatedly mimicking those of a fierce huntress that one might unwittingly stumble upon in the jungle! Major giggles!
So I had a shopping trip on the cards. Where is the adventure, You ask?
To constrain the mind into believing that an adventure ought to be defined by the distance travelled is a naïve and inaccurate stereotype. To be an adventuress is to happily juggle the possibility, at all times, that something magical is fondly awaiting the senses, and that this thing yearns to be discovered for the very purpose of adding to the texture and breadth of one’s knowledge of the world. An adventure is a qualitative experience and should never be tied down by the dogmatic expectation that it must exude an air of cinematic romanticism, a species of travel potted with sizeable expanses of scary geographical crossings and close shaves with malignant villains.
It does not have to be so.
Anything and anywhere can make an adventurer out of You. It is essentially a frame of mind, one which regards itself as joyfully incomplete, a consciousness that reveres its uncharted waters and lands, only to be terraformed, part by part, as we commit to treating every moment as if it were pregnant with a new world. That is why I can sit by my desk, not move a single muscle, and expediently voyage around the day’s events to find that I had engaged in several adventures wherein exciting things were learnt or even unlearnt! Conversely, there are some people who will splash out thousands and thousands of pounds on, what are obviously at face value, remarkable trips, but they are not remotely close to being called as adventures, and that makes a difference when, one day, we come back to reflect upon them. In a trip You see, in an adventure You become.
I know that You are in a pretty sore muddle at the moment, writhing on the floor like a constipated grass snake, fruitlessly scrounging for the bridge of meaning between the intriguing presentation of my definition of adventure and, well, my Amma’s shopping list! Well, let me explain!
As soon as I opened my front door and my sneakers jumped out of the house my gut spiralled round as if there was a million studio lights hoisted up in there, summoning the fireflies out in a dance below them! When my tummy does that I know for certain that something profound and magical and worthy of being embodied into the archive of my storytelling is imminent. I just had to remember constantly that in all my feverish excitability I had to keep my grip on the shopping list and ensure that Colonel Amma’s wishes were met satisfactorily.
Our city centre is incredibly and conveniently dwarfish in size and thus I was quite quick in hopping from shop to shop and ticking off the boxes on her list. As I was approaching to the end of the list our local stationery shop hurled down an invisible barricade in front of me and my sneakers skidded to a halt! There was nothing on my list that should prompt me to enter, however, the fireflies in my gut were now dipping and diving in an elegant Viennese Waltz, which could only mean one thing. There was something awaiting my discovery in that shop and, though I would risk arriving home later than expected if I were to proceed and explore, if, on the other hand, I abstained from following my instincts I forfeited an evening of torturous imaginings and all of them would begin with ‘what if..’ Yikes!
I pushed open the heavy wooden doors and immediately got deliriously side-tracked by the stand on the left filled to the roof with chocolate – but let us save that adventure for another day! Giggle! A faceless murmur voiced me to walk over to the magazine section and so I did and paused when I got there, scanning the covers row by row in the expectation that one will grab my attention with as much pounding drama as would be the case if the media tomorrow caught the Queen blow out a blue bubblegum behind Prince Charles’ back! Cosmic creepers!
Nothing caught my eye. I felt glum and a little chafed by this sorry state of nothingness. I was poised to scud out of the door when from the corner of my eye I noticed that I had not inspected the bottom shelf of magazines. Was I bothered? Yes! The staccato of those elusive fireflies in my tummy were now in a dance whose wing flutters were as loud as a band of Taiko drummers! I bent down and there I saw a thick matted magazine called ‘Womankind’ whose cover was matted in an energetic collage of citrus hues, each piece containing images emblematic of the subject of Egyptology, and when I leant my eyes back I was besieged and beguiled by the totality of the composite. It was the bust of Nefertiti, the most bohemian and heretical queen ancient Egypt had ever known, flouting all rules of tradition to be true to herself and to her true love. A kindred spirit from over 3000 years ago in the past had wanted to see me, and I suppose, since I cannot travel to Berlin anytime soon, this was the next best thing that I had of seeing her! A mirror image!
But that is not where my expedition ends.
I hardly thumbed through the pages that I suddenly found myself at the counter and handing the lady the few pounds it was worth I rushed back home where I found Amma busy concocting lunch for the two of us. I placed all the shopping goods on the table, not the least bit mindful that I deserved to feel chuffed with myself that I had managed to successfully meet all my Amma’s demands! I was way too curious about my interesting find! Before I could open the magazine and explore in depth its contents Amma asked me if I could finish off some heavy-duty gardening jobs and I naturally said yes. I cut and collected the dried twigs and branches, trowelled through more plots, and scattered and mixed in natural fertilisers into the fruit and rose bushes. In the end I found that I had broken out into a commendable sweat and that my cardigan had a gaping hole from the thorn of a rose bush that showed just a little too much love for my clothes! After throwing the gardening gloves on top of the compost bag I offered to make Amma and myself some fresh mint tea using leaves from our own garden. It is always a most refreshing way to wrap up green-fingered jobs and I will even add to say that when I do drink the tea in front of my garden I feel that the garden is smiling back at me with maternal pride, for any mother would say that to milk its child is to let slip from memory the paradise of heaven.
I had put my cup down on the table and brushed the sweaty locks from my brow when my magazine heeded my attention. At last I would open it to where it wanted me to go. And I did.
One very trivial shopping list in the end became for me a magical map, and it had set me on course to discover this one page out of all the pages in a magazine whose theme was devoted to a time that I can almost touch, a tantalising membrane of memory. All that I had written of last night was beautifully crystallised in a quote gently spread out like a prized feather in the centre of a vastly white page. It was penned by the ever so talented poet, Mr W.B. Yeats. These were the introductory words You read at the top of this story. On the right, the jackal-headed Egyptian god of the afterlife, Anubis, is seen in side-profile and holding between his thumb and index finger a miniature model of one of the great pyramids of Giza, all the while the other two structures remain true to their original scale and were visible in the backdrop. Two heights symbolic of the two ways of seeing the world.
A shopping trip that conclusively became an adventure, for if it was not, than to what other category of experience can I possibly call this staggering vindication of all that which I penned last night. I end this story with my own quote:
“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..” – Mazzy ♥♥♥
Photography & Words: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | My Garden | Winchester | UK 2016