My Berry First Act

A Your Echoes In Space Presentation: My Berry First Act

Words and Pictures by © Mazzy Khatun 2017

The curtain was long and black, and it hung down in perfect motionless ripples. I looked all the way up to see where it came from. Did this curtain have roots – roots that grew out from somewhere high up in the ceiling? I squinted, my eyes searched, but I could find no hint of their origin. The upper world of the stage was a mystery, a convoluted pipework of metal and interlacing wires. Bulky studio lights stared down at me. Their square flaps looked like ears trained to listen in to our every word.

Someone spoke and my eyes came down. I turned and looked out. Beyond me and the polished black floor of the stage was a sight new, and not new. It was the intimately familiar, but out of reach, existing a million miles away. Over there I knew their ways and rituals, over there was a safe world.  It was a sloping world of seats. A steep slope. A terraced paddy of red. They rose upwards and away from me. The back edge seemed to be still growing, receding, pushing back boundaries.

I pondered on my situation. I was well acquainted with buying a ticket, be led to my seat, and play the role of the seated. The watcher of the show. The ice-cream gobbler at intermission. The clapper to the act.

Take-to-the-starry-stage-1

“I was well acquainted with buying a ticket, be led to my seat, and play the role of the seated. “

“The watcher of the show. The ice-cream gobbler at intermission. The clapper to the act. “

Not this time.

This time there was a story. It was burning. Deep inside of me. A winged origami with veins of fire. It was a creature of flight and voice and expression. It blazed day and night, and the tips of my thumb and index finger, the clamping points for my pen, seethed with heat.

When the opportunity arose for taking part in the first ever MA Writers Voice venture, an exciting collaboration between storytellers and the unique multi-sensorial textures of theatre, I leapt at the challenge!  This was my golden chance – a chance to test Edward and Alok. The ultimate litmus test. If I could convince my audience of the integrity of my two protagonists, if I could engage and compel strangers to lean in closer, if I could entice new ears to want to know more of the trajectory of Your Echoes In Space, then I had a chance. A ticket. A portal to a bolstered sense of confidence that here was a story that others could care about, too. Whilst the dream diary reinforced my faith in the narrative, a theatrical hybridisation shone with the potential to resuscitate my characters. To bring them alive.

And so the night of the reading came.

The stage glowed with expectation and fertility. A black open-air womb. Tonight my throat, my hands, my eyes, my every cell was invested with purpose: To add bone. To add flesh. To add voice. There on the controlled and lit sacred ground, the grand black stage, with its black as night curtain and watchful black studio lights, I willed for Alok and Edward’s reincarnation, their magnificent metamorphosis, their osmotic transition into the real world.

I unclipped the mic from the mount. I faced the familiar world of red seats and the inquisitive eyes of the audience. I caught snatches of eager whisperings. I took a deep breath. The side spotlight warmed my cheek. I felt my sneakers tell me wise things, that there was nothing to be afraid of. I was reassured that I was not separate from where I stood. I grew out from the stage, a black protrusion, a tree of motion, conceived of moon and night.

I had nothing to lose.

Nothing at all.

So, I gave it all.

And.

I came away with more.

Much, much more.

The Berry Theatre experience was a beautiful and priceless landmark event in the development of Your Echoes In Space. I realised that I deeply cared for my characters, Alok and Edward, and with the sort of intensity that was potent enough to peel them off the page.

Over the course of one night, my two boys were no longer characters. I gave them permission to leave their roots.

For five minutes, they were people.

“The stage glowed with expectation and fertility. A black open-air womb. Tonight my throat, my hands, my eyes, my every cell was invested with purpose: To add bone. To add flesh. To add voice. “

My Dream Diary

A Your Echoes In Space Presentation: My Dream Diary

Words and Pictures by © Mazzy Khatun 2017

 

An idea for a story can behave like the moon. It appears bright, swollen with revelation. You twirl in excitement. You shout it out. You breathe it.

Then, just like that, it wanes. It vanishes.

Without your consent.

Without waiting to hear what you have to say.

Without warning.

You eventually console yourself, reasoning that the idea has departed for good. No longer do you feel its unmistakable tug. It has left your world and joined the dark darkness of oblivion. No one will ever know about it. It was never meant to be.

The end.

Not quite.

Your Echoes In Space was born last autumn. I chose a photograph out of a constellation of possibilities to use as a writing prompt. It was a dated picture of an intimidating teacher looking down at a boy. He had his arms behind his back, his head slightly lowered. She was waiting for him to pick up the chalk and write on the blackboard. There was no clock in the scene yet I could hear the ticking of the hand, the loud ominous dragging of time.

I took that photograph home with me. By evening, Edward had pushed through into existence. A brilliant-minded and exceptionally articulate pupil, he was also something else. A self-isolating racist bully. I saw him take particular joy in picking on the new ‘coloured’ kid, Alok.

In those embryonic moments I also saw astronomy. A discipline about distant things. The study of stars – the study of fantastic and mysterious entities of faraway places, that spun and pulsated light years above our heads, below our feet.  I wanted astronomy to be the adhesive, the study of the distant bridging the gap between two boys from two different worlds.

But.

In the autumn term of my MA writing course and through into the festive season, for reasons unknown to me, my passion for Your Echoes In Space began to wane. Somehow, something had pulled the plug. I was devoid of conviction.

My two boys had fled.

Determined to not let myself be swallowed up by the disappearance of my protagonists, I straightened up my back and returned to the drawing table. I scribbled new ideas, thoughts and musings. I must carry on, I told myself. I must.

In semester two my tutor introduced me to something that would change everything. It felt absolutely right. It was as if a missing piece had been salvaged and returned to my mantle; awareness once flaked and lost in the dense foliage of self-doubt now restored.

Welcome to the dream diary.

I have vivid dreams. They are always liberating and surreal and insightful. Till now it had never clicked that I could tap into this vast resource for fuelling my creative energy. I began to keep a diary. And I dreamt a lot, every night.

And, the dream was not just a dream. It was a bridge.

Between two worlds.

Between my boys and I.

They had not waned, withered, wasted.

They were growing, gestating, gleaming.

Like the furled sails of a new moon.

Alok and Edward.

In so many of my dreams.

They had not gone away. They had gone deeper. Deeper into me, into the parts of my brain for which no map could chart. Parts still wet from my primal days. Parts moist with soul.

I remembered. I remembered how to believe in my story again.

The dream diary. That is how they came back to my world, our world.

One world.

"They had not waned, withered, wasted. They were growing, gestating, gleaming. Like the furled sails of a new moon."

“They had not waned, withered, wasted. They were growing, gestating, gleaming. Like the furled sails of a new moon.”

"They had not gone away. They had gone deeper. Deeper into me, into the parts of my brain for which no map could chart. Parts moist with soul. "

“They had not gone away. They had gone deeper. Deeper into me, into the parts of my brain for which no map could chart. Parts still wet from my primal days. Parts moist with soul. “

The Legend Of Corfe Castle: Epilogue

My Dearest and most Beloved Reader,

It has been an unparalleled pleasure to have penned this Story for You, whose imaginative elements were harnessed from the colourful crucible of my adventures that took place over the long Easter holidays. I could have quite easily borrowed my younger brother’s smartphone – he has more than one – and then proceeded to gallivant through these places that I visited with the sole self-gratifying intention of capturing forty or so selfies of my face, returning to the homestead to deliriously plaster them all over social media and to attach under each a phrase that starts in the same vein of “Happiness is when blah-di-blah-di-blah…” or “I am a strong and beautiful and fearless babe” or “Drinking from a paper cup, check me out!” I am certain you catch my drift!

Well, the fact of the matter is, YOU know me all too well and I know YOU all too well. That is why I wrote a Story out of it all and in the coming days I shall be posting off special copies to my friends in far-off corners of the world who have limited or no access to technology.

I cannot expect to feel composed for a single day if I do not, in some way, feel a story grain through the tiny canyons of my fingers. Either I must be reading a book, or engaged in writing one for others to delve their minds into. In my eyes, every piece of literature that inspires me to become a better human being is, simply put, an uncelebrated embodiment of the holy book and to know that in myself is a gift for which I am abundantly thankful to my Creator.

I am quite convinced that the form of the story has always served to be infinitely more exciting and rewarding for the both of us because, given the enormous distances between my home and yours, it is the seedling garlands of my ink and the garden of my notebook from which I am able to conjure such humble magic as to make it appear in our hearts that You and I are indeed sat close next to each other, somewhere on those rustling plains of Rumi’s field of gold

The echoes of a writer are the bane of all clocks,
Mazzy ♥♥♥

The Legend Of Corfe Castle: Epilogue

Thank you very much, Mr C.S. Lewis!

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

Ahoy There! BALOO-N Pick-Up Lines!

Where to begin, dear Reader, but begin at the start I will for now
The mind of a Polymath is an orchestra blessed by sugar cubes of twilight’s plough
There’s a bark of black-white teeth, shoulder scratching, a wooden spoon on which man strums
Eccentrics do not fit in, we fit out, I’m the poetess who writes as she hums
Words have wings that I leave on the rooftops of white snowscape of paper
Suddenly strings appear in the sky, a form of touchable vapour
And on the end, the soul-blob of ink, turned magnificently into a balloon
Sometimes spotty, sometimes stripy, ready to float me to the harvest moon
It is a chauffeur face who smiles in minty light of the wildest and dreamiest adventure
My fingers reach out and toes say farewell, waving goodbye to dictatorial denture
The horizon is my morning stage and I am not afraid to play true or even a little hard
And salute I give to the Words, long live the legacy of Shaky Boo, my chosen Bard
And so Katie reads and reads strongly, her Voice an orchestral archipelago
My phenomenal mate ends with the beginning to turn, “Mazzy, Oh The Places You’ll Go…♥♥♥

LINK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-jWPgLRqVik

 

We Sought The Strings That Played The Song Of Freedom [Phir Se Udd Chala!]

“… And so Katie reads and reads strongly, her Voice an orchestral archipelago;  My phenomenal mate ends with the beginning to turn, “Mazzy, Oh The Places You’ll Go…”

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

Christmas Month Puzzle Box 12: On The Matter Of A Red Letter Day Because Two Strangers On A Train Became Friends!

Permit me to cast Your sieve-like memory back to the autumn half-term holidays when I had embarked on that very long train voyage up to the Middle Lands to see my family, yes that’s right – that triptych of naughtiest Hobbits whom I interviewed intensively – in the second largest city in England: Birmingham. Well, I never did get round to telling You that the return journey was a most fortuitous one, and that despite the grotesque ailment of a battering case of bad weather and a delayed departure,  I was once again divinely blessed by Good Magic. Is it not an instance of Good Magic when a life-long friendship blossoms itself in the most unlikeliest of places on earth, and more so should we not ascribe greater magical significance to such a friendship that I speak of, for it did not actually forge itself in one particular place but in many places at the same time? After all, when one is on route aboard a chugging train no more is there legitimacy in rooting a location to whatever happens inside the train. You cannot say, “We sat together in Oxford” or “We spoke of the weather in Basingstoke”. Instead, I think it is more natural to abort the concept of fixed places altogether and substitute it with something like, “We had a good laugh together WHILST we were on the train to Winchester”. Therefore, by token of the fluidity of the perception of place, when one is sat on a train, that good laugh becomes in our retelling a beautiful echo because our perception and its associated language stretches the laugh out from the point of departure right down to the destination. “We laughed so very loud on that journey that the conductor told us to keep it down!” Is that not a wonderful thought? A moment shared on a trip receives the coronation of infinitude! And so it was to be that on that day a brilliant friendship was to arise, and its birth I shall always remember as an echo from Birmingham down to the southern shires of my home county.

Go and prepare a nice brew of steaming tea and return promptly so that I may explain in less teasing obscurity what really did happen in that two-and-a-half hour descent back down to the south of England; as for the tea, I theorise that the wisp of its fragrance will satisfyingly augment the mood of enchantment that shall follow in the wake of my words.

Shall I begin?

Ah, yes, delayed departure and bad weather!

My first priority upon entering the partly occupied carriage was to flag down the nearest seat and take residence on it, my mind sharply focused on the delight that would greet my heart as I briskly open my thermal flask to take a swish and slurp of my warm tea so thus to relieve the exhaustion that had succumbed my little legs after waiting for nearly an hour for my train. I spotted a seat to the right, on the aisle, and by the window sat an elderly Asian lady, white streaks of hair among moonlit silver that curved upwards from the head, tightly spun in a bun and her face was gentle, fragile even, with thick black-rimmed glasses. She sat timidly with her hands folded across and her tiny handbag underneath. I could tell that she was not a gypsy traveller like I and that wherever she was headed it was her first time and this was probably why I KNEW that I had to sit next to her.

Excuse me, is this seat taken?” I pointed to the seat next to her, I always do that when asking people if the space beside them is free, somewhere in my thoughts I have engraved the rule that under such circumstances the words spoken would have no effect unless a visual cue, a clarifying gesture, was added into the exchange.

In an extraordinarily gentle voice, somewhere between pillows and marshmallows, the elderly lady replied, “Yes, yes, you can sit here”. I dumped my bits and pieces, taking care not to put her in any discomfort and thanked her profusely for her kindness.

A two-and-a-half-hour journey from the middle of England to the southern shires and pretty much everyone else in the carriage was on their Smartphones. I do not have such a trifle distraction to stop me from seeing the Magic around me and that is why what happened next would not have happened had I been swept away by the modern craze for phones that claim to be smart but, in all honesty, were designed to dumb down the Magic in all of us.

I still have the Magic.

I turned towards the elderly lady and threw in the proverbial British comment about the grisly weather. She agreed that it was nasty out there, and so it began…

By the time I had reached my stop Lata ji knew the names of all my family members as did I of hers, I told her I was from Bangladesh and she informed me that her homeland was in Gujarat in India, I had offered her tea and sweets and she loved that, I replayed the photographs I had shot of my Birmingham adventures from my camera and gave her a premiere recitation of my tales to which she laughed heartily, we spoke of Diwali and I promised that I would send her a card to reach her on time, I learnt that our views on religion and spirituality were exactly the same and we spoke of books at every turn of the conversation with particular zesty affection for Tagore, Ghalib, Kabir, Mira Bhai and Dickens!

Winchester was here and I assured Lata ji that she ought to wait two more stops before hers would arrive and that she need not worry, it was the last one on the line so there was no way in the world she could get it wrong! She smiled with an understated beauty and I was only a few impulses away from taking the lens cap off and taking a portrait of this radiant lady, however this was not the time for photography. It was a time for bowing down in veneration and humility in front of the Compassionate Magic of God and Destiny as it PRESENTED to me the PRESENT of the PRESENT. In a flash as bright and lively as the yellow and white fireworks flickering into the night of a chilly winter sky, my Spirit soared towards my Allah and I thanked Him that this had truly been a year of remarkable GOOD MAGIC. A year shimmering in the Light of AMAZING REUNIONS and DESTINED UNIONS, I salute to my Creator!

The platform banner read ‘Winchester’ and I hesitantly stood up, collected my belongings and exchanged last farewells with my dear Lata ji, but that would simply not do justice and I dropped everything again and reached out to hug a wonderful human being, planting a kiss on her cheek and she did the same to me, too. I felt at that moment that God had blessed me with two mothers, two sets of arms to cradle my cheeky naughty face, and I in turn had two ladies for whom I would go to the ends of the earth to gift them my own handmade cup of tea.

I watched the train pull out of the station and could no longer see the devotional face of Lata ji. I smiled to myself and took a deep breath of air into my lungs, an acceptance speech without the stilts of words, paying homage to Destiny and its mysterious and exceptional adeptness to weave conditions that do not make any sense at the time, sometimes at our annoyance, only to be later enlightened by the true reasons for their orchestrations. Just imagine, had my train arrived on time and if the weather was sunny as honey there would have been no Lata ji and a lack of an ice-breaker based on the British principle that bad weather makes for good conversation!

As Diwali approached – the Festival of Lights – I sat down by my desk and wrote out a letter to my friend, Lata ji, which coincidentally was written on a card that I had bought from The Louvre Museum in Paris. The cover depicted an open antique map of the world, a symbol of my adventurous nature and a compendious globetrotting articulation of how Lata ji and I had met – on the dazzling unknown patterns of the open road…  

GUESS WHAT?

Today, 15-12-15, became a personal RED LETTER day for me. Sent by jolly old second class post which would account for why it arrived a few days after it was penned, the envelope shone with a portly-bellied and utterly adorable Mr Robin perched as a guardian in the top corner and as soon as I laid eyes on the porcelain delicate handwriting addressed to me I knew who my sender was! With bated breath, excitedly and anxiously, I rushed to open my red gem and inside, whichever way I read or looked, True Friendship pulsated in JOY-JOY-JOY that was as as Red as my beloved robin’s chubby breast. A wreath Ring bowed with red ribbon was stencil cut on the cover but Lata ji had added her own creative touches of the red stickered ‘Merry Christmas’ and a single red star, as if she had somehow read my recent writings on my starry role in storytelling. This lady has no internet access but, glory to God, witness the power of TRUE FRIENDSHIP as it transcends the barriers of conventional time and space. I shan’t say any further about what she wrote, for I present to You her words, let this remarkable friend of mine speak for herself!

Please retrieve Your Admiral Telescopes, You shall be needing them if You are keen to know what was penned by this lovely soul. As an end note to this post I should like to remind You once again that anyone can make ‘friends’ on Facebook but True Friendship will always find its beginnings in the most strangest of places and unlikeliest of moments, defying the tests of time and space and convention. It is a thing far more powerful than Love, for True Friendship is ALWAYS two-sided otherwise it does not meet the criteria; it is a calm and undemanding relationship that even years may pass before contact is made again and the silence in between is never for once regretted, rather it is sacred and infused with the scent of an eternal Spring. Friends allow each other spaces to grow and develop and to be the very, merry, berry best that they can ever be…

Victory to True Friendship! ♥♥♥  

Christmas Month Puzzle Box 12: On The Matter Of A Red Letter Day Because Two Strangers On A Train Became Friends!

“… I PRESENT to You her words, let this remarkable friend of mine speak for herself… “

 

Christmas Month Puzzle Box 12: On The Matter Of A Red Letter Day Because Two Strangers On A Train Became Friends!

“…. A wreath ring bowed with red ribbon was stencil cut on the cover but Lata ji had added her own creative touches of the red stickered ‘Merry Christmas’ and a single red star…”

 

Christmas Month Puzzle Box 12: On The Matter Of A Red Letter Day Because Two Strangers On A Train Became Friends!

“… the envelope shone with a portly-bellied and utterly adorable Mr Robin perched as a guardian in the top corner…”

 

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

My New Writing Journal Arrives!

Hurrah, hooray it is National Poetry Day on the tiny green isle of the UK
And buy did I my new journal today, to heal my Readers far faraway!

A deep, flaky, chocolate bark pushes out of a lush tropic-leafed carpet
Rain-kissed emerald cloud puffs out on top, freedom minus parapet
Bellbirds, Firebirds, Finches swoop-slide, heartbeats fast, bright colours a-smile
Hear Mother Earth sing, her zest of Life a phoenix dream to bedazzle, beguile
And creatures of this first morning brush, from every corner of this teeming paradise
Gather in shrilly party to Tree Of Knowledge, no Devil lurks here in coiling disguise
For we Poets pen our every word in honeyed-remembrance of Pure Spirit and God
Seek we do not fame or fortune, to give flight to Art is a prayer, an applaud

Hurrah, hooray it is National Poetry Day on the tiny green isle of the UK
And buy did I my new journal today, to heal my Readers far faraway… :)) :)) :))

“Hurrah, hooray it is National Poetry Day on the tiny green isle of the UK
And buy did I my new journal today, to heal my Readers far faraway…”

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

Jen & Mazzy WOZ here :))

Ah, where did ‘Jen Jens’ and I voyage to carve such a grammatically incorrect post
You’re counting on me saying ‘We stomped to the coast!’
But that’s not quite the answer, shall I tell You where?
Why on the sand dunes of Tatooine – nope, ‘tis a lie I declare!
The actual location was on a sand dune on red ball Mars
How delightful a terrain, no carbon monoxide from cars
We signed both our names topped with a double-crescent smile
Click on SETI’s link below to see the treasure we hid on this Nile
It is a burial site indeed but cast out presumptions of death if You will
My hands gift an EGG, potent symbol of Life and a gesture of goodwill
Did I not write in the poem before of rising once more from the ashes of spiritual death
Behold the Universe, my harp of harmony, echoing my every breath….

EPILOGUE & BREAKING NEWS: In my previous blog post I examined the notion that for each of us to grow into a more authentic and wholesome human being our spirits must encounter a death-before-death, the uncomfortable but critical passageway to a Life renewed in wisdom and strength. Analogous to the triumphant crescendo of the moment a phoenix rises from the ashes, our highest form is only reachable after plumbing the lowest depths of darkness, an existential grave that comes to us as a classroom in which there is buried the promise of new Life. Read how SETI have just discovered today an intriguing Egg buried within its ancient SEA of sand dunes. I do relish how the name by the ‘Image Credit’ field makes an amusing reference to my magical powers! Giggle, giggle…  :))

LINK: https://www.facebook.com/SETIInstitute/photos/a.123276420534.133038.67487330534/10153431171665535/?type=1&theater

Jen & Mazzy WOZ here :))

“… We signed both our names topped with a double-crescent smile
Click on SETI’s link below to see the treasure we hid on this Nile…”

 

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

There Is A Place…

On a cold autumn evening about two weeks ago I took my usual stroll through the Cathedral grounds of my city, the air clean and crispy and enticing twilight hues descending upon me like some giant embellished divan from the world of Arabian Nights. This is the very Cathedral in which one of the most influential authors of my life is buried. Her name is Jane Austen. The chances are you have heard of her talents even though perhaps you may have never picked up any of her novels. As much as she was a most fascinating writer of social observation and wit, her pen was just as dazzlingly astute in capturing the nuances and complexities of the human heart. I should think that thoughts of her on this particular evening and of the years spent studying her in school would be the most likeliest explanation for the words that spilled forth from my own heart as I stepped under the ever sheltering Light of the Victorian lamppost. Like she did in life, I, too, pray that someday I shall be able to share my pen and notebook with someone that knows my heart better than I do. Likewise, I am compelled to express that the Cathedral grounds has always felt incomplete to me because I know it is a place that was meant to be shared with another presence. Yes, dear friends, it has been a long wait but a wait that is worthwhile, honest and pure. It has no other sustenance other than the small flickering tongue of a flame as luminous as the one housed inside the old lamppost. It is my Faith and what more is Faith than the unmovable belief in something unseen, unheard, unmet…

 

“There is a place in this world that refuses to be recognised as a place until You and I are seen together under this Light…” – Mazzy

 

There Is A Place...

“There is a place in this world that refuses to be recognised as a place until You and I are seen together under this Light… “

 

Photograph & Words: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | UK 2O14