Sunday, 21 December 2014

Published in 2014...really published!

I got an email the other week from SAMPAD (a South Asian Arts foundation based in Birmingham) asking me to confirm my address so they could send me my copy of the the book...I happily replied, adding at the end of my mail 'What book is it exactly?' I had no idea what it was.

Anyway the reply that came back was a lovely surprise. I'd entered a short story competition at the end of 2013 ( a joint collaboration with SAMPAD and the British Council in India) and my entry was one selected for publication in a special commemorative book! Wow, finally, really published and selected from 480 entries from 32 countries...and supported by the Arts Council England too!

The competition page - November 2013

Very happy!

The call for entries went like this:
Piali Ray, Director of Sampad says
“An encounter with a museum can be a life-changing experience. We hope that this competition will inspire budding writers to reflect on their personal experiences and share them with the world! Sampad continually strives to profile creative people and we’re proud to be working with the British Council again to bring talented writers to public attention, while reinforcing the work we deliver internationally to develop intercultural dialogues across communities.”
Samarjit Guha, Head of Programmes at British Council, East India says
“For the past three years, the British Council has been facilitating audience mapping, educational programming and communication projects in the museums sectors of UK and India. We are delighted to partner with Sampad on this project and hope this competition will help to throw up insightful anecdotes and reflections on museums and their role today. We look forward to participation from across the world.”

Fantastic! And better still, I'm the only selected entry from France so my story's at the beginning of the book as they published in alphabetical order of country...hehehe...well chuffed.

It was a really short story and it was a true here it is 'Inspired by my Museum: An Awakening - The Museum of Antiquities, Cairo, Egypt'

"This way. This way", shouted Ali the guide, cutting through the swarms of tired yet wide eyed and excited tourists. There was hardly time to glance at the ancient relics. He waved his flag aloft, a tatty yellow scrap clinging to a worn, smooth bamboo stick. The humid air was intoxicatedly intertwined with the scent of sweat and 'old' - musty, dusty and yet very much alive.

Senses on overload, I craned to keep track of Ali, frantically waving his yellow standard to keep his charges in tow. I flicked a glance left then right trying to absorb each glass encased element. Occasionally I checked ahead for a flash of familiarity, markers from the group who alighted the bus what seemed like only moments ago - yet an hour had already passed.

Skimming the artifacts of an age gone by, carriages, golden thrones, worn carved sphinx, we finally came upon the the key which unlocked my box. My body buzzed from head to toe, my solar plexus tight and tingling, my breath high in my chest. Another age, a sense of 'knowing', invisible hands reached out to a kindred spirit on another plane. Standing almost silently, both in awe and with a strangely familiar sense of respect, around the glass tomb of a well preserved mummy I suddenly disappeared into that world - the shouts of men in harsh yet melodic Arabic; the dense smokey hue of burning wood and incense. Heavy plinths being laboriously hand-raised using thick rope, primitive hammers tapping away feverishly; the grimey sweat smeared bodies of dark and dusky men shining orange in the flickering light of the burning torches in this dark stone cave...or was it? My inner eye followed the symmetrical lines, row upon row of large grey-black blocks, steadily up towards the heavens and I understood. A brief glint of sparkling stars peeped through the uppermost unfinished soon-to-be point of this great pyramid.

"Hey you!" A frantic tug on my shirt sleeve brought me rushing back into my body, landing with an unceremonious thud. "Come, come, we go now," hastened Ali "Quick, quick madam." He rushed away like the pied piper followed by a trail of bouncing heads, still spinning from side to side trying to fit in a last memory. For me, another small piece of the eternal puzzle fell into place as I took an unexpected step closer to my soul.

The 'Book' :)

A most fitting close to a fantastic year...I feel extremely blessed!

love & light
Louise (aka Mermie)

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