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DREAMED an experimental performance piece bringing together elements of Kathak dance, movement, music, fragments of text and snippets of song

The trigger points….. The Texts

I only had one grandmother. Of course everyone has two grandmothers, but I only remember my father’s mother. She was a very nice, tall, handsome Kabuli woman with big brown eyes, a white face, and a small veil around her neck. I always remember her with her small blue bag full of pomegranates for me.

She loved me very much, and when she came to our house, she stopped at the door to point out that she had not come without a gift. The pomegranates were from one of her trees, but when we went to visit her, she wouldn’t let us have even one small pomegranate.
On the tree, the pomegranates looked like lovely girls wearing red dresses. I was in love with them. I couldn’t count to more than ten at that time, as I was only four years old and not at school. I had only learned to count with my father, and he taught me to count up to ten.

Although my grandma always promised to bring us pomegranates, I loved to have them from the tree and not from her blue bag. When I asked to have one, her response was, “They are raw now. You will be sick. When I bring it to your home it will be ready to eat!” Yet this wasn’t a good enough reason for me. One day, when my grandma was busy cooking for us in the kitchen, I decided to have a pomegranate from the tree. I planned how to get one—only one, but the biggest one! I couldn’t get to it. I wished to be tall enough to get them with my hands. There was a yellow cat with shiny eyes and thick fur climbing the tree, and I asked her: “Please, when you climb, bring me a pomegranate—the biggest one.” It didn’t work.

While I thought of a plan, I found the cat’s house. She had four lovely mewing kittens. I thought that the kittens were starving and that the mother was climbing the tree to bring them pomegranates. I searched here and there and found some stones and started to throw stones at the tree. I thought that if the pomegranates fell down, the cat and I could share them. Several pomegranates fell down, and I was happy for that. I ran to get them, watching the highest part of the tree to see if more were falling. I thought of calling the cat and sharing them with her. Suddenly, I slipped and fell into a well full of water. The well was 35 meters deep and didn’t have a cap. I felt the cold water, and nothing else, and when I opened my eyes, I was at the hospital. Mom, Dad, and Grandma were with me.

I had broken my hand and had two bloody cuts on my head. When I opened my eyes, my grandmother told me what had happened and then she advised me to be more careful in the future. She told me that when she came to get water from the well for lunch, she saw me. If she hadn’t come, I would have died.

When my grandma saw the stones, she thought I had been throwing them at the cat, and lectured me, “My child, cats are sweet and kind, never throw stones at them.” I told her the story about how I thought the kittens were starving and I wanted to help them. Later, when I was home again, Grandma put four pomegranates on a plate. She said, “Now two are for you and two are for the cat.” I was angry with her, and didn’t eat them. I told her, “You are jealous. When I get old, I will buy pomegranates for the cat myself!” And my kind grandma laughed.
Two years later, Grandma died. I cried for her, and for her pomegranates; on that night, I slept under the pomegranate tree. After her death, no one brought me anything. There was no one to give me money, no one to give me sweets from her pocket, no one to hug me and kiss me. Years passed. During the war, Grandma’s house was destroyed by rockets. The only thing that remained safe was the pomegranate tree.
The tree still bears pomegranates, but I no longer look for the biggest one.

The pomegranate tree and the gift from my kind grandmother inspired me to think, to feel, and to understand the world, and it inspired me to write: Smile, Always smile at life’s pains. Enjoy –
The Smile of the Pomegranate Tree - Roya (afghan women's writing project)

"The world comprises various diversities. Each race has its own language to connect to the rest of the world. But Art is the only language which is perceived by the whole world as one.
Onto that I hold, Dance is the one through whom I can connect myself to the world.
A little girl who was gifted by the Almighty so well that she couldn’t even stand on her own feet, but dreamt of making a stand among those who touch the sky. Well, that’s me.
It was the word ‘Kathak’ that brought me from being a no one to being a someone.
- Making a Stand, Debosmita Roychowdhury (Ranan Repertory member)Dance in your bare feet.

I dreamed I was in a great hall with men and women playing dice on the floor, and a grey cat following me everywhere. I looked down a long corridor and saw a figure in a black monk’s caul at the far end. I was frightened but I walked down the corridor and grasped his wrists. But he faded away and I cried, ‘Mother, Mother!’ The corridor became longer and the monk appeared again at the end of it, and I was frightened again, and grasped his wrists again and so on and on again and again… I don’t know what’s happening to me. Yet I used to climb apple trees and chase badgers. Now I’m carried along, cork in a stream when I just want to stand and grow.
Excerpt from ‘ Dreaming’, a play by Peter Barnes

I used to dream about this courtyard every month. Remember the shadows of the pomegranate tree during the full moon? Remember what we used to say? If the moon is with us, what need do we have for the stars?
The pomegranate grove. When you lie flat on the ground does it still feel as if one is underneath a tent of pomegranates with a round window at the top? And when you open your eyes and look through it, do the stars still dance in the sky?
I do not know, Great Aunt. I did not have the opportunity to lie down.
I have been waiting for you a long time. You are going to come soon. Why not now? I cannot bear the agony of waiting much longer.
“Aunt Zahra! Aunt Zahra! Can I get you something?”
“I am dying.”
“You’re not dying, Aunt Zahra. Your feet are as warm as burning embers. Whoever heard of anyone dying with warm feet?”
“What a child you are, Zubayda. Have you never heard of the poor innocents who are being burnt at the stake?”
“Not yet, Aunt Zahra. Do not leave us so soon.”
Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree - Tariq Ali

'Never', said my father,
'Never cut a pomegranate
through the heart. It will weep blood.
Treat it delicately, with respect.
Just slit the upper skin across four quarters.
This is a magic fruit,
so when you split it open, be prepared
for the jewels of the world to tumble out,
more precious than garnets,
more lustrous than rubies,
lit as if from inside.
Each jewel contains a living seed.
Separate one crystal.
Hold it up to catch the light.
Inside is a whole universe.
No common jewel can give you this.'
Afterwards, I tried to make necklaces
of pomegranate seeds.
The juice spurted out, bright crimson,
and stained my fingers, then my mouth.
I didn't mind. The juice tasted of gardens
I had never seen, voluptuous
with myrtle, lemon, jasmine,
and alive with parrots' wings
The pomegranate made me feel
that somewhere, I had another home.

How to cut a Pomegranate- Imtiaz Dharker

The dew is cool on the
cheek of the grass,
and there are fairies
here today…….

- from ‘Interfacing’, Anjum Katyal






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