… dream – a storyteller teasing my dad …

I love this image, but can't find its source,, apologies to the photographer.

I love this image, but can’t find its source,, apologies to the photographer.

Two nights ago, an enchanting storyteller appeared in my dream. She glowed from within, embodying her yarn with captivating gestures, her eyes saying – you’re loveable. Her whole being was a joyous dance. She flicked her fingers before my father’s face, touching his chin – making him laugh – his freed anima, maybe?

Ah, dreams are wonderful, unpredictable like liquid mercury, living silver flowing into shapes.

It was heart-warming to see my father laugh and absorb the affection, the irreverence, the humour. He did not retreat into silence before the piercing wit of the storyteller. The probe was softened through caring eyes … a miracle.

Alone, I could not have invoked such light-hearted banter with a father, who pulled the drawbridge to his heart ever since I dared to think independently. The dream vision lifted the cloud of my helpless woe.

After the dream, I recalled part of a poem I wrote long ago. Daughters may recognise the patriarchal fault in the lines of this poem, the discrepant realities that want bridging. It’s the same old story that could teach us, in the words of my late teacher, Fazal Inayat-Khan:

‘We are not here to agree with each other, but to create beauty.’

Truth worth seeking springs from the middle of each moment. Evolved individuals don’t see a women as inferior to men. The concept has harmed, and still harms, the psychological growth of both men and woman. Yet the deeply-etched hierarchical system keeps working its mean distortions across the globe.

He rests in stasis – cast in stone,

placed high in a niche

of this grand cathedral.

Sculpture Park, Churt, Surrey, UK

Sculpture Park, Churt, Surrey, UK

His daughters wake

and dare looking up.

What are they meant to do

with this apostolic vision

in their genes?

Someone tell them now,

tell them how the vacant room

was always theirs to own.

Here – sun streams through

rounded glass – crimson,

amber, cobalt, gold and green

play across crisp white walls.

Here – colours soften light,

a child can breathe deeply,

is free to release stale sorrows

and style fresh dreams.

Dad, we kick your ghost

out of here … no more

bargains with your fear.

What’s the cause of this stasis, so feared – like dying life, or living death? I think it’s war, each new war piled on top of other wars, and the unbearable injustices my father, many fathers, and mothers, were, and still are, subjected to. I shake my head, I nod my head, and somewhere between all contradictions I must accept the inherited traumas of humanity and seek life and joy with each new day.


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14 responses to “… dream – a storyteller teasing my dad …

  1. Brilliant dream, exposing the alienation as being ‘between’ and not ‘in’ anybody. Someone else, a storyteller, can shake it free from the nexus that paralyses. ‘No more bargains with….fear’ Amazing how dreams are so wise and so instructive!


  2. What a touching, beautiful piece. Unfortunately, it’s not just fathers but also mothers who can hate being challenged by daughters, and they don’t merely withdraw but hit back.
    I love your poem.


    • I’m pleased you like the poem ☼
      Oh, yes, mother/daughter stories can be heart-breaking. Worst is trying ever harder to please, hoping that one day a parent will turn round and become accepting and loving. It’s daunting to exit habitual scripts.


  3. This extraordinary letter from Kafka to his father appeared today. It seemed relevant to this discussion http://www.brainpickings.org/2015/03/05/franz-kafka-letter-father/?mc_cid=ba07e5d069&mc_eid=ac9301ad81


    • Yes, Philippa, thanks for the reminder. Maria Popova has a wonderful way of framing her posts. I read Kafka’s letter in German, years past, and was struck by the emotional depth and honesty. His mother returned the letter to her son, not sharing it with her husband, saving Kafka more pain. Maybe this is also the reason why we can read it today. The creation of an honest letter, even if the recepient never sees it, helps to unclutter the psyche.


      • As a parent it also gives pause for thought! One is oblivious of the power of parenthood until too late, the authority assumed, the edicts unquestioned. I thought it wonderfully incisive and yes, writing it gives relief, but perhaps the father might have been given a new chance without the wife protecting him from the reality of his responsibility. Too common and too shallow a decision, in my view!


        • I agree, a parent’s power is godlike, sobering. Confrontation can shift shame to guilt, which, in my view, is preferable, like a ‘yes’ to one’s potential. A fine balance. Too much protection dis-empowers. In the end, we must work with what is given.


  4. Thanks for this Ashen – it speaks so clearly and wisely to the wounds inherited. What are we to do with those wounds? Articulate them, see them for what they are by being conscious, de-potentiate their power thereby and ensure that we do pass the baggage on to family and friends.


    • Thanks, Susan. To stop the bucket, I sometimes call it, as in ‘Der Zauberlerling,’ a Goethe poem I translated in a post last year.
      Not easy to change an engrained system running in neverending loops.
      Re: bucket, there’s also a wonderfully funny song I remember, sung by Harry Bellafonte and Odetta …


  5. Ha ha, lovely song… And I see a typo in my comment, I left out the word ‘not’ as in do NOT pass on baggage etc


  6. Kamran

    “We are such stuff as dreams are made on…” Been spending extra time with my daughter, & am aware, of the need to point the light of awareness in these areas . . . thanks for the clarity and humour …love the lines ” Truth worth seeking springs from the middle of each moment ” and ” a child can breathe deeply…” Funny but I have written on my front door, for the times when my daughter visits, or stays, the legend ” Breathing Space”…


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