This last month has been one full of celebrations. Despite climate change, despite COVID, we as humans have not lost hope. Hope that has been restored and reinforced by not just the festivals we celebrate but by the outcome of the US elections — the return of the climate change friendly faction. With global warming, ice melts and rising ocean levels becoming a reality, we find there is still hope for reversing the trend. Johan Rockstrom, an eminent environmental scientist, based in Stockholm, has said that it is possible to transform the future of humanity in the next decade if we conform to the right policies. Though we are moving away from the “safe tipping points” and towards “destabilising the entire planet”, he stated in a TED talk last month “the next 10 years to 2030 must see the most profound transformation the world has ever known”. The new President elect, Joe Biden has promised not just to support scientists in their attempt to curb the pandemic but has also promised to be climate friendly. That will hopefully move towards restoring the Earth back to health and we, as a race, can continue to survive in an environmentally friendly culture. At least Rockstrom tweeted to that effect: “With Biden the door to ‘well below 2°C/1.5°C’ remains open. Now we have G3 on Climate: G1=EUs net-zero by 2050; G2=Chinas net-zero latest 2060; G3=US net-zero 2050. The three largest economies go carbon neutral in 30 years. Can be the tipping point!”
Full of hope for a happier future, Borderless Journal brings forth its November issue. We had a theme of festivals, climate change and humour. We have fun poetry by Vatsala Radhakeesoon, Penny Wilkes and Rhys Hughes, who has also given us a poem about climate change as have some others, like Kashiana Singh, John Grey, Anita Nahal, Adrian David and more. In prose, our columnist, Devraj Singh Kalsi, weaves in humour as he writes of his travails with tenants. He understates to create an impact. Travel has been covered in a trip to Trieste by Mike Smith of England in a tongue in cheek fashion. There is a musing on climate and man’s impact on the environment, where interestingly, the writer, D V Raghuvamsi, wonders if COVID 19 is a ‘pre-planned act of nature’ to reaffirm that man is not the most powerful creature on Earth — an unsual thought? What do you think? We have a lovely musing on cats during corona by Nishi Pulugurtha and on festivities by Anasuya Bhar too.
Festivals have been taken up in a big way in Sara’s Selections hosted by Bookosmia, Nidhi Mishra and Archana Mohan, with pieces on Halloween, Durga Puja (the landmark festival of Bengalis worldwide) and Diwali. Interestingly the theme of Durga as an icon has found its way to our essay section by the founding editor of Different Truths, a senior journalist, Arindam Roy. He has dealt with not only the legends of Durga but cultures that oppose the legend and glorify the villainous demon the goddess destroyed — and all within the geographical boundary of one country!
On the other hand, Dr Meenakshi Malhotra has taken up Kali, who is worshipped by Bengalis for destroying another demon around Diwali. The myths around Diwali keep astounding me with their variety — different celebrations all around the same time of the year — some related to Krishna, some to Rama and a few to Kali, some of it again captured in our young person’s section. Dr Malhotra’s essay mentions Bankim Chandra Chatterjee’s novel Anandamath (1882) as it centred around the concept of Kali. Some critics, she tells us, claimed he had taken a secular and not a religious stance on the raging independence movement. Having read the book many years ago, I still remember it enough to know that this novel does see religion as part of the movement.
The reason I talk of this is because I wondered why some intellectuals persist in being disconnected from reality — religion is a major part of non-intellectual lives in Bankim’s country. This brings me to the next essay by Pratyusha Pramanik on cancel culture and the Indian intelligentsia. She pretty much explores this distancing of intellectuals from reality. A good essay — I would highly recommend it. I wonder was this distancing also the issue that led to the fall of the Democrats in 2016 in USA?
The theme of women has been reinforced in Bhaskar Parichha’s book review of a translation of Bani Basu’s A Plate of White Marble. He has reflected on the plight of widows and women. This time Dustin Pickering has given us a review on a book by Korean poet, Wansoo Kim — who has earlier contributed poetry to Borderless, poems transcending the line drawn between the two Koreas. Candice Louisa Daquin has reviewed an interesting collection, Lastbench — basically American voices protesting Trump regime. As hope is he will be soon relinquished off his role, this anthology will be of immense historic interest.
Delving into history this time is our book excerpt from The Birth of The Chronicler of the Hooghly by Shakti Ghosal, exploring the evolution of the Bengali festival as we know it, Durga Puja, with the legendary Robert Clive in the eighteenth century. Also brushing into history and mythology, is the multi-layered short story that explores the Ellora caves and the famous Nataraja statue and union with divinity stretching to Manchester United and soccer by Sunil Sharma. He has an interview with us also as the editor of SETU, a journal that bridges across cultures and languages imbibing the best from all.
The other interview is with Aysha Baqir, who other than being a writer, impresses with her stupendous work in Pakistan. From Bangladesh this time, Sohana Manzoor has again raised voices in support of women.
There are a number of stories but our pièce de résistance is the translation of Bengali writer Tarashankar Bandopadhyay’s Daini (witch) by Aruna Chakravarti. Bandopadhyay, a recipient of probably all the major awards possible at a national level, spins out an intense story on witch hunts in early twentieth century Bengal. This narrative has been flavourfully translated and brought to life by Sahitya Akademy winner Chakravarti.
I know I am not able to write about each writer but each piece in this issue is splendid in my opinion. And I would invite readers, who might be more discerning than me, to take the plunge and discover the wonders of our November edition.
Thank you for being there for us dear readers as without you, we have no one to read us.
I wish all of you a fabulous festive season — Diwali, Kali Puja, Thanksgiving et all.
Have a wonderful read.
Sunshine and Happiness,