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Editorial

The Happiness Quotient

Happiness and humour! Is that an unrealistic goal to achieve in this life? Moving away from the contentiousness of fame, of argument, of who achieves how much more and how much faster, we might be able to uncover a world sheathed in happy smiles. Is it only the pandemic spreading gloom?

The fear of dying or suffering does create a shroud of gloom that often interrupts our social interactions. The unreasonableness of fear draws us away from reality. Hans Rosling, a Swedish physician who called himself a possibilist, says: “There’s no room for facts when our minds are occupied by fear.” Fear or depression is the opposite of humour and happiness. The ability to think clearly and laugh at situations leaves us when we are fearful. Fear also leads to depression and the feeling of being oppressed. Humour is perhaps the only antidote to laugh away our fears and depression, to combat darkness and bring back smiles, hope and happiness. We have laughter clubs. Laughter binds all its members in happiness. And that is why we try to host plenty of it in Borderless Journal.

Embedded in the musings, fiction and poetry sections, we have humour, pathos, poignancy and laughter. Rhys Hughes with his tongue-in-cheek poetry, musings by Will Neussle and a short flash fiction by Brindley Hallam Dennis make us laugh outright as do some of the wonderful pieces written by youngsters in ‘Sara’s Selections’ hosted by Bookosmia, thanks to Nidhi Mishra and Archana Mohan. Michael Burch has also given us humour, happiness and poignancy in his collection of poems in memory of his mother.

We have introduced a new column that creates bridges across the world with not just facts but compassion and comprehension of the suffering and bravery of mankind by a woman who has traversed through diverse cultures all her life, Sybil Pretious. In this episode of ‘Adventures of the Backpacking Granny’, she explores the impact of Perestroika while in St Petersburg (Russia). Devraj Singh Kalsi has also given us an unusual piece talking about the impact of Partition on the family structure within the subcontinent. These two musings, while resting on major political events that changed the world for many of us, reflect different perspectives and are handled in vastly different ways by both the writers.

Reflecting on binaries, is a story from the imagined township of Ghumi, a series that Nabanita Sengupta has been publishing with us for more than six months now. Sohana Manzoor has given us a poignant story with a surprise ending from Bangladesh on the theme of witch-hunting, previously reflected upon in one of Aruna Chakravarti’s translations of Tarashankar’s famous story, ‘Daini’ (The Witch). Sunil Sharma has given us another interesting cross-cultural narrative based on his interpretation of Don Quixote and has also provided us a poem. We have a lovely collection of poetry this time, thanks to Michael Burch, who has helped with the editing and selection of poems. Vatsala Radhakeesoon has shared both her painting and a poem based on the painting with us – both vibrant and unusual works.

We have, for the first time a writer from Iran and translations from Persian to English by Davood Jalili of his works. A poem and an essay by Iranian poet Bijan Najdi give us a glimpse of their stories and perspectives. Jalili has also translated Devaki Jain’s interview to Persian to publish in the Arzhang, the online journal where the previously translated Aruna Chakravarti’s interview had found a home. We are very grateful to him for giving wider exposure to the content of Borderless as we are to Binu Mathews of Countercurrents for sharing our content in his popular site. Jalili with his translations to English brings in new perspectives into our fold as do Aditya Shankar with his translation from Malayalam poetry and Fazal Baloch with his translation of a Balochi folk tale.

The other major translation we have is that of a Nabendu Ghosh story by his late son, Dipankar Ghosh. ‘The Saviours’ had been translated previously by Bhashabi Fraser in a collection of Partition stories and was seen as representative of that era. However, as a literary paper from Universidad de Cádiz indicates, the story steps beyond the Partition to another relevant issue that continues to plague India — the divide created by wealth, caste and education, the absolute obtuseness of the affluent to the suffering of the less privileged, an issue that continues to shame as we reel from the pandemic.

There is an in-depth book review of a translation of Satyajit Ray’s grandfather, Upendrakishore Ray Chowdhury, by academic Nivedita Sen. Immortalised by the grandson in an award winning film, Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne, the story has been recently translated to English from Bengali and published under the title of The Adventures of Goopy the Singer and Bagha the Drummer.

An essay on translations by eminent journalist Ratnottama Sengupta, who has been bringing out works of Bengali writers in English and Hindi, explains the need for building these bridges across time and cultures. Candice Louisa Daquin’s essay on the Kali Project, which resulted in an anthology of poems on feminist issues in India initiated by an American concern, attempts to transcend borders as does the interview with Suzanne Kamata, an award-winning writer based out of Japan but born and brought up in the USA.

Candice Daquin has also given us another powerful reflection on the core values of mankind. This theme of an exploration of humane values has been reiterated in our interview with Avik Chanda, the author of the best-selling history of Dara Shukoh.

We have featured an excerpt from Nishi Pulugurtha’s anthology of travel essays’. Pulugurtha’s collection featuring multiple writers has been reviewed by Gracy Samjetsabam. Bhaskar Parichcha has given us an interesting review of Wendy Doniger’s book, Beyond Dharma — Dissent in the Ancient Sciences of Sex and Politics.

Do visit and take a look at our oeuvre, which far exceeds what has been mentioned in this little note.  We value both our contributors and readers. Please feel free to comment and make suggestions so that we can serve you better.

Have a lovely month, looking forward to spring and newness!

Wishing you all happiness and hope.

Mitali Chakravarty

Borderless Journal

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