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Editorial

Reach for the Stars

Courtesy: Creative Commons
“Nothing can be unconditional: consequently, nothing can be free.”


“Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.” 

-- George Bernard Shaw,  Maxims for Revolutionists, Man & Superman (1903) 

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), a great writer and playwright, used these epigrammatic lines to bring focus on what people thought was liberty or freedom from oppression, from regimes that were dictatorial. While discussing concepts of freedom, one does wonder if political freedom solves all humane issues, occasions we celebrate with great aplomb, like the birth of a nation.

This month started with the observance of July 4th, the date of the American Revolution in 1776 and the publication date of Whitman’s Leaves of Grass in 1855. In between these two years, in 1789, ten days down the line, on July 14th, another significant occurrence has been handed down by history to be celebrated as the Bastille Day— the day prisoners were freed from Bastille, a major event that led to the overthrow of the insensitive monarchy in France, a symbolic resurgence of the common, exploited man that has often been seen as an inspiration for later uprisings to reinforce the concept of democracy or liberté, égalité, fraternité.

As we move forward in time, towards August, one wonders if liberty attained by these means was good for all fellow humans? France was part of the Allied Forces that with America taking the lead dropped not one but two atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6th and 9th, 1945, to end the Second World War. Did the ends justify the means? Reflecting the cry and suffering of these victims, we have poetry from Suzanne Kamata, a well-known writer from Japan. Michael Burch on the other hand has shared poetry with us which shows how the nuclear programme continued unrepentant despite the devastation it caused. One must give kudos to the descendants of the victims of the nuclear blast that they have forgiven the perpetrators, admitted their own hand in the Second World War and moved ahead. In that spirit, we have an essay on peace by Candice Louisa Daquin, who joins the Borderless team as a writer-in-residence.

We have much happening in poetry this time with an interview of American poet Jared Carter, a recipient of number of awards and fellowships, including the Walt Whitman Award and the Guggenheim fellowship. He walks us through how he created the poem ‘Yeti’ (first published in the May edition of Borderless) and talks of the impact of artifacts from China and India on his own thought processes, the impact of Du Fu (712-770) and much more. We have a poem in Du Fu’s style this time by George Freek and an interesting poem with a Chinese title by Carter, a title that can have multiple connotations and yet each seems to fit the poem perfectly.

Rhys Hughes has brought humour into our pages with both his poetry and essay on William Mcgonagall, who bore the sobriquet of the worst writer in the world through his life and had things thrown at him when he read his poetry in Dundee. Yet, his work survived the beatings, and he lives on known as the ‘Scottish Homer’.

More poetry by Singaporean poet Marc Nair gives us a glimpse of the little island as viewed by someone who has grown up on it. Poetry is always multi-hued, and we have Lorraine Caputo transport us to a Garífuna village in Honduras. Penny Wilkes takes us ‘Down the Path of Nostalgia’ with a mix of old and new photography, prose and poetry on how almost a decade after the end of the Second World War, she started her love affair with photography and nature. It hovers between poetry and musings, and this time we have a rare musing by Jared Carter too. Devraj Singh Kalsi continues cogitating with wry humour while arranging bookshelves. We also have the backpacking granny visiting Indonesia. Post sharing this trip, our granny — Sybil Pretious — plans a little break from publishing to complete her memoirs.

A riveting flash fiction by Kaiyi Tan celebrates the spirit of conquest in these dark times, weaving into the pandemic lore the quest for personal freedom. Stories this time carry a real life one by Jean Kortum on adoption — her own struggle. But then, stories can be real or unreal – draw a bit from both to reflect bigger truths or create alternates that sink into the human mind as a perceived reality and leave an imprint deep inside the heart, like that of Niles Reddick. My conviction is that some lived experiences of writers seep into each story, whether it is from Bangladesh or India or by our literary fictionist, Sunil Sharma. His narrative continues infused by suspense.

We have a complete translated story of Tagore by Radha Chakravarty as our book excerpt this time. ‘The Parrot’s Tale’, ostensibly part of a children’s collection, reflects Tagore’s response to conventional schooling — a reason for him to start Shanti Niketan perhaps. She has also shared two of her translations of Rabindranath’s songs from Bhanusingher Padabali (1884, Bhanusingh’s verses). Chakravarty generously consented to an interview and has given us a glimpse of her journey as a translator and critic.  We also have translated a long poem by Tagore on our pages, a poem that inspires hope, though it was named Dushomoy (1897, Bad Times) finally. The original name had been Swarga Patthe (On the Path to Heaven) as can be seen from a page in his diary. We have been fortunate in finding a recording of his voice reciting the poem in Bengali and the print of a sample page of the manuscript bearing his signature.

We continue with Akbar Barakzai’s poetry translated by Fazal Baloch from Balochi – this time addressed to his daughter reminding for some reason of Nehru’s Letters from a Father to his Daughter — a book I read as a child.  In addition, we have translations from Korea and Bosnia & Herzegovina, from where the young poet, Maid Corbic, has taken up the concept of freedom of the self and of the nation, both together.

Keith Lyons from New Zealand in his very brief essay has quoted American novelist William Faulkner, “We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it.” And perhaps we need to remember this if for no other reason, then, just to maintain our own sanity in these strange, almost unreal times as we attempt to unite as humankind to free ourselves from an unknown and unfathomable virus.

In a more sombre note, last week, untroubled by the virus, a victim of cancer, Bollywood legend Dileep Kumar, aged 98, breathed his last. Ratnottama Sengupta adds an unusual colour to the Borderless Journal with her tribute to this hugely acclaimed actor. In the process, she unfolds for us a brief history of the Indian cinema, and a glimpse of a world that transcends all man made constructs in quest of perfection.

We have an interesting set of reviews this July. Rakhi Dalal has reviewed Anuradha Kumar’s riveting short story collection, A Sense of Time. A murder mystery for young readers, Murder at Daisy Apartments by Shabnam Minwalla, has been reviewed by Gracy Samjetsabam. The Third Eye of Governance–Rise of Populism, Decline in Social Research by Dr N Bhaskara Rao, reviewed by Bhaskar Parichha, seems to be a non-fiction that looks forward to bridging gaps between academia and the real world, a truly felt need. Parichha has also given us an essay on a man who inspired Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, to make him a part of his lore, a journalist who moved around all of Asia with equal aplomb and a sense of humour – a truly global citizen called Richard Hughes.

I want to thank all our wonderful contributors for making this edition a reality. And readers, we leave you to explore the unknown… like that place we call outer space. A huge thank you again to not only all our wonderful contributors, our faithful readers but also to the fabulous Borderless team scattered across the world.  

Before I wind up, a little bird trills a song of hope in my ear. Business tycoons have started stepping into the mysterious void of space to eventually – let us hope — create affordable travel for common man, though it has started off as an expensive proposition. Will this be an industry that will generate more jobs on and off Earth and find new places for man to inhabit? After all, when George Bernard Shaw wrote his plays and essays, we had yet to cross the frontiers beyond Earth, had never even thought of flying across the world in budget airlines or mining moons!

Will we have a new world, a new outlook and a new set of hopes and aspirations as we stretch the frontiers of our home planet?

Wish you all a wonderful month of reading and thinking.

Best wishes,

Mitali Chakravarty

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Editorial

Restless Stirrings

As we stand on the threshold of a new normal that will eternally rewrite the history of social interactions, of movements across the globe, of new world orders that will have to be more inclusive and more transparent to world view, we will, perhaps, feel the need to redefine business laws so that even countries with lesser wealth are able to access vaccinations and peace. We are now looking  up to leaderships which seem to be in crises themselves. Sitting securely on a tiny island that is well governed, an island where affluence and well-being set it adrift from the turmoils of countries around it, I wonder thirty years from now, what will mankind be like…  Will we be forever marred by the current events of the world? Globalisation has ensured that none of us can be secure on any secret island. There can be no land of lotus eaters hidden from the rest of mankind and accessed by only a few anymore. Even if one region is affected by the virus in any corner of the world, can the rest of the world be pandemic free? Perhaps, a question that those who peddle in vaccines and human well-being can address.

These issues have not only been highlighted by the news media but have also found echoes in some of our content this time. Keith Lyons’s essay talks of his last stay in India, when a tourist carried the  the pandemic  unwittingly into Kerala in February 2020 and subsequent repercussions. More stories and poems that dwell on the spread of the virus this year cry out for compassion. One hopes young poet Ruchi Acharya’s verses are born true.

One day the roses of hope will grow
Meeting the horizon,
Roses that, even plucked, will not die
But will bloom and bloom
Every single day that passes by.

We have young writers on the virulence of the virus and mature pens like that of globe-trotting academic Wendy Jones Nakanishi, who maps the pandemic from UK. Perhaps, we will find a new direction eventually.

There have been calls for uniting above divides as a single unit called mankind earlier too, from greats like Tagore and Nazrul. This time we carry translations of both — Nazrul’s translated poem calls for uniting against artificial divides drawn by man-made constructs and Tagore’s translation talks of redefining through self-reflection. An essay on Tagore by academic Parineet Jaggi talks of the impact of the teachings of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, on Tagore.

We have essays on writers and icons from around the globe. A photo-essay on the bald eagle, heralding the American Independence Day on the 4th of July, gives a humorous anecdote on how the eagle was chosen above the turkey. We have more variety by Candice Louisa Daquin, an immigrant in US, who shows how important human movement across man-made borders is to the development of a country. Michael Burch has given us beautiful poetry reflecting the history of America and American dreams, one of them with the voice of the legendary Mohammed Ali. These verses add substance to the concerns raised by Daquin. Jared Carter brings to us the colours of life with his poetry.

We have humour in verses from Rhys Hughes and even from a young poet, Sutputra Radheye. Limericks from Michael Burch and Penny Wilkes photo-poetry on ‘Changing Seasons’ puts us in a more cheerful mood.  More poetry from multiple writers across the world, including Nepal, Macedonia and Korea, have found their way into our journal.

Hughes has also given us a comprehensive and interesting essay on a twentieth century poet called Ivor Cutler, who said much as he sang his poetry and was encouraged by Paul McCartney of the Beatles. The brilliant poetry of Akbar Barakzai continues translated on our pages by Fazal Baloch and one must give many thanks to the translator for his indefatigable energy and for bringing us wonderful fare from Balochistan. An excerpt translated by eminent journalist Ratnottama Sengupta from Nabendu Ghosh’s autobiography ends with Satyajit Ray’s starting his famed career with Apu’s triology (based on Pather Panchali, a novel by Bibhuti Bhushan Bandopadhyay). These three films have become iconic in cinema history.

We were fortunate to have Professor Fakrul Alam agree to an interview. An eminent translator, critic and academic who has lived through the inception of Bangladesh from East Bengal, Alam has translated not just the three greats of Bengal (Tagore, Nazrul, Jibanananda) but also multiple political leaders like Mujibur Rahman. In this exclusive, he has taken us through the annals of history, reflecting on less-known perspectives of the Partition. Also, in conversation with Borderless, is Arindam Roy, a journalist with forty years’ experience and the founder of Different Truths who started his writing career, much in the tradition of Cyrano de Bergerac on a humorous note.

This time our backpacking granny, Sybil Pretious, gives us a glimpse of her wisdom, wit and compassion while visiting Philippines and talks of an ancient death ritual, volcanoes and strange mud baths. Devraj Singh Kalsi explores young romance in his tongue-in-cheek fashion. We also have more semi-humorous musings from young writers across borders. While Sunil Sharma has explored facets of the impact of terrorism, the other stories are told in a lighter vein.

Our book excerpt from Feisal Alkazi’s Enter Stage Right has a picture of the young artiste in a discotheque dancing in abandon — check it out. It made me smile. Rakhi Dalal has reviewed Jnanpith Award winner Shrilal Shukla’s Fragments of Happiness translated by Niyati Bafna. The book review by Meenakshi Malhotra of Neelima Dalmia Adhar’s The Secret Diary of Kasturba brings out an interesting facet on Gandhi and women in the Independence movement. It makes one notice the contrasts in the perspectives of Gandhi and Tagore, who created women like he saw around him in fiction. Kasturba’s life also contrasts with the independence found in the life of the avant-garde artist, Amrita Sher-Gil, who lived around the same time. In an essay, Bhaskar Parichha has shown how Sher-Gil lived out her dreams, blending the best of the East and West, while Malhotra writes, that though “Gandhi called women to join the national movement … he was not seeking to emancipate, but more to call forth their capacity for self-abnegation and self-sacrifice.”

Parichha has also introduced us to the need for changes in the banking sector in India while reviewing Transformational Leadership in Banking edited by Anil K. Khandelwal. Perhaps these will be part of the changes that will ultimately lead to a revision of old systems and the start of new ones. Changes, though not always welcomed or convenient, hopefully will lead to progress that can mould our future into a happier one. Restless stirrings transformed mankind from cave dwellers to an intelligent race that can assimilate nature and technology to survive and dream of a future, living among stars.

As Borderless reaches out to unite mankind transcending artificial constructs, its attempts can bear fruit only with support from each and every one of you. I would like to thank all our editorial team for their wonderful support, contributors for being the backbone of our content, and all our readers for continuing to patronise us.

Do take a look at our current issue for the writers who remain unmentioned here but create phenomenal bridges towards a borderless world.

Best wishes,

Mitali Chakravarty

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Editorial

And This Too Shall Pass…

“April is the cruelest month, breeding
lilacs out of the dead land…”
-- TS Eliot, Wasteland

April and May have been strange months — celebrations withered to anxieties. As the pandemic took on demonic proportions in its second wave, devastating millions with death and darkness, paralysing with the fear of losing friends and relatives or ones’ own life, festivities gave way to mourning. April this time truly seemed like the cruellest month as expressed by TS Eliot in the start of the Wasteland, turning our joyous thoughts on healing to a devastating reality of swirling smoke of pyres and graves that continue to throng certain parts of the world. However, mankind needs hope like the Earth needs rain, hope to survive. Great literature and writing inspire to give just that.

This month is also the birth month of three greats who were able to generate that kind of hope with their work: Rabindranath Tagore, Edward Lear and Kazi Nazrul Islam. We launched our new Tagore section on May 7th with Aruna Chakravarti’s translations of the maestro, Songs of Tagore. Do visit us at Tagore & Us to read them and more. We plan to keep adding to this section on a regular basis. This time we have Bengal Academy Award winner Fakrul Alam’s translations of six seasonal songs of Tagore, a translation from Borderless of a poem by the maestro that is not quite accepted as Rabindra Sangeet as the tune was given by the eminent musician Pankaj Mullick. An essay by Dr Anasuya Bhar highlights different lives given to Tagore’s writing by his own rewrites, translations, and films – an interesting perspective. We also carry tributes to Tagore in verse from Ilwha Choi of Korea, Mike Smith of UK, Himadri Lahiri and Sunil Sharma from the poet’s own homeland.

We celebrated Edward Lear’s birthday with some limericks and Rhys Hughes essay placing the two century old writer’s poetry in the present context and a hilarious conclusion to the sequel of Lear’s famous ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’. Upcoming is the birth anniversary of the rebel poet from Bengal, Nazrul. Sohana Manzoor translated a powerful essay and Shahriyer Hossain Shetu, a poem by this legendary writer who believed in syncretic lore and married a Hindu woman. Now the national poet of Bangladesh, Nazrul even wrote of Hindu Gods in many of his songs and essays – a lore that yearns for revival in the current day where politicians have fragmented the world by building more walls, using the names of religion, race, economics, caste and culture.

We have a poem from Pakistan by eminent poet Akbar Barakzai translated by Fazal Baloch using the lore of Samuel Becket’s Godot and yet another translation from Malayalam by Aditya Shankar of Sujith Kumar’s poem. Our poetry section is exciting with an exquisite poem from Jared Carter on a yeti, resting on the ephemerality of its presence; a funny one from Rhys Hughes and a diversity of poets from many countries, including Bangladesh. We also started a new column called Nature’s Musings which will combine poetry or prose with photographs by award-winning photographer Michael Wilkes and Penny Wilkes, who joins us now as a writer-in-residence.

In stories, we carry a COVID narrative by a real doctor, Shobha Nandavar, based in Bangalore and interestingly another about a doctor, the first women to adopt the medical profession in Bengal. Sunil Sharma in his narrative has highlighted a crisis in humanism. There are many more stories which would make for an interesting read. In musings, other than Devraj Singh Kalsi’s witty take on countries without Nobel Laureates, we have a Canadian writer’s perception of death rituals in Japan. Sybil Pretious has shared with us her strange adventures within China this time. Don’t miss the backpacking granny!

The May issue has a wide range of essays and musings ranging from Candice Louisa Daquin’s write up on the need to trust instincts to Keith Lyon’s residency in the Antarctica with interesting photographs. He writes that you could wear shorts in summers! Bhaskar’s Corner pays a tribute to the Padmashree Odia writer who passed away last month of old age, Manoj Das.

Our book excerpt is from an unusual book by Nabanita Sengupta, A Bengali Lady in England (1885): Annotated Translation with Critical Introduction to Krishnabhabini Das’ Englandey Bangamahila. We also carry reviews by Rakhi Dalal of Feisal Alkazi’s memoir, Enter Stage Right: The Alkazi Padamsee Family Memoir and by Bhaskar Parichha of Raising a Humanist by Manisha Pathak-Shelat and Kiran Vinod Bhatia. Shakti Ghosal’s The Chronicler of the Hooghly and Other Stories has been reviewed by Gracy Samjetsabam.

Our interviews this time are more on practical issues than literary – with the two authors of Raising a Humanist and with someone who supported our Tagore section by inviting us to talk on it in an online festival called Anantha, Sonya Nair. A friend and an academic with decidedly avant garde outlook, she is part of the twenty-year-old peer-reviewed Samyukta Journal that homes many academics. Pause by and have a read to see how they serve.

I would want to give heartfelt thanks to Nidhi Mishra and Archana Mohan for hosting Ms Sara’s Selections from Bookosmia this time as they help many battle the pandemic with hope, especially young children growing up in a world inhibited with masks and social distancing. I would also like to thank all the writers and my whole team for rising above the darkness by helping us get together this issue for our readers who I hope do find solace in our pages. And thank you readers for being with us through our journey.

There is a lot more in our pages than I have written. Do take a peek at this month’s issue and enjoy.

Best wishes,

Mitali Chakravarty

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Editorial

New Beginnings

We wish all our readers and writers fabulous varieties of new year celebrations across Asia! We also complete one year and waft towards a new beginning. We have had some alterations as you know over the last few months — new faces on our board and writers in residence. Now, in addition to hosting writers from across all borders and ages, we have decided to also become an online forum for translated Tagore songs and writings. This will be launched on Tagore’s Birth Anniversary — 7th May. We hope that the transcreations in this section will take the treasures of the great writer and philosopher closer to the non-Bengali speaking populations from all over the world. We will try to retain the spirit of his poetry and attempt to recreate the impact of the Bengali verses for everyone who can read in English. We have already started with transcreations of about half-a-dozen of his songs. Do take a look and tell us what you think.

To celebrate our diverse new years, we have a musing by Sohana Manzoor. Did you know that Pohela Baishakh or the Bengali New Year is a national holiday in Bangladesh and is observed on the 14th of April each year?

A new year bodes a new beginning, a new sunrise and a new day — a new bunch of experiences. That is why our theme this time was new beginnings. What did we have in the beginning? Dylan Thomas tells us —

In the beginning was the word, the word 
That from the solid bases of the light 
Abstracted all the letters of the void; 
And from the cloudy bases of the breath 
The word flowed up, translating to the heart 
First characters of birth and death. 

On that theme of words, we have a fabulous poem by Balochi writer, Akbar Barakzai, who created a furore by turning down an award from the Pakistan Academy of Letters last year. His poem has been translated by Fazal Baloch. That is just one of the treasures. This time to celebrate this bouquet of new years across Asia, we have a bumper issue which includes, interviews with the 2020 Sahitya Akademi winner, Arundhathi Subramaniam, and academic-cum-writer Sumana Roy. Both poets have been kind enough to share a poem each with us. Arundhathi’s poem is inspiring and Sumana’s is a moving one about a tree, a tree that made history. We have powerful poetry from a number of other writers, Pushcart winner Jared Carter, Michael Burch, Sekhar Banerjee, Vatsala Radhakeesoon, Ihlwa Choi and of course our inimitable Rhys Hughes. Rhys has also started a column for us in which he will talk of poets, poetry and whatever else he chooses (within the confines of our magazine’s needs, of course). Our focus this year will shift even more towards quality of content.

In translations, other than Tagore songs and Baloch’s translations, we have Aditya Shankar’s translation of Malayalam writer, Shylan. A short story by Tagore from his famous collection Golpo Guchcho has been translated by Nishat Atya. To celebrate Tagore’s anniversary, we have essays by Meenakshi Malhotra and Sohana Manzoor too. Interestingly Sohana Manzoor’s essay has Tagore’s vision of Buddha — and Sumana Roy gave us a poem on the Bodhi tree, a tree under which the Buddha meditated his way to salvation!  Looking at the sad situation in Myanmar, we definitely have a need for reviving Buddhism, a theme that has been touched on by well-known film critic, journalist and translator Ratnottama Sengupta, in her ponderings on the Silk Route. Branching off from the journey across Asia towards Europe and moving up north to Siberia is a narrative from our spunky back packing granny, Sybil Pretious. She writes of her travels all the way to Lake Baikal!

Devraj Singh Kalsi suffered personal loss and has given us a poignant in memoriam on his mother. Mike Smith takes us on a memorable nostalgic journey with postcards from the past with stories that want to make you weep. There is more on memorabilia with a photo-essay by Nishi Pulugurtha and a photo-poem by Penny Wilkes (have you ever adventured with one of these?). Sunil Sharma tried out a playlet! The other exciting and new thing is Bhaskar Parichha has started a witty column with us. We are calling it Bhaskar’s Corner! I won’t tell you what about but do take a peek!

Books reviewed are Paro Anand’s Nomad’s Land by Nivedita Sen — a book on migrants, a theme which is there in the piece on silk route too; Rudolf C Heredia’s Reconciling Difference by Bhaskar Parichha and Candice Louisa Daquin has reviewed a book on cancer, The First Cell by Azra Raza. Our book excerpt is from a book on parenting, Raising a Humanist: Conscious Parenting in an Increasingly Fragmented World by Manisha Pathak-Shelat and Kiran Vinod Bhatia. An interesting read in a world of changing values. Our young person’s section run by Bookosmia owe a huge thanks to the untiring efforts of Nidhi Mishra and Archana Mohan. Thank you both. Thanks to the whole team for your immense support.

I have as usual not covered all the content in my note. I leave you to unfold the surprises! Much thanks to all our writers and readers for continuing to be with us!

Again, we wish you all a new beginning in our diverse new years!

Hope and happiness to you all!

Mitali Chakravarty

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Editorial

Happy Birthday Borderless Journal🎉

A huge thank-you to all our contributors and readers across the world.

Borderless Journal has contributors from all the marked areas in the world map.

Borderless Journal was launched on March 14th, 2020, exactly one year ago, with eight published pieces from four countries. Today, we celebrate our journal’s year-old existence with more than six hundred publications online from 31 countries across the world. All this would not have been possible without the commitment of some very gifted writers. So, we have made a couple of additions to our ‘About Us’ — Writers in Residence and the Children’s Section Facilitator. We did this to express our gratitude to these excellent writers and the Children’s Section Facilitator, Archana Mohan of Bookosmia, for contributing pro bono to Borderless, selflessly and generously with words that enriched our journal. We plan to continue pro bono with goodwill as our only profit, giving our readers free, unpaid, advertisement-free access to excellent works.

In this first year, not only has our content grown but we have moved forward in our attempt to be a repository of quality writing in the virtual world. Translations of greats like Saratchandra Chatterjee, Tarashankar Bandopadhyay, Rabindranath Tagore, Bijan Najdi, Syad Zahoor Shah Hashmi and Nabendu Ghosh nestle along with writings by the moderns. We have published works by winners of the Sahitya Akademi award and the Pushcart along with that of novices. Our oldest contributor was born in 1924 and the youngest, in our young persons’ selections, was four years old.

Values and issues taken up by writers across time have often been similar. At Borderless, we look for writing that breaks borders, not so much of techniques but of issues that affect our civilisation. We want to create a flood of positive values that will deluge the world’s negatives, help to usher in an era of development, tolerance, love and peace. We are often told that this is unrealistic. But when have ideals and utopias ever been based on realism? And yet they changed the world over a period of time. We would not have the wheel or the fire if cave dwellers had not imagined them.  Borderless hopes to walk untrodden paths. Our journal also aspires to respond to the calls made by youngsters for a better Earth, to explore and store samples of human excellence for posterity, and to support attempts to improve the future of our species.

As a part of our celebrations, we are also announcing two books, constructed with selected content from Borderless. Bookosmia is bringing out a book from the children’s section, thanks to both Nidhi Mishra and Archana Mohan. For our adult contributors and readers, we are also announcing a second book stocked with some of the gems we have collected over the year. We are in conversation with a publisher. Once that is finalised, we will announce the book on social media.

This month, we had given the theme of ‘as mad as a March hare’ and aliens were invited to contribute. That resulted in some fantastic poetry from Rhys Hughes and Vatsala Radhakeesoon and also from one of our Contributing Editors, Michael R. Burch. Rhys has given us a funny story poem about an alien who tickles our sensibilities. Our poetry section only improves with Michael’s touch. We have poetry again from Pushcart winner Jared Carter, Tom Merrill, Ihlwa Choi, and new writers like Vijayalakshmi Harish and Shraddha Arora.

We carry a translation of a well-known poet from Nepal, Krishna Bajgai. Aditya Shankar translated a Malayalam poem about violence against women by young Krispin George. It is a powerful poem and an excellent translation that sets the tone for the month hosting the International Women’s Day. That the protest is voiced by men is also significant, especially in a world where margins need to blend into a single united shout against all injustices. While the poem critiques a crime, the translated prose shows how despite violations and oppressions, humankind have progressed.

A short story by Tagore’s sister, Swarnakumari Devi (1855-1932), one of the first female editors of the Tagore family journal and one of the earliest progressive women of the nineteenth century, has been translated by Chaitali Sengupta. Juxtaposed to the story by Swarnakumari Devi which was perceived as an act of defiance against the voicelessness imposed on women in a patriarchal set up, we have an unusual reflection translated by the noted filmmaker and journalist, Ratnottama Sengupta. Written in Bengali by Sandhya Sinha (1928-2016) the piece, while being an in-depth analysis of Arabian Nights, is an emphasis on how women progressed within the century to become independent, intellectual, thinking entities beyond the bounds set on them by outmoded norms. Thus, while the prose showcases how much women have progressed, the poetry contribution by young Krispin George and Aditya Shankar reflects how men and women are now united in their struggle for justice. We have indeed come far from the biases inherent in Rudyard Kipling’s poem, ‘Mandalay’, which was written after Swarnakumari Devi had already started writing and working against such divisive mindsets. Historically, we have moved forward.

A literary essay by Mike Smith tries to explore a new paradigm. He ponders if a short fiction by the first émigré Nobel Laureate from Russia, Ivan Bunin, could have been a precursor to flash fiction. We have experimented with a photo essay by Penny and Michael Wilkes. Some lovely photographs of the sea can also be found in the slice of life sent to us from Australia by Meredith Stephens. In Travels with the Backpacking Granny, Sybil Pretious takes the readers to the slopes of the Kiliminjaro with her 63-year-old self. Devraj Singh Kalsi in Musings of the Copywriter gives us his perception of creativity and madness – which you might say go hand-in-hand when you think of Vincent Van Gogh cutting off his ear and F Scott Fitzgerald who along with his wife, Zelda, suffered from depression. Kalsi gives the subject a satirical twist to explore if insanity can be substituted as medals of honour by a writer instead of ‘bits of metal’ that subscribe to more conventional concepts of fame and sanity. It is a fun read!

One of my favourite essays is by Debraj Mookerjee, who has shown how when West meets East, greatness blooms. He takes on giants like Tagore, Tolstoy, Emerson and many more. Reflecting the thoughts of one of these giants mentioned in the essay, is a book on the socio-political thoughts of Tagore where the author, Bidyut Sarkar, who is also the Vice Chancellor of Vishva-Bharati University and an erudite scholar, states: “Tagore stayed away from the hurly-burly of national politics. Despite sharing the nationalistic condemnation of the colonizer, Tagore never allowed this restrictive vision to cloud his concern for human emancipation.” Bhaskar Parichha has done an excellent review of the book.

Sutputra Radheye’s poetry collection from the Delhi Slam has been reviewed by Rakhi Dalal and Suzanne Kamata’s Indigo Girl has been reviewed by Gracy Samjetsabam. Indigo Girl is a novel that breaks cultural borders and norms to find love through a part-Japanese-part-American’s journey, with lessons learnt from a survivor of the Tohoku Tsunami in March 2011, where more than 15,500 died, a disaster that also led to the Fukushima nuclear plant melt down. The economic losses were estimated at $235 billion and people continue to be impacted by the decade-old disaster to this date. Indigo Girl, thus, is a celebration of mankind’s survival against multiple odds. It builds bridges across differences and disasters, a story of hope and friendships, values cherished in a borderless world.

We have an interesting excerpt from a book I really enjoyed, a collection of short stories that challenge man-made constructs, A Sense of Time and Other Stories. The author whom we interviewed, Anuradha Kumar, has 31 books with publishers like Hachette India to her credit, plus two Commonwealth awards and more. The other interview also stretches geographical bounds drawn by politicians. An American translator who lives in Thailand and translates from Japanese to English, Avery Fischer Udagawa, speaks to about her journey. Finding literature and bridging borders with translations is a recurrent theme in Borderless.

A number of stories that again look for the unusual can be found in this issue. I would like to mention an interesting one from Jessie Michael of Malaysia exploring blind beliefs, ‘Orang Minyak or The Ghost‘, while Sunil Sharma gives us a story that I will let you explore yourself. Sara’s Selections, showcasing a selection of writing from Bookosmia, adds to our oeuvre.

As usual, I have mentioned a few but not all of our content, which remains tempting.

I hope all of you will continue to enhance our writing and publishing experience by patronising our site and reading us regularly. Please do share our posts with your friends and family. We continue a family-friendly journal.

Again, a huge thanks and warm congratulations to the Borderless team and to all our fabulous contributors. We value each one of your pieces. Thank you.

To all our readers, welcome to our world and thanks for being with us and inspiring us to aspire for more. We have readership from more than 130 countries across the world.

Looking forward to the next lap of our journey –

Mitali Chakravarty

Borderless, March, 2021

Borderless Journal is read in more than 130 countries across the world.
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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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Editorial

Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts.”

— William Shakespeare, As You Like It

The theatrics in the US Capitol at the outset of 2021 might make us think bleakly, but they have exposed the flaws of a system that obviously needs changes. Does this mean democracy has failed? There have always been challenges, sometimes of colonialism, sometimes, of wars. But as long as mankind survives, they will have a voice and the voice will always sound out against injustice.

The uneducated exist in all systems and mob attack is not an unknown phenomenon. Education along with the ability to examine and correct one’s biases could perhaps bridge the gaps. Think of the French Revolution. How many were guillotined? And some among the beheaded were innocent. Yet these killers also were part of a movement that spoke of liberty, equality and fraternity. We grew up believing in these tenets. As such, these are good tenets.

I see the January sixth attack as an attempt to disregard and humiliate an institution. Mankind is resilient enough to withstand such an assault. One has to remember that there are miscreants in every system and society and that is why we have laws. It is time for a number of exits; of the current man in the chair of the POTUS; of COVID-19 via the vaccines or herd immunity, have it your way; of dark clouds that have gathered over positive actions to heal our planet and make it a wonderful home for our species. The darkest hours are said to be before the advent of dawn. Things can only get better with a soupçon of love, kindness and generosity. It is again a time to hope, the theme of Borderless Journal in this edition.

We have hope pronouncedly from our young people’s section hosted by Nidhi Mishra and Archana Mohan from Bookosmia and also in our poetry. Michael Burch’s poetry resounds with hope. The voices of children from Gaza — pleading with the hope of redemption from the darker events in their lives — much as we are doing in the current crisis, looking for mercy and hope in a pandemic-worn world. We have poetry by Sanket Mhatre on hope.

Vatsala Radhakeesoon has given us a brilliant piece in ‘Queenie the Sloth‘ — check it out. Rhys Hughes has taken on mythology and given it a spin that not just makes us laugh but also think. Aditya Shankar has given us a poignant poem concerning the Human Immortality Project(HIP), a rich man’s dream of being above death, which has been under fire in Yuval Noah Harari’s Homo Deus too. Our poetry section still has a very colourful borderless veneer with poets contributing from multiple countries, including Korea. I love the narratives that Ilhwa Choi weaves into his poetry.

The reason I am pausing on poetry is also to inform readers that we have decided to pull up our socks and be very selective about the poems we publish. Michael Burch is on the panel helping select poetry and he is truly a connoisseur as you can see from the collection in his blog, The Hyper Texts. Though Sunil Sharma has poetry there, we have his stories here. He has given us a wonderful story by the banks of the river Chenab — a story of hope, love and terror. The piece de resistance, I would say, among our stories is one by Tagore — a translation of ‘Bolai’ by Chaitali Sengupta. A story that talks trees and children – a powerful one that moves with its vibrancy, captured very well by the translator.

We have some interesting essays including one by our humourist Devraj Singh Kalsi, in which he explores the ongoing protest of Sikh farmers with humour and another by John Drew on China, the West and Bangladesh. Thanks to Sohana Manzoor for helping us access it. Another one I particularly liked is by Sameer Arshad Khatlani, author of The Other Side of the Divide, on the syncretic lore of India and Pakistan. It is a perfect essay towards the upcoming celebration of the anniversary of the declaration of democracy by India on 26th January 1950 – when it had done away with all individual dynastic regimes. And yet one wonders if that was or is a reality?

Nishi Pulugurtha has given us a musing on how the pandemic affects children and how it might affect this year’s celebrations of the Indian Republic Day. We have an ex-colonial’s son Mike Smith from UK reflecting on the regime prior to the Partition, the rule that tickled the divisive mindset of the Indian subcontinent, through the pages of his father’s diary. This mindset has also been dwelt on by Maithreyi Karnoor in her poetry. And we have our dollop of humour in Musings of the Copywriter with a fun filled narrative of an elopement. We have a whiff of hope from the Southern hemisphere with writings of Keith Lyons from New Zealand and Meredith Stephens from Australia. These also add to the colours of our journal.   

The book excerpt is from Devaki Jain’s autobiography, The Brass Notebook. A powerful book that generates hope and was reviewed last month. This particular bit is about her driving trip with students from different countries – all the way from England to India. We have an invigorating interview with her too this time. The other interview is with Mosarrap Hossain Khan, founder of Café Dissensus, and hopes to enlighten readers more about this well-loved website and also gives a glimpse of the ideology and the man behind it.

Books reviewed include Bhaskar Parichcha’s No Strings Attached by Bijaya Kumar Mohanty, Dom Moraes’s Gone Away by Bhaskar Parichcha and Waiting for the Dust to Settle by Rakhi Dalal. These are a few of the highlights I have mentioned. We have a wide selection of writings. Till now we have managed to showcase writers from twenty-eight countries, and we hope to can continue expanding virtually across more political borders.

The other news I would like to share is our last month’s interview with Aruna Chakravarti other than being republished in Countercurrents.org was translated to Persian by Davood Jalili and published in an Iranian journal called, Arzhang. We are grateful to both Davood Jalili of Arzhang and Binu Mathews of Countercurrents.org for supporting our efforts and finding us wider readership. We are happy that our journal’s content has crossed borders to unite us all together in one world – a world of hope that stretches out its arms towards a future that can only get better!

We wish all our readers and contributors a year filled with hope towards a better future.

Thank you all for accompanying us on our journey.

In hope of a better future,

Mitali Chakravarty

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Editorial

Festive Roundup

Season’s Greetings from Borderless Journal!

Borderless has completed three-quarters of a year or nine months of its virtual existence and bonded us all together in a shared web of ideas — ideas that generate the concept of a world beyond borders. We have all travelled together with words as our tools, gathering thoughts that can create links among all humans despite our perceived differences. During our journey towards the future, we have made alterations or additions where necessary. This month, we have a new addition to our editorial board, Michael R Burch, a poet from USA with 6000 publications under his belt. He brings in new writers and fresh splendour with his own poetry. This time we carry his poems on Gaza — poems of empathy and harmony, one of which has featured in an Amnesty International publication which is used as a resource for training human rights’ activists.

We have plenty of poetry with translations from Armenia, Ukraine and two from Nepal. We also have one of Tagore’s lesser-known essays translated by Chaitali Sengupta. We have interviews with translators too this time: Sahitya Akademi award winning translator of Saratchandra’s Srikanta, Dr Aruna Chakravarti, and senior journalist and writer, Ratnottama Sengupta, who not only translates her father, Nabendu Ghosh, but also compiles anthologies with multiple translators bringing his works to those who cannot read Bengali. We have one of Ghosh’s new collections of short stories, hosting multiple translators, Mistress of Melodies, reviewed by Rakhi Dalal. Bhaskar Parichha has reviewed economist and feminist Devaki Jain’s memoir and Meenakshi Malhotra has done a review of a book on Shaheen Bagh, observing that the spot has become commemorative of democratic values devoid of violence and angst. An interesting concept.

In her essay, Candice Louisa Daquin has commented on how the election results are affecting Americans. On a lighter note, our columnist, Devraj Singh Kalsi, has spoken of the Tump pujas(worship of Trump) that coloured India during the recent US elections. An essay I found immensely relevant by Bhaskar Parichha has been included in our journal, an essay to demystify news media for all of us. The other essay I would like to mention republished from Daily Star, Bangladesh, thanks to their literary page editor, Sohana Manzoor, is on Begum Rokeya, a woman who lived nearly a century ago but thought and wrote of climate and the equality of genders in those days. And she wrote in three languages —English, Bengali and Urdu — impressive! This time we have seven essays.  Do check them out.

Rounding up the year is Anasuya Bhar’s musings. We have the festivals Hannukah and Christmas covered in musings, essay, poetry and a lovely write up by a young girl in Sara’s Selection — a vivacious, happy set of poems, stories and essays, brought to us by Bookosmia — thanks to Nidhi Mishra and Archana Mohan. Keith Lyons from New Zealand has added to the variety of festivities — Santas in shorts— by telling us how Christmas is celebrated together with summer solstice ‘down under’! More on a lighter tone can be found in verses by Vatsala Radhakeesoon and Rhys Hughes and in an essay that talks of ‘the lost art of doing nothing’. I will leave the book excerpt as a surprise for you to uncover. Let it be said it is a book by a writer whose voice is much respected for its candidness and largeness of vision.

We have a number of stories. Our regular columnist, Sunil Sharma has given a poignant exploration of child labour — one of the most touching stories by him. Sohana Manzoor has given us a flash fiction — three short tales of modern life. This time we also have a Balochi folklore retold by Fazal Baloch — magic and a happily ever after fairy tale scenario — I really liked it.

We have a bumper issue of more than 50 posts this time — unravel them and enjoy during your Christmas holidays. Thank you dear readers for being there to make writing a pleasurable activity for us practitioners.

We wish you all a fantastic festive season full of reading and happy thoughts.

Best wishes from all of us at Borderless Journal.

Mitali Chakravarty

Categories
Editorial

Hope in the Future

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,

Mitali Chakravarty

Categories
Editorial

The Heart of Non-violence

“God is Truth”

That is what Gandhi believed and this month, we celebrate this soul who would have loved a world without borders but was forced to be part of drawing boundaries that still lead to violent dissensions and bloodshed. Gandhi himself dissented but with non-violence.

This I understood well when I completed reading My Experiments with Truth from cover to cover. In the process, I uncovered a man who despite his idiosyncrasies had a lot to offer the world — his outlook and his persistence, his organisational skills, his ability to analyse a solution, his ability to forgive, his presence of mind.

I wonder how many of us understand his ultimate weapons Satyagraha, action based on truth, and ahimsa or non-violence. Is that why often our protests are ineffective as opposed to his protests, only some of his worked in his estimation, like the ones in South Africa? Because people listened and learnt his system. But what happened in India? Bapu’s autobiography cleared up much for me, though only a small portion of the book is devoted to his life in India. He was in South Africa for twenty-one years. I, perhaps, have understood a bit on what he said about protest, about a practitioner of Satyagraha, a Satyagrahi:

“A Satyagrahi obeys the laws of society intelligently and off his own free will, because he considers it to be his sacred duty to do so. It is only when a person has thus obeyed the laws of society scrupulously that he is in a position to judge as to which particular rules are good and just which are unjust and iniquitous. Only then does the right accrue to him to the civil disobedience of certain laws in well-defined circumstances. My error lay in my failure to observe this necessary limitation. I had called on the people to launch upon civil disobedience before they had does qualified themselves for it, and this mistake seem to me of Himalayan magnitude.”

(An Autobiography or My Experiments with Truth, Penguin, Pg423)

Gandhi realised his error and withdrew civil disobedience. But I wonder if every protester across the world understands this definition or accrues more to Malcolm X’s school of getting one’s way by “any means necessary”, a reflection that I borrow from the interview of the writer who wrote Gandhi’s life in ballad form, Santosh Bakaya. The other interview we are carrying is of a journalist who upholds the truth — perhaps someone who Gandhi might have admired, like he did Mrs Besant or Gangaben Majumdar (the woman who helped him realise his dream of Khadi) — Teresa Rehman. An award-winning media person, she has spoken of her journey as a “reporter” or a “chronicler” of people’s lives.

This month we had given a call for writings on Gandhi and humour. Some of the responses were a pleasantly surprised. It was amazing to have a surprise essay from New Zealand by Keith Lyons. I only understood what an impact Bapu has had all over the world after reading Lyons’s essay. This time our essay section is filled with writing on Gandhi — Rakhi Dalal’s essay on the relevance of Gandhian values in the present context and Dustin Pickering’s essay, again on My Experiments with Truth, Gandhi’s autobiography. He has even managed to apply some of Gandhi’s outlook to American politics.

Pickering has also given us a spoof on Trump in the future, which brings a smile to your lips as does Bakaya’s spoof on Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr in Heaven. We have lot of stories this time, flash fiction and otherwise, few exhibiting Gandhian values. Our fiction columnist, Sunil Sharma has given us a story that revolves around finding the creator of Alice. Also centring around the theme of Alice’s Wonderland is a review we carry on a translation by Arunava Sinha of Sukumar Ray’s Haw Jaw Bo Ro Lo ( Habber Jabber’s Law in English) by an academic who has worked on Bengali Children’s literature, Nivedita Sen.

The other reviews are that of Bhaskar Parichha — essays brought out on Gandhi as part of his sesquicentennial celebrations last year — and Moiank Dutta, who has given a glowing review of Bakaya’s the Ballad of Bapu. Debraj Mookerjee has reviewed a book called India Dissents and has identified Gandhi as the giant of all dissenters. Here is what he says, and I do not think I could have said it better: “He (Gandhi) was a devout Hindu who was secular to a fault, and against the evils inherent in Hindu society. It is precisely because of this that Gandhi was so successful in mobilising India both politically and socially.”

Varied thoughts on a man who is a major contributor to world change, thought and philosophy with his simplicity and stubbornness have been captured in Borderless this month.

We have a couple of musings on Bapu too, including one which attempts to bridge gaps between the different ‘castes’ in New Delhi.

Our columnist, Devraj Singh Kalsi, has given us his trademark poignant cum humorous non-fiction down the memory lane. Veering more towards humour is our book excerpt of Rhys Hughes new book, Corybantic Fulgours. Do pause by to see what this humorist has to say on evolving a new form of artistic expression, that started out with a doodle any one of us could attempt but leads up to an impossibly named book! More humour in verse has been provided by Mauritian poet, Vatsala Radhakeesoon. We are absolutely delighted that she and Hughes have agreed to contribute humour to Borderless on a monthly basis.

Poetry has an interesting collection this time with three Korean poets, mouthing values that sound like those of Tagore and Gandhi! We also have poetry on and around Gandhi. A poem in which the very well-known Nabina Das reflects on the universality of Shaheen Bagh in being a meeting ground for all believers in democracy would have almost been Gandhian in intent but is it? I leave you to decide for yourself.

Sara’s Selections for young people has a range from butterflies to Gandhi, thanks to Nidhi Mishra and Archana Mohan of Bookosmia. They gave a call for young people to write on Gandhian values too and some of the pieces have been amazing.

Our translations this month have housed a pièce de résistance — Saratchandra’s short story, ‘Abhagi’s Heaven’, translated by no less than Akademi Award winner, Aruna Chakravarti. And we have Fazal Baloch with a translated story from Balochistan. The interesting feature we have had in translations is that two poets from Nepal and Kashmir have translated their own poetry in their respective languages to English! 

I leave you all now to discover for yourselves the rest of the magic provided by writers and I thank you all contributors and readers for making Borderless a part of your lives and thoughts!

Wish you happiness and sunshine always!

Mitali Chakravarty

Borderless Journal