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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

Categories
Editorial

Dreams That Flow…

‘We are such stuff as dreams are made on…’

Shakespeare, Tempest, Act 4, Sc 1

Long ago, I had a dream… a dream where I was the sole player.

The dream changed to become more inclusive with the passage of time. It moved to create a new reality which was more fascinating than any other I could imagine. And you have all become a part of that reality for me — even though we all remain connected only in the virtual world — in a universe that links us seamlessly — in the reality created by Borderless Journal. Borderless has woven narratives together from all corners of the world and recorded a time which is in itself unique, not just because all time is, as Eliot says, unredeemable but also because the last six months have been one of an unmitigated battle to survive as a species against a virus that not only created a pandemic but mutates to infect more of mankind.

Today Borderless Journal completes six months of virtual existence. We started our journey on March 14, 2020, when the coronal heat had just started to scorch more of mankind. We started the journal with the hope of providing a space that would rise above all borders of politics, faith business to create a region to help move towards a positive mindset, above marginalised or divisive thought processes. We did not think of being unified by a pandemic! But by ideas.

And so many ideas were generated by writers through this year of travail for humankind, some related to the pandemic and some on other issues. Beautiful pieces emerged and helped Borderless become everyone’s journal — just as we all had dreamt.

When Borderless turned three months, we announced it would be a monthly. At six months, I want to add more to the journal by announcing two columnists — skilled acclaimed writers who have agreed to contribute on a monthly basis. Sunil Sharma starts a fiction column with us with a gripping story set in Mumbai — a narrative that leads you to uncover strange unknown secrets. Devraj Singh Kalsi starts a musing column with us with a funny nostalgic telling about his encounter with snakes and their charmers in his own home, which covers the theme I had set for this month — nostalgia and humour. Do not miss out on our two columnists this month.

The other story that will be published on a monthly basis are the Ghumi stories. Ghumi is an imaginary place created by the author, Nabanita Sengupta. She has six of them and each month, you can look forward to one. This month she shares with us a piece of nostalgia from 1984 — the riots around the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Another story by Bhavana Kunkalikar, an upcoming writer, covers a darker bit of history set during the 2008 terror attack at Mumbai. A senior journalist, Shevlin Sebastian, gives us another gripping read against violent and unsympathetic nature — a powerful read that assures if man can survive such violence, the virulence of the pandemic is just another episode in human history. Through all these stories we see the ascendancy of the human spirit which helps mankind cope with distress.

We have a lighter flavourful, nostalgic piece by Debraj Mookerjee on his trips into rural Bengal and another on the syncretic lore of Lucknow, the Lucknawi tehzeeb, brought to us by the founder of Bookosmia, Nidhi Mishra. And we have her and Archana Mohan to thank for not just Sara’s Selections but another thought generating musing by fifteen-year-old Shivam who concludes that “we all have to live together and in harmony”, inspiring divisive adults to unite under the banner of humankind. Bookosmia deserves kudos for giving us a huge access to the magical and imaginative kingdom of youngsters, which often has more wisdom than the adult realm. In our urge to simplify by classification, we forget that is pretty much what the Big Endians and Little Endians did in Gulliver’s Travels.

We have poetry from different parts of the world that is intense, some nostalgic, humorous and even, limericks. And we have our first poem from Korea by Dr Wansoo Kim, overriding the barriers that split the country in two after the second World War along the 38th parallel, pretty much around the time the Indian Subcontinent was split too. In Korea’s case it was ideologies based on ‘isms’ and in India’s case it was ‘religion’.

That Dustin Pickering brought out some of our pieces in his esteemed quarterly, Harbinger Asylum, in hard copy, is something that I feel very grateful for. I hope you have all got your copies of the quarterly. He has also generously contributed a literary essay trying to convince all of us that James Joyce is the writer of the hour. And we have Sekhar Banerjee talking of Lawrence’s utopia, Rananim – an interesting read, both essayists pleading for two different schools of thought being perfect for comprehending this age of dissonance! Interestingly Lawrence was born on 9/11, the day the New York towers tumbled taking millions of victims’ lives in a horrific , devastating attack of terror. While pieces touched on various dark issues even with the theme of nostalgia, none touched on this historic act of annihilation which changed the way we live and think. I wonder why? And we have another interesting essay on cozy novels by freelancer Soma Das, who finds these to be the most cathartic reads during the pandemic. An interesting bundle of essays!

This month we also carry an interview with the founder of an Albanian journal that tries to create a borderless world through poetry, Atunis Galaxy Poetry. The founder is none other than the gifted and established litterateur, Agron Shele, who kindly gave us some time.

Book reviews by Bhaskar Parichha, Meenakshi Malhotra, Rakhi Dalal and translations from various languages — Bengali, Marathi and Nepali — add to the colours of our oeuvre. We have a translation of a poignant Bengali story by the former Art’s Editor of The Times of India, Ratnottama Sengupta. I would list this one too as a must read.

There is always the mysterious more that I leave unmentioned to goad you on to explore our pages further. For, it is ultimately why we write — to be read. That is why I can never thank our readers enough for patronising us. I hope you all continue to find our journal interesting and gripping. Write to us if you feel we need to something different.

Have a fabulous journey through the September issue of Borderless Journal!

Thank you all for being a part of this fabulous dream.

Happiness and sunshine to all of you!

Mitali Chakravarty

Categories
Editorial

Changes & Laughter

“Come, faeries, take me out of this dull house!

Let me have all the freedom I have lost…”

—William Butler Yeats, The Land of Heart’s Desire, 1894

Words from more than a century old play which could well voice the mood of 2020, the year that will go down in history as of a pandemic that not only connected the world but demanded a change in our way of life, perhaps even suggesting we evolve a new way of living. August is also always a happening month, heralding, at times, demanding changes — of season, of historic events that altered our way of life and thought. We tried to capture a whiff of this spirit in this month’s issue of Borderless Journal along with humour, another mood-changing, fay figment that breathes hope.

We start with the commemoration of an event which lasted a short time but changed the world forever — the seventy fifth anniversary of the Nuclear holocaust that ripped through the twentieth century, on 6th August 1945 at Hiroshima, Japan. It ended the Second World War and a way of life. The impact continues to stagger as we read in the interview with Kathleen Burkinshaw, the author of The Last Cherry Blossom and a survivor’s or hibakusha’s daughter. Archana Mohan reviewed her book for us. The book focuses on the story of Burkinshaw’s mother before and after the bomb blast. When I think of the staggered suffering of the survivors of the holocaust, the subsequent generations and the impact of that bomb on the world, I wonder if the coronal virus will change humanity and our world order in the same way. After all Bill Gates did say that future wars will not be with arms but against biological deviations.

The next and the last nuclear explosion during a war rocked Nagasaki three days later. On that date, 9 th August, two decades down the line, was born a nation that has become the gateway of all Asia to the rest of the world, Singapore. Celebrating Singapore’s 54 th birthday, Kaiyi Tan, a local author of dark fiction, takes us on a scintillating journey in quest of a new world beyond the reaches of a morose pandemic. Singapore, like America, gained its strength from immigrants. We have a thought-provoking piece from Pakistani immigrant author, Aysha Baqir. As she muses over this event , she gives a fleeting wistful glance towards another Independence Day on 14 th August, 1947, that of her home country, Pakistan, which was given a free reign just before India was born on 15 th August with a soulful, famous speech by the first Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, ‘Tryst with Destiny’ . In that speech, he said: “…A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to new, when an age ends …” Are we at a similar point in history now — one wonders!

To jubilate India’s 74th Independence Day, we have a musing from Nishi Pulugurtha who pensively glances at present day India to pause and ponder over the future of the children growing up in these hard times. We have poetry around this, hovering around themes of war, refugees, partition and life as it is in Kashmir and Kolkata by established writers like Paresh Tiwari, Laksmisree Banerjee, Mosarrap Khan, Gopal Lahiri and youngster Ahmed Rayees.

From history, we move to humour, a much-desired commodity in the current cacophony of darkness. We start with fun poetry by Vatsala Radhakeesoon, Santosh Bakaya, Aditya Shankar, Dustin Pickering, Sunil Sharma and many more; move on to limericks, humorous stories and musings by a number of writers, including surprises from Sohana Manzoor and Devraj Singh Kalsi.

Then we have our usual variety of reviews, poetry and stories. We carry the protest poetry of Melissa Chappell which she wrote after protesting what she felt was flawed and wrong. Hat’s off to her courage — a true protest poet!

On our pages also is Meenakshi Malhotra’s review of a book which had been on the top ten of the best seller lists for ten weeks. Avik Chanda, the author of this historical narrative — Dara Shukoh: The Man who Would be King, was kind enough to do an essay for us rounding up the current outlook for jobs in India. We also had more essays by Dustin Pickering and Bhaskar Parichha.

Bookosmia, Nidhi Mishra and Archana Mohan have again kindly hosted a lovely young people’s selection for us as usual. For all the contributors I have mentioned, so many remain unnamed in my inadequate listing here. We have a fabulous collection awaiting readers, who are indispensable to our survival.

I would like to offer them a buffet of laughter and tears in Borderless Journal. A mixed oeuvre awaits their palate.

Best wishes,

Mitali Chakravarty,

Borderless Journal

Categories
Editorial

A Paean for Equity

Hello World!

Borderless Journal is back with its first monthly edition. It has more than fifty posts for you to enjoy from all over the world and a children’s section selected by Ms Sara’s creators. Filled with poetry, stories, musings, interviews, reviews and essays, it has something for everyone to savour.

We have to thank Dustin Pickering on our editorial board for giving contributors space in his esteemed hard copy quarterly, Harbinger Asylum. And Nidhi Mishra and Archana Mohan of Bookosmia for giving us lovely reads from Ms Sara’s friends in our young people’s selections. We have an interview with them on our pages to explain what their company, Bookosmia, is all about. Another interview that will be of interest to all of you is with Binu Mathews of Countercurrents.org, an online presence which garners one million views a month! His publication explores all new perspectives and hosts Borderless Journal’s articles every now and then. Countercurrents.org voices protests for a more equitable, more humanitarian world like we do at Borderless Journal.

In quest of a better world, Aysha Baqir, a novelist and activist, brings out the plight of a young girl in her letter to Zohra, an eight-year-old domestic worker who was beaten to death in Pakistan on May 31st, 2020. There has been no concerted movement to resolve the plight of child labour the way there has been of the expanding movement to end differences in skin colour which are just like the colours in nature. An inability to comprehend that, never ceases to amaze me. Ratnottama Sengupta, an eminent senior journalist, has highlighted through her essay, ‘Wisdom of the Wild’, that animals care for their youngsters, even if the fledglings belong to a different species. But looking at Zohra’s case study, one wonders if humans are doing the same?

Echoing the plight of children in a world ravaged with distorted values based on ‘gentility’ and wealth and giving it historicity is an essay by academic Sohana Manzoor, on children in Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. Reading the two pieces one after another, one is left wondering how much we have reformed the social ills that existed in the Victorian era. In Borderless, we look at trends in human development. Have we really gone up the ladder of change towards a better world which will be seamless and borderless in its intent, where being majority or minority does not lead to violence, ostracisation and victimisation?

It is also Emily Bronte’s birth anniversary on July 31st. We like to commemorate great authors and major events on our pages. Another major event we covered is the American Independence Day celebration on July 4th, 2020. A powerful essay by Dustin Pickering that talks of the American dream as opposed to the American reality today. One can glimpse more of the issues faced by the human race in an interesting story by Sunil Sharma named after a great in literature, Baudelaire. We have a lively rounding up of the corona situation in Nishi Pulugurtha’s roundup which gives us an unusual glimpse of the value given to divine intervention in the backwaters of Bengal with the evolution of a Corona puja.

An academic and gender studies researcher, Meenakshi Malhotra, has looked into why we have a nomenclature that draws up a border around writings by women. We have reviews by Bhaskar Parichcha, Gopal Lahiri, Rakhi Dalal and Debraj Mukherjee on recently released books. Devraj Singh Kalsi continues with his distinctive narratives on authors who feel unknown. Poetry with both major names and newcomers, musings, essays, stories liven the pages of this journal that unites with its ideas and ideals across all borders.

I could go on describing each individual piece for the joy it has been in reading and posting them for all of our wonderful readers. Though we have many more stories, translations, essays and poems from more than a dozen countries and covering diverse issues, I will leave you to enjoy our fare rather than describe each piece individually. Thank you all for giving me the time to sort and organise our fare. Wish you a wonderful read till next month, when I hope we can continue to celebrate our hope for a better world with laughter and sunshine.

Best wishes,

Mitali Chakravarty

Founding Editor, Borderless Journal

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Editorial

In Search of Human Excellence

Good morning world! 

Borderless Journal today completes three full months of its virtual existence and will take a plunge towards a refreshed image. We hope to be a monthly from now on to serve you better, to do more justice to our submissions which continue to be overwhelming in numbers.

Meanwhile, in our pages, we have tried to connect mankind with ideas and thoughts that move away from borders drawn to divide humans — we want a world that transcends race, colour, creed or nationality. The only thing we look for is connectivity and coherence. We want to see the best in humans, what makes us strong and what carries us forward into a world that is not fragmented by fears, anger, hatred and marginalised thoughts.

Marginalisation also creates borders because there are humans within the border who for some reason are seen as different from humans without the border. I am not thinking of equality but of equity, where we can all feel we have been treated with justice. 

These few months we had writing not just on COVID 19, lockdowns, quarantines and opening of lockdowns, but also stories of major natural calamities like the Amphan, race riots like that of Floyd’s and more. Perhaps, the latest riots in America, will make us all realise that in every country, every culture, we have our own Floyds. And to acknowledge that we are of the same flesh and blood as the marginalised or underprivileged masses is a mammoth task for all mankind. We need to rise above things that divide and fill the world with love, kindness and tolerance.

Mark Twain in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889) has the protagonist who travels back in time to Camelot observe prisoners from the underprivileged masses waiting to be sentenced and he thinks:” …they are white Indians.” Indians, meaning the Red Indians who had their housing and way of life shrunk into reserves in the same year in Minnesota the book was published — 1889. In 1887, their land had been taken away by the Dawes Act signed by the US President Cleveland. Was it just — taking away the land in which they had lived for centuries? Was it just to hate someone for having a different culture or a different way of life anywhere in the world at any point in history? Was it just to have slaves? Was it just to kill Floyd? Was it just to kill in the name of creed, or on the basis of what people eat? Was it just to give people no work, no food and no transport and have them walk till they dropped dead?

To me, all these are Floyds of the modern-day world, people killed in mob violence or for following different food habits, lifestyles, cultures or beliefs. History speaks only the truth. It is heartless and as Churchill said, “History is written by the victors.” And the victors to perpetrate their hegemony, create margins for those they dominate — the ruled become the marginalised and non-marginalised as that makes it easy for power brokers to fan differences to maintain their own strength. In the colonial period, they called it divide and rule.

Toni Morrison, another lady with a great deal of wisdom, said in an interview, “Race is a construct, a social construct.” History, Yuval Noah Harari, and more have shown this assertion by Morrison to be a fact. All of these are man-made constructs. 

I have a very basic question: if we can accept the different colours in nature, why can we not find it in our hearts to accept differences not only of skin colour but of beliefs, of creeds and of food habits?  These are questions that Borderless seeks to explore, to find the weaves that connect mankind to help move towards a richer tapestry of humanity. This is just the start of the journey and we can all make it together.

Sara’s Selections in the loving nurture of Bookosmia hopes to integrate these larger values into the younger generation. 

Let us all lead by example with exemplary writing, with exemplary choice of subjects and with exemplary writing skills. We are open to comments and feedback by readers who are as necessary to the existence of writers and journals as air to breathe and live.

Welcome to an exploration of a world beyond borders! 

Mitali Chakravarty

Founding Editor,

Borderless Journal

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Editorial

As Time Flies…

Hello World!

And what a lovely and magical life it is despite the COVID 19 — which I am sure we will battle, even if the path seems long. Meanwhile, we remain connected in this virtual world of friendship, harmony and giving!

We completed another month! And what a month it has been — the two greatest bards celebrated their birthdays — Shakespeare and Tagore. We carried an essay on one and a discussion between two greats of modern Indian literature on the other! Other than that, more essays, stories, musings, translations and poetry took our readers globe-trotting. We are doing our best to seamlessly create a world of ideas in which we can drift effortlessly and find a whole new world where we can all meet to have exchanges beyond borders drawn by the exigencies of history, politics, economics, greed and more.

Writers are doing such a wonderful job of connecting us with similar concerns worldwide. Our experiences with COVID 19 and quarantine actually unite us in a large way as humans. One of our story writers has plucked the heart strings of readers across oceans on distant lands and received many encomiums for it. We all seem to be getting more linked by the pandemic caused by the corona virus, giving all of us time to pause and reflect on the commonality of human sufferings, as shown by the narratives from different parts of the world in the journal.

We continue to be fortunate to find many of our pieces a second home in Countercurrents.org. I am also happy to announce we have been listed again as one of the top places for submissions in an Indian site this time.

We have more happening here with all the action from our dynamic editorial board. Dustin Pickering, the editor-in-chief of Harbinger Asylum, on our editorial board, has suggested a promotion for us in his quarterly this July. So, some of our authors will be republished in hard copy from USA in the summer edition of Harbinger Asylum.

We are also starting a young persons’ section from the end of this month. This will be organised by Bookosmia, a children’s publisher. The founder of this popular children’s publishing concern, Nidhi Mishra, also on our editorial board, will be giving us the best from her blog for youngsters and we will exhibit it in our new section called Sara’s Selection.

We want this to be a family friendly journal and to nurture young talents along with established writers. You can check our submissions if you want to publish in the young person’s section, which will cater to aspiring writers under eighteen. We have an email — sara@bookosmia.com – which will take you straight to Bookosmia and the submission of the under-eighteen’s section of both BookOsmia and ours. We will be publishing only a few selected pieces from their blog and others could just be featured in Bookosmia, the blog run by the publisher.

We welcome children from all over the world to write in to Sara. The tie has been announced by Bookosmia in The Hindu, a well-known and established newspaper in India. I am attaching a link to the news below*.

We are overwhelmed with support from all of you and are looking into the periodicity of the Borderless Journal and will be announcing more changes next month on June 14th.

As we move forward in the spirit of Ubuntu or “oneness to humanity”, towards a world filled with love and kindness, where vibrancy and positivity can wash away darkness and hatred, where the freedom of speech does not descend to narrow abuse and anger, marginalisation and boundaries, I welcome you all to write in to me if you feel we need to expand our horizons further.

As I bid you adieu for another month, I hope you will keep reading our journal and writing for us.

Best wishes,

Happiness and Peace,

Mitali Chakravarty, Founding Editor, Borderless Journal.

*Click here to read about Bookosmia and our plans in this report in The Hindu.

Categories
Editorial

Let’s Celebrate in the Spirit of Ubuntu

The date Borderless Journal completes its first month, 14th April, coincides with Poila Baisakh, or the first day of the Bengali new year, the Tamil New year, Sinhalese and Nepali New year, the second day of Songkran, the Thai new year (April 13- 15), the start of Bohag Bihu (an Assamese festival commemorating harvest and the new year, April 14 to 20), the second day of the Indian new year, Baisakhi. Let us celebrate along with the journal’s first month birthday this profusion of festivals, which would have been big with celebration for many but shrinks to online greetings because of the pandemic. Hey, did I use the word ‘shrink’? It actually grows bigger because there are so many more of us celebrating the occasion together in a virtual world.

The good news is though the pandemic continues to infect the globe, some areas look hopeful with the curve flattening. The way this virus has unified mankind is unprecedented. Bill Gates has acknowledged this in an interview with CNBC by just mentioning 7 billion doses of the vaccine… thus gathering all mankind into one-fold, beyond all boundaries. It was wonderful to have a world thought leader reach out to the whole humanity, even if for a moment — the thought of all of us being considered as part of an aggregate made for a feeling of inclusion.

This is the inclusivity that one hopes to highlight in Borderless Journal.

Today, borderlessjournal.com completes a month of its existence in our virtual world connecting all of us beyond all borders. Hopefully, it will be a virtual journal for all seven billion people that populate this wonderful green planet we call the Earth. We have travelled with writers to various parts of the world — many still remain unexplored. When some of the contributors ask me, which country does the journal belong to — I tell them — we are where you are. When astronauts watch the Earth from outer space, what do they see? What do clouds see?

The first month of the journal has been promising with many writers sharing their narratives — poetry, essays, short stories and musings. Readers have come back to us with wonderful feedback. I hope you will keep visiting us. Our editorial board has been active sending writers and their own writing too. They are all fabulous writers much like all of you. The resultant effect is Countercurrents.org has offered content sharing — where we exchange content. A number of our essays and musings have been republished in Countercurrents.org. A couple of articles have been quoted, one was in an Urdu journal with credits acknowledged to Borderless. One of our articles was also republished in another online journal with an acknowledgement to us. We also discovered our name in a Canadian listing (Mississauga Writers’s Group) for submissions — a pleasant surprise. We are crossing borders without a passport!

We have had a good start — perhaps you can call it a beginner’s luck, or will it continue?

That depends on all of you! Because this journal is yours, ours and belongs to everyone. I wish, I dream of 7.8 billion humans living in equity with access to food, potable water, housing, education and internet — reading and contributing to Borderless Journal in the spirit of “oneness to humanity” or ubuntu.

Let’s make it happen!

Mitali Chakravarty

Founding Editor, borderlessjournal.com

Categories
Editorial

Hello World!

Welcome to Borderless — a journal that hopes to role out an invitation to all those who are willing to venture into the vastness of wonders, ideas and creativity. It seeks out thoughts that can soar above borders not just like birds but also like clouds. Clouds waft without pausing at differences, join together and bring water to the parched lands across all terrains as do writers and readers who look beyond differences. The writing will be like raindrops that create a downpour of love, tolerance, kindness, wit and humour. With a little soupçon of such values, we hope to unite into a world that can override differences, hatred, angst, violence and COVID-19. 

In these pages, we welcome hope for a future that makes us happy; we welcome all writers of all ages to come and revel in words and ideas and we invite readers to come and read and give us comments and write to us about what they would like to read at editor@borderlessjournal.com.  They are also welcome to try their hands at writing. In a world forced to segregate for the sake of survival, this is a way to connect with ideas. 

We start the journal with some input from the team from the editorial board, constituting a few writers who are outstanding and eminent in their own areas. You can read about the team in ‘About Us’ and savour some of their work under the different subheads: essays, reviews, stories and poetry. 

Dustin Pickering, somewhat of a rebel poet, a Pushcart nominee and a brilliant essayist, columnist and publisher, has contributed a scholarly essay on ‘Poets as Warriors’ — I love the idea even though I differ with some of his surmises. Maybe a war of words can convince people eventually that war with weapons is not the best way to maintain peace. Meenakshi Malhotra, a specialist in gender studies, bring us an essay on whether solidarity between women is possible. What do you think?

Namrata, a writer who hides behind fuchsia curtains and spills out lovely reviews, has a tempting review on a book edited by Sarita Jenamani and Aftab Husian — Silences between the Notes. Curious? Read and find out.

Sarita Jenamani, the PEN Austria general secretary, herself has contributed poetry — like the tinkling of crystal chandeliers evoking an evening in Vienna where she lives. Sohana Manzoor, the literature page editor in Daily Star, Bangladesh, has contributed a story, the title of which brings a smile — ‘Parul and The Potato Prince’ — reminded me a little of an O’ Henry in a Bangladeshi setting! 

Nidhi Mishra, a successful publisher of children’s stories, rolled out a fabulous piece on corona that hovers between an essay and a slice of life. It is in a grey zone — and that is why there is a new name for it — Musings. In Musings, you will also find Debraj, a popular columnist and an associate professor in Delhi University, with an unusual piece — again hovering between multiple genres. That is partly also what we hope do in Borderless, we explore genres and non-genre based writing to create new trends. 

Read it all and tell us what you think.

I look forward to Borderless as ‘your’ journal — a site that hosts contributions and looks for readership from all of you! 

Thank you all for your goodwill and friendship. 

Welcome again to a world without borders!

Mitali Chakravarty