Borderless, May 2023

Art by Sohana Manzoor


Dancing in May? … Click here to read.


Aparichita by Tagore has been translated from Bengali as The Stranger by Aruna Chakravarti. Click here to read.

The Kabbadi Player, a short story by the late Nadir Ali, has been translated from Punjabi by Amna Ali. Click here to read.

Carnival Time by Masud Khan has been translated from the Bengali poem by Fakrul Alam. Click here to read.

Desolation, a poem by Munir Momin, has been translated from Balochi by Fazal Baloch. Click here to read.

Loneliness, a poem, has been translated from Korean to English by the poet himself, Ihlwha Choi. Click here to read

Jonmodiner Gaan or Birthday Song by Tagore has been translated by Mitali Chakravarty. Click here to read.


A conversation with Mitra Phukan about her latest novel, What Will People Say? A Novel along with a brief introduction to the book. Click here to read.

Shantanu Ray Chaudhuri converses with Prerna Gill on her poetry and her new book of poetry, Meanwhile. Click here to read.


Click on the names to read the poems

Michael Burch, Lakshmi Kannan, Ryan Quinn Flanagan, Shahriyer Hossain Shetu, Peter Cashorali, K.V. Raghupathi, Wilda Morris, Ashok Suri, William Miller, Khayma Balakrishnan, Md Mujib Ullah, Urmi Chakravorty, Sreekanth Kopuri, Rhys Hughes

Poets, Poetry & Rhys Hughes

In What I Thought I Knew About India When I was Young, Rhys Hughes travels back to his childhood with a soupçon of humour. Click here to read.

Musings/Slices from Life

A Towering Inferno, A Girl-next-door & the Big City

Ratnottama Sengupta writes of actress Jaya Bachchan recounting her first day on the sets of Satyajit Ray’s Mahanagar. Click here to read.

Kissed on Kangaroo Island

Meredith Stephens travels with her camera and her narrative to capture the flora and fauna of the island. Click here to read.

Musings of a Copywriter

In The Reader, Devraj Singh Kalsi revisits his experiences at school. Click here to read.

Notes from Japan

In Making Chop Suey in South Carolina, Suzanne Kamata recaptures a flavour from her past. Click here to read.


Rabindranath’s Monsoonal Music

Professor Fakrul Alam brings to us Tagore songs in translation and in discussion on the season that follows the scorching heat of summer months. Click here to read.

A Night Hike in Nepal

Ravi Shankar hikes uphill in Nepal on a wet and rainy night along with leeches and water buffaloes. Click here to read.

Moving Images of Tagore

Ratnottama Sengupta talks of Tagore and cinema. Click here to read.



Julian Gallo explores addiction. Click here to read.

The Whirlpool

Abdullah Rayhan takes us back to a village in Bangladesh to give a poignant story about a young boy who dreamt of hunting. Click here to read.

Look but with Love

Sreelekha Chatterjee writes a story set in the world of media. Click here to read.

The Mysterious Murder of Adamov Plut

A globe-trotting murder mystery by Paul Mirabile, a sequel to his last month’s story, ‘The Book Hunter’. Click here to read.

Book Excerpts

An excerpt from Aruna Chakravarti’s Daughter’s of Jorasanko describing the last birthday celebration of Tagore. Click here to read.

An excerpt from Bhubaneswar@75 – Perspectives, edited by Bhaskar Parichha/ Charudutta Panigrahi. Click here to read.

Book Reviews

Meenakshi Malhotra revisits Tagore’s Farewell Song, translated from Bengali by Radha Chakravarty. Click here to read.

Somdatta Mandal reviews KR Meera’s Jezebel translated from Malayalam by Abhirami Girija Sriram and K. S. Bijukumar. Click here to read.

Lakshmi Kannan has reviewed Jaydeep Sarangi’s collection of poems, letters in lower case. Click here to read.

Bhaskar Parichha reviews Journey After Midnight – A Punjabi Life: From India to Canada by Ujjal Dosanjh. Click here to read.


Click here to access the Borderless anthology, Monalisa No Longer Smiles

Click here to access Monalisa No Longer Smiles on Kindle Amazon International


Dancing in May?

Courtesy: Creative Commons
“May is pretty, May is mild,
Dances like a happy child…”

Annette Wynne (Early twentieth century)

Each month is expressed in a different form by nature in various parts of the world. In the tropics, May is sweltering and hot — peak summer. In the Southern hemisphere, it is cold. However, with climate change setting in, the patterns are changing, and the temperatures are swinging to extremes. Sometimes, one wonders if this is a reflection of human minds, which seem to swing like pendulums to create dissensions and conflicts in the current world. Nothing seems constant and the winds of change have taken on a menacing appearance. If we go by Nazrul’s outlook, destruction is a part of creating a new way of life as he contends in his poem, ‘Ring Bells of Victory’ — “Why fear destruction? It’s the gateway to creation!” Is this how we will move towards ‘dancing like a happy child’?

Mitra Phukan addresses this need for change in her novel, What Will People Say — not with intensity of Nazrul nor in poetry but with a light feathery wand, more in the tradition of Jane Austen. Her narrative reflects on change at various levels to explore the destruction of old customs giving way to new that are more accepting and kinder to inclusivity, addressing issues like widow remarriage in conservative Hindu frameworks, female fellowship and ageing as Phukan tells us in her interview. Upcoming voice, Prerna Gill, lauded by names like Arundhathi Subramaniam and Chitra Divakaruni, has also been in conversation with Shantanu Ray Choudhuri on her book of verses, Meanwhile. She has refreshing perspectives on life and literature.

Poetry in Borderless means variety and diaspora. Peter Cashorali’s poem addresses changes that quite literally upend the sky and the Earth! Michael Burch reflects on a change that continues to evolve – climate change. Ryan Quinn Flanagan explores societal irritants with irony. Seasons are explored by KV Raghupathi and Ashok Suri. Wilda Morris brings in humour with universal truths. William Miller explores crime and punishment. Lakshmi Kannan and Shahriyer Hossain Shetu weave words around mythical lore. We have passionate poetry from Md Mujib Ullah and Urmi Chakravorty. It is difficult to go into each poem with their diverse colours but Rhys Hughes has brought in wry humour with his long poem on eighteen goblins… or is the count nineteen? In his column, Hughes has dwelt on tall tales he heard about India during his childhood in a light tone, stories that sound truly fantastic…

Devraj Singh Kalsi has written a nostalgic piece that hovers between irony and perhaps, a reformatory urge… I am not quite sure, but it is as enjoyable and compelling as Meredith Stephen’s narrative on her conservation efforts in Kangaroo Island in the Southern hemisphere and fantastic animals she meets, livened further by her photography. Ravi Shankar talks of his night hikes in the Northern hemisphere, more accurately, in the Himalayas. While trekking at night seems a risky task, trying to recreate dishes from the past is no less daunting, as Suzanne Kamata tells us in her Notes from Japan.

May hosts the birthday of a number of greats, including Tagore and Satyajit Ray. Ratnottama Sengupta’s piece on Ray’s birth anniversary celebrations with actress Jaya Bachchan recounting her experience while working for Ray in Mahanagar (Big City), a film that has been restored and was part of celebrations for the filmmaker’s 102nd Birth anniversary captures the nostalgia of a famous actress on the greatest filmmakers of our times. She has also given us an essay on Tagore and cinema in memory of the great soul, who was just sixty years older to Ray and impacted the filmmaker too. Ray had a year-long sojourn in Santiniketan during his youth.

Eulogising Rabindrasangeet and its lyrics is an essay by Professor Fakrul Alam on Tagore. Professor Alam has translated number of his songs for the essay as he has, a powerful poem from Bengali by Masud Khan. A transcreation of Tagore’s first birthday poem , a wonderful translation of Balochi poetry by Fazal Baloch of Munir Momin’s verses, another one from Korean by Ihlwha Choi rounds up the translated poetry in this edition. Stories that reach out with their poignant telling include Nadir Ali’s narrative, translated from Punjabi by his daughter, Amna Ali, and Aruna Chakravarti’s translation of a short story by Tagore. We have more stories from around the world with Julian Gallo exploring addiction, Abdullah Rayhan with a poignant narrative from Bangladesh, Sreelekha Chatterjee with a short funny tale and Paul Mirabile exploring the supernatural and horror, a sequel to ‘The Book Hunter‘, published in the April issue.

All the genres we host seem to be topped with a sprinkling of pieces on Tagore as this is his birth month. A book excerpt from Chakravarti’s Daughters of Jorasanko narrates her well-researched version of Tagore’s last birthday celebration and carries her translation of the last birthday song by the giant of Bengali literature. The other book excerpt is from Bhubaneswar@75 – Perspectives, edited by Bhaskar Parichha/ Charudutta Panigrahi. Parichha has also reviewed Journey After Midnight – A Punjabi Life: From India to Canada by Ujjal Dosanjh, a book that starts in pre-independent India and travels with the writer to Canada via UK. Again to commemorate the maestro’s birth anniversary, Meenakshi Malhotra has revisited Radha Chakravarty’s translation of Tagore’s Farewell Song. Somdatta Mandal has critiqued KR Meera’s Jezebeltranslated from Malayalam by Abhirami Girija Sriram and K. S. Bijukuma. Lakshmi Kannan has introduced to us Jaydeep Sarangi’s collection of poems, letters in lower case.

There are pieces that still reach out to be mentioned. Do visit our content page for May. I would like to thank Sohana Manzoor for her fantastic artwork and continued editorial support for the Tagore translations and the whole team for helping me put together this issue. Thank you. A huge thanks to our loyal readers and contributors who continue to bring in vibrant content, photography and artwork. Without you all, we would not be where we are today.

Wish you a lovely month.

Mitali Chakravarty


The Whirlpool

By Abdullah Rayhan

The bird just died in his hand, a brown bird with a yellow beak. It didn’t bleed, but its senses were silent beneath the greenish-dark eyelids. The tiny heart within its chest didn’t beat anymore. “What have I done!” thought Manik.

He put the slingshot back into his torn pocket and tenderly held the dead shalik[1] in his sunburnt arms. Something inside his chest thumped heavily as if a mad giant was scampering within him. A gloomy whirlpool of clouded sorrow confused Manik. Where did his happiness go?

Two months ago, when his elder brother Ratan crafted this slingshot for him, Manik started to dream of hunting a bird with it. As Ratan cut the stick and attached the elastic to the leather pad, Manik crafted a colourful tapestry in his mind. Thousands of times, he imagined the bright, flamboyant vision of shooting birds with pebbles and capturing them once they had fallen to the ground. His mind would light up at the thought of it all.

But after the slingshot was built, and Manik threw his first shot with it, he realized it wouldn’t be as easy as he assumed. He nagged his brother to teach him how to shoot perfectly, but Ratan got irritated.

“Isn’t it enough that I made this slingshot for you? Don’t disturb me, or I will break it apart”. Ratan had yelled.

However, this didn’t deter Manik. He went on exploring his village, looking for a vulnerable bird. He would have a handful of tiny pebbles in the pocket of his dirty khakis. Their weight would weigh down his pants a little, and he would pull it up repeatedly.

In his own mind, Manik was a hunter. His one and only goal was to hunt down a bird. The moment the bird tumbled, Manik would cage it in his fists and put it inside the small mosquito net he used to sleep in when he was an infant. Everything was arranged. He even had his mother mend the hole in the net. Now there wouldn’t be any way for the bird to escape!

But where was the bird? That’s what Manik tried to hunt all day long.

He would wake up before the first ray of the sun blanketed their village because that’s when birds were abundant. Though his mother would scold him, he didn’t care much.

His hunt would begin near the bank of the canal. On either side of the stream, there were numerous nests of shalik, doves, and sparrows. Manik could never pinpoint the location of the nests, but he was aware of where the birds lived.

Right beside the canal, he would walk on the dewy grass and collect tiny stones for the day. While collecting the pebbles, he would sling some if he saw any bird, and obviously, he missed every time. His stone collection continued until the sun rose higher in the horizon. Then he would run around the village. Occasionally to spot a prey, he would tiptoe quietly and cautiously.

He would see hundreds of birds sitting here and there. But Maniks’ amateur hands would miss them by a yard, and the bird would fly away at the sound of the slingshot. After a week or two of this routine, almost all the birds were familiar with the little hunter who had a bad target and pulled up his pants every now and then. Thus, Manik had a hard time finding any prey.

He would sit silently in the bushes for hours and hours, waiting for at least a sparrow to show up. But nothing did. Every bird was aware of Manik now. The barber told Manik that his attempts had scared off all the feathered friends.

Just like every year, on the carpet of shadows beside the bamboo forest, the barber was shaving Maniks’ hair for the summer.

The barber said mockingly, “How is the hunting going?” while running the blade on his half shaven head.

Manik sat on a high stool with his feet dangling in the air, “There aren’t any bird around. I wonder why!” A tone of disappointment vibrated in his words.

“Well, probably they are scared because they all know your intention.” The barber said, not stopping the razor.

“So, what should I do?” Manik asked with genuine concern.

“You can try looking for birds in my village.”

“Will you take me?” Manik said, excitedly turning his face toward the barber who was still shaving the back part. This sudden jerk sliced a thin, long cut on Manik’s bald head. Blood began to slowly stream out of the fresh wound.

Ehhe[2]! I asked you to sit still. Look what happened.” The barber washed Manik’s head and finished the rest of the job irritated. He was annoyed by the sudden movement.

But, even with a cut on his head, Manik was delighted by the thought of exploring a new territory. The next day he followed the barber. It was noon when Manik reached the new village.

The new village was just like his native one. The same trees, same odour of bamboo, wet mud, and the stench of cow dung were an imitation of his home. There were a lot of birds here too. The whisper of their fluttering wings expanded a new sky of hope in Manik. “I will catch one for sure,” he thought as he started on his hunting mission.

After missing a few, Manik found a shalik sitting on a bamboo fence. Manik was stealthy this time. He slowly approached a hedge near his target. From behind the bush, Manik stared at the bird for a while, memorising its position. Then he slowly grabbed his slingshot, drew out a good, round stone from his pocket, and set it on the leather pad properly. Holding the handle with a steady grip, he pulled the elastic with all his might to the back of his ear. The target was fixed on the bird.


A tiny stone ran into a tiny bird. The prey fell on the ground and twitched its thin yellow feet for a few seconds. And then, the Shalik was still.

Maniks’ heart immediately filled up with victorious ecstasy. He couldn’t believe he had finally hit a bird. Holding on to the slingshot, he ran to his prize and picked it up.

But the smile faded away from his face in an instant. He realised that the bird had died. The profound innocence that slept inside him suddenly woke and stared at the dead life with melancholic eyes.

The brown Shalik lay like cold silence in his clutch. Its feathers dampened as Maniks’ tears fell on them. Though weeping like a beaten child, Manik didn’t know why he was crying. Something heavy was crumbling inside of him. His heart thumped loudly under his dust-covered chest.

Other birds gathered around and watched a small bald boy, wearing loose pants and torn shirt, digging a small hole in the ground with his bare hand. The sadness in his eyes echoed the vibration of his cracked heart. A small stream of thick, transparent mucus drooled down his nose, and he kept sucking it back as he patted the ground. When the hole was deep enough, the boy gently laid the Shalik to rest and then spread the loose soil all over the dead bird. A hefty cloud continued to blur his sight while a heart-wrenching torment swarmed inside him. He felt he was crumbling.


[1] Common mynah

[2] An exclamation of regret

Abdullah Rayhan is an English literature student who loves to read novels and write stories about simple and insignificant aspects of life.



Click here to access the Borderless anthology, Monalisa No Longer Smiles

Click here to access Monalisa No Longer Smiles on Kindle Amazon International