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Contents

Borderless January, 2022

Painting by Sohana Manzoor

Editorial

Elephants & Laughter… Click here to read.

Interviews

Keith Lyons introduces us to Kenny Peavy, an author, adventurer, educator and wilderness first-aider who has travelled far and wide and wishes everyone could connect with the natural world right outside their door. Click here to read.

In Rhys Hughes Unbounded, Hughes, an author and adventurer, tells us about his inclination for comedies. Click here to read

Translations

Professor Fakrul Alam translates If Life were Eternal by Jibananada Das from Bengali. Click here to read.

Ratnottama Sengupta translates Bengali poet Michael Madhusudan Dutt’s Bijoya Doushami. Click here to read.

Korean poet Ihlwha Choi translates his own poem, Sometimes Losing is Winning, from Korean. Click here to read.

Give Me A Rag, Please:A short story by Nabendu Ghosh, translated by Ratnottama Sengupta, set in the 1943 Bengal Famine, which reflects on man’s basic needs. Click here to read.

On This Auspicious Day is a translation of a Tagore’s song, Aaji Shubhodine Pitaar Bhabone, from Bengali by Mitali Chakravarty. Click here to read.

Poetry

Click on the names to read

Rhys Hughes, Ryan Quinn Flanagan, Anasuya Bhar, Jay Nicholls, Anuradha Vijayakrishnan, Vernon Daim, Mathangi Sunderrajan, William Miller, Syam Sudhakar, Mike Smith, Pramod Rastogi, Ivan Peledov, Subzar Ahmed, Michael R Burch

Nature’s Musings

In Best Friends, Penny Wilkes takes us for a photographic treat. Click here to read.

Poets, Poetry & Rhys Hughes

In Making Something of Nothing…, Rhys Hughes explores sources of inspirations with a dollop of humour. Click here to read.

Musings/Slices from Life

Wooing Children to School

Munaj Gul writes of how volunteers are engaged in wooing children from poverty stricken backgrounds to school in Turbat, Balochistan. Click here to read.

Historical Accuracy

Ravibala Shenoy ponders over various interpretations of the past in media and through social media. Click here to read.

The Ocean & Me

Meredith Stephens writes of her sailing adventures in South Australia. Click here to read.

Crotons

Kavya RK finds her fascination for plants flourish in the pandemic. Click here to read.

The Great Freeze

P Ravi Shankar trots through winters in different parts of the globe. Click here to read.

Two Birds

Ratnottama Sengupta muses as she translates a Tagore’s song. Click here to read.

Musings of a Copywriter

In The New Year’s Boon, Devraj Singh gives a glimpse into the projection of a new normal created by God. Click here to read.

Essays

Dramatising an Evolving Consciousness: Theatre with Nithari’s Children

Sanjay Kumar gives us a glimpse of how theatre has been used to transcend trauma and create bridges. Click here to read.

Potable Water Crisis & the Sunderbans

Camellia Biswas, a visitor to Sunderbans during the cyclone Alia, turns environmentalist and writes about the potable water issue faced by locals. Click here to read.

The Malodorous Mountain: A Contemporary Folklore

Sayantan Sur looks into environmental hazards due to shoddy garbage disposal. Click here to read.

Where Sands Drift Back in Time…

Shernaz Wadia explores Western Australia. Click here to read.

The Observant Immigrant

In The Changing Faces of the Family, Candice Louisa Daquin explores the trends in what is seen as a family now. Click here to read.

Bhaskar’s Corner

In Fakir Mohan: A Tribute, Bhaskar Parichha introduces us to Fakir Mohan Senapati, the writer he considers the greatest in Odia literature. Click here to read.

Stories

Folklore from Balochistan: The Pearl

Balochi folktales woven into a story and reinvented by Fazal Baloch highlighting the wisdom of a woman. Click here to read.

The American Wonder

Steve Ogah takes us to a village in Nigeria. Click here to read.

The Boy

Neilay Khasnabish shares a story on migrant labours with a twist. Click here to read.

Stranger than Fiction

Sushant Thapa writes of real life in Nepal, which at times is stranger than fiction. Click here to read.

The Solace

Candice Louisa Daquin takes us on a poignant story of longing. Click here to read.

The Doll

Sohana Manzoor tells a story around the awakening of a young woman. Click here to read.

Among Our PeopleDevraj Singh Kalsi gives a fictitious account of a common man’s quest for security in a country that is one of the world’s largest democracy. Click here to read.

Book Excerpts

An excerpt from Shazi Zaman’s Akbar: A Novel of History detailing his interactions with Surdas and Braj. Click here to read.

Excerpts from A Glimpse Into My Country, An Anthology of International Short Stories edited by Andrée Roby & Dr Sangita Swechcha. Click here to read.

Book Reviews

Meenakshi Malhotra reviews Somdatta Mandal’s translation of A Bengali Lady in England by Krishnabhabini Das (1885). Click here to read.

Gracy Samjetsabam reviews Anuradha Kumar’s The Hottest Summer in Years. Click here to read.

Rakhi Dalal reviews Selma Carvalho’s Sisterhood of Swans. Click here to read.

Bhaskar Parichha reviews Amit Ranjan’s John Lang; Wanderer of Hindoostan; Slanderer in Hindoostanee; Lawyer for the Ranee. Click here to read.

Categories
Editorial

Elephants & Laughter

Run, Painting by Sybil Pretious

Ideally, I would love to start the New Year with laughter and happiness! Then perhaps, the whole year would be dotted with humour …

Laughter clubs often practice laughing for health benefits. I know the pandemic makes both guffawing outdoors or in a group hard but think of the funniest possible thing and, perhaps, you will start laughing. For me what works other than children’s and monkeys’ antics, are my trips to the dentist, especially the trip where I wondered on the fringe benefits of ‘laughing gas’ (as given in the PG Wodehouse novel of the same name), only to be informed that it was used exclusively for young children. For me, an adult, there was only — you have guessed it — the jab that numbs your lip function to lubber. I discovered if I could make light of a dentist drilling by learning from Harry Potter (the spell to get rid of the terrifying boggart, who took the shape of the thing you feared most, was to imagine the funniest thing, focus on the humour in it, and shout ‘Riddikulus’ with a wand pointed at the creature in the form of your worst nightmare), then I could pretty much get rid of most fears.

The other thing I have been wondering for sometime is can one write an editorial that is humorous when the content is serious? I would have wanted to ask that question to many, including Ruskin Bond, who continues as one of my idols. I would love to touch hearts with the humour and the sensitivity that flavours his writing. It is tough to convey a complex thought with the simplicity and elegance of a writer who can be read and understood easily. I think we have a few of them around and I interviewed one. You all probably know him well— Rhys Hughes. I have given the reasons for the interview in lieu of Mr Bond, who continues a distant star beyond the horizon of online interviews. We discussed humour and its role in literature, leaving out completely in the cold, the fictional Mr Bond who answers to the names of James and 007 and has made entertaining films, which can be seen as serious or non-serious.

Hughes has of course, given some writerly advice not just in the interview but in ‘Making Something of Nothing’ – pretty much the advice that God had probably been given when he asked an unspecified friend on how to create the universe and multiple realities. Hughes has also added to our galaxy of poets where Michael Burch, Ryan Quinn Flanagan, Anasuya Bhar, Vernon Daim, William Miller, Pramod Rastogi, Mike Smith, Jay Nicholls and many more continue to sparkle. Taking up the theme of God’s creations, Devraj Singh Kalsi has added to more humour with a dream of divine intervention to make the ‘New Normal’ in 2022 – a plan for this year. Will it ever be real?

Another major issue in this world currently is climate change. In keeping with the need for acceptance of this reality, Keith Lyons introduced us to a nature lover, author and adventurer Kenny Peavy, who loved the fictional adventurer called Indiana Jones and has been working towards living in harmony with nature. He moved to Indonesia from America and is trying to raise awareness. You can find much, though not elephants, in the interview that encompasses the story of a man who cycled across a continent on a bike made of bamboo. However, you can find some writing on a king who acquired the skill to ride and tame elephants in our book excerpt from Shazi Zaman’s Akbar: A Novel of History. The excerpt does not showcase his elephant taming skills as did the Bollywood blockbuster Jodha Akbar but is focussed on bringing out the syncretism in the Mughal monarch’s outlook which made him seek out exponents of other religions. Sangita Swechcha’s and Andrée Roby’s anthology, A Glimpse Into My Country, with excerpts of short stories from Nepal and Zimbabwe, like Kenny Peavy, cycle across multiple borders as does our fiction. We feature stories from within and without the continent with Fazal Baloch recombining a couple of folklores from Balochistan to a single tale. Fiction from young writers highlight compassion and a varied perspective. Steve Ogah has a story from Nigeria which almost rings with overtones of Alex Haley’s Roots. Sohana Manzoor has given us a poignant narrative with an inspiring twist at the end, an absolute antithesis of the humorous one she rolled out for us last month. Candice Louisa Daquin has also given us an exceptional short fiction along with her column where she discusses the changing face of families in the current context.

While Daquin’s focus is mainly towards the West, we have an essay from Sanjay Kumar on families that live in the greyer zones of big cities, children from an outcropping called Nithari in Delhi, where they or theirs suffered neglect, abuse, carnage and cannibalism in their formative years.  Introducing the impacted children, Kumar explains how they transcended the wounds that lacerated their lives. This piece is a precursor to a column called ‘Children of Nithari’. Starting February, the abuse victims will give us a story a month which will be translated by young volunteers from pandies’, an activist theatre group founded by Kumar, and published in Borderless. Another article from Balochistan reflects on the lack of literacy and efforts to bring children into the folds of schooling. Pakistan ranked 99th out of 132 countries on the literacy survey in 2021. We are privileged to be the voice of the unheard.

Two essays that ring of concerns raised in the Kenny Peavy interview are to do with climate crisis in the Sunderbans and waste disposal in Delhi. Both of these are written by researchers who are working on these issues.

We have travel pieces from Australia – one is a sailing adventure by Meredith Stephens and the other is about a trip to the Sand Dunes of Western Australia by Shernaz Wadia. Ravi Shankar has also taken us through winters from the Everest to New York with his globe-trotting non-fiction. Penny Wilkes takes us on a flight of creativity with beautiful photography.

We have a stellar layout of translations. Professor Fakrul Alam translated another poem by Jibananada Das and Borderless is honoured to publish it to the world for the first time. We have a translation from Korea and another of a Brahmo hymn, Aji Shubho Dine, by Tagore, which is sung often during festivals. The icing in our Tagore section in this issue is Ratnottama Sengupta’s translation of the Kobiguru’s ‘Two Birds’ (Khanchar Pakhi Chhilo) along with a musing which reflects on the perspectives of the two contemporaries, Tagore and Saratchandra. She has also translated a well-known Bengali poet, Michael Madhusudan Dutt. Dutt wrote just before the advent of Tagore and had an interesting past which has been vividly depicted by Sunil Gangopadhyay in Those Days (Sei Somoy in Bengali), a novel that has been translated by Aruna Chakravarti. Bhaskar Parichha has given us a tribute on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Fakir Mohan Senapati, who, he claims, has the same standing in Odia literature as Tagore in Bengali or Premchand in Hindi.

Parichha has also reviewed Amit Ranjan’s John Lang; Wanderer of Hindoostan; Slanderer in Hindoostanee; Lawyer for the Ranee. It looks like an interesting read where an immigrant Australian came supported Rani of Jhansi in India. Rakhi Dalal has reviewed Selma Carvalho’s Sisterhood of Swans, again a story of migrants and their lives. The theme seems to echo among the books that have been reviewed this time, including Gracy Samjetsabam’s take on Anuradha Kumar’s The Hottest Summer in Years, a story about a German immigrant to India in the twentieth century. Meenakshi Malhotra’s review of Somdatta Mandal’s translation of A Bengali Lady in England by Krishnabhabini Das (1885) highlights the views of a traveller rather than an immigrant as the lady did return home after a ten-year sojourn in Britain. As Meenakshi contends, “The process of travel offers opportunities for emancipation where exposure to other cultures offers her a way of viewing and of gaining a perspective on her own experiences and that of her sisters in India. Krishnabhabini constantly refers to her Indian sisters and bemoans their sorry state and ignorance when she sees how active British women were in their families and societies…”

I was supposed to try my hand at a humorous editorial, but I realise that is tough when the ground is small. For humour, we need rolling acres where we can etch out each detail till it cannot be milked further for laughter. But I promise you I will keep trying to please the readers till one evolves to write like Ruskin Bond.

I would like to thank my fabulous team who even if not actively contributing to content are always at hand to advise and help. I would especially want to thank both Sohana Manzoor and Sybil for their fantastic artwork, which is as wonderful as their writings. I would like to give heartfelt thanks to all the contributors who have made this journal possible and each reader who comes back to our journal for more every month. Some of the pieces remain unmentioned adding to the mystery of the content, just like, Christmas gifts which need to be unwrapped and continue a reality even in January in some parts of the world – the Russians celebrate on January 7th and the Spaniards extend their festivities to January 6th.

Do take a look at this month’s edition for not just the stories mentioned here but for more.

I wish you all a wonderful New Year filled with laughter.

Mitali Chakravarty

Borderless Journal

Categories
Excerpt

A Glimpse Into My Country: An Anthology of International Short Stories

Title: A Glimpse Into My Country: An Anthology of International Short Stories

Editors: Andrée Roby & Dr Sangita Swechcha

Publisher: Book Hill International

1.

Excerpted from The Goats and the Cow by Sanjib Chaudhary (Nepal)

Shubhavati was humming a folk song. The sun was above her head. The easterly wind was hitting hard on her face. The wind along with the Peepal’s shadow provided her relief from the heat.

The 10 goats were grazing on the nearby field. The landowner had recently harvested rice and the juicy tender sprouts were perfect feast for the goats. While feeling the easterly winds caress she saw a humanlike spot in the horizon. Coming towards her, in a hurried pace. As the figure got nearer, the once single spot broke into four distinct figures. A woman in her mid-twenties, a 40 newly born baby clinging to her shoulder, a boy of around seven years trudging along her and a goat in tow.

 As the group came near her, Shubhavati asked the woman, ‘Why are you running so fast in the midday sun? Have some rest.’

The small boy, tired, sat next to her and started humming a Bollywood song. The woman tethered the goat to a small shrub and started suckling her baby, sitting beside Shubhavati. Her eyes were red with weeping and, as she saw Shubhavati gazing at her with love, she broke down. She started whimpering. Shubhavati consoled her, washed off the tears rolling down her eyes. The woman broke into a loud cry and the little boy, perplexed, started crying with his mother.

She said, ‘This boy’s father returned from Qatar a few days ago. We had a reunion after two 41 years. This little girl was not born when he left us. Everything was so good for few days and suddenly he beat me up.’

‘Small fights between wife and husband are a normal, my dear,’ said Shubhavati.

‘But it was not a small thing. His mother is so jealous that she wants everything that her son brought to be hers. Even the toys that he brought for this little boy!’ She was furious.

She continued, ‘Can you imagine? She threw away a bowl of milk he was sipping in. For me it had been always like that. My husband has been to Rajbiraj. But had he been there he would not say anything to her. He is a coward and doesn’t have courage to say anything to his mother.’

The goat was a small kid when she had brought it along with her from her mother’s house. She had run almost two kilometres and it was still three kilometres to reach her maternal house. Shubhavati lighted a biri and offered it to the young woman. She refused it, saying that she is a non-smoker. Shubhavati sent the puffs of smoke to the skies and started advising the young woman.

‘See, quarrels never will do any good to you, neither to you, nor to your mother-in-law. In between your quarrel, this little boy will suffer. He will be deprived of going to school for many days. Your husband loves you but he can’t take your side.’

‘If you take me as your mother, return to your home. But if you have already made your mind, go, stay for few days and return as your husband comes to fetch you.’ The woman nodded to her advice, clutched her baby and, with the goat and the little boy in tow, continued her journey.

Shubhavati thought had she had a baby girl in her early twenties, she would have had a daughter like the fleeing woman. As the four figures disappeared in the horizon, she saw a man running towards her. She at once knew that he was the father of the two little children when he asked whether she saw a woman running away with two young kids. She told him not to worry, asked him to pacify his wife and to try to maintain a cordial relation with her. The man ran in the direction the woman had headed.

Shubhavati felt good and thanked the lord.

2.

Excerpted from Crossing the Bridge  by Norma Hall (Zimbabwe)

Leila sat in the back of the blue Ford Mondeo, trying to peer out of the car window, over the larger figure of her older brother Spike, who sat next to her. On her other side, her sister Susan, head down, was engrossed in one of the pile of brightly coloured comics the children took with them on one of these long journeys over the border from Zimbabwe into South Africa. Leila’s father, who was driving, had half turned his head to exclaim to the children in the back, that they were now approaching the ‘Great, grey, green, greasy Limpopo River,’ and crossing the bridge, would bring them across the border.

Excitedly Leila looked at the huge muddy green river, which ran like a thick ribbon through the yellow stubbly countryside on either side. Some women could be seen on some of the rocks below doing their washing and a few children swam in the shallows. Then they were over the expansive bridge and soon arrived at the bustling border, with numerous buses, trucks and queuing people waiting out in the sun next to the buildings, beyond which the barrier gate could be seen guarded by some uniformed customs officers and a few soldiers, slouching around, talking and laughing among themselves. Knowing, like others, there was no hurry, they were in for the long wait.

The children were left in the car, windows wound down for the heat which made it almost too hot for the inevitable bickering that would ensue, while the adults, gathering up their various documents, sighed and went off resignedly for the long, arduous process they were accustomed to encountering at the Zimbabwe border post.

Car documents had already been checked by the required visit to the Harare Police Station a few days earlier, which was a mission in itself. There, similar queues, often lengthened by those who curried favour or paid bribes to receive attention first, had to be dealt with. Was the car stolen, who was the owner, where was the insurance, road worthiness, road recovery service documents? With all the requirements, it was strange how one later encountered so many wrecks on the roads caused by accidents and broken-down vehicles, as well as the number of stolen cars being reported.

Leila remembered having seen the strewn clothes and luggage in the bush alongside the road and remnants of a recently crashed car, they’d come across on a previous trip. One of her father’s friends had also been killed one night when his car had crashed into an army truck which was parked with no warning lights, sticking out into the road.

The family had done this journey every two years now, to visit family in South Africa and for the long-anticipated holidays by the sea. And it had been worth it, exciting and adventurous, despite the problems at the border or being stopped by Police on either side of the bridge, for whatever usually ‘cooked up’ reasons that could be used to elicit bribes for an underpaid work force. The two-day journey was long and hot, but they knew it well by now. The snake like road that never seemed to end, driving through small villages, sporadic rocky granite outcrops and rundown towns. Then the climb up Louis Trichardt with its mountain views and winding roads before the long exhilarating drive down to their destination for the first night, an inexpensive motel just outside of Polokwane.

Towards the end of another long day of driving, the children would crane their necks, eyes straining for the prize of being the first to see the sea. Zimbabwe was landlocked, mostly dry and that incredible expanse of aquamarine and then deeper greenish blue water encircling the land at this southern-most tip of Africa, never ceased to enthral the family on these much-anticipated trips.

Leila thought she could have watched forever the sight of that foam riding on the top of the waves, as they rushed to shore and then slowly retreated with a sigh.

About the Book:

A Glimpse Into My Country is a collection of international, fiction and non-fiction, short stories giving the reader a chance to travel from France to England, to Zimbabwe, to India, to South Africa, to Nepal, to Bangladesh and to discover something new about each country through the lens of new and published authors.

The writers from Nepal include Mahesh Paudyal, Sanjib Chaudhary, Mamata Mishra, Jayant Sharma, Neelima Shrestha, Sangita Swechcha & Deepak Rana. The other contributors are Mitali Chakravarty (India), Farah Ghuznavi (Bangladesh), Micaela Grove (South Africa), Norma Hall (Zimbabwe), Derek McMillan (England), Sara Kapadia (UK), and Andrée Roby (France).

About the Editors:

Andrée Roby

After spending over thirty-five years in South London, Régine, originally from France, now lives in West Sussex. She writes under the pen name of Andrée Roby, a name she chose as a tribute to her father (André) and her uncle (Roby). Régine is fluent in French, Spanish and English. As a language teacher, she has a passion for the written word. Her novella “Double Vision” – a creative crime drama, was published in January 2019 and revamped in July2021. Her second book published in April 2020 is a collection of original poems, flash fiction and short stories.  Her crime fiction “Failed Vision”, launched in October 2020, is the prequel to “Double Vision”.


Dr Sangita Swechcha

Dr Sangita Swechcha is an ardent lover of literature from an early age, Sangita has published a novel and co-authored a collection of short stories before the collection ‘Gulafsanga ko Prem’, collection of short stories. She has many short stories, poems and articles published in various international journals and online portals. She was the Guest Editor for the ‘Nepali Literature Month – Nov 2019’ held at Global Literature in Libraries Initiative (GLLI), a USA based organisation. ‘The Himalayan Sunrise: Exploring Nepal’s Literary Horizon’ edited by Sangita Swechcha and Karen Van Drie was released in London in November 2021. The book, A Glimpse Into My Country, is the second publication from Book Hill International. Currently, Sangita Swechcha is working on her second novel.

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PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL

Categories
Poetry

Who Am I?

By Andrée Roby

Am I good? Am I bad?

Am I just going mad?

Not sure what good is that

You forever saying I’m bad?

I am lost, I am confused.

At times, I felt abused,

Too frequently being accused!

Am I that bad? I’m bemused.

My rage erupts like a volcano.

No, I will no longer swallow

The hurt nestled deep below

Where love can no longer flow!

Who was I? I used to know.

Who am I?  Better ask my fella

Apparently, more than me, he knows.

Who have I become? Someone full of sorrow.

So feel free to move on and let me, once again, glow….

Régine, writing under the pen name of Andrée Roby, after spending over 35 years in South London, originally from France, now lives in West Sussex. Her pen name is a tribute to her father (André) and her uncle (Roby). Having studied philosophy and Latin at a Lycée in Paris, France, Régine believes that these two subjects gave her a passion for the words. Since living in England she has developed her love of languages which led her to teach French and Spanish. Her published books include ‘Double Vision‘ a crime fiction (novel) and A to Z of original poems, flash fiction and short stories.

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PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL.