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Contents

Borderless, November 2022

Art by Sohana Manzoor

Editorial

We did it! … Announcing our first anthology … Monalisa No Longer Smiles… Click here to read.

Conversations

Suchen Christine Lim, an iconic writer from Singapore in conversation about her latest book, Dearest Intimate. Click here to read.

Blazing trails, as well as retracing the footsteps of great explorers, Christopher Winnan, a travel writer, delves into the past, and gazes into the future while conversing with Keith Lyons. Click here to read.

Translations

Rows of Betelnut Trees by My Window by Nazrul has been translated from Bengali by Professor Fakrul Alam. Click here to read.

A Day in the Life of the Pink Man is a story by Shankhadeep Bhattacharya, translated from Bengali by Rituparna Mukherjee. Click here to read.

The Clay Toys and The Two Boys is a story by Haneef Shareef, translated from Balochi by Fazal Baloch. Click here to read.

Saturday Afternoon is a poem by Ihlwha Choi, translated from Korean by the poet himself. Click here to read.

Tagore’s poem, Tomar Shonkho Dhulay Porey (your conch lies in the dust), has been translated from Bengali by Mitali Chakravarty as The Conch Calls. Click here to read.

Poetry

Click on the names to read

Jared Carter, Asad Latif, Rhys Hughes, Alpana, Mimi Bordeaux, Saranyan BV, Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal, Quratulain Qureshi, Jim Bellamy, Sourav Sengupta, Ron Pickett, Davis Varghese, Ryan Quinn Flanagan, Jonathan Chan, Terry Trowbridge, Amrita Sharma, George Freek, Gayatri Majumdar, Michael R Burch

Poets, Poetry and Rhys Hughes

In Infinite Tiffin, Rhys Hughes gives an unusual short story centring around food and hunger. Click here to read.

Musings/Slices from Life

The Scream & Me

Prithvijeet Sinha writes of how Edvard Munch’s painting, The Scream, impacts him. Click here to read.

A Fine Sunset

Mike Smith travels with a book to a Scottish beach and walks in the footsteps of a well-know novelist. Click here to read.

The Death of a Doctor

Ravi Shankar mourns the loss of a friend and muses on mortality in his experience. Click here to read.

My Contagious Birthday Party

Meredith Stephens writes of her experience of Covid. Click here to read.

Dim Memories of the Festival of Lights

Farouk Gulsara takes a nostalgic trip to Deepavali celebrations in Malaysia. Click here to read.

Musings of a Copywriter

In Strumming Me Softly with His Guitar…, Devraj Singh Kalsi talks of his friends’s adventure with the guitar. Click here to read.

Notes from Japan

In Therese Schumacher and Nagayoshi Nagai: A Love Story, Suzanne Kamata introduces us to one of the first German women married to a Japanese scientist and their love story. Click here to read.

Essays

My Favourite Book by Fakrul Alam

The essay is a journey into Fakrul Alam’s evolution as a translator. Click here to read.

The Ultimate Genius of Kishore Kumar

Shantanu Ray Chaudhuri, an eminent film critic, writes on the legend of Kishore Kumar. Click here to read.

T.S Eliot’s The Waste Land: Finding Hope in Darkness

Dan Meloche muses on the century-old poem and its current relevance. Click here to read.

The Observant Immigrant

In Piano Board Keys, Candice Louisa Daquin talks of biracial issues. Click here to read.

Stories

The Funeral Attendee

Ravi Prakash shares the story of the life of a migrant in rural India. Click here to read.

A Letter I can Never Post

Monisha Raman unravels the past in a short narrative using the epistolary technique. Click here to read.

Red Moss at the Abbey of Saint Pons

Paul Mirabile takes us to St Pons Abbey in France in the fifteenth century. Click here to read.

You have lost your son!

Farhanaz Rabbani gives a light story with a twist that shuttles between Dhaka and Noakhali. Click here to read.

Book Excerpts

An Excerpt from Manoranjan Byapari’s How I Became a Writer: An Autobiography of a Dalit, translated from Bengali by Anurima Chanda. Click here to read.

An excerpt from Evening with a Sufi: Selected Poems by Afsar Mohammad, translated from Telugu by Afsar Mohammad & Shamala Gallagher. Click here to read.

Book Reviews

Reba Som has reviewed Aruna Chakravarti’s Through the Looking Glass: Stories. Click here to read.

Somdatta Mandal has reviewed Shehan Karunatilaka’s The Birth Lottery and Other Surprises. Click here to read.

Basudhara Roy has reviewed Afsar Mohammad’s Evening with a Sufi: Selected Poems, translated from Telugu by Afsar Mohammad and Shamala Gallagher. Click here to read.

Bhaskar Parichha has reviewed Rahul Ramagundam’s The Life and Times of George Fernandes. Click here to read.

On World Tolerance Day, we invite you to the Book Launch of the first anthology from Borderless Journal, “Monalisa No Longer Smiles”

Borderless Journal Anthology

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

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Editorial

We Did It!

That good things happen despite darkness, despite prognostications of doom, that light glimmers hope if you strive to focus on your strength in hard times is borne true both in fiction and in life. Perhaps, we cannot get back the old ways (but is that what we want?) but new paths emerge. Old gives way to new. And while trying to gather pearls of human excellence — borne not of awards or degrees but of bringing out the best, the kindest, the most loving in human hearts — we managed to create with a team an outstanding anthology. Woven with the writings of old and new — we created a tapestry together that the editor in chief of our publishing house said was “classy, literary, engaging and international”. That one of the oldest and most reputed publishing houses in India with bookshops countrywide took it on was also an unusual event! We are truly grateful to Om Books International, Shantanu Ray Chaudhuri and Jyotsna Mehta along with all our writers and readers who made our anthology a reality, and to Radha Chakravarty and Fakrul Alam for the kind words they bestowed on our effort.

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

Please greet our first anthology, Monalisa No Longer Smiles, with love and friendship. It could be the perfect Christmas gift in the spirit of the season! And as the blurb says, “it will definitely bring a smile to your face because it is a celebration of the human spirit.”

The anthology is different from our journal in as much as it has a sample of an eclectic collection that has been honed with further editing and has some new features. Most of the writing is from our first year and showcases our ethos, except for Lesya’s poetry and interview. Lesya Bakun from Ukraine is still on the run, looking for a refuge — she cannot return home like you or I can. Her family is scattered across number of countries. Her cousin, who was guarding the factory at Azovstal, was taken prisoner. We included her story in the anthology hoping to create global empathy for refugees as the numbers will increase not only due to war but also due to climate change.

The reason we felt a hardcopy anthology was a good idea was because nothing beats the joy of having a bunch of interesting reads in the warmth of your hands (especially where internet cannot reach or is unavailable). In any case, books with the feel of paper, the rustling whispers which carry voices of leaves can never be replaced as Goutam Ghose had also said in his interview which is now part of our anthology.

And that is why we celebrate more books… this time we feature Singaporean prima donna of literature, Suchen Christine Lim, with her new book Dearest Intimate, a novel that spans more than hundred years including the harrowing Japanese invasion during World War II. She shared sound advice with writers: “Suffering is good for the writer. It will deepen lived experience and expand the heart’s empathy.” And perhaps that is what is echoed through the experiences of the other writer interviewed on our pages by Keith Lyons. This is a writer who not only brought out his own books but was a regular contributor of travel pieces for Frommer’s and National Geographic traveling to unexplored destinations — Christopher Winnan. Another writer Lyon had interviewed recently, Steve Carr, has passed on. We would like to convey our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.

We have a number of books that have been reviewed. Reba Som reviewed Aruna Chakravarti’s Through the Looking Glass: Stories that span eras spread across time. Somdatta Mandal has reviewed Shehan Karunatilaka’s The Birth Lottery and Other Surprises and Bhaskar Parichha, Rahul Ramagundam’s The Life and Times of George Fernandes. Basudhara Roy has written of Afsar Mohammad’s Evening with a Sufi: Selected Poems, translated from Telugu by the poet and Shamala Gallagher, verses that again transcend borders and divides. We have an excerpt from the same book and another from Manoranjan Byapari’s How I Became a Writer: An Autobiography of a Dalit, translated from Bengali by Anurima Chanda.

More translations from Bengali, Balochi and Korean enrich our November edition. Fazal Baloch has translated a story by Haneef Shareef and Rituparna Mukherjee by Shankhadeep Bhattacharya. We have the translation of an inspirational Tagore poem helping us find courage (Shonkho Dhulaye Pore or ‘the conch lies in the dust’). Another such poem by Nazrul has been rendered in English from Bengali by Professor Fakrul Alam. He has also shared an autobiographical musing on how he started translating Tagore’s Gitabitan, which also happens to be his favourite book. More discussion on the literary persona of TS Eliot and the relevance of his hundred year old poem — ‘The Waste Land’ by Dan Meloche adds variety to our essay section.

Evoking the genius of another outstanding artiste, Kishore Kumar, who happened to pen thought provoking dialogues in some films, is Shantanu Ray Chaudhuri’s essay, review of a recent book on the legendary actor-singer and an interview with the authors. Infringing the boundaries of literary with popular culture and art and integrating all forms into a wholistic bundle has been part of our ethos. In that spirit we have a musing by Prithvijeet Sinha on Edvard Munch’s famous painting called Scream. We have non-fiction from Australia spanning Meredith Stephens’s recent brush with Covid, Mike Smith visits a Scottish beach in the footsteps of a novelist, Ravi Shankar has given us a poignant piece for a late friend and Candice Lousia Daquin talks of the existence of bi-racial biases. In contrast, Suzanne Kamata sent a narrative that bridges divides showcasing a German wife of a Japanese scientist that draws us to conclude that biases erode over time to create an acceptance of bi-racial people. Devraj Singh Kalsi brings in humour with his funny narrative about a guitarist. Rhys Hughes writes in a lighter vein on Indian cuisine in his column and spouts more funny poetry bordering on the absurd.

Jared Carter has shared beautiful poetry on murmuration in birds and we have touching verses from Asad Latif for a little girl he met on a train — reminiscent of Tagore’s poem Hide and Seek (Lukochuri). Michael R Burch has given us poems setting sombre but beautiful notes for the season. We host more poetry by Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal, Quratulain Qureshi, Jim Bellamy, Gayatri Majumdar, Ryan Quinn Flanagan, Alpana, Jonathan Chan, Saranyan BV, George Freek and many more. We have stories from around the world: India, France and Bangladesh.

Gathering all of your thoughts in strings of words from all corners of the world, we present to you the bumper November issue of Borderless Journal . Thank you all for sharing your thoughts with us. Thanks to Sohana Manzoor for her fantastic painting and more thanks to the whole Borderless team for seeing this issue through. We would not have been able to do the anthology or these issues without each one of you — writers and readers.

Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

There is always hope for a new tomorrow!

Mitali Chakravarty

borderlessjournal.com

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

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Excerpt

On the Passing of Mahasweta Devi by Manoranjan Byapari

Title: How I Became a Writer: An Autobiography of a Dalit

Author: Manoranjan Byapari

Translator: Anurima Chanda

Publisher: SAGE Publications India and Samya under Samya SAGE Select imprint

Chapter 34: The End of an Era

The passing away of certain individuals left a huge impact on the human community. The void created by their absence was irreplaceable. This was especially true when it came to Mahasweta Devi. . . . Because of the power of Mahasweta Devi’s writing, there was a huge need for her leadership and protest. Equipped with the fire and anger akin to the sun, she was the one to have kept the fight against injustice alive. She had not given in to any temptation or fear, but spent an entire life battling in the interest of those starving penniless people tottering on empty stomachs. Her roar had raged right from the decade of the seventies to the dangerous days of Singur, Nandigram and Netai. Her fiery raging pen had dealt blow after blow like a cannon on the impenetrable fort of the cannibalistic and violent forces out to destroy human civilization . . .

              It was a painful time for Bengal, Bengalis, intellectuals and civil society. Somebody had said that a writer does not write with a pen, but with the spine . . . In those times, the one and only ‘soldier armed with a pen’, Mahasweta Devi, had protested against that which is unjust, improper and inhumane. Her fight was for the Adivasis, the foresters, the Dalits, the labouring classes and the minority groups…

    . . . With the death of Mahasweta Devi, I lost a mother who had…shown me a new direction. She was the one to explain the meaning of ‘jijibisha’ [the will to live]to me. There were multiple ways to live…But what is the point of that life which gets lost immediately after death? She showed me the direction of such an endless life.

. . . During the long thirty-six years, from 1981 to 2016, she was spread all over my life like a huge tree . . . This tree possessed the powers of the Sanjeevani plant whose mere touch could revive the dead.

              Although I started with Bartika and thereafter had my works find a place as part of course books for the West Bengal State University, within the journal of the Comparative Literature Journal of Jadavpur University, as questions under the Public Service Commission exams, I was still unsure how far I would have to swim to reach the end. According to me, I have been able to reach the ultimate stage. I have achieved as far as I could achieve, from being unlettered to discovering the world of letters which was then followed by receiving  the Bangla Akademi award and the Ananya Somman from 24 Ghonta. After obtaining the biggest two awards in Bangla literature, I could perhaps say with some amount of certainty that I have experienced it all.

. . . Having read so many books, I knew well enough that the world of my experiences were not readily available to many others.Hence, they were not able to write about it. They could not even think of writing about it, as their imaginations also failed. I, on the contrary, could easily write innumerable pages on them.  That’s what I did. I wrote four short stories and took it to Mahasweta Devi who explained, as I have mentioned earlier, that she does not publish fiction. I found the addresses of four magazines and sent them off to be published  . . . all the four stories had been published.  I found a lot of strength and self confidence at this incident. I realized that I could really do it. Even if there were no one backing me, I could fight my own fight.. ..

              I next came in contact with Mahasweta Devi in 2000, three years after my return [from Chhatisgarh]. Around this time, many of my works were published with Bartika. I revived my relations with her, which remained till her last breath . . . my association with her remained for the entire duration of 1981 to 2016. I would visit her place almost every other week. In the huge expanse of time, she wrote for so many newspapers starting with Jugantar to Bartaman, but she never wrote a line about the rickshaw-puller writer Manoranjan Byapari . . .. People might remember that just a few days before her death in 2016 she had written almost an entire-page article for Ei Shomoy about the rising young writers from West Bengal who had a lot of potential.

 . . . Mahasweta Devi loved me like her own child. She had already looked far into my future. She knew that it would cause me a lot of pain, but in her heart she wanted the world to cheer for me. However difficult it might be, she wanted me to make my own path, so that no tag of favouritism could get stuck to my life like a leech which would have compelled me to bow down my head with ‘gratitude’ all my life. She wanted me to become independent and did not desire my heart to grow weak . She had wanted me to become a writer on my own worth, an independent, self-dependent, courageous writer. 

ABOUT THE BOOK

‘Writing was my truth, my god, my everything. I could not leave it for anything.’

With these words, Manoranjan Byapari points to how writing is as important to him as breathing. How I Became a Writer: An Autobiography of a Dalit is the translation of the second volume of his remarkable life story Itibritte Chandal Jivan. In this volume, translated for the first time into English with great sensitivity, the author talks of his life in Kolkata after leaving the Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha. He takes up the post of a cook at a school, which provides work, albeit gruelling. Part I, School Shenanigans, describes how he carried out his duties, while being treated contemptuously because he is a Dalit, and became more determined to forge a new identity as a writer. Part II, The Right to Write, reveals how his persistence gradually resulted in his works being published in little magazines and, later, by mainstream publishers and how his fame slowly spread with television interviews and prestigious awards.

He discusses Dalit writings, Dalit literary organizations and whether he is a ‘Dalit writer’. His forthright observations on society and governance provide many insights.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Manoranjan Byapari never went to school or university. He first wrote for little magazines where his success and popularity found him many publishers. His writing career took place as he worked as a cook for 21 years at the Helen Keller School for the Deaf and the Blind. He is a Trinamul Congress MLA for Balagarh since the 2021 West Bengal Vidhan Sabha elections. He has received many awards such as the Suprabha Majumdar Smarak Puraskar by the Paschim Banga Bangla Akademi in 2014, the television channel 24 Ghonta’s Ananya Samman in 2013 and in 2019 the Hindu Literary Fest’s nonfiction award. He is well known across India as he speaks in Hindi that he learnt in Chhatisgarh when he was with the Mukti Morcha of the late Shankar Guha Neogi.

ABOUT THE TRANSLATOR

Anurima Chanda is Assistant Professor, Department of English, Birsa Munda College, North Bengal University. She has taught English as Second Language (ESL) and students with learning disabilities at the Centre for Writing and Communication, Ashoka University. She received her PhD on Indian English Children’s Literatures from JNU. She was a pre-doctoral fellow at the University of Wüerzburg. She is also a literary translator (translating from Bengali/Hindi-English-Bengali. Among her books for children are Timelines from Indian History: From Ancient Civilizations to a Modern democracy; Tintin in Tibet by Herge: A Critical Companion; The Untouchable and Other Poem; and DK Indian Icons: Bhimrao Ambedkar: An Illustrated Story of a Life.

CREDIT LINE:

Excerpted from How I Became a Writer: An Autobiography of a Dalit by Manoranjan Byapari, translated by Anurima Chanda. Jointly published by SAGE Publications India and Samya. 2022, 376 pages, Paperback, Rs.650, ISBN: (978-93-81345-77-1), Samya SAGE Select.