Categories
Stories

A Letter Adrift in the Breeze

Haneef Sharif

By Haneef Sharif, translated from Balochi by Mashreen Hameed

From the world,

coldness,

autumn,

silence… intense silence.

My lord!

Fair wishes…

I am somewhere between the better and the best in this world. Safe and sound. Breathing. Every morning, I had walked to my job and the evening breeze had wafted me back home. Drifting like this, many times I pondered over penning down a letter to you but was held back…. lack of address ….my own fears…. dread of time…. Therefore, I never quite made up my mind to complete the task.

My Lord! Today I am feeling very dispirited. I have been expelled by the head of the post office from my job. He said, I happen to deliver the letters, orders, registry and parcels on wrong addresses. The recipients receive the wrong mail. He states, for three months I kept reiterating these mistakes.

I had never envisioned this situation.

Giving it some thought, I concluded that this is all because I did not write a letter to you. Thus, today, I am writing to you.

I apologise in advance for any errors in my penning.

The crucial thing is — My Lord! Tonight, is curtained by stillness, the fire is inhaling its final breath. After the fire dies, I remain with taciturnity alone at home. Whosoever obtains more power than others, will press them down, and you know well who is more powerful than me and who….

God Almighty! To say worthily, I love you a lot and very much —

like toys kept on carts,

like whirlwinds on mosques,

like ash that clings tired on jammed wheels,

like wandering cows on streets,

like the daughters of neighbours…

Almighty God! I love you limitlessly. I don’t know how to convince your ears about my profound affections. I love everything about you, I stoop to your every word, and your every creation is beyond examples, wordless and irreplaceable.

But my Lord! This is also true that you left nothing but confusion in this world, everywhere inconclusiveness, lack of fulfilment, no ins and outs but all the edges of incompletion.

My Lord, who are you? What are you?

The pouring light of lamp igniting before the home of Khuda Baksh[1], I wonder are you

the tyre-prints of police cars,

the pay-day for teachers,

the rock on the pavement of road,

or the first daily paper each morning?

Who are you? Where are you? In the skies…

No, I cannot admit this, how come my friend, my companion is so far? My Lord is not cruel. He is alone, childfree, poor, miserable like me… stricken by hunger, and knows that the most powerful thing in the world is hunger… hunger… ufff…. I cannot explain. But My Lord, what do you think, is the most powerful among your creations —

drug filled cigarettes,

leftovers of bread,

a cold, collapsed lonely road,

sunsets in summers,

or relics of autumn leaves?

As per my heart, these all are powerful, frightening, but tempting.

What do you say my lord?

What is your point of view?

Do you know one more thing Almighty God, you made abundant useless things in your world; they are meaningless, unimportant, but absurdly you are accountable for creating them.

Lord Almighty! Don’t you realise some surplus things remain unnoticed when you look at the world, like —

school going children in the morning,

busloads of travelers to cities,

 ‘wedlocks’ in marriages,

ventilators of bathrooms,

 and traffic police on roads.

My lord!! These all are complaints, all protests. These are our grievances echoing before you.

We are wretched, distressed, dead hearted. Other people are engulfing us. We are being thrown out of the world. Lord, my heart has become the residence of hatred, enmity and envy; I feel jealous of everyone. I suffer in anguish. I am changing into a devil, converting to wickedness. In spite of all these, I am amazed to discover that, My Lord, I love you a lot, in fact, very, very much –

like a healthy fish,

like the last drop of wine,

like a full plate of curry,

like a room filled with water,

like… like…

God Almighty! There is nothing more vital to pen down except, the fire is dead now. My stomach is screaming, hunger creeps, cold extends, surfeits, magnifies and I am…

My best regards to all.

Your son,

And… actually…. I am handing over this letter to the breeze; I hope you will receive it.

Everything is pretty well.

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(This story was first published in Balochi in Teeran Dask, a collection of stories by Haneef Sharif and is being published in translation with permission from the author and the Balochistan Academy of Literature and Research, Turbat.)

Haneef Sharif, born on December 25, 1976, is a well-recognised author, filmmaker, YouTuber, photographer and  script writer. He completed his basic education in Turbat, Balochistan, and received his MBBS degree from Bolan Medical College, Quetta, in 2003. He currently lives in Germany. He has published a novel, Chegerd Poll enth ( The Chegerd Tree is blossoming), and a number of short stories in Balochi. Some of his short stories have been published in 3 collections: Shapa ke Hour Gwareth ( The Night When It Rains), Teeran Dask ( Teeran Dask) and Haneefnaam ( Hey you Haneef). He has also directed four films in Balochi. He also runs a YouTube channel Radio Balochistan where he publishes videos, short stories, interviews and lectures on miscellaneous subjects. 

Mashreen Hameed is a fresh graduate of University of Turbat with a Masters’ degree in English literature. She is a writes fiction, poetry and translates from Balochi and English.

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

Categories
Poetry

A Balochi Folk Song

Translated from Balochi by Fazal Baloch

Balochistan. Courtesy: Creative Commons
A CONVERSATION BETWEEN A LADY AND HER SUITOR

She: Hither come, help me get off the cliff, O white-shawled lad!
He: I’ll, O, red-dressed lass, but what will be the reward, I have?

She: Either my necklace or my bangles, you will have.
He: Of your necklace and bangles, none I ever need!
‘Tis your shapely nose and flowing tresses I seek.

She: Shapely nose and flowing tresses lie beyond your reach
-- I’ll become a wild citron on a lofty tree.
Boy: I’ll become grasshopper and nibble your tender leaves.

She: I’ll become a cumulus and on the valley burst forth.
He: A thirsty deer I’ll become, and drink all the fresh water you pour.

She: I’ll become a sorghum grain and rest on the field.
He: I’ll become a grey dove and hold you in my beak.

She: I’ll become a rabbit, in rosebushes I’ll sleep.
He: I’ll become a shepherd, you with my crook I’ll gently beat.

She: I’ll become a turban that rests on a bride’s head.
He: I’ll play my mouth-harp, and as a reward, you I’ll seek. 

She: I’ll become the helpless daughter of a poor man.
He: I’ll become the grim-reaper, and whisk you off to the heaven.

She: You’ve filled my heart with boundless joy and delight
Hurry to the wedding chamber, I’m your bride.

This folk song was originally featured in Dreen (The Rainbow: A Collection of Folksongs) collected and translated into Urdu by Atta Shad and A. Salam and published by the Balochi Academy Quetta. Fazal Baloch has the rights to the translation in English.

Fazal Baloch is a Balochi writer and translator. He has translated many Balochi poems and short stories into English. His translations have been featured in Pakistani Literature published by Pakistan Academy of Letters and in the form of books and anthologies.

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

Categories
Editorial

Whispers of Stones

When the mountains and grass
had life, stones whispered
how the world came to be…

'Stonehenge', Daily Star

And as the world came to be, there was war — war that seems to rage in some part of the world or other. The British Museum has an exhibit which states the first battle was staged 13,000 years ago… in what is now Sudan, long before the advent of written history. This was even before the advent of people who built the ancient Stonehenge which was constructed around 3000-2000 BCE. And battles still continue to rage. The Jebel Sahaba casualties in Sudan 13000 years ago were less than 100. But the current conflicts claim in terms of tens of thousands which prolonged could stretch to millions. The last world war (1939-1945) which lasted for six years had a total of  75-80 million persons who perished. Ukraine-Russia conflict has within five months had a casualty count of more than 14000. And yet weapons and nuclear arms continue to proliferate decimating humanity, nature and towns, destroying homes, erasing ruthlessly and creating more refugees. The only need for such battles seem to be to satiate the hunger of the warlords secure in their impenetrable fortresses while tens of thousands are annihilated and natural or nurtured landscapes lie emaciated, mutilated and polluted.

What would be a good way of ending such wars?

Tagore sought the development of better instincts in humankind as an antidote. He wrote in the last century: “Any teaching concerning man must have human nature for its chief element. How far it will harmonise with human nature is a matter of time.”

With wars getting deadlier and more horrific, we can only try to awaken, as Tagore suggests, the better nature in man to move towards a peaceful world. What would be a more effective way of doing it than writing with the hope of a kinder and accepting future?

For that let us start with translations of the maestro Tagore himself. We have a song about the season — monsoon, ‘Monomor Megher Songi (My Friends, the Clouds)’, translated by Professor Fakrul Alam, a painting by Sohana Manzoor interpreting the lyrics and a transcreation of Nababarsha or New Rains’ was shrunken into a popular Rabindra Sangeet and reduced to twenty lines in English by Tagore himself. The connect with nature is an important aspect that enables humans to transcend petty concerns leading to dissensions of different kinds as evidenced in the maestro’s humorous feline skit, translated by Somdatta Mandal. A translation of Dalip Kaur Tiwana’s ‘The Bus Conductor’ from Punjabi by C. Christine Fair adds zest to this section. Fazal Baloch has translated a folktale from Balochistan involving the supernatural and Ihlwha Choi has taken on the cry for peace on behalf of Ukraine while translating his own poem in Korean. The Nithari column has a story by Jishan in Hindustani, translated to English by Grace M Sukanya, showcasing the struggle of a youngster during the pandemic – rather a sad narrative, which though fictitious has its roots in reality. 

Our poetry section touches upon the timelessness of dissensions and darkness with Michael R Burch’s poem on Stonehenge and Supatra Sen’s poem on Ukraine. This has been allayed by love poetry by Maid Corbic from Bosnia. George Freek’s poem ruffles with its reflective lines. And in the midst of it all, is poetry by Ryan Quinn Flanagan reflecting on the seven stages of man. Will the process of aging or human nature ever change? I wonder if Rhys Hughes can find an answer for that in humorous verses as he has shared in this issue. In his column, Hughes has written about an imagined anthology of short stories.

Our short story section has echoes of humour around felines by Manzoor, somewhat in tune with the mind frame seen in Tagore’s skit on this issue. Humour rings tinged with an apparition in Erwin Coombs’s narrative – should one call it dark humour or is it just his style? Paul Mirabile goes for gothic darkness in his meanderings around Italy.

Strangely, we seem to have a focus on short stories this time. Keith Lyons has interviewed Steve Carr, a journalist, a publisher and writer of 500 short stories who is questing to create a ‘perfect short story’. Reading out excerpts from her short story at a literary festival in Simla, Bollywood celebrity, Deepti Naval, was in conversation with eminent film journalist, Ratnottama Sengupta. She spoke of her literary aspirations while unveiling her autobiography in verse, A Country Called Childhood. This conversation has been shared by Sengupta with Borderless. It is interesting to see how Naval’s reactions to social malaise contrasts with that of the film director, cinematographer and actor, Goutam Ghose, who was present during the unveiling of her book. He had responded to communal violence by making a film on Lalan Fakir extolling virtues of love and kindness, called Moner Manush (2010) and then made a book on the film called, The Quest (2013) which has beautiful translations of Lalan Fakir’s lyrics by Sankar Sen.  

Our non-fiction sections seem to be hosting multiple travel stories across UK by Mike Smith, along the Australian coastline by Meredith Stephens, on the Himalayas with Ravi Shankar and an unusual visit by Hema Ravi to a farm in US where animals that had been used in Disney films in the past are homed. Our environmental columnist, Kenny Peavy, actually wrote about his cycling trip from Thailand to Indonesia on a bamboo cycle made by a Singaporean! And from Japan, Suzanne Kamata explored a museum in the neighbouring town of Mure. The museum on a hill hosts the art of American Japanese Artists, Isamu Noguchi.

We do have non-fiction that moves away from travel: noir humour by Devraj Singh Kalsi and an essay by Candice Louisa Daquin on a very interesting subject – ‘Is it Okay to be Ordinary?’ Is it?  Dan Meloche has written a literary essay on Canadian novelist Andre Alexis’s award-winning novel, Fifteen Dogs: An Apologue (2015). While Meloche spoke of how the novel departed from Orwell’s Animal Farm, his narrative brought to my mind a novel closer to our times set in England by Jasper Fforde called Constant Rabbit (2020) – this a science fiction while Alexis’s was an apologue or an animal fable. Fforde did use the rabbits rather well to highlight the current times.

We have book excerpts of two recent books that I would call really outstanding. One of them is Aruna Chakravarti’s The Mendicant Prince, which is being released this week, and is based on the evergreen contentious case of the prince of Bhawal that has even been explored even in cinema. The other, Dadamoni: The Life and Times of Ashok Kumar by Nabendu Ghosh, has been published posthumously and is not a translation from Bengali but written in English originally by this trilingual writer.  

Called ‘Dadamoni’ affectionately, iconic actor Ashok Kumar is regarded as “the one personality who symbolises Indian cinema’s journey from Bombay Talkies to Bollywood”.  This book has been reviewed by Indrashish Banerjee, who calls it ‘a reflection on the Hindi film industry’ as well as a biography. Rakhi Dalal has reviewed Booker winner Geetanjali Shree’s Mai, Silently Mother, a Sahitya Akademi winning translation of her Hindi novel by Nita Kumar, reiterating the dialogue that had been kindled on motherhood last month by Rinki Roy Bhattacharya and Maithili Rao’s The Oldest Love Story (2022). Bhaskar Parichha has reviewed Prosanta Chakrabarty’s Explaining Life Through Evolution plotting how life evolved on earth. Parichha tells us: “Meaningful, wide-ranging and argumentative, this is a must-read book. It will propel us to imagine and reimagine life around us.” Another book that sounds like a must-read has been reviewed by Meenakshi Malhotra, Tagore’s Gleanings of the Road, translated by Mandal. She tells us: “ ‘Gleanings’ represents the quintessential Tagore…Ably introduced and translated by Somdatta Mandal, a renowned Tagore scholar, the translation captures the iridescent and luminous quality of Tagore’s prose and its chiaroscuro effects.”

There is more to tempt. Please stop by on our contents page and take a look.

We would like to hugely thank all our contributors and readers for being with us and helping us grow. I would like to thank my team, who despite hurdles they face, always lend a helping hand and wonderful words from their pens or computers to get Borderless on its feet. I apologise for the delay and thank you all for your patience. Special thanks to Sohana Manzoor for her fabulous artwork.

I wish you all a wonderful July and peace in a war-torn world. We are all affected by the ongoing conflicts. Let us hope for peaceful and just resolutions.

Thanks.

Mitali Chakravarty

borderlessjournal.com

Categories
Stories

Hasan Sol: A Balochi Folktale

Translated by Fazal Baloch[1]

Balochistan. Courtesy: Creative Commons

Once there lived a poor man. Despite all his efforts, he could not beget any offspring. The grief of being childless had almost emaciated him. Most of the time he remained grief-stricken.

One day he left his home and took the route to the jungle where he reclined against a giant jujube tree. He decided not to move unless he was blessed with a child. A couple of days later a voice in the tree addressed him: “Man! Why don’t you leave me alone? I’ve named this tree after my own name. It is my dwelling. I have left the entire world for humankind and spared this tree for myself. Here I worship my Creator. Please leave me alone.”

The poor man said: “O, holy fakir! I am an unlucky man. I have no child. I have decided not to leave the tree unless I am blessed with a child. No matter if I die of thirst or hunger, I’m not going away”.

The fakir said: “Go home you will be blessed with a child, If it happens to be a boy, it is all yours but if it turns out to be a girl, you are bound to marry her with me. I will be your son-in-law”. The fakir continued, “If he’s a boy, his name will be Hasan sol, and in case of a girl, her name will be Nokmadina”.

The poor man replied, “Master! I am a Baloch. I will honour my promise”.

Nine months later he was blessed with a girl. As advised by the fakir, he named her Nokmadina. Time passed by and Nokmadina grew up. One day, along with other girls and womenfolk of the hamlet, she went to the jungle and walked over to the giant jujube tree to pluck its ripened fruits. The moment she stretched her hand, she felt her scarf had entangled with a branch of the tree. Despite all her efforts, she could not free it. She heard a voice addressed her: “Nokmadina! Ask your father to honour his promise”.

She immediately left for home but forgot to convey the message to her father. The next day when she went to the jungle, the same voice echoed again but Nokmadina couldn’t remember either. On the third day, when the jujube branch held her dress, Nokmadina apologised to it that she couldn’t remember his message.

The voice emanating from the tree said, “If you put your hand in the jar to pick up a dry date, a wasp will sting your finger and remind you of my words.”

She freed the hem of her scarf and quickly rushed towards home. Unmindful of the fakir’s words, the moment she ran her hand into the jar, the wasp stung her, and she broke out crying. Her father rushed to her and asked her what had happed to her. She recalled and told her father what the fakir had been telling for the past three days.

Her father did remember his promise. Though he did not want to marry his daughter with the fakir, he still wanted to fulfil his promise. His wife said, “May the Holy Quran cripple the old fakir! Do you have the heart to abandon your grown-up daughter in a jungle at the mercy of wild beasts? I am not going to allow you”.

The poor man said: “I’ve to honour my words. Let’s settle with whatever our fate has for us. First, we didn’t have any child. When we were blessed with one, it turned out to be a girl. And I have to marry it with the tree”.

Then he turned to his daughter and told her to be ready for he was going to leave her in the custody of the jujube tree the next morning. Everyone in the house including the girl and her mother cried inconsolably.

The next day he held Nokmadina’s hand and walked down to the jujube tree. Hasan Sol descended from the tree and they solemnised the marriage accordingly. Nokmadina’s father took the road back home.

Hasan Sol had already two ghoul-wives whom he visited every Friday in Mount Qaf and stayed with them for three days. He asked an old crone to stay with Nokmadina during his absence. Feeling envious of her, the old woman put Nokmadina in an underground den nearby and placed a huge rock on its opening so that she could not come out. When Hasan Sol returned, she produced her daughter before him and said, “Your wife has grown prettier than ever.”  On the other hand, she secretly fed Nokmadina with just a few morsels.

On a Friday morning, when Hasan Sol was about to leave, a dove perched on the tree. He shot at the bird and put it in the oven to roast it. Suddenly, the birds said: “The old woman has put Nokmadina in the den and brought her daughter in her place”. The bird repeated it over and again.

Hasan Sol thoroughly scanned her wife to determine the truth. He concluded that the bird was right.  Hence, he held her hand, spun it in the air and hurled it off like a stone in the sling. She landed beyond seven mountains. Nobody found any trace of her. Then he called out the old woman. He seized hold of her legs and thrusted them beneath the ground. Then he went to the nearby mountains to look for Nokmadina. He searched in each cave and cavern but could not find any trace of her. On his way back, he heard someone’s groan coming out of a jackal-den. He removed the rock from its opening and helped Nokmadina out and carried her home. When she fully regained her senses, Hasan Sol told her that he was going to Mount Qaf to visit her ghoul-wives. He warned her thus, “Never follow me. The road to Mount Qaf is long and tedious. You will wear out seven pairs of shoes made of steel, till you reach there. The ghouls will kill you there.”

When Hasan Sol flew off, Nokmadina made it to an ironsmith and ordered seven pairs of shoes made of steel and set out for Mount Qaf. After a long and tedious journey, having worn out all seven pairs of shoes, she finally reached the Mount Qaf.

A few children were playing at the door of a garden. She asked them if they knew anything about Hasan Sol. One of the children said that the very garden belonged to Hasan Sol and he would come there for his ablutions. She put her ring in the earthen jar, which he used to store water for cleaning himself, and hid behind a tree.

A little later, Hasan arrived there. When he noticed the ring in the bottom of the jar, he overturned and spilled the water on the ground to retrieve the ring. He assumed Nokmadina had disobeyed him and made it there. He asked the children if they had seen someone around.

The children told him about Nokmadina who was hiding behind a tree.

Hasan Sol walked over to her and asked her why she came there. He advised her to be careful otherwise the ghouls would eat her flesh. Hasan Sol transformed her into a knife and slipped it into his pocket and went home. The moment he got there, his ghoul-wives blurted loudly, “Human Smell! Human Smell.”

Hasan Sol said, “Where is the human? There’s no human but me. Are you want to eat my flesh?” He picked up spear and with great effort, he managed to silence them. He took his meal and strolled towards the garden where he transformed Nokmadina back into a human and together with her, he ate his meal. Then Hasan Sol transformed her into a pomegranate and tucked in a tree and told his ghoul-wives, “This pomegranate is meant for a sick man. Whosoever lays her hand on it, I will gouge out her eyes”.

When Hasan Sol left, the wives suspected it was a human. Thus, they cut a small piece and shared it together. When Hasan Sol returned, he asked them who spoiled the pomegranate in his absence. But they feigned ignorance. In the very instant, Hasan Sol transformed her back into a human and found out her that the ring on her little finger was missing. Infuriated, he shouted at them and said, “I swear by my sanctity, next time if you even touch her, I will tie you with chains and throw you before the dogs.”

One day when Hasan Sol had gone on an errand, one of the ghouls called Nokmadina and said, “You damn good-for-nothing human! Go to our mother’s house and bring us hair oil, comb and mud-soap.” They also gave her a letter as well. She complied and left. Midway through, she saw Hasan Sol who asked her where she was heading.

“I am going to deliver the letter to your mother-in-law,” she replied.

Hasan Sol asked her to show him the letter.

It read, “The moment this daughter of human delivers you the letter, kill her.” Hasan Sol changed the letter and wrote instead: “She is your granddaughter from your youngest daughter.” He further advised her thus, “Down the road you will see a dog with some grass before it and a goat with a piece of bone before it. Place the grass before the goat and the bone before the dog. Some distance further, you will find a mosque, replace its old mats with new ones. Then you will come across a dry pond. Unblock the watercourse and fill it with water.”

Nokmadina did exactly what Hasan Sol had advised her. When she delivered the letter, the ghoul woman hugged her and showered her with boundless love and affection. Nokmadina noticed a cage with four doves in the house. She asked her about them. The woman said: “One is my spirit; second one is your mother’s; third one is your stepmother’s and the fourth one is their grandmother’s”.

She took the cage and trampled the dove that was her co-wife’s sprit and ran off. The woman chased her. When she reached near the pond, she called the pond to stop her but the pond told her that she filled it with water a while ago so it would not stop her. When she drew close to the mosque, the woman asked the mosque to not let her go, but the mosque said that a while ago she replaced its mats, so it let her go. Then she asked the goat and the dog for the same, but they too refused as she fed them a while ago. At last, she reached Hasan Sol’s garden. When he saw the cage in her hand, he said, “Lo! You brought the cage along”.

“Why shouldn’t I? They don’t let me live. So now I’m not going to spare them either”, remarked Nokmadina.

“Alright. Kill all of them,” said Hasan Sol.

So, the story ended. And they headed home.


[1] This folktale is translated with permission from Geedi Kessah-4(Folktales Vol: 4) compiled and retold by Gulzar Khan Mari in Balochi, published by the Balochi Academy Quetta in 1971.

Fazal Baloch is a Balochi writer and translator. He has translated many Balochi poems and short stories into English. His translations have been featured in Pakistani Literature published by Pakistan Academy of Letters and in the form of books and anthologies.

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

Categories
Stories

Fakir Khizmil & the Missing Princess

A Balochi folktale translated by Fazal Baloch

Balochistan. Courtesy: Creative Commons

Once there ruled a king over a certain land. In the outskirts of the land there lived a rich man. A few days later the rich man died leaving a huge sum of wealth and property behind. His widow made it to the palace and told the king: “My husband passed away a few days back leaving enormous wealth behind. I have no one to look after me except for my son. I fear I’ll be robbed off my property. I urge you to give me a place near your palace where I could live in peace and without fear”.

The king asked his men to find out if the woman was telling the truth. They reported back  that whatever the woman had told him was true. Her husband left her with enormously wealthy. The king, then, summoned her and asked her to live with them in the palace. He also told the woman that he would marry his daughter with her son when they were old enough. The woman was quite happy hearing this.

Time passed by.

The boy grew young and so did the king’s daughter. One day the woman went to the king and told him that she wanted to the marriage to take place. The king said that he had no objection whatsoever, but he asked her for a few days to make preparations. A few days later they were finally married. Along with jewels and fineries, the king also gifted a golden bowl to his daughter.

The groom took the bride to his house. One day, when the womenfolk were going to fetch water at a river near their home, the king’s daughter also expressed her desire to accompany them. They tried to convince her that as she was a princess, she should let them have the opportunity to serve her. But she was adamant and accompanied them. They filled their pots, washed their faces and started on their way back home. Midway through, the princess remembered that she had unmindfully left her golden bowl at the river. She excused herself and hurried back to the river.

When she reached the riverbank, she met four thirsty horsemen who stopped by to ask for a drink of water. She filled the golden bowl and offered it to the horsemen. He was struck by her beauty. Since she was alone, they rode beside her.

Meanwhile, the womenfolk waited for long, but the princess did not return. When they went to the river, there was no trace of her there. They told her mother-in-law about what befell her daughter-in-law. Initially she waited for her to turn up, but she did not return. She went out to search of her but could not find any clue. Later in the evening when her son came back, she started wailing and told her about the incident. Her son immediately went out looking for his wife but he too could not find any trace of her. As he went along the road, he noticed some strands of a woman’s hair and drag marks on the road. He followed the marks till he reached a town.

A few children were playing there. He asked one of the children whose son he was. The boy replied, “Fakir Khizmil”. 

“Where do you live?” he asked them.

“There.” They pointed towards a nearby house.

“Ask your father, a horseman has said, he would be your guest tonight.”

After covering some more distance, he was overwhelmed by thirst. He saw a woman was filling her jar at a nearby stream. He approached her and asked her for a bowl of water. Initially, the woman berated him but then she offered her water. He sat there to rest for a while. Then he coaxed/lured the woman into a conversation. Amongst other things, the woman revealed to him that their king had brought a beautiful maiden with a golden bowl from a distant land. The man felt relieved to have finally found news of his wife. He took leave of the woman and rode back to fakir’s.

The fakir’s meal used to be sent from the king’s palace. At night the young horseman noticed that someone had sealed her ring in the middle of the plate. He looked closely at it. It was his wife’s ring. Next day, he noticed the seal again on the plate. He secretly sent a message to his wife with the maidservant who delivered the food asking her to be ready so that he could rescue her and take her back that evening.

Meanwhile the fakir asked him about the purpose of his journey. He told him how the king took his wife away and how he had uncovered her traces. The fakir asked him:

“Is she ready to come with you?”

“Of course, she is. But I am wondering how to manage the escape as the king has a huge contingent of army and the swiftest horses in the land.”

“Don’t worry. Just ask her to take a goatskin bag full of water, a stone from the right corner of the house and a matchbox. The rest I will explain to you later.”

The next day, the maidservant told the young man that his wife was ready, and she had asked him to wait for her in the garden. When stars arrayed themselves across the night sky, she would come to him. The young man conveyed to her what the fakir had told him to do.

The fakir further advised him thus: “When you notice the king’s army approaching you, throw the stone at them. When you see them again drawing nearer, spill the water. Again, when you notice them drawing close to you, just light a matchstick and throw it towards them.”

Later in the evening he saddled his horse and made preparations for his departure. When stars had covered almost the whole sky, he secretly rode to the garden and waited for his wife. A later, she arrived carrying the goatskin bag, the stone and a matchbox. They mounted the horse and rode off.

At dawn, the king noticed the maiden was not in her bed. He knew she had fled. He commanded his men to find her and bring her back to the palace. He said: “Whosoever will bring her alive or her head, I will give that person half of my wealth”.

Numerous soldiers went in different directions looking for the woman.

Meanwhile, the young man and his wife noticed a group of horsemen were approaching them. The young man threw the stone towards them. It turned into a huge mountain standing between them and the king’s men. After covering some distance, again he saw another group of horsemen drawing close to them. He untied the mouth of the waterskin and spilled the water on the ground. The spilt water turned into a huge sea. Some of the horsemen drowned in the sea and the others turned back.

When they had drawn close to their land, the young man noticed some dust spiralling into the air. A few horsemen emerged out of the dust. By then, their horse had almost collapsed and it was barely moving forward.

The woman said: “Hurry up! We are almost surrounded.”

“Don’t worry,” said the young man. In that very moment he lit a matchstick and flung it towards the horsemen. A huge fire erupted around. The horsemen turned back and took to their heels.

Finally, the couple reached home and lived happily ever after.

(This tale is taken from Geedi Kessa-2(Folktales: Vol 2) compiled and retold by Mahmood Mari in Balochi and published by the Balochi Academy Quetta in 1969. Fazal Baloch has the translation rights for this. )

Fazal Baloch is a Balochi writer and translator. He has translated many Balochi poems and short stories into English. His translations have been featured in Pakistani Literature published by Pakistan Academy of Letters and in the form of books and anthologies.

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

Categories
Editorial

Where Have All the Sunflowers Gone?

Only when the cries of the wretched of the earth will stop renting the skies,
Only when the oppressor’s bloody sword will cease smearing battlefields,
			A rebel, weary of war,
			Only then I won’t stir.
…
I’m the ever-rebellious hero--
	Soaring over the world, all alone, head forever held high!

--  Rebel or 'Bidrohi' (1922) by Nazrul, translated by Fakrul Alam
Borderless: Digital Art by Ayaan Ghoshal
These fragments I have shored against my ruins
…
Datta. Dayadhvam. Damyata.         
 Shantih shantih shantih

-- Wasteland (1922) by TS Eliot

These lines reiterate values we would do well to live by in a war-torn, dissension-worn world where the need for a rebel to recreate a humane society that lives with values such as peace, generosity, acceptance, tolerance, compassion and restraint — is a felt need. The two great poems made history by remaining as popular a hundred years after they were written — ‘The Rebel’ by Nazrul and TS Eliot’s ‘Wasteland’. Nazrul defined a rebel as an iconoclast who breaks norms to find peace, justice and love for all, to move towards the creation of an ideal world. TS Eliot quoted from the Upanishads and ended with redemption coming with giving (giver perhaps denoted generosity), compassion and restraint. Despite the wisdom of these great poets and seers, war still continues a reality. The values remain neglected not just in as we see in conflicts, like the one in Ukraine that destroys lives, property and nature with intolerance towards differences, but also in our personal lives. Tagore also reiterated the same need for stepping out of personal, social, economic and political insularity. We carry a translation of a song that echoed this need while inviting participation in his ecstasy. He wrote:

Why do you sit in isolation,
Dwelling on self-centred issues? 

Tagore had not only written of the negative impact of isolation from the world but he led by example, building institutions that could lead the world towards pacifism with acceptance of diversity and inclusiveness. Sriniketan and Santiniketan were created to move towards these ideals. Many of the people he influenced or who studied in Santiniketan made history, like Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Satyajit Ray; many added to the sense of inclusiveness, like Mahasweta Devi, who other than her enormous work to integrate different cultures, also wrote a memoir about Santiniketan in Bengali. Radha Chakravarty, nominated for the Crossword Translation Award (2004) for In the Name of the Mother by Mahasweta Devi, has translated this memoir, a narrative which brings us close to Tagore’s ideals of the whole world being a family. How wonderful it would be if the world were open to such ideals and would behave like a global family and not go to war!  Mahasweta Devi, Our Santiniketan, which has been reviewed by Meenakshi Malhotra, reiterates Tagore’s vision of a planet living in harmony with the flora and fauna.

Bhaskar Parichha has reviewed another non-fiction by Ashok Kumar Pandey, Why They Killed Gandhi; Unmasking the Ideology and the Conspiracy. Parichha writes: “The finest point about this book is its storytelling…” The book review brings to mind in the midst of a war and violence that Gandhi had tried to erase this mindless destruction of lives, nature and cities with Ahimsa or non-violence. Will we ever rise up to it? Perhaps… We see strains of recognising the negative impact of insular outlook in writings like that of Temsula Ao, a Sahitya Akademi Award winner, according to Indrashish Banerjee who has reviewed her new book, The Tombstone in My Garden: Stories from Nagaland. Keith Lyons has reviewed Asian Anthology: New Writing Vol. 1: Stories by Writers from Around the World, edited by Ivy Ngeow, an exotic medley of Asian stories, one of which has been excerpted as well.

We are privileged to carry another excerpt from Ruskin Bond’s Friends in Wild Places: Birds, Beasts and Other Companions, a hilarious story about a pet tiger adopted by the legendary writer’s grandfather. What is amazing about Ruskin Bond’s writing is the love and compassions for all creatures great and small that colours the tongue-in-cheek humour he rolls out to his readers. If only we could think like Bond, there would be no wars. His writing, I feel, transcends political borders or ‘isms’, and laces with love and compassion tales of menageries of monkeys, snakes, mongoose, humans of different denominations. This excerpt is a treat we are giving Borderless Journal as the journal completes two years of its existence. We are truly grateful to Speaking Tiger for sharing this excerpt with us. But our celebrations this time are sombre as the war rages with incoherence accompanied by heart-breaking ravages.

The refrain from Ukraine has been taken up by Ratnottama Sengupta as she takes us through the past and present experiences of the devastated country, bringing in the views of the legendary folk singer and pacifist, Pete Seeger (1919-2014), who she had interviewed over a span of four days. The writer of ‘Where have all the Flowers Gone?’, a song based on an Ukrainian folk song, Seeger said, “The point is not to ask for yourself alone — one has to ask for everybody: Either we all are going to make it over the rainbow or nobody is going to make it.” Candice Louisa Daquin has also pondered on the justification of war, contextualising it with the current one along with her essay on the paradox of modern linguistic communication.

We have an exhaustive essay on the legendary Satyajit Ray’s creations by Anasuya Bhar. Malhotra has pondered at exclusivity reinforcing divisions, margins and borders to plague humankind, against the backdrop of the Women’s Month, March. Highlighting women in writing, we have interviewed two female writers, one from Nepal and another from Bangladesh. Sangita Swechcha lives in UK but her writing, till now largely in Nepali, often pines for her home embedded in the Himalayas whereas, an expat, Neeman Sobhan, shuttles between Bangladesh and Italy with the affluence and assurance of a privileged background.

Finding a way to override lack of privileges, deprivation and violence, are the youngsters of Nithari on the outskirts of Delhi where less than two decades ago other than poverty, savage criminality devastated the local populace. These youngsters transcended the suffering over time with help from volunteering NGOs to create narratives that amaze with their inventiveness and confidence. Tanveer Hussain from Nithari, self-motivated and self-made from a young age, asks questions that would be relevant for all humankind in a letter to God. It has been translated from Hindustani by Vritika Thareja of pandies’. This edition’s translations include Professor Fakrul Alam’s mellifluous rendition of Jibanananda Das’s poetry from Bengali to English, Ihlwha Choi’s Korean poetry and a Balochi poem by Munir Momin rendered in English by Fazal Baloch. Baloch had earlier translated poems by Akbar Barakzai, a great poet who departed on 7th March, depriving the world of yet another powerful writer who imbibed hope of a better future in his poetry. We are privileged to have hosted the translations of some of his poems and his last interview.

Another well-known poetic voice from Singapore, Kirpal Singh, has given us poignant poetry that can be applied to the situation that is leading to the wreck of Ukraine. Anasuya Bhar has  poetry, one of which despite being in the ilk of Nazrul’s great poem, ‘Rebel or Bidrohi’, questions gently mainly social constructs that obstruct the flow of harmony. Ryan Quinn Flanagan has pondered on the acceptance of a changed world. We have humour from Rhys Hughes in poetry and wonderful poems by Michael R Burch on spring. Jay Nicholls shares the last of her dozen Pirate poems as Blacktarn sails the lemon seas to fight pollution. Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal, George Freek, Sutputra Radheye, Mike Smith, Shaza Khan and many more have contributed a wealth of beautiful lines. Penny Wilkes has captured storms and seas with photographs and text and Rhys has surprised us with some strange, bizarre tales in his column.

We have musings from around the world. San Lin Tun, Meredith Stephens, Erwin Coombs, G Venkatesh have all brought in flavours of multiple cultures. Devraj Singh Kalsi has spoken of a book fair he visited in a semi-sardonic tone. He has also given us a short story as has Farah Ghuznavi – a truly borderless story which takes place in an aeroplane, in the sky where all borders collapse. We have more stories from Balochistan, US and India.

Suzanne Kamata continues writing on Japan as she  introduces us to an Australian film maker who is making films in Japan and in Japanese, called Felicity Tillack. Cultures are perhaps truly crossing borders as we can see Kenny Peavy, an environmentalist who moved from US to Indonesia start a new column with us called ‘Mission Earth’. We hope, like Tagore or Rousseau, he will help to revive our felt need to live with nature, acknowledge the nurture that we get from the planet to live in harmony with it and on it.

At the end of twenty-four months of existence – that sounds better than a mere two years— we are happy to host a melange of writers from across the borders and be the meeting grounds of writers and readers from across continents. I am truly thankful to all of you for helping concretise an ideal. Huge thanks to all the writers, artists, photographers and the readers for the contribution of their time, effort and love. And thanks to our fabulous team who continue to support the journal unwaveringly. I would also like to thank Sohana for the lovely visuals she generously shares with us. A special thanks also to young Ayaan Ghoshal for his digital art where hands reach out to support a truly borderless world.

As usual, all the content has not been covered here, I invite you all to enjoy our March edition of Borderless Journal.

At the start of the third year of our existence, let us march onwards towards renewed hope – maybe the Ukraine experience will take us closer to a war-free world with an awakening of a felt need for peace and compassion in a planet without borders.

In quest of a peaceful, humane world, I invite you all to continue being part of this journey.  

Mitali Chakravarty

Borderless Journal

Categories
Stories

Death will Come…

By Munaj Gul Baloch

 It was a quiet pleasant evening with an unending essence of hopelessness. Mahi was drained and unable to reply to her own self. It was about six in the evening. The breeze carried a soulful fragrance within its whispers. Mahi was sitting on the edge of Neheng River. The sparkle of the setting sun with the pleasing breeze solaced her and revived her, raising her out of her weariness. 

She remembered the sunset when she would sit a little distance away from Hasnain and stare at him. Hasnain was dispirited and was waiting to befriend death. So was death.

Hasnain’s tempting smiles and innocent face were forever visible within her tear-filled eyes. Mahi wandered why like a doomed soul he was unable to adjust himself to dwell in peace.

Mahi closed her eyes and scrutinised the jarring memories that wavered through her mind, remembering all those peaceful moments which were spent with him. The boy had died a year ago. His voice still haunted her. His image still drifted before her eyes. His grief was apparent in such visions and each of his words wafted back to her. 

 She was bound to suffer. She still heard the voice of his wretchedness as he screamed out loud.

 “Is there anyone to free me from this torture-cell? I am suffocated here. I no longer want to resist my own departure from myself. Neither have I had an existence nor a non-existence. I befriended nothingness.” 

These words of Hasnain made Mahi suffer till her last breath. She was dead silent after witnessing the misery and soreness of the blue boy as he tussled with death and lost himself.

It was the same day. It bound each life within death. Mahi was submerged with suffering, and she befriended death. So did death. 

The graveyard is proud to own deaths that had befriended lives and exposed souls.

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Munaj Gul Muhammed from Turbat, Balochistan, has been writing since 2017 on various educational, social and gender issues in different newspapers such as The Daily Times, Balochistan Voices, The Baloch News, Balochistan Point and other outlets. He has also won Agahi Award in the category of Human Rights in 2018.

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

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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
Slices from Life

Wooing Children to School

By Munaj Gul Muhammad

Shah Meer Sowali with the dog he wanted to sell. Photo Courtesy: Munaj Gul

Little Shah Meer Sowali got a dog with him to the bazaar in Turbat. He sold the dog for a small sum because he lives hand to mouth. His beloved and aged father is lame and they live in a broken room. Seeing the condition of little Shah Meer, members of an organisation called SFA (School for All) approached Shah Meer’s family and took the responsibility of the little boy and his little sister as before they both were out-of-school. The family had been unable to enroll the little children because of poverty.  Now, Shah Meer and his sister are enrolled in Bolan School.

The SFA is a non-profit organisation working for the promotion of education and reduction of student dropouts along with enrolling unschooled children into schools in Turbat since its establishment. It was established on October 1, 2020. Since its inception, the organisation has been successfully enrolling many orphans and disabled children along with financially weak children into different private and government educational institutions. The organisation is registered under Balochistan Charities Regulation Authority [BCRA] and is designed to serve the cause of education in the province. The organisation facilitates education of the enrolled students until they matriculate. These children are provided with books, shoes, bags, uniforms, stationery and fees along with other basic amenities.

Given that Pakistan is one of the most illiterate countries of the world, education for people is a daydream. Fahad Baloch, had to go to Quetta to get a basic education.  Unlike Fahad, his brother was not as fortunate. Despite wanting to go to school, he could not. A large chunk of children had no access to uneducated in his locality. But now this gap is being attempted to be bridged by the SFA.

The prime ambition of this organisation is to aid edifying the society where everyone acquires the opportunity to receive an education. They also hope to subsidise the costs. The organisation has successfully conducted three educational awareness programs in different areas of the region and received an affirmative response of the society to enrolling the out-of-school children into schools. The core drive of conducting such programmes was to impart a real sense or essence of education to the minds of the people in the region.

The SFA has been successful in enrolling 21 out-of-school children into private schools and 34 in government institutions. These enrolled children are registered by an agreement drawn up between the organisation and the parents of the children. They have even opened four bookstalls in the region to help get books to those who can read. “The benefits received by the SFA from the bookstalls go to these needy people,” said Kamran Gichki of the SFA. “Since the inception of the organisation, we approached many people, among them some were government officials from the concerned departments, and we shared our motives with them. We received affirmative and moral support from these officers but got financial support only from the middle-class residents in the region. The government is yet to support us in our efforts financially even though by Article 25A, they have made education a must for five to sixteen year olds.”

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Munaj Gul Muhammed is a journalist and a LLB student at Faculty of Law, University of Turbat. He tweets at @MunajGul

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