Categories
Index

Borderless, May 2021

Editorial

And this too shall pass… Click here to read

Translations

Songs of Seasons: Translated by Fakrul Alam

Bangla Academy literary award winning translator, Dr Fakrul Alam, translates six seasonal songs of Tagore. Click here to read.

Temples and Mosques

Kazi Nazrul Islam’s fiery essay translated by Sohana Manzoor. Click here to read.

Purify My Life

Kazi Nazrul Islam’s poem, Purify my Life, translated by Shahriyer Hossain Shetu. Click here to read.

Waiting for Godot by Akbar Barakzai

Akbar Barakzai’s poem translated by Fazal Baloch. Click here to read.

Solus

Aditya Shankar translates a poem by Sujith Kumar. Click here to read.

The Last Boat

Tagore’s Diner Sheshe Ghoomer Deshe translated by Mitali Chakravarty with an interpretation in pastels by Sohana Manzoor. Click here to read.

Poetry

Anasuya Bhar, Scott Thomas Outlar, Saranyan BV, Matthew James Friday, Nitya Mariam John, RJ Kaimal, Jay Nicholls, Tasneem Hossain, Rhys Hughes, Vatsala Radhakeesoon, Ihlwha Choi, Himadri Lahiri, Sunil Sharma, Mike Smith, Jared Carter

Nature’s Musings

Photo-Poetry by Penny & Michael Wilkes. Click here to read.

Poets, Poetry & Rhys Hughes

Lear and Far

As a tribute to the 209th anniversary of Edward Lear, Rhys Hughes writes of his famous poem, ‘Owl and the Pussycat’, and writes a funny ending for it rooted in the modern day. Click here to read.

Stories

If at all

Shobha Nandavar, a physician in Bangalore, depicts the trauma of Covid 19 in India with compassion. Click here to read.

First Lady

Rituparna Khan gives us a brief vignette from the life of one of the first women doctors in India, Dr Kadambari Ganguly. Click here to read.

Mr Dutta’s Dream

Atreyo Chowdhury takes us into the world of unquenchable wanderlust. Click here to read.

Neemboo Ka Achaar or Maa’s Lemon Pickle

A compelling flash fiction by Suyasha Singh hovering around food and a mother’s love. Click here to read.

The Literary Fictionist

In A Lunch Hour Crisis, Sunil Sharma raises humanitarian concerns that though raised in a pandemic-free world, have become more relevant and concerning given our current predicament. Click here to read.

Musings/Slices from Life

Serve the People

Danielle Legault Kurihara, a Quebecker in Japan, writes of differences in rituals. Click here to read.

Why I write?
Basudhara Roy tells us how writing lingers longer than oral communications. Click here to read more.

The Quiet Governance of Instinct

Candice Louisa Daquin, a psychotherapist, talks of the importance of trusting our instincts. Click here to read more.

Musings of a Copywriter

In Nations without NobelDevraj Singh Kalsi takes a fresh look at national pride with a soupçon of sarcasm and humour. Click here to read.

Adventures of the Backpacking Granny

In Visit to Rural BaoyingSybil Pretious travels to spend a night with a local family in rural China in a ‘hundred-year-old home’.Click here to read.

Essays

Four Seasons and an Indian Summer

Keith Lyons talks of his experiences of seasons in different places, including Antarctica. Click here to read.

Rabindranath and the Etchings of His Mind

Anasuya Bhar explores the various lives given to a publication through the different edited versions, translations and films, using Tagore as a case study and the work done to provide these online. Click here to read.

My Experiments with Identity

Tejas Yadav explores identity from the context Heraclitus, Rumi down to his own. Click here to read.

Can Songs be the Musical Conscience of a Film?

Prithvijeet Sinha uses Gaman (Departure), a Hindi movie around the pain of migrant workers, as a case study to highlight his contention that lyrics and songs convey much in Indian films. Click here to read.

Bhaskar’s Corner

In Manoj Das – The Master Storyteller, Bhaskar Parichha pays a tribute to one of the greatest storytellers from the state of Odisha, India, Manoj Das( 1934-2021). Click here to read.

Book Excerpt

Excerpted from A Bengali Lady in England (1885): Annotated Translation with Critical Introduction to Krishnabhabini Das’ Englandey Bangamahila by Nabanita Sengupta. Click here to read.

Book Reviews

A review of Feisal Alkazi‘s memoir, Enter Stage Right: The Alkazi Padamsee Family Memoir by Rakhi Dalal. Click here to read.

A review of Shakti Ghosal‘s The Chronicler of the Hooghly and Other Stories by Gracy Samjetsabam. Click here to read.

Bhaskar Parichha reviews Raising a Humanist by Manisha Pathak-Shelat‘s and Kiran Vinod Bhatia. Click here to read.

Interviews

Communication scholars and authors, Manisha Pathak-Shelat and Kiran Vinod Bhatia, discuss how to bring up children in these troubled times, based on their book, Raising a Humanist, which has just been released. Click here to read.

Sonya J Nair of Samyukta Poetry talks about the Samyukta Research Foundation and its affiliates and its festival, Anantha. Click here to read.

Sara’s Selections, May 2021

A selection of young person’s writings from Bookosmia. Click here to read.

Categories
Musings

Why I write?

By Basudhara Roy

Lest the title should endeavour to, and not illegitimately so, inspire grandiose expectations of an Orwellian figure articulating a significant thesis intended to shed historical light on a momentous body of work, its humble writer hastens, at the very outset, to clarify that the observations that follow amount to no pretentious authorial manifesto, constituting rather, humdrum, colloquial reflections on her overwhelming predilection for the written word.

Why I write, is a question I have often asked myself. And here, I refer to writing not merely in its grander and more serious manifestation as profession, passion or avocation but also in its immediate semantic sense of being exactly what it is, written communication. I would rather text, mail, or write in longhand to people depending, of course, on my level of familiarity with them and the kind of communication that is intended, rather than personally meet or call them. Neither voice nor physical presence succeeds in offering to me the warmth that a few written lines are able to evoke. Given that I can speak fluently, confidently, effectively, affectively, even attractively on a subject for that matter, why is it that I tend to gravitate towards writing, that universally acknowledged formal mode of expression?

To begin with, the choice, most inevitably, has to do with my fallacy that writing, somehow, is more personal than speech and, thereby, more articulate, more sincere, and more meaningful. It matters to me that written sentences are structured with more concern, written words carefully weighed and chosen, the act of writing itself more considered, less spontaneous, and requiring a degree of attention and premeditation that casual oral communication seems, sadly, to want. If speech is intended for quick communication, writing, I believe, makes way for more nuanced, more thoughtful and more pleasurable exchanges of meaning. Its texture ensures that empathy or irony or humour is not lost and that it is always rediscovered in every reading.

This brings me, secondly, to my faith in the relative endurance of the written word or at least the possibility of it, over its oral counterpart. While spoken words are obedient ghosts that, bidden, disappear into thin air, our written words are the unruly phantoms that inhere and haunt us as long as they please. This is not to say that writing, in its physical or virtual right, is immune to disasters. Note-carrying pigeons may fall exhausted in their journeys and fail to arrive; confessions may, Tess-like, be swept underneath carpets not to be found till it’s too late; poems may be lost to the winds; cards may be smudged and their greetings obliterated by spilled tea; letters may be delivered into wrong hands; newspapers may be used to line racks or dispose soiled diapers; and to top them all is the eternal threat by fire.

Technology has, thankfully, worked hard to ease one’s fears here but the threat to the written word still looms large. Recalcitrant CDs refuse to be read by unfamiliar drives; storage devices go corrupt; messages are absentmindedly deleted; mails may lie unopened for days at a time; and worse, network issues may inhibit the process of communication altogether. All this, notwithstanding, the fact remains that the spoken word, unless eminently memorable, is eminently forgettable. What is written is capable of being read as many times as one pleases and in tandem with its greater effect is its freedom to be paused at will and to be picked up, to no disadvantage, when one has regained the time or the appetite for it.

Thirdly, what excites me about the written word is that for it, the act of interpretation never ceases. Speech is lost eggresively with the breath and cannot be recalled or revisited for meaning in exactly the same context whatever one might do. Besides, intonation constitutes an important semantic factor in it so that words, often, are dressed in meanings not strictly their own. In contrast to this, the written word remains forever genuine, forever open, inviting one in the same way to linger, ponder, consider and re-consider.

But most of all, it seems to me, that my obsession with writing stems from the intimacy that is built into the verb, the intimacy of putting thought to word, pen to paper, or finger to keyboard. It matters to me that the word ‘writing’ etymologically traces its roots to verbs like ‘carving’ and ‘drawing’ and involves, thereby, a labour of love that seems absent in speech. To write is to pay attention; to carve a message thoughtfully in words that have been summoned exclusively for the act is to be personal. Again, writing is an act of survival in a bewildering world. It is an anchor to one’s sanity, an agent of existential signification, a promise of cathartic salvation. To write is to attempt to surface from the sea of anonymity and resignation. It is to protest against time’s transience, against life’s tyranny. It a world that losing all, one would rather win; a mirror in which one sees oneself as one is; a gift one bestows upon all those one chooses to write for.

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Basudhara Roy is Assistant Professor of English at Karim City College affiliated to Kolhan University, Chaibasa. She is the author of a monograph, Migrations of Hope: A Study of the Short Fiction of Three Indian American Writers (New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers, 2019) and two collections of poems, Moon in my Teacup (Kolkata: Writer’s Workshop, 2019) and Stitching a Home (New Delhi: Red River, 2021). She writes and reviews from Jamshedpur, Jharkhand, India.

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

Categories
Review

Of Journeying between Worlds

A Review of Nitoo Das’s Crowbite by Basudhara Roy

Title: Crowbite

Author: Nitoo Das

Publisher: Red River, 2020

In her essay, ‘Woman and Bird’ in What is Found There: Notebooks on Poetry and Politics, poet and essayist Adrienne Rich describes her sudden sighting of a magnificent great blue heron, a bird she has never seen from close quarters before and this brief encounter leads her on to a dialogic exploration of  “all the times when people have summoned language into the activity of plotting connections between, and marking distinctions among, the elements presented to our senses”, of the potentiality of making such experiences the means of interpretation of poetry and life. Concluding the essay, Rich writes:

“Neither of us—woman or bird—is a symbol, despite efforts to make us that. […] I made no claim upon the heron as my personal instructor. But our trajectories crossed at a time when I was ready to begin something new, the nature of which I did not clearly see. And poetry, too, begins in this way: the crossing of trajectories of two (or more) elements that might not otherwise have known simultaneity. When this happens, a piece of the universe is revealed as if for the first time.”

One of the apparent reasons that this essay comes to my mind after reading Nitoo Das’s third collection of poetry, Crowbite, is of course the fact that both these writings are undeniably watermarked by the experience of birdwatching. Nitoo Das, professor, bird watcher, bird photographer, and poet with many anthologies under her belt,  profoundly echoes Rich’s idea of poetry here – “the crossing of trajectories of two (or more) elements that might not otherwise have known simultaneity” and its revelation of a piece of the universe that has been scarcely perceived in the same way before.

As powerful as they are beautiful, as experimental as they are traditional, and as astounding as they are soothing, the thirty poems in this collection will take the reader on a journey that begins concretely in place and culminates in an existential place-less-ness that haunts both without and within. Close attention to topography is an important feature of Das’s poetry and each poem in Crowbite is testimony to the poet’s intimate communication and engagement with the landscape of her hometown in the hills. While even a cursory glance at the titles in the book reveals an intense grounding of most of these poems in a physical locale – like Mawphlang, Laitkynsew, Tawang, NEHU, Ka Kshaid Lai Pateng Khohsiew — all poems here are undoubtedly contextualized in a well-defined geographical space. Arne Naess in Life’s Philosophy writes, “There is a telling German word, Merkwelt, for which the closest English equivalent is “everything that a definite being is aware of”. When it comes to landscape poetry, Das’s Merkwelt is profoundly rich and she can penetrate the ostensible and concrete in it to arrive at the unusual and remote. In the poem ‘Root Bridge, Mawlynnong’, for instance, roots find their being in a metaphor from the world of fiction:

These roots are words that many hands have looped into a tale

With dangling subplots, conflicts, an infinite resolution …

In ‘Spotting a Spotted Forktail’, the “yin-yang bird” acquires an unusually graphic description:

He sprints

like the scattered prints of a newspaper.

he is a chess game speckled

with dots. A zebra bird

with strategic fullstops.

A monochrome

forktrailing a contrast

where the Rhododendron drops.

There are many markers – geographical, cultural and linguistic – with the North-East manifesting a presence as a protagonist within this collection. The poems themselves take on the serenity and wonder of the landscape they describe. However, it won’t take the reader long to realise that Das’s poetry, though, it stems from a territorial response to being and belonging in physical space, enacts itself essentially in the mind. Her landscape, rich though it is, telescopes almost inevitably into her mindscape and it is from this that her images acquire their rich visceral quality.

Examine, for instance, the opening and closing poems of the collection. The opening poem, ‘Mawphlang’ begins with a physical forest that threatens constantly to slide inwards:

The forest is something indecisive

between twig and soil.

It is an old woman opening

her mouth. She has nothing to reveal.

The closing piece, ‘The Cat’s Daughters’, as surreptitious, as mysterious and as metaphysical as the cat itself, closes with a journey that is decidedly inwards, a call towards primordiality, a return to the womb:

We imagine
our mother aging. We worry about her. She tells us:
If the basil dies and the milk curdles, come
save me. And so,
the basil dies and the milk curdles
and we go off on our travels. No,
we marry neither the merchant
nor the river prince. We birth
neither pestles
nor pumpkins. We want to find
our mother, see her silver eyes, touch
her old fur,
kiss her fish-mouth again.

It is this essential spatial tension between the landscape and the mindscape that accounts for a very different sense of temporality in Das’s poems, a fact that strikes one quite early into Crowbite. Though these poems are nourished by a deep affinity towards the natural world, the temporal rhythm they owe their allegiance to is neither chronological nor geological but purely intellectual, something I would call, mind time. Whether, it is observing a forktail, a leaf, a waterfall, an elephant, the rhododendrons, a painting or even a bus, Das’s reflections follow their own trajectory, their unique ratiocinative beat and it is through the subconscious meeting of these trajectories that her powerful poetry is born.

Poems like ‘Leaf in My Room’ and ‘In Which Mawlynnong is a Fractal’ are brilliant poetic ratiocinations explored through questions and answers. While in the former, each answer leads to more questions and in the latter, the questions don’t stop for answers, in both the poems we are brought only and amply close to the understanding of language’s failure to ask or answer, and in turn, to know or mirror the world. And this overpowering awareness of the powerlessness of language to make sense of the world is perhaps what bestows its greatest strength to Nitoo Das’s poetry.

Devdutt Pattnaik, a mythologist, in his article ‘The Song of the Crow’ writes:

“The word ‘why’ is translated as ka in Sanskrit, the sacred language of Hinduism. Ka is the first consonant of the Sanskrit language. It is both an interrogation as well as an exclamation. It is also one of the earliest names given to God in Hinduism. During funeral ceremonies, Hindus are encouraged to feed crows. The crow caws, ‘Ka?! Ka?!’ It is the voice of the ancestors who hope that the children they have left behind on earth spend adequate time on the most fundamental question of existence, ‘Why?! Why?!’ In mythology there is a crow called Kakabhusandi who sits on the branch of Kalpataru, the wish-fulfilling tree. The tree fulfills every wish but is unable to answer Kakabhusandi’s timeless and universal question, ‘Ka?! Ka?!’ “

Though the eponymous and incredibly moving poem ‘Crowbite’ in the book is engendered within a different cultural mythology and worldview, the crow remains here, as elsewhere, a “cawcawcaw of black” a cry connecting the soul to the Earth, a question-mark on civilization, a suspicion, a misgiving, a patch of darkness on the possibility of knowledge, an epistemological interrogation, a stark reminder of human vulnerability. In the closing lines of the poem, the crowbite that pursues Bhobai like both prophecy and legacy, becomes a metaphor not just for creative freedom but also existential freedom. It is freedom from civilization and its hierarchies of truth and knowledge, a crossing over of boundaries – from physical to metaphysical, and an affirmation of the ultimate embodiment of the world. Bhobai the man becoming Bhobai the crow acquires an in/sight that is terribly human and yet beyond the scope of the average, fallible person:

I went wherever I wanted to. I looked at people’s eyes and knew their secrets. I sang songs with the fishermen. I bathed in the sacred river and flew away from their temples before they could throw stones at me.

A word must be spoken for the publisher, Red River, whose superb designing of the book immensely succeeds in drawing attention to the tactile and visceral quality that inhabits these poems. Not to be missed are the remarkable illustrations by the poet that by bringing in another dimension of visuality and experience, lend a sinewy force to the overall interpretation of Crowbite – a collection that will as swiftly make a home in the readers’ hearts as it makes its way to their shelves.

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Basudhara Roy is Assistant Professor of English at Karim City College, Jamshedpur, Jharkhand, India. Sheis the author of two books, Migrations of Hope (Criticism; New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers, 2019) and Moon in My Teacup (Poetry; Kolkata: Writer’s Workshop, 2019). Her second poetry collection, Stitching a Home, is forthcoming in 2021.

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

Categories
Poetry

Pidgin, Pockets & more…

Pidgin

We have no language 
in common, hence, turn
to pidgin. Pitch makeshift 
tents on half-hearted 
ground. Peg raw, jagged

adjectives, broken verbs
on stubborn clotheslines
of need to offer damp
confessions to the watery
sun of our understanding.

Some significations fall
into place like punctuations
well-meant. Others are lost
like winged seeds as they
spin towards uninviting

ground. For the rest, silence
rules; eats its way with acerbic
faith into the hesitation of 
spaces. We meet in pidgin's
transit; part without memory.




Pockets
When it comes to
chests, drawers, pockets,
I can be a nuisance.
Given one to myself
I pile an entire life in it
sans a sense of order.

Staples, clips, buttons, a
watch perhaps will jostle here
with currency notes, pencil shavings,
a chance leaf, an unfinished letter,
some candies for you, a book
I am trying to read. 

Their nature hardly matters
save they each matter to me.
In the way that sharing every
morsel of my hours with you
matters and I thoughtlessly feed you
with pieces of myself the day through.

Putting in guilt, memory, sorrow,
laughter all together, unsorted,
a mosaic of myself, a mess.
Is that why you left?



Granted


We grow up taking
too many things 
for granted - hems,
shores, rivers, knots,
words, locks, walls.
Yesterday, I
felt betrayed when
a door that had
promised to stay shut,
unwarranted, gave way.















Uncritiqued

In teeming landscapes of
punctiliously ordered signifiers,
I strive to break free of grooved
meanings to rebelliously create

my own. I knife through
assumptions, dig into inferences,
plunder synonyms, claw allusions.
But, on diet, it is futile to want

to turn words into salt-shakers
in the concrete hope of sprinkling
salvation. Some texts, perhaps,
are best swallowed, uncritiqued.

By Basudhara Roy

Pidgin

Pockets

Granted

Uncritiqued

Basudhara Roy is the author of two books, a monograph, Migrations of Hope: A Study of the Short Fiction of Three Indian American Writers (New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers, 2019) and a collection of poems, Moon in my Teacup (Kolkata: Writer’s Workshop, 2019). She has been an alumnus of Banaras Hindu University where she was awarded the gold medal for academic excellence at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. She secured the UGC Junior Research Fellowship and has earned her doctoral degree in diaspora women’s writing from Kolhan University, Chaibasa.  Basudhara’s areas of academic interest are diaspora writing, cultural studies, gender studies and postmodern criticism. Her research articles and book reviews have widely appeared in reputed academic journals across the country and as chapters in books. As a creative writer, she has featured in an anthology, Dancing the Light: Poems from Australia and India,  and in magazines like Muse India, Shabdadguchha, Cerebration, Rupkatha, The Challenge, I-mantra, The Volcano, Gnosis, Daath Voyage, Das Literarisch, Reviews, Triveni, Setu, Hans India and on the Zee Literature Festival Blog. She is Assistant Professor of English at Karim City College, Jamshedpur, Jharkhand and can be reached at basudhara.roy@gmail.com.