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Pandemic Pandemonium

As we glide in and out of different phases of the pandemic, recalling when it started to make news takes one to a different world, a world where human interactions, travel, life — all of it seemed more predictable. I remember, I heard of it while in Yogyakarta in December 2019. At that time, we just knew of some new outbreak that had taken toll of a few human lives.

In three months, it became larger and larger and lockdowns became a reality. At some point, the outbreak was named a pandemic. Now, it seems to loom over us like a Sisyphean burden which rolls back to a fresh threat from a new variant just as we start to feel we have finally overcome the virus and made it to the peak, where we can resume our old ways. Is this a hint that we need to redefine our lives and change the tenor of our existence?

With eternal optimism for a weapon, mankind has overcome more deadly situations, when there were neither labs nor technologies to overcome diseases. Writers on our pages have reacted to the multiple outbreaks in varied ways. Here we present a selection of poems, stories and non-fiction from Mid-2021 that feature the onset of the new waves of the virus, which eventually will hopefully evolve to become an endemic. What is heartening to see is some writing has started to move towards a direction to define new ways to overcome the fear and darkness that seem to have been generated by the inability to bounce back to our ‘normal’ ways of living within a given timeframe. Perhaps, one should tend to agree with Keith Lyons, when he says in his essay: “I’ve learned to better cope with the challenges of life. As Jedi Master Yoda once said: ‘Named must be your fear before banish it you can’.”

Poetry

One Last Time by Heena Chauhan. Click here to read.

A Lament, A Prayer by Bibek Adhikari. Click here to read.

O Mother, O Father! by Ruchi Acharya. Click here to read.

Hope in Pandemic by Geetha Ravichandran. Click here to read.

Non-Fiction

Here, There, Nowhere, Everywhere

‘Did life change or did I change’ ponders New Zealander Keith Lyons. Click here to read.

Corona & the Police

Subhankar Dutta reflects on the role the police has taken in a pandemic torn world. Click here to read.

Fiction

If at all

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

The Arangetram or The Debut

Sheefa V. Mathews weaves lockdown and parenting into a story of a debuting dancer. Click here to read.

Categories
Index

Borderless, June 2021

Editorial

Restless Stirrings… Click here to read.

Interviews

In conversation with Fakrul Alam, an eminent translator, critic and academic from Bangladesh who has lived through the inception of Bangladesh from East Bengal, translated not just the three greats of Bengal (Tagore, Nazrul, Jibanananda) but also multiple political leaders. Click here to read.

In conversation with Arindam Roy, the Founder and Editor-in-cheif of Different Truths, an online portal for social journalism with forty years of experience in media and major Indian newspapers. Click here to read

Poetry

Click on the names to read

Jared Carter, Geetha Ravichandran, Heena Chauhan, Michael R. Burch, Ruchi Acharya, Jim Bellamy, Bibek Adhikari, Rhys Hughes, Ihlwha Choi, Sutputra Radheye, Jay Nicholls, Geethu V Nandakumar, John Grey, Ana Marija Meshkova

Limericks by Michael R. Burch

Nature’s Musings

Changing Seasons, a photo-poem by Penny Wilkes.

Poets, Poetry & Rhys Hughes

In Never Knowingly Understood : The Sublime Daftness of Ivor Cutler, Rhys Hughes takes us to the world of a poet who wrote much about our times with a sense of humour. Click here to read.

Translations

Akbar Barakzai’s poem, The Law of Nature, translated by Fazal Baloch. Click here to read.

Kazi Nazrul Islam’s poem, Shammobadi (The Equaliser) translated by Shahriyer Hossain Shetu. Click here to read.

Tagore’s Amar Shonar Horin Chai (I want the Golden Deer) translated by Mitali Chakravarty, edited and interpreted in pastel by Sohana Manzoor. Click here to read.

To mark the birth centenary of Satyajit Ray, Ratnottama Sengupta translates from Nabendu Ghosh’s autobiography experience of Pather Panchali ( Song of the Road) — between covers and on screen. Click here to read.

Musings

An Immigrant’s Story

Candice Louisa Daquin tells us what it means to be an American immigrant in today’s world. Click here to read.

Navigating Borders

Wendy Jones Nakanishi, an academic who started her life in a small town called Rolling Prairie in midwestern US, talks of her journey as a globe trotter — through Europe and Asia — and her response to Covid while living in UK. Click here to read.

I am a Jalebi

Arjan Batth tells us why he identifies with an Indian sweetmeat. Click here to read why.

The Significance of the Roll Number

Shahriyer Hossain Shetu writes of ironing out identity at the altar of modern mass education. Click here to read.

Musings of a Copywriter

In Creative on Campus, Devraj Singh Kalsi with a soupcon of humour, explores young romances and their impact. Click here to read.

Adventures of a Backpacking Granny

Sybil Pretious visits volcanoes and lakes in Frenetic Philippines. Click here to read.

Essays

Here, There, Nowhere, Everywhere

‘Did life change or did I change from the events of the last year,’ ponders New Zealander Keith Lyons who was in the southern state of Kerala when the first cases of Covid-19 were detected in India last January. Click here to read.

The Story of a Bald Eagle & a Turkey

A photo essay by Penny and Michael B Wilkes on the American bald eagle to commemorate their Independence Day. Click here to read.

The Day Michael Jackson Died

A tribute  by Julian Matthews to the great talented star who died amidst ignominy and controversy. Click here to read.

Remembering Shiv Kumar Batalvi

Amrita Sharma has written a memorablia on the Punjabi poet, Shiv Kumar Batalvi, who wrote in the 1960s. Click here to read.

Tagore and Guru Nanak’s Vision

Parneet Jaggi talks of the influence Guru Nanak on Tagore, his ideology and poetry. Click here to read.

Bhaskar’s Corner

In Amrita Sher-Gil: An Avant-Garde Blender of the East & West, Bhaskar Parichha shows how Amrita Sher-Gil’s art absorbed the best of the East and the West. Click here to read.

Stories

Flash Fiction: Peregrine

Brindley Hallam Dennis tells us the story of a cat and a human. Click here to read.

The Crystal Ball

Saeed Ibrahim gives us a lighthearted story of a young man in quest of a good future. Click here to read

The Arangetram or The Debut

Sheefa V. Mathews weaves lockdown and parenting into a story of a debuting dancer. Click here to read.

Ghumi Stories: The Other Side of the Curtain

Nabanita Sengupta explores childhood and its experiences. Click here to read.

The Literary Fictionist

Sunil Sharma explores facets of terrorism and its deadly impact on mankind in Truth Cannot Die. Click here to read.

Book Reviews

Neelima Dalmia Adhar’s The Secret Diary Of Kasturba reviewed by Meenakshi Malhotra. Click here to read.

Shrilal Shukla’s Fragments of Happiness translated by Niyati Bafna and reviewed by Rakhi Dalal. Click here to read

Bhaskar Parichha reviews Transformational Leadership in Banking edited by Anil K. Khandelwal. Click here to read.

Book Excerpt

An excerpt from Enter Stage Right by Feisal Alkazi with a visual of young Alkazi dancing in one of the earliest discos of New Delhi. Click here to read.

Categories
Poetry

A Lament, A Prayer

By Bibek Adhikari

Kathmandu Ring Road during Lockdown. Courtesy: Creative Commons
A Lament, A Prayer


This slow sweltering summer day
the suburb seems to be sleeping,
succumbing to the heavy & humid daytime lull.
 
I walk from room to room 
with a glass of fizzy drink,
losing track of time 
with my multifarious musings.
 
I sit down to work 
amid the late afternoon susurrus sneaking 
in from the latticed windows.
 
I put my pen aside —
and there it rests on the table, 
too tired, too reluctant to write about 
all the paralyzing things happening
in the world.
 
My mushy brain throbs 
in its liquid room,
swimming in endless tragedies 
of faraway places.
 
At home, there’s birdsong
and a willful indifference,
though the heart is not impervious
to losing.
 
Days go by.
Sparrows cheep and flutter,
moths die on window panes,
nothing arrives—
not a single news of the ones 
who left us in these sleepy suburbs,
full of endless waiting.

Bibek Adhikari writes poetry and fiction. He lives in Kathmandu and works as a freelance technical writer and editor.

Categories
Poetry

Karma

By Bibek Adhikari

Words dribble down from the corners
of your mouth. From within the temple, 

gods tremble with your frosty voice —
they now need a glass of moonshine.

The night is paused on LED screens.

The quietness of eating alone
in this rented room is too loud to bear.

Someone screeches—
a staccato bark of madness.
Is it your heartbeat?

There is pain that seeks its way out
through the crack in your heart.

This too shall pass as time goes by.

The overhead yellow light is on —
you are by yourself at the dinner table.

Pick up the pen, bleed poetry.

Bibek Adhikari is a poet and critic based in Kathmandu. A full-time technical writer for Deerwalk Inc., he divides his time between poetry and ‘unpoetic’ documentation. His poems and narratives have been published in some prints and online publications, including The Kathmandu Post, República Daily, and Annapurna Express. Currently, he’s working on his manuscript of poems.

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