Categories
Nostalgia Slices from Life

Lounging through Lucknow Lore

Nidhi Mishra takes us on a nostalgic journey through the syncretic elements of Lucknawi culture

“I know you are from Lucknow, but must our daughter lose marks in your mother tongue for some whimsical assertion of your Lucknawi roots?!” my (Kannadiga) husband asked incredulously. He was even more stunned to see the hesitation I had in giving the obvious answer categorically.

I had barred my daughter to use the (correct) word ‘main’ in Hindi, a perfect translation of ‘I’ in English and all its variations (mera, mujhe etc) and instead had raised my girl to refer to herself as ‘hum’ (literally translates to ‘we’ in English). Her Hindi teacher had rightfully pointed out that it was not the right usage. In my mind I agree, but in my Lucknawi heart I think, “Why not?”


My brother recently pointed out that it is not to do with the interweaving of Urdu, since Urdu ghazals liberally use the word ‘main’ and its variations. Like so many other things about the city, this is another ‘unreasonable’ characteristic of belonging to Lucknow.

It will be exactly  two decades since I left Lucknow now, but the immense assimilation of cultures, language and location has not dulled the city’s flame in me.  I recall these beautiful lines by the two-times Man Booker prize winner, Hilary Mantel: “We can’t excuse the past, just for being over and done. We can’t say, ‘all water under the bridge’…The past is always trickling under the soil, a slow leak you can’t trace.”

I find it hard to define Lucknow, as must be the case for any city, for that matter. Yes, you can always sum it up in its Ganga Jamuna tehzeeb and lehza (syncretic culture), but sometimes it is hard to keep things brief. I depend heavily on people, incidents and anecdotes to illustrate the spirit of the city, as I had known it. 

In Lucknow, boundaries were blurred.

I did all my schooling in Lucknow, at the famous now 148-year-old old Loreto Convent, fluent in every Christian hymn and lover of every Christmas carol. My brother, who went to St Francis, grew up in a similar ethos. My best friend in Junior School was Saba and my brother’s was Danish. We lived a stone’s throw away from the iconic Hazratganj area. But we were never raised to notice religion in our surroundings or friends. How I wish I could make my kids unaware of these distinctions as well.

My grandfather was a very respected person. Legend has it that the level of his anger could be measured by how deep his transition was from conversational Hindi to Urdu. So, when he opened the conversation with “Barkhurdaar, aap nihayti ahmek insaan hain (Sir, you are a scoundrel; spoken in Urdu),” it was a red alert for anyone planning an escape from a beautiful sounding reprimand.

When my father talks of poetry, there is a special flicker in his eyes. He is a prolific writer himself and listening to Begum Akhtar with him on his long-playing record player, has been one of the finest pleasures of my life. It is no wonder that my mother is a naturalised Lucknawi who joyfully watches Urdu poetry gatherings, mushairas, on You-tube. My father still displays extraordinary pride when he shares that the bungalow in which Begum Akhtar resided, was leased out by our family. I think he relishes the fact that in some distant, dreamy way, there is a piece of paper which houses both his and the Begum’s name. 

In Lucknow, everyone had a poetic tongue.  

Muskuraiye, ki aap Lucknow mein hain (Smile, now that you are in Lucknow),” greets the billboard as you enter the city.

What happens when you end up brushing past another vehicle on the road? Freezing glares, verbal assault, even a fist fight?  In the Lucknow of my time, you would hear the other person say, “Gareeb aadmi hain sahib, gaadi chadha deejiyega? (I am but a poor man sir, run me over?)” You would have no option but to hand over your melted heart to that person and drive away.

Cycle rickshaws were ubiquitous in my time. The rickshaw pullers, who would physically pull our weight (though with the help of wheels on the vehicle) and had to put in so much manual labour, would always cheerfully ask, “Bataiye janaab, aaj kahan le jaaenge? (Please tell Sir, where will you be taking me today?)”

The Nawaabs of Lucknow 

We grew up with not just love for the good life, but also respect for it. ‘Shaukeen’ (aficionado) is a word which I find hard to translate but synonymous with Lucknow life.

My Dadi (grandmother) was the highlight of my growing up years and in my mind carried the charms of the city in her personality. Unlike most women from her time, she was extremely well-educated for her time (and even for today) with a master’s degree in literature and having joined my grandfather when he went for higher studies to England. It was not rare to hear her casually weave some Latin phrase, like Nil nisi bonum* into a conversation. She was responsible for my (rather early) transition from Nancy Drew and the likes to Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca, opening up the gates of romantic literature. 

Many years later, on my grandfather’s Shraadh (annual death ceremony), while conforming to the traditional brahmin rituals and serving of traditional food for the supposed appeasement of my grandfather’s soul, Dadi would also make sure that the holy cow was also served his favourite burger. She brushed aside stereotypes with little pomp, much panache and a lot of understated elegance. And in all of this, she personified the spirit of Lucknow to me.

Another differentiating trait was about taking life easy. While my kids are often told, “Early to bed, early to rise…,” I remember hearing the saying, ‘Aaram badi cheez hai, munh dhak ke soiye, kis kis ko yaad keejiye, kis kis ko roiye (Comfort is a big thing, relax and sleep peacefully. is there any sense in remembering and crying over people)’. I would love to trade a little bit of my ‘fast forward’ with a little bit of that pause.

This love for ‘the good things of life’ was not restricted to a certain class or community.

I remember hearing that the vegetable vendors would sell their goods with very unique descriptors- ‘Laila ki ungliyan, Majnu ki pasliyan (Laila’s fingers, Majnu’s cartilage)’ uniquely referred to ladies’ fingers and gourds. There was a love for culture that transcended classes and income levels. Another vegetable vendor was famous for his claim ‘Begum (Akhtar) ke bag ki sabziyan(vegetables from Begum Akhtar’s garden)’. No wonder literature and music were literally fed to us!

Culture was not something which was curated by and for the elite. It was on the road, it was in the offices– it was everywhere.

Well before I read about Keynesian theory in B-school, the tourist guides at the marvelous Bhool Bhulaiya (meaning labyrinth) had regaled some wonderful lessons around unemployment, wages and labour. It is said that around 1780, the region was badly affected by famine. The fourth Nawab of the Awadh Province, Nawab Asaf-Ud-Daula Nawab thought of building this structure as a way to generate employment as well as provide food to people in return for their services. The people were too proud to receive compensation from the Nawab without earning it (equating it to alms). Hence a part of the monument would be constructed during the day by part of the labour, while the other part brought it down at night. This ensured that the Nawabi pride of the common man was intact, by earning his living. It took fourteen years for the monument to be completed.

Things change, places do too

I hear that now the rickshaw pullers of Lucknow (like in any other city), come straight to the point, “Itna paisa lagega. (It will cost you so much).” Not that there can be anything wrong with that statement — to the point, upfront and efficient. But poetry never cared about efficiency, nor did the Lucknawis of yore. 

Migration, politics and so much more has changed the fabric of the city a lot. William Dalrymple devotes a full chapter to what ‘Lucknawi’ used to mean, in his book Age of Kali. Notice the past tense in this whole piece. Sometimes I wonder if we are just romanticizing the idea of Lucknow. Did it really exist or was it just a dream!

Khwab tha shayad!

Maybe it was a dream

Khwab hi hoga! 

It must have been a dream

Sarhad par kal raat, suna hai, chali thi goli

Have heard that last night across the border, some shots were fired

Sarhad par kal raat, suna hai

Have heard that last night across the border

Kuchh khwaabon ka khoon hua hai

Some dreams have been murdered.

-Gulzaar Sa’ab

Disclaimer: I know no conversation on Lucknow is over without a special mention to its culinary delights. Unfortunately, I disappoint as a vegetarian there, with little meat to offer. Though I can swear, you would not get better kebabs in the world. Apologies for all the Hindustani in the piece for the English only readers. I found it difficult to talk of Lucknow without a splash of Hindi- Urdu.

* Latin for indicating that it is socially inappropriate to speak ill of the dead as they are unable to justify themselves.

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Nidhi Mishra is the founder & CEO of Bookosmia (smell of books)-a global movement for kids to be heard! An ex-banker, she pivoted from a 10 year banking career to her passion for reading and luring others to read to start Bookosmia. Nidhi is from Lucknow and we challenge you to have any conversation with her where she doesn’t bring it up. She went to Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi University to pick up an Honours in Mathematics and a feminist flair on the side. An MBA from IIM Lucknow took her to a decade-long career in the financial sector, finally quitting as VP, HSBC as she suffers from a (misplaced) sense of satisfaction and a drive to do something meaningful with her time. Outside of Bookosmia, Nidhi spends much of her time complaining there is not enough time, overindulging her two beautiful daughters, organizing dastangoi/ghazals at her place and asking (unsuspecting) people to gift her all kinds of books-from Faiz to Kahneman to Tina Fey.
You can write to her at nidhi@bookosmia.com or visit www.bookosmia.com to know more.

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

Categories
Young Persons' Section

Sara’s Selections, September 2020

Woohoo Folks!

We are on our fourth edition of Sara’s Selections. Ms Sara has again brought us a wealth of young writers, writing from all over the world on multiple issues. Sometimes it is amazing to see how they think… and also give us a fresh perspective… And now let me hand over the collection to Ms Sara.

Poetry

Hi there friends, Sara here. Fifteen year old Varisha Rehman from Delhi, giving us the just the right dose of it in this message to a girl.

This is for the girl

This is for the girl
Who only wanted to be loved,
Shone like a pearl
And moved like a dove.

This is for the girl
Who was like a queen,
She ruled her world with everything.

This is for the girl
Who wrote words no one heard,
A pen was her sword
A paper was her shield.

Here is a message to this girl
Life has a funny way to teach us,
Live your life without a grudge
Live the life, you love.
Just be yourself. Because…
Life is too short to be someone else.

Nine-year-old Diya Sheth from Ahmedabad brings us some furry love in this adorable poem.

My Pet

One day I thought how pets love us a lot,
So I told my parents to bring me a dog.

Father said we can bring two birds,
Mommy said we can bring a turtle.

But still I argued for a dog,
My parents refused so I cried a lot.

On my 10th birthday my parents told me,
This time you will get a gift,
You wanted from the age of three.

I wondered what it will be. I was so excited for it,
My father gave a bow,
My mother brought a puppy.

I thanked my mother and father,
The dog’s name was Jimmy.

Now I play with him every day,
He protects me in every way.
We go on walk everyday,
I still thank my parents for my 10th birthday.

Nine-year-old Rohan Santhosh from Bangalore shares this adorable poem for his best friend.

My Best Friend

You are smart and kind

You can almost read my mind

You’re the first to notice when I’m blue

You have a 6th sense, it’s true.

You’re so intelligent and strong

You always tell me when I’m wrong.

Always alert and aware

When I need you, you are there.

I still remember the day at school,

So scared of the teachers looks,

I almost dropped all my books.

You noticed the slightest frown

You picked me up when I was down.

When I’m confused you help me decide,

Thanks for being by my side.

I always wished I had a brother,

But now I see, you are one…

Just from another mother!

Stories

Eight-year-old Navoneer Bhattacharyya from Kolkata writes of the most amazing conversation with Lord Ganesha.

When Lord Ganesha cancelled his birthday party…

And we were off to bed. But neither I nor my elder brother could sleep as we were a  bit upset. Next day was Ganesh Chaturthi, the celebration of the elephant headed god’s rebirth, but due to COVID we could not go for  pandal ( temporary structures set up to jubilate the festive occasion) hopping.

Nearly half-an-hour had passed when we heard a mouse squeak. We looked  out and to our greatest surprise, what did we see there?

Ganesha & mouse

Lord Ganesha on his mouse was standing right outside our house!

“Lord Ganesha,” squeaked the mouse, “You said some kids are sad in this  house so we have come here!”

“Yes you are right, we have come to meet them.”

My elder brother suggested that we should invite them to come in. So I  opened the door and said humbly, “Oh Lord Ganesha, we would be honoured if  you could step in our house and spend some time with us.”

modak
Laddu

He agreed and came in. We offered them some of his favourite sweets, modak and laddu. After having that he asked us, “Now tell me why all of you are so sad?”

I said,”Lord Ganesha, the Coronavirus is like the demon, Mahishashura. It is spreading  death and sadness all over the world.”

“See here in Mumbai too, we cannot go for pandal hopping on our favourite festival, Ganesh Chaturthi.” said my elder brother.

Again I said, “Dear Lord, we all are terrified. Our life has come to standstill, we cannot have guests in our house. We cannot go anywhere; we cannot play with our friends; we cannot even go to school.”

Lord Ganesha listened to us very attentively and then he nodded his head and said, “My dear friends, I can understand your pain. But tell me one thing — is there no light of hope? I know doctors, scientists and lot of others are working day and night to protect the human race from this killer. But to defeat this deadly virus is not so easy. We Gods are also supporting these great warriors and patiently waiting for something positive to come out.”

He paused, took a deep breath and then again he said, “Us Gods are cancelling the celebration of our birthdays on earth just to protect mankind. Please, try to understand. If you want to overcome this hardship and again happily want to celebrate my birthday in future, then this year you need to sacrifice your festival enjoyment and be a little patient till my next birthday comes.”

I said, “Lord Ganesha, I know how it feels when birthday celebrations are  cancelled as mine got cancelled this year too. But yes, you are right. We should be patient.”

Lord Ganesha smiled and said, “Hope you understood that it is time for Gods and humans to team up against the deadly virus and throw it out. Now all of you give me a big smile and a big hug.”

Then he left with his carrier and we bid them goodbye.

We all found that suddenly our sadness had gone and our minds had become light.

We looked into the sky and said, “Thank you Lord Ganesha. We love you a lot. Happy Birthday.”

This haunting piece by Aashvi Rajani from Ahmedabad is a beautiful example of what thirteen-year-olds can do. While most of us are fussing over missing our birthdayday parties and gifts, here is a story to showcase reality of a different kind.

An Unforgettable Birthday

Raheema’s typical day would begin with mopping their home in Kabul and end with her burying herself under heaps of assignments. But today was not a regular day, Raheema Jan would be thirteen today. It was a significant day. Under no circumstances could her parents afford an enormous celebration, but  Raheema didn’t mind this, as long as Baba would be with her. Baba would be  her shadow, against all odds.

“Are you ready Raheema Jan?” Baba questioned in a silvery tone, standing beside the flimsy door.

“In a minute!” She replied as she sprinted to pick up her book.

Raheema had picked up the skill of reading since she was five, yet hearing her father narrate a story was one of the most congenial things to her. He cleared  his throat dramatically, and began, “I became…”

Baba’s eloquent storytelling came to a halt when Raheema spotted a figure hurtling towards them.

“What happened?” Baba’s hazel eyes narrowed as he saw Khalil gasping for breath.

“They are looking for you Agha, it’s urgent.”

His eyes laid on Raheema, she flashed a priceless smile that made him feel sorry for her. He crouched down and asked in a whisper, “Shall I go?”

She reluctantly nodded.

When Baba departed, Raheema locked herself in the washroom and  unwillingly broke into sobs. Soon she was shuddering. Mâmâm interrupted her  by banging the door. “Come out, Mariam is here to wish you!”

Carefully, she wiped her tears and prepared to be just the buoyant girl she was
expected to be.
“Happy Birthday!” Mariam beamed. Enthusiastically, she dragged Raheema out and began babbling. Baba kept crawling back to Raheema’s mind, despite  her attempts to pay attention. Were they harassing him?

Mâmâm barged in to inform Raheema that she had to pay a visit to Akmal Agha’s mansion, and Raheema should return home. Obediently, the girl  nodded.

“What’s going on Raheema? Is everything okay?” Mariam questioned. Initially, Raheema decided against revealing anything, but it was too much for her. And so, she confessed it all. She narrated how Baba was responsible for Akmal  Agha’s residence, how the gangsters had an eye on it, how Baba had refused  to sacrifice his integrity for them, how they had been receiving appalling  threats.

Mariam gently embraced Raheema, who was now weeping. “Don’t—”

The air shattered and they heard a roaring crack, then, absolute stillness. Raheema darted to the street like a whirlwind, oblivion to all the eyes gaping at her. She was terrified to the thought of what happened. No, Baba wouldn’t  leave her. She was his Shāhdaught, his princess.

What she saw at the end of the street was something she will never forget.  Baba on his knees, soil smeared on his kameez. Alive. His hands were folded, tears rolling down his cheeks. A man in front flashed a lopsided grin and said, “You are fortunate because I will let you go this time.” His hoarse voice sounded like a melody to Raheema at the time. To her surprise, she was weeping as Baba dashed towards her.

Never did Baba’s embrace console her more. That was when she found herself detached from everyone but her Pādīshāh, Baba.

How can you play a good host to wild animals in your house? What a scenario to think of! Here is a very unique and empathetic story by nine-year-old Eric Johan from Chennai. Welcome to his world of creativity!

My Wild Home

One fine morning, I woke up and saw my bedroom full of wild animals.

I was  surprised on seeing all the animals talking. A lion stood before me and  said, “Do you have any animals to eat?”

I replied, “I don’t have any.” I saw the  lion roared in great hunger and went away.

Then a big crocodile of twenty feet length came near me and asked, “Do you have any  meat to eat?” I replied saying, “No.” Then the big crocodile went away.

Next a tall giraffe looked at me and asked, “Do you have any grass to eat?”

I answered, “Yes, you can find grass behind my house, in the garden.” The  giraffe and his friends went joyfully to have the grass in my garden, but the lion and his friends were sad.

Suddenly my dad rushed into the room with some delicious breakfast. It had  my  favourite roasted chicken. The lion and his friends saw it and asked me,  “How many plates of meat do you have?”

I said, “ We have twelve plates”.

The lion asked, “Can I have nine of them?” I said, “Yes, of course, you can.”

Finally, the lion and his friends enjoyed the meat and went away happily. It was the most amazing morning ever.

Essays

Ten year old Shashwathi V from Bangalore would like us to think beyond one day and beyond a few popular names to understand better the meaning of independence.

Here is a much needed write up on the courageous queen and freedom fighter from Karnataka, Kittur Rani Chennamma.

Shashwathi V is a student of CMS NPR, Bangalore.

Kittur Rani Chennamma: Remembering one of the first female freedom fighters

On 15th August, our 74th Independence Day, my school asked us students to  dress up as freedom fighters. I dressed up like “Kittur Rani Chennamma” for  my class celebration online.

She is one of our greatest freedom fighters but to my surprise some of my  friends did not know about her. So I thought I should write about her for my  friends who do not know about her.

Kittur Rani Chennamma was born on 23 October 1778, in Kakati, a small  village in the present Belagavi District of Karnataka, India. She learnt to ride  horses, sword fighting and archery in her childhood. At the age of fourteen, she got  married to Raja Mallasarja. She became the queen of Kittur. After her husband  and only son died, she took over the kingdom and adopted a son but the  British refused to accept her son.

The British tried to take over her kingdom thinking she would easily give up but  she fought them in a war in which she won. The British, angered by the defeat,  fought more wars in which despite her bravery she lost and was put in jail  where she died.

Like Jhansi Rani, who came several years later, she made a mark on the  country for her courage.

She was one of the first female freedom fighters to resist British colonization.  She is a national heroine, well known in Karnataka and a symbol of the  independence movement in India.

Here is one of the inspiring lines she said in response to the British demanding high-taxes, that people remember her best by:

Why should I pay you tax (Nimageke kodabeku kappa)? Are you my brother, sister, relative or a friend?”


 
 

This moving piece by eleven-year-old Mehr Kapoor from Kolkata is for everyone who ever left behind their house, and a piece of their life in it. How there is an urge to capture every little moment spent there!

Walk down the memory lane

We walked through the garden one last time, knowing we’d never return to  this house again. My family and I were moving to a better house this very day and while we took a stroll for the last time in this beautiful garden it brought up a lot of emotions.

I thought about the day I was running around the garden playing games with  my friends, knowing I would never be able to do that again. I think the most difficult part of moving is giving up the garden because almost everything in a  house could be packed up however a garden is the one thing that one cannot take with them. I looked at the cherry plant which I had grown on my own. I remember I was very proud that day because it was the first time I had ever planted something on my own. As I walked away, I thought about whether the next family that would stay here would even want a garden? Maybe they will build something in place of that, the thought disheartened me. I moved away from the garden and went inside the house.

I went inside and to my room for the very last time. I tried to absorb everything  around me because I knew I would never see it again. 

I went around every room in the house this way, for the last time.

Whatever the new family would change about this house, I shall never forget it and the eleven special years I spent in this house will be memories that I will  cherish forever.

We live in a world flooded with endless images, spending so much time and effort spent in clicking, editing and publishing them. But is this how it always was and is this how it should be? Ten year old Hridi Talati from Vadodara raises and answers some of these important questions in her wonderful essay.

Photographs are Memories on Paper

And click! 5 years ago your mother just clicked a memorable photo of you in the summer. Now you are skimming across your mother’s pictures when a bright picture catches your eye, you click on it and go down a little trip in your  memory lane and flashback to what happened 5 summers ago…

Clicking a photograph means that you want to preserve a moment till the end of time, and when you look at that old photograph again you feel exactly the way you did that day.

Each picture holds a powerful feeling, whether it is sadness or happiness, anger or relaxation, nostalgia or forgetfulness. A picture doesn’t have to be  perfect to be memorable, it just has to be heart-felt.

I am personally not a fan of editing a picture to make it look like it is done by a  professional. Why would you want to spoil a perfectly good and true photograph by adding false make- overs to it? It makes the photograph look a  little too overdone, unless, of course, it needs the editing to make it look  better.

A good memory is the most popular kind of picture because seeing it makes  you feel pleased and happy. And so ,“When you think good thoughts, they will  shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”- Roald Dahl.

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

Categories
Review

Revisiting Hiroshima: The Last Cherry Blossom

On August 6, 1945, at 8.15 am, an atom bomb was dropped at Hiroshima to end World War II. Archana Mohan takes us on a journey through a novel which gives the story of before and after the bombing & currently lauded and promoted by the United Nations for peacekeeping.

Title: The Last Cherry Blossom

Author: Kathleen Burkinshaw

When a book opens with American B-29s flying overhead and school children cowering under desks hoping they are alive to see what grade they got on  their school report, it is a wake-up call.

War has no business threatening children in their safe temples of learning.  

But what is war really? It is when we forget that the enemy is a human being too with lives just like ours. That, is the crux of The Last Cherry Blossom, a sparkling debut novel filled with hope and resilience by Kathleen Burkinshaw.

The story, set in Japan, in the 1940s, centers around a pleasant 12-year- old named Yuriko.

Yuriko is an average middle grader. She struggles in government mandated bamboo spear classes and can’t sew to save her life. At home, her aunt isn’t cordial to her and her five year old cousin just keeps pressing her buttons but she is a happy trooper thanks to the two people who love her and understand her like no other — her Papa, a well respected newspaper editor, and her best friend, Machiko.

Soon, there are big changes in Yuriko’s life – a new addition to the family and a stunning secret but all of those pale in comparison to a chilling realization – even though the authorities claim otherwise, Japan is losing the war against the allies.

Amidst the colourful ‘kimonos’, the tea ceremonies, dips in koi ponds, the delicious Toshikoshi Soba and the beloved Sakura Hanami (the cherry blossom viewing), the smell of the inevitable lingers on.

In a poignant moment, Yuriko’s best friend Machiko, who has been drafted to work in an airplane factory says that she doesn’t even bother moving to an air raid shelter because she is too exhausted to care. Still, they carry on, like teenagers do, with their banned American Jazz records, crushes and heart to heart talks.

Until one day, the nightmare turns true.

An ear shattering popping noise.

An intense burst of white light.

And just like that, the lives of Yuriko and everyone around her are never the same again.

In an earlier insight into her mind, Yuriko confesses that she loves mathematics because everything is black and white. But when you lose everything you love, for no fault of your own, does anything make sense anymore?

The cherry blossoms are the glue holding this story together. It is at the cherry blossom festival that the family is together for one last time, hence the title but the significance of these beautiful flowers go deeper than that.

They represent life itself — so beautiful, yet so fragile that they bloom for only a short time. The characters who lived a privileged life before, come to a realisation that not everything can be foreseen, not everything can be planned but life is about living it to the best potential.

This is not a fictional story.  The author’s mother herself is a ‘hibakusha’ or a survivor and this is her true story.

No one knows the devastating  effects of  warfare more than the author.  Effects of the radiation from atomic bombs impact generations and Burkinshaw unfortunately suffers from a chronic neurological disorder because of that.

This is a deeply moving and personal story, laying bare the far reaching effects of war and that is why the book is now a United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs Resource for teachers and students.

Perhaps, the greatest quality of the book is the hope it weaves into the narrative despite the desolation and fear that paints the landscape after the blast.

A point it makes with the versatile cherry blossoms again.

Scientists said nothing would grow again in the Hiroshima soil for many years after the atomic bomb was dropped. Yet, the cherry blossoms defiantly bloomed the following spring.

“The cherry blossoms endured much like the spirit of the people—like my mother—who were affected by the bombing of Hiroshima,” writes the author.

Seventy five years ago, on August 6, 1945 at 8.15 am, the atom bomb or ‘pika don’ killed 80,000 people and the toll rose to more than 1,40,000 within the next five years.

As Yuriko grapples with difficult decisions in the aftermath, through her eyes, something becomes clear as day. We must never find ourselves in a position where the colour of the sky is no longer unrecognizable.

Never must we forget what happened in Hiroshima that day. Never again must we take peace for granted.

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Archana Mohan is  the co-founder of Bookosmia (smell of books) a children’s content company that delivers brilliant content to the world through Sara — India’s first female sports loving character. Her book Yaksha, India’s first children’s book on the dying folk art form of Yakshagana received wide acclaim. She has worked as  a  journalist, corporate blogger and editor working with names like Business Standard, Woman’s Era, Deccan Herald, Chicken Soup for the Soul and Luxury Escapes Magazine.  She won the Commonwealth Short Story contest’s ‘Highly Commended Story’ award in 2009. She loves interacting with budding writers and has conducted journalism workshops in colleges.Do check out Bookosmia’s website https://bookosmia.com/about-us/ for more information.

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

Categories
Young Persons' Section

Sara’s Selections: August, 2020

Hello Everyone,

Bookosmia and Ms Sara are back bringing us a magical collection of young person’s writings. And this time some of it really takes us into a wonderland where candyfloss can give fibres and unicorns can party! I hand over the introductions to the fabulous Ms Sara.

Poetry

Hitansh Kedia

Hellooo everyone, your best friend Sara here! Here is a heartfelt prayer from 11 year old Hitansh Kedia from Kolkata towards a ‘minor’ change in our diets. What can I say? Amen!

To those ugly vegetables!

If chocolates were healthy, and vegetables junk,
Healthy foods children would love to eat.
With bitter vegetables off our plates,
Every meal would be a treat.

We’d no longer hear our doctors say,
“You’re not getting enough protein.”
Or hear our mothers tell day and night,
“You need to change your diet routine!”

Carbohydrates and energy we’d have in plenty,
Getting our fibre from cotton candy.
And whenever we’d need some extra vitamins,
Some lollipops would come in handy.

Eating our dream meals every day,
We kids would smile with glee.
From all the vegetables that haunted us,
We’d finally be free!

I hope this happens,
And it happens fast.
To those ugly vegetables,
I’d say goodbye at last!

Darshali Agarwal

Here is yet another delectable poem on my, or rather, ‘our’ beloved mangoes. Clearly it is turning little kids, like 7 year old Darshali from Bhilwara, into budding poets!

My Mango

Mango, mango very sweet

My favourite fruit,

I love to eat.

Mango green, mango yellow

They are delicious ,even when mellow.

Mango juice, mango slice

Everything is very nice.

I wish I had a mango tree

Everyday I would get mango free.

Shifa Zahra Touseef

Ready for a good laugh?Make way for some first class kids’ humour, in this amusing poem by 8 year old Shifa from Lucknow.

BDG (Big Disgusting Giant)

Being friends with a giant

Is my greatest fear

Especially if the big man has diarrhea.

.

He may be a big friendly fella

But I have to stand under an umbrella.

It’s no fun, I can tell you

Being washed away in a river of poo.

.

I am scared of drowning in a big smelly stink

So I ask you all to carefully think,

If your friend is a giant, don’t think its funny

To invite him to tea and feed him spicy curry.

Read with Sara stories for kids by young writers Ayraa Mumbai Bookosmia

Ayraa Shriwardhankar from Mumbai sends in this lovely poem, as lovely as the peacock itself. Read for yourself.

Peacocks

Peacocks are pretty as a queen,

Royal green, blue and brown.

When they opens their feathers,

They have a crown.

Peacock is the national bird of India.

I love the way it opens the feather and dances when happy.

Birds are beautiful but peacocks fascinates me the most.

Nature with Sara Peacock and Peahen Bookosmia

Stories

Arnav Prasanna

Here is a beautiful story by 9 year old Arnav Prasanna from Bangalore.  Dont miss this tooth fairy story, with a twist!

What does the tooth fairy do with our teeth?

One day there was a girl named Akansha. Akansha was a very nice girl. She did her chores everyday. One day, her tooth fell out. She was so excited because she knew that the tooth fairy would come. She brushed the tooth with lots of toothpaste and kept it under her pillow.

She couldn’t sleep at night because she was so excited. She thought what does the tooth fairy do with all the milk teeth?Does she make milk out of them and drink? Is that why they are called milk teeth? All those questions made her sleepy.

Soon, she went to sleep.

That night, the tooth fairy came slowly into her room and took the sparkly tooth under the bed. But as she flew out of the window, her wand fell out from her pocket.

The next morning, Akansha woke up and checked under the pillow. The tooth was gone and there was money there. She was very happy. But next to the window she saw something shiny. It was a magic wand.

Akansha understood that it was the tooth fairy’s wand. She wanted to give it back to the tooth fairy but how to give it? She thought the tooth fairy will realize her wand is missing and come back that night. Maybe she could meet the tooth fairy. Akansha was so excited! That night she tried very hard to stay awake but she was so sleepy.

The next morning, Akansha woke up and saw the magic wand was gone. She checked under her pillow and saw a note.

‘Thank you for finding my wand. I turned your tooth into a star. Hope you can see it in the sky. Love, tooth fairy’.

Akansha was very happy. Every night after that she looked out of her window and saw her tooth as a shiny star in the sky. Now she knew what the tooth fairy does with the teeth, she makes them into stars!

Vachi Aggarwal

Have you ever been to a unicorn party. Read through this very creative story by 8 year old Vachi Aggarwal from Jaipur

The day I got invited to a unicorn party

I don’t know how but one night I found myself in the land of unicorns There, I  could see millions of unicorns. The unicorns were speaking.  

“Welcome Vachi,” one unicorn said. “My name is Eliza.” Another one said her name is Monica.

Eliza bought some cake and pastry for me. 

I asked Eliza how I came here. She said, “Darling, you are the chief guest of our  annual unicorn day. It is a party where lots of fairies, gods and stars come and  have lots of fun.” It was very strange but I went along with it. 

All the fairies and unicorns looked happily at me. We were enjoying the night, we were dancing, asking questions to each other and singing songs. All of a sudden a very bright light appeared. I could see many fairies and wizards  coming on their vehicles like elephants, birds etc.

Then the big wizard called me and told me why I was invited as the chief guest.

He said that back on earth, people think small actions do not matter but  actually it is the small action that leads to big changes. He reminded me that last week when I had seen an injured bird, I had given it first aid and not  ignored or just seen from a distance like others had. Seeing me, many others  followed to help. 

He said he saw an honest girl in me and that’s why he invited me to the party. 

Then we had a gala dinner. Before leaving,  I asked the wizard if he could use his magical powers to cure coronavirus patients. The wizard said that he had actually given those powers to everyone, especially children, 

“By staying at home, helping their parents and keeping their hands clean, children can help make the world a beautiful and safe place,” he said. 

I came home with a new learning – do good, be good. Even a small act means a lot to the world. 

Aarya Vardhan Agarwala

Ready for some thrills? Here is a wonderfully written story by Aarya from Kolkata which will made me feel I am there with him through all the action! Tell me how you felt.

The Secret Bunker

It was a fine Sunday afternoon, me and my brother were taking a stroll down  the park near our house.That is when my brother found something very old  rusty, but something made us stop and look closer. It reminded us of the  treasure in a movie we had watched during the summer break.We got excited  that we had discovered a Secret Bunker!! We decided to gather some of our  friends and come check out the bunker the next day.  

Next day, I packed all the equipment and called up some of my friends. We sneaked out during the night.With full enthusiasm we reached the park and then tried opening the bunker.The bunker lid was so heavy that it took two of my strongest friends to prise it open.

We were amazed to see that it opened to a tunnel! I beamed my flashlight around.There was a ladder. We were almost sure that we had found a treasure.  We climbed down the ladder and  were very disappointed to find nothing, nothing at all.

We were just about to go back disheartened, when my brother screamed in  joy! He had spotted something. It was a door with a code hidden behind the  ladder. The code was covered with a thick layer of dust. We tried to see the  code with the help of flashlight.To our surprise there was a number lock on it.  There were a few symbols inscribed just above the lock. One of my friends who was really interested in ancient symbols and scripts jumped in to interpret the  code. Now was his time to shine. He entered the code in the lock and the door  creaked open. We were fascinated by the sight we saw in front of us.

There was a huge room with many intelligent looking people, all going about their work  and too busy to even notice the door was open. There were test tubes, chemicals on one side and huge charts hung on the other. There were  huge tables with many devices like microscopes on a far end of a room. We just couldn’t believe what we were seeing. It was the biggest research center ever! We took out my spy device to record the voices of scientists. That was enough for that day’s work. We slowly closed the door and came out of the box. 

The next day, we decided to go again to the secret place and get the ultimate  proof of the secret organisation. This time, we took a camcorder with us and  recorded the whole place. After we  got back up we ran to my house. We  posted everything online and it went viral in a day. Now everybody knew about 

bunker. It was not long before everyone was caught and brought under  custody. Next day the news came that the government had taken over the  organisation.

That was not the end we were invited by the president to present the medals of honour. So it was a happy ending. I guess…

Varnika Agarwal

Why does God get no chocolate? Eleven-year-old Varnika from Delhi wants to change that..read this story to know how.

Why doesn’t God get chocolate?

WHY DOESN’T GOD GET CHOCOLATE?

Have you ever wondered why God doesn’t eat chocolate? Do you think that he doesn’t like it or do you think that people believe that chocolate is not meant  for gods? Let’s find out what Mona thought.

She was a very inquisitive girl. Always having unimaginable questions in her tiny head and without getting the answer, she would be pondering on that for  as long as it took.  Once in a dark and sleepy night, Mona was sleeping and dreaming that she was in Choco city, a whole city made of candy and  chocolate. The houses were made of chocolate cake with vanilla icings as their roof. The river made of chocolate milk in which fish made of chocolate cereals  swam and floated.

The tall, colourful lollipop trees and the clouds which were actually cotton  candy, of a dreamy pink shade. And Mona was eating it all up, filling her heart’s  content! Ah… what a dream! She was floating in her dreams when  suddenly, “MONA!!! Time for school!! Come on, don’t be lazy! You have 45 minutes sharp to get ready!” It was Mona’s mom. Mona groaned and very  slowly, brushed her teeth, took a bath and went to say her morning prayers.

She was so engrossed in continuing her dream, the small temple in front of her, where she was standing, started looking like a cake! When she was about  to finish, she had another question, as usual.

“Why doesn’t God get chocolate?! ”

When she did well in school, scoring A or B grades in every subject, she was  given a treat by her parents which was usually a trip to the bakery. Well, God  had done the biggest thing, made the universe and… no treat for Him!

Chocolate is, anyways, a necessity of life! You can’t possibly live without it. It is  like a sky without a moon and an ocean without water. But all he got was- a  cheela (a pancake made of gram flour) for breakfast, rice for lunch and a roti for dinner! If you or I were in His  place, our life would be so boring.

So, when she was walking down the stairs, she asked her mother, “Momma,  why don’t we serve God chocolate?”

“Maybe because…”, her mom started wondering. Even she did not know the  exact answer, so she tried to take advantage of the situation by ending it with  some morals for Mona. “Because God needs to be very healthy as he is the one who works the world! If he became lazy, like you, he would never be able to do anything! What will happen then? Sweets make you lazy and unhealthy which is very bad,” she said as if giving a lesson.

But Mona didn’t believe it! She wanted proof and she thought that the most convincing proof wouldn’t be with her Momma. So she pretended to be  convinced and agreed.

After a week, the results of the test she gave arrived and…she got a perfect  A+! Her parents took her to her favourite café for a lovely lunch. There she  bought a muffin and packed it for home. At home she opened the muffin box.

“Are you sure you want to eat it now, Sweetie? You just ate a pastry in the  café?” asked her father. Mona didn’t reply and kept the muffin in front of the altar in her home. Her father started to wonder, why does Mona want to serve a  muffin to God?

Mona sat in front of the altar and recited the Gayatri Mantra. And you know what happened? She noticed that a big pink rose fell close to her on the ground. She assumed it was God’s blessing to her and was overjoyed and  showed it to everybody.

But Mona, you and I do know the actual reason for God’s blessing to Mona, don’t you?

Essay

Ananya Jayakrishnan

 Dont miss reading this yummy essay by 10 year old Ananya from Kochi on how a milk drop transforms into a delightful ice cream!

From a drop, to a delight!

Once there was a drop of milk called Milky. She lived in a container with other drops of milk. One day she slipped into another container, it was shaking so  much that she got sick. After a pretty long time, it stopped shaking.

Milky was transferred into another container. It was very cold. Suddenly lots of sugar fell on her and she was startled. Then Vanilla fell on her and finally she  was showered with lots of Choco Chips!

Suddenly the temperature turned freezing cold! She was then scooped out of the container. She flew into a cone and that was a very fun filled flight.

Voila! She had turned into an ice-cream!!

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

Categories
Interview

How the young and Ms Sara battled COVID

A brief journey into the world of founder Nidhi Mishra and co-founder, Archana Mohan.

Nidhi Mishra(Left)&Archana Mohan(right)

What is the smell of a book? Bookosmia. 

Bookosmia is also a publishing house that aims to promote reading among children, curates writing from youngsters and brings out books for youngsters in both hard and soft copy as well as audio books in varied languages. It was conceived by Nidhi Mishra who pivoted to children’s publishing from a 10-year banking career, post IIM, in 2017. After a fast paced career, she quit as Vice-President of HSBC (Hong Kong & Shanghai Banking Corporation) to create something from scratch in a space she was passionate about, making better use of her time and skills. Nidhi teamed up with Archana Mohan two years ago.  Mohan had worked as  a  journalist, corporate blogger and editor working with names like Business Standard, Woman’s Era, Deccan Herald, Chicken Soup for the Soul and Luxury Escapes Magazine.  She won the Commonwealth Short Story contest’s ‘Highly Commended Story’ award in 2009. 

In this exclusive, Mishra, founder and CEO of Bookosmia, and  Mohan, co-founder and head of content, tell us about their journey. 

When and how did Bookosmia come about? 

NM*: Bookosmia was launched in 2017 as a disruptive children’s content company, hoping to make kids fall in love with reading, writing and everything else around stories. While an already cluttered space in India, children’s  content was either always educative, western or inappropriate. No one wanted kids to just enjoy a good story without necessarily helping them in academics or teaching moral values. We wanted to change that. 

But what kind of stories do kids really like? What better way than to ask them directly. Hence our key premise that kids are perfectly capable and deserving, of telling their own stories, is the biggest differentiator in the market. 

What does Bookosmia do?

NM: Bookosmia is India’s premier writing platform for kids, publishing over 100 original digital stories a month with young writers from lesser known Indian districts like Kiccha, to the bustling metros, from Munich to New Jersey. Bookosmia recently launched its brand persona— a 10 year- old athlete Sara, fondly hailed as “our new best friend” by The Hindu recently. Sara has India’s premier and largest repository of stories for kids, by kids. Additionally she brings a whole host of fun and age appropriate content to kids through digital stories, video stories, audio stories and lots of fun activities for kids for perfect engagement for kids. That is what we offer from a product perspective.

However, we are onto a larger mission– to create a new ‘category’ of kids content, which strongly hinges on a “stories for kids, by kids” philosophy. Children lead their lives with a constant inflow of inputs. Parents, schools, teachers rarely pause to ask them for their original output. How are they feeling?

At Bookosmia, we are different from other content companies and publishers because we have a two-way conversation with our audience. Yes, we have digital  and video stories to engage children meaningfully. But we also have the intent to ask them and publish how they are feeling in the lockdown, during a world cup final, after listening to our science stories. We feel making young kids feel valued and heard will help in the following ways:1) They will be able to process their emotions and launch their imagination better, instead of hopping from one activity to another. For example, we love the stories 6-year-olds write to us where animals feel lonely, are behaving badly only because they are looking for a best friend. 2) It will help them boost their self-confidence. A child who feels empowered today will grow up to be a more engaged citizen tomorrow. For example, we have older kids writing to us on issues of racism, taboo around periods, refugee situations and more.  3) It will help children feel more positive, hopeful and raise awareness by evaluating what they can be grateful for. For example, our “Gratitude during Covid” series was a perfect example where even little kids sent us entries recognizing there is a lot to be thankful for, even in these difficult times.

How did you conceive Sarachats?

AM*: At Bookosmia, we take our ‘by kids, for kids’ mantra a little too seriously! This is a company where children call the shots. Our young friends decide the topics they will write on for the month, activities and new features to be added. So, the obvious thought was why not have a young character representing us in all our interactions as a brand? That was when Sara was born.  

Ms Sara

Sara isn’t a genius, nor does she possess magical powers. She is a curious and happy go lucky kid and every child will identify a bit of themselves in her. With her young friends from across the globe, Sara reads stories by kids, she listens to story tellers, she tells stories to little ones, she does fun activities and she even chats to cool older people to know more about their lives.

To us, Sara is a heart child. She has not one but many mothers! She was designed by the brilliant Parvati Pillai, ex design head of Chumbak. Our chief visual designer Aayushi Yadav has adapted the design fabulously and brought in her trademark humour, enriching Sara’s personality. As for how Sara talks, behaves and the capers she gets into, blame that all on the rest of us! 

In a very short span of time, Sara has made quite an impression on our young followers. Everyday, Sara’s inbox is flooded with messages by her friends across the world who love to share their thoughts and wait to hear back from her. For them and for us, Sara has become an inseparable part of our lives. 

How many children have responded to Sara chats? 

AM: We publish over 100 young writers a month, so the answer is, quite a few! But it’s not just about publishing. Some of our young writers are from lesser privileged backgrounds, so the whole concept of expressing themselves in a medium like the short story, is an alien experience to them. But guess who instantly connects with them and draws them out of their shell– their friend Sara.  

Similarly, some of our young writers have great ideas but lack proficiency in English and it is Sara who writes to them regularly encouraging them to put their thoughts into words without being boggled by vocabulary. We believe that every child has a story to tell and our global platform through a much-loved ambassador like Sara gives children an opportunity to express themselves and feel heard in a safe and non-judgemental space. From writing about their dreams, their family to topics like periods, disability, grief to bullying, our young writers are unafraid to write about subjects that move them. To say their refreshing optimism and understanding of the world stuns us, would be an understatement. 

What made you think of the icon of Sara? 

AM: Our girl Sara, is a stereotype buster. She is the answer to generalisations like “all girls like pink” and “sport is for boys”. Sure, she is notorious for breaking a windowpane or two with her football, but she is no different from any other girl in the world.  She represents every child who gets picked on for ‘being different’, for daring to think out of the box and for questioning norms that don’t make sense to them. Does loving sport instead of playing house make her any lesser of a girl? Absolutely not. And that’s the message Sara brings to every child of the world. You are you. Don’t feel pressurised to change just because you don’t fit into someone else’s mould. 

Is this a voluntary organization? 

NM: No, Bookosmia is a for profit private limited company.

Tell us how Ms Sara serviced children across borders through the trying times of COVID.

AM : Like we always say, it is the kids who drive this company and so it should come as no surprise that our much lauded ‘Gratitude During Covid’ series was conceived out of children’s conversations with Sara where they spoke about how their lives had changed post Covid. While most adults chose to binge watch during the lockdown, children from far flung corners of the country and even abroad, took up on our call to write essays, poems and short stories about ‘gratitude’, exhibiting an incredible amount of maturity in handling an unprecedented situation. 

And what delightful takes they had! While the younger ones were thankful for the cleaner air, food on the table and more time with their families, the teenagers wrote about how they had become conscious of their privilege, developed empathy for their domestic help and learnt to go ‘within’. 

As a company, we felt validated. Clearly, by engaging with them meaningfully, we had been able to make children feel valued. 

Are you still into bringing out books online? Or has it suffered from the pandemic too? Has the pandemic affected Bookosmia?

NM: Yes, the pandemic has affected Bookosmia, but only for the better. We have doubled our audience every month and it only speaks of the strong need that exists for safe, meaningful yet fun screen time for kids .We like to think of ourselves as the intersection of a parent’s need ( to keep their child meaningfully engaged) and a child’s want (to find relatable content).

We publish 4 free digital stories, written by kids, on our website everyday. Yes, we are releasing fewer online paid ebooks but that is mainly because our focus right now, through these tough times, is to make our free content available to as many kids as possible and build a community.

What are your future plans for both Bookosmia and Ms Sara? 

NM: In question two, I touched upon our intent to create a new “category” of kids content. A few years back I used to be very judgemental of the new generation of teens. Always on social media, gunning for more likes and comments, with dwindling attention spans and enormous need for approval. Over the years, I have realized the problem was not in that generation but in the world we have created for them. Yes, they are active on Facebook and Instagram and snapchat, but which other platforms value them. We have to give these young minds a platform where they feel safe speaking up, sharing their views and stories, not afraid of being dismissed with a ‘too young’ tag. 

Yes we have some excellent writers who share their stories with us. And it can be expected that children can create content(stories/ essays/ poems) that other kids will like more. Purely because it is first hand and organic. But we are not looking to churn out great authors, we are looking to make young voices feel valued.

Sara has found great relatability with children. She looks, talks and thinks like them. They have a lot less inhibition in writing to her than they would to a publishing house. We want Sara to take these stories from kids, far and wide across the globe and not be tied down to a particular country. Like any other kid, Sara is also upto a lot of things. Good at some, like sports and curious about others like Science, Art or Nature. So you will see Sara introducing kids to a whole range of topics and not limit herself to reading and writing. Also conscious that there is nothing more joyful than holding your beloved characters in your hand, Sara may soon be seen in a physical format.

*NM : Nidhi Mishra, Founder and CEO of Bookosmia. 

*AM : Archana Mohan, Co-Founder and Head of Content, Bookosmia. 

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

Categories
Young Persons' Section

Sara’s Selections, July 2020

Thank you Ms Sara and Book Osmia for this lovely selection. We love having the sporty Ms Sara on our pages with her lovely collection of stories, poems and essays. We handover the stage to Ms Sara as she starts on her introductions.

Tuhina Nambiar

Hey there, everyone’s best friend, Ms Sara is here! Here is a cute little poem by 6  year old Tuhina Nambiar from Mumbai sends in a message to the parrots, her new friends since the lockdown.

Poetry

Cute Parrots

By Tuhina Nambiar

We are all at home now.

Roads are clear.

There is no pollution.

The sky is clear.

The cloud looks like cotton.

Parrots are free to fly.

Everyday they sing me a lullaby.

They chat in my balcony.

Looking at them, I feel I am talking to my friends.

Sara now welcomes a colourful story from the youngest poet — 5 year old Amaya from Kolkata. Rainbows are great but when the storm is coming, you have got to head home.

Poem- Magical Rainbow

By Amaya Rupramka

Sara reads rainbow colouring kolkata young author stories for kids Bookosmia

One day a wizard gave me a pair of wings

And I started flying

Then, I went to the clouds

And I was thinking it’s some milk

Then I saw lot of colors

Then surprisingly it was surprise for me, it was a RAINBOW

Do you want to learn what were the colors?

Violet

Indigo

Blue and

Green

Yellow

Orange 

Red

Then I met Eagles, Sparrows, Pigeons & Parrots

And we flew together…

Then a storm came, a thunder storm 

And the birds were very scared

And that’s when I flew back home.

Amaya Rupramka
Abhipsa Mohanty

 A simple handshake, a roaring stadium, a breath of fresh air — all seems like a dream now, beautifully captured by 15 year old Abhipsa from Bhubhaneshwar.

May We Never Take For granted

By Abhipsa

Life seemed to be peaceful

Alas! Corona you made it dreadful.

There was no time to sit and stare

But you made it all fair.

.

All of us always thought–

Life is a quick succession of busy nothings

But you changed our perception regarding everything.

.

The earth whispered but we didn’t hear,

The earth spoke but we didn’t listen,

The earth screamed we didn’t pay heed.

.

That was why Corona was born

To awaken us,

To enlighten us.

.

Many great heroes, yet names unknown

Many sacrifices and pain undergone

Many new heroes have been born.

.

“Please don’t decorate me in garland,

Please don’t give me applause,

I just want to return home safe,

Even if all my remains are bones,

I must bring myself back home to my family,” they said. 

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We call this all a heartbreak 

But ask nature

It is alive like never before

Blue skies, sparkling water, 

Animals with happy feet .

.

When this is over may we never take for granted

A handshake with a stranger

A stadium roaring

Fresh air to breathe. 

.

To learn

We must respect

Nature and our fellow beings

All of us are apart,

But we stand together

And together we shall,

Overcome. 

Stories

Ms Sara shares this extremely creative story by a little author, 7 year old Naisha from Little Readers Nook Gurgaon. 

Suzy and the Grey Kite

By Naisha Bothra,7, Gurgaon

Sara's Activities Tangram STEM for kids

Once upon a time there lived a girl called Suzy. She was going to the Kite  festival riding on her beautiful unicorn. As they reached the kite festival, Suzy saw a gloomy grey kite sitting alone.

Nobody took him .Everybody only bought colourful kites. The grey kite was  locked in a glass and it was sobbing. Suzy felt sad for the grey kite and quickly  took the kite from the shopkeeper.

The kite was relieved to come out of the glass and thanked the girl for taking him. Suzy sat on the unicorn and they went on top of the green mountain to fly the grey kite high up in the blue sky. The grey kite felt awkward in the sky  among all the bright ones. He thought, “If I fall all the other kites will laugh at  me.”

But Suzy and the kite did not give up. Soon he began to enjoy the fresh air and began to rise high, high, so high. He started loving it. Seeing him dance so high all the other colored kites learnt a lesson that they should not have made fun of him. They realized that dark or colorful doesn’t matter. It is important to be confident and happy with ourselves.

Now the grey kite lives happily ever after in his new home…

Miraya Bisaria

Ms Sara wonders — are animals capable of kindness? Read this story by 7 year old Miraya from Gurgaon to find out.

The Lost Blackberries

By Miraya

Once there lived a dark eyed seven-year-old girl named Tara. She had pink cheeks and a sharp nose. She lived in a cozy cottage in a village.

One day she really felt like having her favourite fruit, blackberries.

GULP! GULP! GULP! Tara imagined herself having those yummy blackberries. So, she requested her mother to bring some delicious blackberries.

Her skinny and hardworking mother at once agreed. There was a huge black berry bush behind their cottage. So, they went to pluck some juicy black berries. After reaching home, Tara kept the basket of the black berries in the backyard.

As soon as Tara turned to pick a plate, WHOOSH! The black berries were gone!!

After a moment Tara saw a little monkey sitting on the fencing of their  backyard. She could see the monkey holding the basket of the blackberries.  Tara started screaming and howling.

Her mother rushed outside and noticed the notorious monkey. Tara’s mother tried her best to console her. To Tara’s surprise, that kind monkey dropped the basket without even tasting any black berry. From that day onwards, Tara and that monkey became best friends.

They also shared their blackberries every day.

Now, are you now ready for some spookiness? 9 year old Koushiki from Kolkata has got it all in place for us. Read her story —

 Koushiki Nag

The Train to Milan

By Koushiki

Once, I had got a job offer in Milan. As I had to earn a living, I left for Milan the very next day. I didn’t live in Italy and so before going to Milan I had to first reach Italy. I had arrived in Italy and on the same day I was going to Milan.

Unfortunately, the train was supposed to come at 12:00 p.m. but it didn’t  because of a train accident. At 5:30 p.m, I came to know that the train could not arrive that day and so the train would come the very next day. It was a very  lonely station and I was the only person there.

I was very tense as I had to  spend the night there. After all I didn’t know the place at all. I had arrived that  day only. How would I know anything about it!

Suddenly I saw two children coming towards me. They started talking to me and asked me my story. I had no other option and so I told  the whole story to them. They asked me to follow them. There was not much else to do, so I followed them.

They took me through a dark and deep tunnel. To my surprise, when the tunnel ended I saw a train waiting there. So strange! There was no other station there as far as I had read and the clock says it was 1:00 O’clock in the night now. One of the children said this was the train to  Milan. They said goodbye to me as I entered the train. I got a good seat beside  an old woman. In my cabin, there were only a few people.

There was a very  cold breeze blowing. Suddenly the old woman said her name is Amelia and  asked my name and also something about myself. I told her my name and that I loved adventures. Amelia was a very friendly woman and seeing her kind nature, I told her my  story and then said I was focusing on my goal to get a good job but I was very  nervous and tense. She said she traveled everyday from her workplace here to her home in Milan. She asked if I would mind her asking something. I told her I wouldn’t.

Amelia said, “At the beginning you told me you were an adventurous person but you can’t face life itself. Life is the biggest adventure, it has so many challenges which brings happiness as well as sadness, isn’t it? And then you said you were focusing on your goal but you are too nervous. How can you focus on your goal if you are focusing so much on your nervousness? And  why are you so nervous? You don’t know what life has in store for you just as you did not know you will get a train, when you had no chance of it. Then why be  nervous?”

Just as I heard her say life is an adventure and you have to face it, my eyes  opened and suddenly I found myself in Milan and I could not see the train  anywhere. Strangely, it was still 5:30 p.m in the clock just as I had seen earlier when I was sitting in the station. I thought maybe I was wrong.

I went to the  hotel where I was going to stay and on the very next day I went for the interview. It turned out very well and I got the job. After a few months I got a holiday and so, I wanted to go home.When I was leaving for home, I thought I should  thank the old woman who had  helped me. So I went to the stationmaster and asked if she was travelling today. He asked for her name. I told him about Amelia,  that she was a very old lady and traveled everyday from this station.

The stationmaster was frightened and showing me a photo of Amelia, asked  if she is the person I was talking about. I replied happily that this was indeed her.“Ma’am she died on 13th January at 2.30p.m. in a train accident, while she was traveling. It was the same day I met her and maybe the same accident for  which the train had not arrived that day. I went out of the stationmaster’s  office and remembered the conversation between me and her.” Suddenly, I felt  the same cold breeze I felt that day.

Aditya Dasgupta

One spooky story is never enough! Here is another one from 12 year old Aditya from Delhi. Do tell Ms Sara when you have it all figured out. Read on !

The Bicycle Adventure

By Aditya

The night was pitch dark and the atmosphere was rather gloomy. I have  absolutely no idea why I thought this was the perfect night to spend some time alone. 

Reflecting upon my life, thinking about how in childhood I used to promise myself that I am going to be a billionaire but here I am, at a dhaba (roadside restaurant) in the outskirts of my city travelling on my bike. Just don’t interpret something wrong from the above sentence, actually to be precise, it’s a bicycle. 

It was around 11:50 pm, so I started an hour’s journey back to my house thinking if I had a car, how much faster it would have been. The way back home, all that I was thinking about was me as a failure but then suddenly I got a rather eerie vibe. I just thought that it was normal as I was the only person at midnight going through the woods besides a river… until it wasn’t. After some time, out of nowhere a boy appeared in front of me. I stopped my bike beside him and went towards him. 

Normally under these circumstances, any boy would have been scared, but this particular boy had something special about him. He stood all alone in the dark at a corner without even hesitating about his surroundings. I asked him what he was doing here. To my surprise what the boy said was a bit hard to digest. He told me that his parents were traveling across the forest with him and they told him the story of a fresh lake full of blue water. He had been so excited to reach there that he had wandered away from his parents.

I nodded but found that hard to believe. A blue river, here? In the middle of the desert? Surely, the parents were just making up a story to keep the little one entertained. Or maybe the boy was bluffing, but then I thought that what would a 6 year old child, who is blinded in one eye, earn by lying? 

There were many questions in my mind at that moment, but then I neglected all the thoughts that occurred to me and told myself that right now my first priority was to take this child back to his parents and ensure his safety. I immediately felt that this was the reason why I happened to chose this particular night for self-reflection and self-pity. 

I knew that God had directed me to this unfortunate event in the child’s life and my job was to take this innocent child back to protection. I offered him a seat on my bicycle and told him not to worry as I will be taking him back to his parents. I turned around and asked him about his home address. He gave me a confused look from which I understood that he did not know the address of his house. At that moment I thought that we were in a fix, but then the idea of taking him to a police station struck my mind. 

I told the child not to worry and to hold me tightly on the bicycle so that he doesn’t fall. I gave him the good news that soon he would be with his family but shockingly even after hearing this news, there was not a glimpse of happiness on his face; it was as if he had not even heard what I said. I heard him mutter something about ‘blue river’. Ignoring this reaction of his, I moved on but then came the terrifying part of the journey. 

Slowly and steadily the bike started getting heavier and I started losing my balance. It was not long before I fell down. I quickly turned back to see if the kid was safe but to my surprise, he wasn’t there. It was as if he had disappeared into thin air. I looked all around, I even searched the woods to some extent but he just vanished. I got worried. This boy wasn’t communicative plus he had only one eye. I wondered how could he just disappear in front of my eyes, but then something else happened. 

I spotted something gleaming like water. It was a river! Sparkling blue, just like the boy had told me. I crossed this road everyday and I had never seen that before. 

I went closer and found a small elephant near the bank of the river splashing water happily on itself. It looked at me in the moonlight and gave a big smile. It had only one eye. 

Essays

Read this simple essay by 7 year old Sarthak from Gurgaon, very nicely summing up how are parents are there for us, every day and in every way.

Sarthak

Parents

By Sarthak

My parents are my best friends. I feel happy because my parents help me in  everything I do and they are very polite with me. I get sad when my mamma gets upset with me. But later I realize that my parents always say and things for my good. Then I forget everything and I hug them.

Whenever I have any problem, my parents always cheer me up and help me solve it.

During lockdown, me and my elder sister help my mom in dusting and doing laundry. My mother makes delicious food for me.  Sometimes I demand for french fries, white pasta or jelly and she cooks them  all for me.

Even though she is busy with her online work , still she reads books to me and plays with me. Normally, my father goes to office but during the lockdown he  is also at home. He does his office work and also helps mother in the house  hold work. He just bought a blue office chair and I also enjoy swirling on that  chair. My papa plays board games, indoor cricket and outdoor games with me during normal days. I enjoy doing meal time talks with my parents.

Yesterday my father told me about football World Cup and sometimes we play ‘I see’ guessing games. My parents tell me their childhood stories. I enjoy  listening and laughing at the funny stories. My parents also take care of their parents because they are old. I thank god every day for blessing with such a  wonderful family.

Rehan Sheikh

And here is a very thoughtful essay by 12 year old Rehan from Kolkata written on the occasion of World Refugee Day. At the end of the day, we all just want to be home, right? But unfortunately, that is not an option for some. Lets understand and honour their courage.

Quest for home away from home

By Rehan

International Refugee Day is observed by UNESCO to honour the courage, strength, bravery and determination of people who are forced to flee their homeland under the threats of conflicts and violence. Many of us probably do not know that Delhi is home to several refugees and asylum seekers – mostly Somalis, Syrians, Afghans, Burmese et al who are registered with UNHCR in India. Here is the story of one such refugee, Samin.

Samin seems inconsolable when asked about his family. A refugee from Syria, he lives alone in Delhi. While talking about his past the profound pain was  apparent on his face. Still he is willing to talk about his past.

“I am Samin from Syria. When I was just 21, my parents died one after another  within a span of six months, leaving me practically lost and heartbroken. There was no one except me to look after my sister, so I took a job in a nearby  restaurant. Things started off well but soon took a turn for the worse. The  country descended into civil war as rebel brigades were formed to battle  government forces for control of cities, towns and the countryside. Several people started fleeing the civil war between President Bashar Al-Assad’s government and the rebels, as well as extremist groups.

“One morning, I along with with my sister went to the nearby market.  Suddenly a roar shook the entire market place. It was an intense bomb blast which hit  the entire market and its nearby places.

“While remaining down on the ground, I lifted my head up and looked around to find everything completely changed. Almost all the shops had been mangled  and tossed around. I suddenly realised my sister was not there beside me. I  searched for her here and there among all the dead and injured. I found her, yes. But amongst the debris. I lost my only sister. The bomb had destroyed all the adjacent buildings, one of which was my house.

“All my neighbours decided to flee the brutal conflict in Syria and the  repressive government and decided to start the perilous journey across the  Mediterranean into Europe. It was then my old friend Emnauel suggested that  it would be better to move to India as India has been a host to a small group of refugees who sought to avoid the crowded countries that share the borders with Syria or the perilous sea journey to Europe.  India is one of very few countries where we still have a Syrian embassy.

“So Emnauel and I took visa and came here,” Samin shared his dreadful past. Initially, Samin and Emnauel had to struggle here as they used to face discrimination.

Even after facing several hurdles, refugees live with the dream of  going back to their own country. 

We all must remember that a refugee is someone who is forced to leave their country and we must also realize that no one in the world would willingly leave his home and homeland unless he is forced to do so.

.

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

Categories
Editorial

In Search of Human Excellence

Good morning world! 

Borderless Journal today completes three full months of its virtual existence and will take a plunge towards a refreshed image. We hope to be a monthly from now on to serve you better, to do more justice to our submissions which continue to be overwhelming in numbers.

Meanwhile, in our pages, we have tried to connect mankind with ideas and thoughts that move away from borders drawn to divide humans — we want a world that transcends race, colour, creed or nationality. The only thing we look for is connectivity and coherence. We want to see the best in humans, what makes us strong and what carries us forward into a world that is not fragmented by fears, anger, hatred and marginalised thoughts.

Marginalisation also creates borders because there are humans within the border who for some reason are seen as different from humans without the border. I am not thinking of equality but of equity, where we can all feel we have been treated with justice. 

These few months we had writing not just on COVID 19, lockdowns, quarantines and opening of lockdowns, but also stories of major natural calamities like the Amphan, race riots like that of Floyd’s and more. Perhaps, the latest riots in America, will make us all realise that in every country, every culture, we have our own Floyds. And to acknowledge that we are of the same flesh and blood as the marginalised or underprivileged masses is a mammoth task for all mankind. We need to rise above things that divide and fill the world with love, kindness and tolerance.

Mark Twain in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889) has the protagonist who travels back in time to Camelot observe prisoners from the underprivileged masses waiting to be sentenced and he thinks:” …they are white Indians.” Indians, meaning the Red Indians who had their housing and way of life shrunk into reserves in the same year in Minnesota the book was published — 1889. In 1887, their land had been taken away by the Dawes Act signed by the US President Cleveland. Was it just — taking away the land in which they had lived for centuries? Was it just to hate someone for having a different culture or a different way of life anywhere in the world at any point in history? Was it just to have slaves? Was it just to kill Floyd? Was it just to kill in the name of creed, or on the basis of what people eat? Was it just to give people no work, no food and no transport and have them walk till they dropped dead?

To me, all these are Floyds of the modern-day world, people killed in mob violence or for following different food habits, lifestyles, cultures or beliefs. History speaks only the truth. It is heartless and as Churchill said, “History is written by the victors.” And the victors to perpetrate their hegemony, create margins for those they dominate — the ruled become the marginalised and non-marginalised as that makes it easy for power brokers to fan differences to maintain their own strength. In the colonial period, they called it divide and rule.

Toni Morrison, another lady with a great deal of wisdom, said in an interview, “Race is a construct, a social construct.” History, Yuval Noah Harari, and more have shown this assertion by Morrison to be a fact. All of these are man-made constructs. 

I have a very basic question: if we can accept the different colours in nature, why can we not find it in our hearts to accept differences not only of skin colour but of beliefs, of creeds and of food habits?  These are questions that Borderless seeks to explore, to find the weaves that connect mankind to help move towards a richer tapestry of humanity. This is just the start of the journey and we can all make it together.

Sara’s Selections in the loving nurture of Bookosmia hopes to integrate these larger values into the younger generation. 

Let us all lead by example with exemplary writing, with exemplary choice of subjects and with exemplary writing skills. We are open to comments and feedback by readers who are as necessary to the existence of writers and journals as air to breathe and live.

Welcome to an exploration of a world beyond borders! 

Mitali Chakravarty

Founding Editor,

Borderless Journal

Categories
Young Persons' Section

Sara’s Selections : May 2020

Everyone has a nose and an opinion on the new normal. It can get overwhelming sometimes. But there is one category whose views have been ignored and dismissed as ‘unimportant’ at a time when the world needs fresh voices and perspectives the most. 

That category is none other than children, the very same set who will inherit the world.

In a world obsessed with keeping children ‘engaged’, everyone is an expert on home-schooling and DIY ideas but no one pauses to ask children how they feel. 

How has life changed for the pre-teens and teenagers? What are family equations like? What do they miss? What are their aspirations? What moves them? What disappoints them? What surprises them? Who inspires them?

At Bookosmia, India’s premier writing platform for children, these are some of life’s intriguing answers the brightest young minds choose to share with Sara. 

Sara, the storyteller

Who is Sara? She is India’s first stereotype busting sports loving girl and storyteller. Sara is already a big hit amongst parents and kids alike. She was rightly and fondly called “our new best friend” by The Hindu and has since then been featured extensively for creating a repository of stories, poems and essays written by children, giving a unique insight into their minds. 

Sara wants every child to tell their story in their own words. 

And so, day after day, week after week, she is flooded by entries from bright 7-16 year olds in New Delhi, Gurugram, Bareilly, Vadodara, Mumbai, Chennai, Ranchi, Kolkata and even Switzerland exhibiting powerful emotions and viewpoints that are truly eye-opening.

Her latest writing prompt #GratitudeDuringCovid, an effort to encourage young voices during a difficult time was hailed by parents and children alike. 

While younger children wrote to her about being thankful for nature, getting to spend time with their parents and hearing the chirping of birds, the 12-year-olds and above shared pieces on becoming conscious of the privilege they have, of the freedom to “go inside themselves if not outside”, of empathy for their domestic staff and of exploring a new self. 

The series was a first of its’ kind insight into the minds of the children and was covered by national media like The Hindu and The New Indian Express. 

“While we see many memes on parents facing difficulties in handling their children during this long lockdown, we hardly bother to think about how these children might be feeling. But someone did think of them,” noted The New Indian Express while lauding Bookosmia’s writing platform for children. 

It is in this context that we are stoked to bring select essays, poems and stories from our young writers at Bookosmia’s ‘Sara’s Corner’ to Borderless, a truly revolutionary international journal that has made such a deep impact within a short period. We can think of no better place than Borderless to encourage these young writers to write down the emotions they bottle up for fear of judgement. 

Through this association with Borderless (see rules of submitting in Submissions), we are confident that young writers will come home to exactly what they were looking for — a warm, welcoming, and healthy space to express, learn, discuss and debate. 

Let’s put those webinars and Zoom classes on hold for a bit. It’s time to listen to what the wise young ones have to say.

—-Team Bookosmia

Essays

Its OK Not to be OK

Nivedita Chawda

By Nivedita Chawla, 17

Michael Jackson said “stop existing and start living.”
I feel this lock-down was about slowing down and changing our yardstick of measuring things. 

Personally, my yardstick of happiness, was being productive. 

I love getting things done and checking them off my to- do list, and then I love making more to do lists. I would see my friends doing 100 push-up challenges, doing various courses on Coursera, cycling every morning and naturally I’d compare their progress to mine, and felt like i was lagging behind. But I realized that this is pandemic, not a productivity contest. 

Some days if i manage to get out of bed after a sleepless night, shower and sit for my political science class, its enough. It’s okay to have a dauntingly long to- do list and not get anything done on it, its okay to not have a to do list at all. This pandemic has made me realize that its okay to not be okay. You can’t change this situation, all you can change is how you deal with it. 

Being privileged in your AC rooms doesn’t necessarily mean you HAVE to be in an emotionally better place. Grateful that you’re in a better place than struggling migrant workers and failing businessmen? Sure. But your 17 year old self doesnt have to take up the responsibility to heal the world. Today, if all you do is water the plants, watch the sunset and play cards with your family, its okay. Amidst all your luxuries and comforts you can still choose to feel discomfort. The world is healing in its own ways, you can heal in yours.

***

Children look forward to future pandemics?

Meghna Girishankar

By Meghna Girishankar, 16

Children look forward to future pandemics?

During a time when the world has been massively hit by the effects of COVID-19, with almost every individual facing its brunt, there might actually be a  certain set of them who are loving what the pandemic has to offer. And they are children.

Before we can even attempt to fathom the logic behind this, pessimistic  thoughts would have already started coalescing in our minds: How can one be  so self-centered? Aren’t such ill-fated thoughts purely selfish? But as the  saying goes, “Don’t judge one’s choices without understanding their reasons.” In order to truly comprehend this seemingly inexplicable desire of children for wanting future catastrophes akin to the prevalent one, we must analyse their  thought- process behind the same.

Children like to receive their parent’s undivided attention and to be loved, by engaging with their family. In the pre-corona world where both parents were  working, getting to play a game of chess or having a family movie date was almost unimaginable and tantamount to a privilege, for children. Working  parents would be consumed with their work lasting till the wee hours of the night. As a result, they barely, if at all, could make time for their children, who, all along, have become accustomed to this treatment.

Now, anything that reverses this trend, with children seeing more of their  parents around and getting to experience more quality time with them would definitely provoke feel-good vibes. And this is just what the pandemic has achieved. As parents are working from home, they have more time to bond with their kids over activities like cooking, gardening and dancing. Children are certainly liking this whole new experience of having their whims and fancies being addressed, and would want it to continue in the future as well.

However, they are anxious that this might only be a ‘limited period offer’. Post rehabilitation, once economic activity resumes, things would go back to being the way it used to be. Ingenuous as they are known to be, children hence feel that the outbreak of such pandemics is a good omen for them. We cannot entirely blame them for such thoughts, as they are young and oblivious to the fact that what they consider fair might not actually augur well with the rest of the society.

In fact, parents are partly to blame. If they had ensured to set aside time off  their other commitments to bond with their children on a regular basis, this notion wouldn’t have even crept into children’s minds.

It is a parent’s duty to reason with their kids that what they see as right, might  not necessarily be so, since it is quintessential to take cognizance of a broader viewpoint. This will only be instilled in children when parents are more involved in their child’s life. Parents should therefore make a conscious effort to maintain a healthy work-life balance so that children don’t feel left out.

After all, children do not remain juvenile forever, but while they do, better to cherish those priceless moments with them!

***

Unlocking feelings in the lock-down

Devbrat Hariyani

Devbrat Hariyani, 16

Empty. Vacant. Bare. Abandoned. Deserted. Void. Dark.

These are the appellations I gave to my feelings before this lockdown. I was constantly overlooking my blessings. I did not know what I loved nor the things that I owned. It is the last two months that have allowed me to reflect. They have given me credence about my thoughts because believe me, I was just a lonely, friendless child before this turn of event.

The two little words in LOCK-DOWN have actually played a contrasting role to my thoughts and feelings. I have “unlocked” them and obtained wisdom through stories. Stories of people who made their lives worth living on this planet and left it while inspiring others through their creations, experiences, and their service to this world. These stories have allowed me to have a sagacious vision of how people function to make their lives meaningful. It has made me structure my long term goals of becoming an entrepreneur and making a difference in this evanescent world that we live in. In fact, this lock-down has taken care of the seemingly little things in my life – my sleep schedule, fitness, my connection with novels, and it has even helped me to end my addictive relationship with Netflix.

This lone time led me to ponder upon the ideas I never thought I had, such as how each and everything has a philosophical side to it and how faith, imagination and intuition have influenced us to perceive things in our own way. I started to observe the smaller fragments of the approaches people take towards a situation. I watched how my mom and dad work with each other, how my younger brother imagines his day before starting it, and how my grandfather integrates his religious knowledge into his tasks.

This lockdown has practically defined the word “growth” for me. Not for a moment did I believe that my life was going to ameliorate this way, but this short period has unleashed my imagination to its endless possibilities, and it has helped me reconstruct my beliefs.

I have been integrating several views of people around me to find the true perspective of the world and myself. I did this while building solid relationships with a few friends that I know will last a lifetime. Because, after everything that I will have achieved in the future, the things that will matter the most are these friendships that I spend time on now.

So the words that I would attribute my thoughts to are-
Appreciative. Creative. Developmental. Conscious. Magnified and finally, Introspective.

***

Poems

There is no one to blame

Lavishka Bajoria

By Lavishka Bajoria, 7 

I am thankful that we have beds to sleep,

Poor people who don’t have it, they weep.

.

I am thankful that I can wake up late,

By staying at home I am also  safe. Late and safe don’t rhyme.

.

In this lock-down I am in a happy mood,

I am also thankful that I get food.

.

We are always playing a game,

There is no one to blame.

***

Grandma’s Tale

Ahaana Kandoi

By Ahaana Kandoi, 13

“And there was no sign of an individual on the streets
Not even one where there used to be a myriad.
All engrossed in the news
Hoping that some positive message comes along.

That was the situation of the virus outbreak,
a disturbed time for all beings” said grandma.
“Both you and me were held captive in our houses
The towns had ceased to function.

Death rates increasing with the blink of an eye
And the infected were the hostages
There was the lot of the careless few,
Who were determined to not care
There was the lot of the educated illiterate
Who always seemed to be heedless.

However changes began as true leaders came forward.
Many people set good examples and they were followed.
Soon people disappeared into solitude
They began to follow the rules.
They stopped complaining and took to action
They were ready to give up on social lives
“We can get through this, we can do it,”
Were the words on everyone’s lips.

Development of technology began
Even in these terrible times
People began working from home
And brought about a progress in their countries.

And oh! The world how beautifully it evolved
The earth was once again replenished.
Turtles, dolphins and other creatures seen rarely,
Were now a common sight.

And if we look at the bright side
No theft, rape, abuse, slaughter occurring
And all were once again enthusiastic
The happiness again restored.

The people were now jolly and jovial,
7.8 billion smiles had driven the virus away.
So children, the lesson we learn today is the greatest one of all,
United we stand, divided we fall.”

***

The world is better because of you!

By Vansh Garg, 17

Ode to Mother

Mother

A being like no other

One capable of exuding so much love

So much inspiration to fly above

One capable of becoming equally as harsh

.

When your diligence and manners run scarce

As I wake up every morning,

My mom holds me close

Oh, I could enjoy this forever,

Alas, if only this moment forever froze

She lies there, a being infinitely wise

This feeling of warmth, it moistens my eyes

.

Years pass by, oh, there my youth goes

I’d never give up this feeling, her holding me close

The creator has created 

The perfect master plan

To run this world, on its own

Clan after clan

.

I’m part of this creation

As real as can be

Made possible by my mom

Who gave birth to me.

.

To her, I’m foolish

I am naughty and naive

Nevertheless, a part of her

Blessed to be alive

I may be annoying and childish

But my smarts are what mom gave me

.

I strive to be as infinitely selfless

As my mom, its epitome

I want to meet the creator

For them to feel the magnitude

Of, at being my mother’s son, my

unending gratitude

.

To all mothers, a Happy Mothers’ day

Achieving what you have I’ll never be able to

We dedicate to you this day

The world is better because of you.

***

Stories

Pumpkin Girl

By Ira Shenoi,6

#Sara’s Activities: Tangram # 10- Pumpkin Girl


Once upon a time there was little girl called Iri in a village very close to deep dark forest. She was walking in
the forest and found a small pumpkin. It was a magic pumpkin and started to grow bigger and bigger. It grew
so big that the girl decided to make it as her home. Slowly day by day she carved a bedroom, living room and
balcony for her inside the pumpkin. It was the cutest house and everyone called her pumpkin girl because she
lived inside a pumpkin.During the day she would go around the forest picking berries, nuts and fruits to eat. All
the animals in the forest like rabbits, butterflies, squirrels and bears were her friends.

But, other side of the village lived a big monster called Big Tummy Monster. He was called so because, he had
a big stomach and a huge appetite. No matter how much food he ate, he used to be hungry all the time.
People from the village had to cook for him and take food many times in a day, otherwise he would scream
and threaten villagers saying, “I will eat you all up!” People in the village were very sad and crying!
The pumpkin girl saw people crying and asked them what the reason was. They told her that all the food they
had was given away to the Big Tummy Monster and now they would not get anything to eat, even for their kids. If
they don’t give food, the monster would eat the up.

The girl thought of a plan, she went to the monster and said, “Hey Big Tummy Monster, you are hungry , right?
All you need is food, right? if you are really strong come and eat my pumpkin house!”. The monster came over and started eating the pumpkin, the pumpkin was so big that the monster could not finish it up. But the monster didn’t want to give up, and kept on eating and the stomach blasted out open, the monster ran away into deep dark forest in pain and was never seen again.

The pumpkin girl had rescued the villagers from monster, but now she didn’t have a house to live it. The
villagers thanked her and offered to build her a home. But she was not interested, she went to forest and kept
looking for a pumpkin. She found a small cute pumpkin. When she touched the pumpkin, it turned into a huge
one. She could make it as her new home, the villagers helped her turn into a home, and she was happy as ever.
“Do good and be kind.”

***

“Holi is for everyone,” it is said. Even for colour black?

By Anoushka Poddar, 10 

Bookosmia Holi is for everyone childrens story

“What in the world were you thinking?” the boss cried.
“Who would want to buy a black colour for holi? I know you are new but that doesn’t explain why you made a black colour. Now pack all of it up and throw it in the bin outside.”
The worker meekly agreed and did as he was told and I was tossed outside.
I was feeling very cramped and stuffy inside that packet. I tried wiggling out but ended up spilling a bit of me instead. My eyes widened in alarm as I lay still like a brick.
This new worker at Colours Factory had accidentally made me, a batch of black organic colour. Nobody would have played with black colour so the boss told him to throw me away. As I lay on the trash, surrounded by fruit peels and plastic bags, little black rose heart filled with self-pity and remorse, I asked myself what had I done to deserve this? I had only been myself! I guess
there is punishment for that too.
Many days passed as I lay in the garbage bin and Holi was very near. On the eve of Holi, a little beggar girl came wandering by. She started searching in the bin, looking for something she could use or sell. When she saw me her eyes lit up and filled with tears. Laughing and crying at the same time, she picked me up and started twirling me around. I felt so happy and at ease.
Me, a packet of black colour was giving someone so much joy.
I was on cloud nine. The girl immediately took me home. All her family members were so elated that they almost jumped with joy. They stored me on a wooden shelf, hoping to play with me on Holi.
The next day I was taken out and opened. The family had a wonderful time playing with me as they could not afford colours and very rarely got them. I was soon finished but the family was not sad. In fact they were very happy that they at least got to play with me.

This was a very quick end to my short and dramatic life but I felt amazing that I was able to help somebody have a good Holi. I felt that this is the true spirit of Holi. When they say ‘Holi is for EVERYONE’, they are right!

The Pied Piper of Hamelin- a retelling!

By Riddhiman Gangopadhyay, 13

Bookosmia Pied Pipe fairytale rehash

The rat infested city of Hamlin was in distress when the mayor finally decided to take some action
against the vermins.
A few days later he brought a funny dressed person with a pipe to drag away the rats.
The person said that his name was the Pied Piper and that he was worthy of removing the rodents from the city of Hamelin. Both the mayor and the Pied Piper had agreed on the sum of 1000 guilders. About a week later, the Pied Piper was out on the streets with an army of rats which was getting bigger and bigger with every joining rat following him. They followed him to a cave on the outskirts of the forest where the rats disappeared.
He went back to the mayors office to get his payment and leave the city. But the mayor jumped up on his chair when he heard that the payment of thousand Gilders had to be made as if the deal had never been made in the first place.
Riddhiman, a little boy of Hamlin was hearing impaired and although the other children laughed at him, he could never hear the sounds of the laughter. When people cried, he could never hear the sounds of sorrow either. But he knew that what God had taken from him in hearing he had gifted to him in curiosity and alertness. On the other hand, the Pied Piper was planning something that would certainly spell do for most of the people of Hamlin.
Next day, the Pied Piper was executing his plans. Children, chanted by the sound of the Pied Piper‘s piping came flowing out of every street. The parents did not have a chance to stop the children for they were under the spell of the pipe too. They were made into temporary living statues.

Bookosmia Kolkata Pied Piper rehashed

The young Riddhiman, driven by curiosity followed the group of the enchanted children. As he was deaf he could not hear the music and therefore was not under the spell of the Pied Piper but he understood that the Piper was kidnapping the children to take revenge on the mayor.
Riddhiman followed the children into the cave where the Piper had taken the rats. He pretended to be under thr spell too. He waited for the Piper to sleep then he slowly came out of the cave and locked the cave entrance by pushing a rock.

He then went to the mayor to strike a deal with him in sign language. He said that he would take 3000 guilders to tell them where the children were and hand over the Pied Piper as well. The mayor agreed.
With the children back home safely and the Pied Piper sent off with a reprimand, Riddhiman bought a cruise ship and sailed away into the seas like he had always dreamt about.

***

.

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

Categories
Editorial

As Time Flies…

Hello World!

And what a lovely and magical life it is despite the COVID 19 — which I am sure we will battle, even if the path seems long. Meanwhile, we remain connected in this virtual world of friendship, harmony and giving!

We completed another month! And what a month it has been — the two greatest bards celebrated their birthdays — Shakespeare and Tagore. We carried an essay on one and a discussion between two greats of modern Indian literature on the other! Other than that, more essays, stories, musings, translations and poetry took our readers globe-trotting. We are doing our best to seamlessly create a world of ideas in which we can drift effortlessly and find a whole new world where we can all meet to have exchanges beyond borders drawn by the exigencies of history, politics, economics, greed and more.

Writers are doing such a wonderful job of connecting us with similar concerns worldwide. Our experiences with COVID 19 and quarantine actually unite us in a large way as humans. One of our story writers has plucked the heart strings of readers across oceans on distant lands and received many encomiums for it. We all seem to be getting more linked by the pandemic caused by the corona virus, giving all of us time to pause and reflect on the commonality of human sufferings, as shown by the narratives from different parts of the world in the journal.

We continue to be fortunate to find many of our pieces a second home in Countercurrents.org. I am also happy to announce we have been listed again as one of the top places for submissions in an Indian site this time.

We have more happening here with all the action from our dynamic editorial board. Dustin Pickering, the editor-in-chief of Harbinger Asylum, on our editorial board, has suggested a promotion for us in his quarterly this July. So, some of our authors will be republished in hard copy from USA in the summer edition of Harbinger Asylum.

We are also starting a young persons’ section from the end of this month. This will be organised by Bookosmia, a children’s publisher. The founder of this popular children’s publishing concern, Nidhi Mishra, also on our editorial board, will be giving us the best from her blog for youngsters and we will exhibit it in our new section called Sara’s Selection.

We want this to be a family friendly journal and to nurture young talents along with established writers. You can check our submissions if you want to publish in the young person’s section, which will cater to aspiring writers under eighteen. We have an email — sara@bookosmia.com – which will take you straight to Bookosmia and the submission of the under-eighteen’s section of both BookOsmia and ours. We will be publishing only a few selected pieces from their blog and others could just be featured in Bookosmia, the blog run by the publisher.

We welcome children from all over the world to write in to Sara. The tie has been announced by Bookosmia in The Hindu, a well-known and established newspaper in India. I am attaching a link to the news below*.

We are overwhelmed with support from all of you and are looking into the periodicity of the Borderless Journal and will be announcing more changes next month on June 14th.

As we move forward in the spirit of Ubuntu or “oneness to humanity”, towards a world filled with love and kindness, where vibrancy and positivity can wash away darkness and hatred, where the freedom of speech does not descend to narrow abuse and anger, marginalisation and boundaries, I welcome you all to write in to me if you feel we need to expand our horizons further.

As I bid you adieu for another month, I hope you will keep reading our journal and writing for us.

Best wishes,

Happiness and Peace,

Mitali Chakravarty, Founding Editor, Borderless Journal.

*Click here to read about Bookosmia and our plans in this report in The Hindu.

Categories
Musings

Pause. And resume.

(A conversation on ‘hope’ between a mom and her 14-year-old daughter)

By Nidhi Mishra

Yesterday, someone shared with me a video by Serena Williams that went viral last year, where she is emotionally urging her little baby girl to grow up and take to a sport, ANY sport, but some sport. I remembered watching it together with my young daughter — in fact, many times over.

But, somewhere, during the repeats, I wondered what it was about this message from Serena that moved me so much. I have never really played any sport myself. I did inherit the family culture of an impeccable and exhaustive viewing of all Tennis grand slams, but it did not impact me any other way personally.

My daughter loved the video and gathered that I was trying to relay to her Serena’s message about the life lessons from sports. But seeing a tiny tear curl up in the corner of my eye, she figured it meant something more to me.

“Why are you so moved by this video?” she pestered, not happy that she was missing some point. The lack of a response from me made her venture to guess why Serena seemed important to me right now, while our lives seem to have come to a standstill.

Was it the daunting speed of Serena’s aces or the power of her backhand?

Was it the unmatched records of her Grand Slam victories?

Or was it the emotional appeal in the video, Serena trying to pack her life’s wisdom in a two-minute video, for her baby?

The answer I gave seemed terribly simple for all the flush of emotions I had been displaying.

“It is because she is a mom,” I said.

I could see my daughter had a loud “So what?” written all over her face.

“It is just that she is a mom,” I continued. “A returning mom. Doesn’t matter that she is returning to sport. It is the overpowering image of a mom returning to her life, reclaiming her life, the life she always knew before she hit pause. You won’t understand it. But every mom will.”

After some moments, my daughter replied, “You are right Ma. Yes, I get that it is hard. But I may not get HOW hard. I do understand now that when we talk of or watch Serena, it is not just her game.

 “I am conscious she is ‘getting back’ to her game, which is very different from ‘getting on’ with her game.

“It mustn’t be easy, after going through the life changing experience of becoming a mom. I don’t claim to know how much it means to young moms out there, but I do understand it means something. Someone to look up to. Someone like you, who pulled through. Some one who gives you hope.

“And I know what you will say now Ma, more than the game and the technique, Serena is sending out a message. As a mom. To another mom like you. And to any young girl like me, who is told there are so many reasons why women can’t take up the demands of a life-long career, sports or not. Well, there is one reason less now.”

There was something reassuring about hearing my daughter talk that way. It doesn’t take an expert to glean through and pick a few drops of hope from someone else’s story, someone else’s experience, however unknown their territory.

Now is not the time to convince our young ones that we have faced hardships. Now is the time to tell them that we lived through hardships and will do so yet again.

For now, I would only like to tell myself and all people out there, moms or not, working or not —

Many of us have hit pause before in our lives. And hard as it was, we always managed to resume.

There is no reason why we wont, this time.

Serena William’s video message for her little girl

Nidhi Mishra is an ex-banker who pivoted from a 10 year banking career to her passion for reading and luring others to read through her startup Bookosmia (smell of books). Bookosmia, a children’s content company has grown at a furious rate in the last two years, building an enviable bank of 270+ Intellectual Property, focused on bringing. She went to Lady Shri Ram College , Delhi University to pick up an Honours in Mathematics and a feminist flair on the side. An MBA from IIM Lucknow took her to a decade long career in the financial sector, finally quitting as VP, HSBC as she suffers from a (misplaced) sense of satisfaction and a drive to do something meaningful with her time. You can write to her at nidhi@bookosmia.com. Nidhi’s first children’s book “I Wish I Were” is retelling of an old Indian folklore in partnership with Parvati Pillai, ex-design Head of Chumbak received much global acclaim and is available on Kindle.