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. 

Categories
Musings

Corona and my uncle

By Archana Mohan

Apparently, my 75 year old uncle, Kailash, is immortal.

His astrologer, the one whose perennially hanging VIP undies on the terrace are a Google Maps landmark, told him so.

I quote my uncle verbatim. “My Jupiter is in the 6th house and even if I want to, I cannot get killed this year.”

And so, whereas we ‘snowflakes’ stay at home and wash our hands till the fate line disappears, cool dude Kailash walks around the empty streets every evening without a mask or care in the world.

Do you know a Kailash? You probably do.

Do you mutter under your breath when they wash their hands and fail to do a rotational rub of their thumb clasped in the other hand’s palm? Ah! Newb.

Do you roll your eyes when they dismiss it as a ‘made in China’ defective virus?

And when they send you forwards on Whatsapp about the power of raw ginger juice in keeping the virus at bay, what do you do? Do you smirk, ignore and go back to the Mexican drug cartel show you have been binge watching?

Congratulations! People like Uncle Kailash aren’t the problem. You and I are.

We mock these senior citizens about being PhDs from Whatsapp University but forget that the same university sends them gory images of victims and statistics that probably scare the daylights out of them.

They know that people of their age, especially those with underlying health conditions are twice as likely to develop serious outcomes from the corona virus as compared to otherwise younger, healthier people.

And that is why they forward messages that claim to know ‘nature’s cures’. They aren’t stupid. They are scared.  And raw garlic, gives them hope.

The virus wasn’t made in China. It is being made here, at our home, everyday. For when an ‘Uncle Kailash’ acts out and refuses to conform to the lockdown, he isn’t ‘pig headed’. He is scared.

Scared that 200 people in your area have been quarantined. Scared that he and his family will be one of ‘those’.

He doesn’t have the luxury to switch off from the crisis and ‘work from home’ as you do. He cannot meet the friends who sail on the same boat as him. He struggles with video calls. He is worried sick about his daughter in the States. He keeps checking his medicine cabinet. Anything can happen.

He hasn’t told you but he knows that even though his astrologer says he is immortal, he really isn’t. He knows that life is like a mutual fund investment. It is subject to market risks and even if you read all scheme related documents carefully, you could still get burnt.

He is so petrified by what is going on, that he cannot sleep. He has questions. Many, many of them and he is afraid to know the answers.

He is dying to speak. To unburden. He yearns for a kind word. A reassuring pat. A kiss from a grandchild. A cup of hot tea, with extra ginger. New gossip about the neighbour. Anything. Even an off-color joke about his favourite actress just to lighten up, to take his mind off the fear. Even if, for just a few minutes.

But where to start?  He sneaks a look at you. You are wearing headphones.  Your eyes are glued to your device. You are probably busy. He really doesn’t want to intrude. He backs off.

Later that night, he sees that your phone is charging. Perhaps he could try one more time. He gathers courage and sends you a forward.

Ting!  A new Whatsapp message.

‘Congratulations! UNESCO has declared ‘Jana Gana Mana’ as the best national anthem of the world,’ it reads. You read it but don’t react. Old Uncle Kailash at it again. These oldies! The worst mistake we made was introducing them to Whatsapp.

87% charged. That’s good enough.

You plug the phone out from the charging cable and get back to your binge watching.

You are watching ‘Contagion’, a 2011 movie about a deadly virus that is about to cause misery to the entire human race.

Unknown to you, there is a deadly virus in the other room eating up an old, terrified man.

It is called loneliness.

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.

Categories
Musings

Corona in a teacup!

By Nidhi Mishra

As I write this, I am sitting at my workstation at home, a cup of hot green tea in hand, like any other day. But that is where ‘like any other day’ ends.

My husband is working from home, no longer out on his weekly tour. The kids are no longer at school. We are watchful of every sneeze, alarmed at every cough. At least, three sanitisers would greet you on the way from my apartment, down the elevator to the ground floor reception. An email from Google is asking me if my business is affected because of corona virus; forwards from well meaning (and often ill-informed) relatives detailing baffling ‘facts’, even the magical cure of ginger garlic. WhatsApp groups are full of passionate debates about the ‘right’ degree of panic this should evoke. I myself am struggling to find the ‘cool’ response to this crisis, while chiding a friend in Philippines for not panicking and taking the next flight home, even though it will mean fourteen days of quarantine for her. Tom Hanks contracted the virus. The Canadian Prime Minister’s wife also did.

I am terribly hooked to Stephen Colbert’s daily monologue at the Late Show. It works like a wonder to cheer me up on my worst days. Today, as I turned to my daily dose, it took me steeply downhill as the host put up the gloomiest narrative, struggling to do a live show where a live audience is no longer allowed.  This was it for me! I do not know if the virus has physiologically affected one or not, it certainly has in every other way — professional, parental, societal. It seems to be everywhere.

Some of my friends love to read and exchange pieces of thoughtful good writing. A few days back, we discussed one such piece and immediately agreed how cosmologists have the most beautiful commentary on life, as they can distance themselves from the myopic view of daily human life and zoom out into the universe. It must be easier to lose that momentary angst when you realise what a minuscule spec you are on a little dot.

I often say I am not as good at writing as I am at reading. So here is a bit by physicist Brian Green that I particularly loved. “Most of us deal quietly with the need to lift ourselves beyond the everyday. Most of us allow civilisation to shield us from the realisation that we are part of a world that, when we’re gone, will hum along, barely missing a beat. We focus our energy on what we can control. We build community. We participate. We care. We laugh. We cherish. We comfort. We grieve. We love. We celebrate. We consecrate. We regret. We thrill to achievement, sometimes our own, sometimes of those we respect or idolise. Through it all, we grow accustomed to looking out to the world to find something to excite or soothe, to hold our attention or whisk us to someplace new. Yet the scientific journey we’ve taken suggests strongly that the universe does not exist to provide an arena for life and mind to flourish. Life and mind are simply a couple of things that happen to happen. Until they don’t.” That last line in there is the only truth, the only take away, the only lesson. It is the same for all of us. Whether you are in Italy or India or Iran.

Corona virus has taken our nationalities, religion, colour, all away from us. It has levelled us all as equals, trying to make sense of a common enemy. We are now the same. Of course how we deal with it may differ, but only in degree. We are the same parents who worry for their kids, the same tourists who feel unwelcome, the same travellers who long to make it home, the same businesses that suffer, the same patients who are isolated, the same clueless heads trying to figure this out.

Corona virus has rendered us all the same — the human species – what we were when our kind started inhabiting the Earth.

Almost every industry in the world has been impacted — from sports to the financial markets. But through it all, we still turn to our phones to see that message of concern from friends, that well meaning (maybe ill-informed) forward from relatives, that email from an employer on how to keep yourself safe, that beautiful write up from a psychologist, that Google alert on the latest celebrity to contract the virus.

The talking. The reading. The communicating.  

Never has it seemed more important than today, to keep that conversation going, to make that long due call, to show that concern, to fuss over that loved one, to accept that helplessness, to find that common ground in not knowing.

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.