Imagine a world without wars, without divisions, where art forms flow into each other and we live by the African concept of Ubuntu — I am because you are’ — sounds idyllic. But this is the month of March, of poetry, of getting in touch with the Dionysian elements in ourselves. And as we have said earlier in the introduction of Monalisa No Longer Smiles: An Anthology of Writings from across the World, what could be a better spot to let loose this insanity of utopian dreams than Borderless Journal!
Having completed three years of our Earthly existence on the 14th of March, we celebrate this month with poetry and writing that crosses boundaries — about films, literature and more. This month in the Festival of Letters or Sahityaotsav 2023, organised by the Sahitya Akademi, films were discussed in conjunction with literature. Ratnottama Sengupta, who attended and participated in a number of these sessions, has given us an essay to show how deep run the lyrics of Bollywood films, where her father, Nabendu Ghosh, scripted legends. It is Ghosh’s birth month too and we carry a translation from his Bengali autobiography which reflects how businessmen drew borders on what sells… After reading the excerpt from Nabendu’s narrative translated by Dipankar Ghosh and post-scripted by Sengupta, one wonders if such lines should ever have been drawn?
Questioning borders of a different kind, we have another piece of a real-life narrative on a Japanese Soldier, Uehara. Written by an Assamese writer called Kamaleswar Barua, it has been translated and introduced by Bikash K. Bhattacharya. The story focusses on a soldier’s narrative at his death bed in an alien land. We are left wondering how his need for love and a home is any different from that of any one of ours? Who are the enemies — the soldiers who die away from their homes? What are wars about? Can people live in peace? They seemed to do so in Kurigram, a land that has faded as suggests the poem by Masud Khan, brought to us in translation from Bangla by Professor Fakrul Alam, though in reality, the area exists. Perhaps, it has changed… as does wood exposed to a bonfire, which has been the subject of a self-translated Korean poem by Ihlwha Choi. Tagore’s poem, Borondala translated as ‘Basket of Offerings’, has the last say: “Just as the stars glimmer / With light in the dark night, / A spark awakens within/ My body. / This luminosity illuminates / All my work.” And perhaps, it is this luminosity that will also help us find our ideal world and move towards it, at least with words.
This is the poetry month, and we celebrate poetry in different ways. We have an interview with poet Heidi North by Keith Lyons. She has shared a poem that as Bijan Najdi said makes one “feel a burning sensation in …[the]… fingertips without touching the fire”. It flows with some home truths put forward with poignancy. We have poetry by Michael R Burch, Kirpal Singh, Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal, Amit Parmessur, Ryan Quinn Flanagan, George Freek, Sanket Mhatre, Asad Latif and Rhys Hughes. While Burch celebrates spring in his poetry, Parmessur explores history and Hughes evokes laughter as usual which spills into his column on Indian Pale Ale. Devraj Singh Kalsi has written of simian surprises he has had — and, sadly for him, our reaction is to laugh at his woes. Meredith Stephens takes us on a sailing adventure to Nouméa and Ravi Shankar explores Aruba with photographs and words. Suzanne Kamata shows how Japanese curry can actually be a multicultural binder. Prithvijeet Sinha links the legends of artist MF Hussain and Mother Teresa while Paul Mirabile explores the stylistic marvels of James Joyce in his A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, a very literary piece.
We have a book review by Aruna Chakravarti of Bornali Datta’s In A Better Place: A Doctor’s Journey, a book that is set amidst immigrants and takes up certain social issues. Baba Padmanji’s Yamuna’s Journey, translated from Marathi by Deepra Dandekar, one of the oldest Indian novels has been discussed by Somdatta Mandal. Bhaskar Parichha has told us about S.Irfan Habib’s Maulana Azad – A Life. Basudhara Roy has brought out the simplicity and elegance of Robin Ngangom’s My Invented Land: New and Selected Poems. He writes in the title poem that his home “has no boundaries. / At cockcrow one day it found itself/ inside a country to its west,/ (on rainy days it dreams looking east/ when its seditionists fight to liberate it from truth.)”. We also carry an excerpt from his book. Stories by Jessie Michael, Brindley Hallam Dennis, Sangeetha G and Shubhangi bring flavours of diversity in this issue.
Our journey has been a short one — three years is a short span. But, with goodwill from all our readers and contributors, we are starting to crawl towards adulthood. I thank you all as caregivers of Borderless Journal as I do my fabulous team and the artists who leave me astounded at their ability to paint and write — Sohana Manzoor, Gita Vishwanath and Pragya Bajpai.
Thank you all.
Looking forward to the next year, I invite you to savour Borderless Journal, March 2023, where more than the treasures mentioned here lie concealed.
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