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Contents

Borderless, November 2022

Art by Sohana Manzoor

Editorial

We did it! … Announcing our first anthology … Monalisa No Longer Smiles… Click here to read.

Conversations

Suchen Christine Lim, an iconic writer from Singapore in conversation about her latest book, Dearest Intimate. Click here to read.

Blazing trails, as well as retracing the footsteps of great explorers, Christopher Winnan, a travel writer, delves into the past, and gazes into the future while conversing with Keith Lyons. Click here to read.

Translations

Rows of Betelnut Trees by My Window by Nazrul has been translated from Bengali by Professor Fakrul Alam. Click here to read.

A Day in the Life of the Pink Man is a story by Shankhadeep Bhattacharya, translated from Bengali by Rituparna Mukherjee. Click here to read.

The Clay Toys and The Two Boys is a story by Haneef Shareef, translated from Balochi by Fazal Baloch. Click here to read.

Saturday Afternoon is a poem by Ihlwha Choi, translated from Korean by the poet himself. Click here to read.

Tagore’s poem, Tomar Shonkho Dhulay Porey (your conch lies in the dust), has been translated from Bengali by Mitali Chakravarty as The Conch Calls. Click here to read.

Poetry

Click on the names to read

Jared Carter, Asad Latif, Rhys Hughes, Alpana, Mimi Bordeaux, Saranyan BV, Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal, Quratulain Qureshi, Jim Bellamy, Sourav Sengupta, Ron Pickett, Davis Varghese, Ryan Quinn Flanagan, Jonathan Chan, Terry Trowbridge, Amrita Sharma, George Freek, Gayatri Majumdar, Michael R Burch

Poets, Poetry and Rhys Hughes

In Infinite Tiffin, Rhys Hughes gives an unusual short story centring around food and hunger. Click here to read.

Musings/Slices from Life

The Scream & Me

Prithvijeet Sinha writes of how Edvard Munch’s painting, The Scream, impacts him. Click here to read.

A Fine Sunset

Mike Smith travels with a book to a Scottish beach and walks in the footsteps of a well-know novelist. Click here to read.

The Death of a Doctor

Ravi Shankar mourns the loss of a friend and muses on mortality in his experience. Click here to read.

My Contagious Birthday Party

Meredith Stephens writes of her experience of Covid. Click here to read.

Dim Memories of the Festival of Lights

Farouk Gulsara takes a nostalgic trip to Deepavali celebrations in Malaysia. Click here to read.

Musings of a Copywriter

In Strumming Me Softly with His Guitar…, Devraj Singh Kalsi talks of his friends’s adventure with the guitar. Click here to read.

Notes from Japan

In Therese Schumacher and Nagayoshi Nagai: A Love Story, Suzanne Kamata introduces us to one of the first German women married to a Japanese scientist and their love story. Click here to read.

Essays

My Favourite Book by Fakrul Alam

The essay is a journey into Fakrul Alam’s evolution as a translator. Click here to read.

The Ultimate Genius of Kishore Kumar

Shantanu Ray Chaudhuri, an eminent film critic, writes on the legend of Kishore Kumar. Click here to read.

T.S Eliot’s The Waste Land: Finding Hope in Darkness

Dan Meloche muses on the century-old poem and its current relevance. Click here to read.

The Observant Immigrant

In Piano Board Keys, Candice Louisa Daquin talks of biracial issues. Click here to read.

Stories

The Funeral Attendee

Ravi Prakash shares the story of the life of a migrant in rural India. Click here to read.

A Letter I can Never Post

Monisha Raman unravels the past in a short narrative using the epistolary technique. Click here to read.

Red Moss at the Abbey of Saint Pons

Paul Mirabile takes us to St Pons Abbey in France in the fifteenth century. Click here to read.

You have lost your son!

Farhanaz Rabbani gives a light story with a twist that shuttles between Dhaka and Noakhali. Click here to read.

Book Excerpts

An Excerpt from Manoranjan Byapari’s How I Became a Writer: An Autobiography of a Dalit, translated from Bengali by Anurima Chanda. Click here to read.

An excerpt from Evening with a Sufi: Selected Poems by Afsar Mohammad, translated from Telugu by Afsar Mohammad & Shamala Gallagher. Click here to read.

Book Reviews

Reba Som has reviewed Aruna Chakravarti’s Through the Looking Glass: Stories. Click here to read.

Somdatta Mandal has reviewed Shehan Karunatilaka’s The Birth Lottery and Other Surprises. Click here to read.

Basudhara Roy has reviewed Afsar Mohammad’s Evening with a Sufi: Selected Poems, translated from Telugu by Afsar Mohammad and Shamala Gallagher. Click here to read.

Bhaskar Parichha has reviewed Rahul Ramagundam’s The Life and Times of George Fernandes. Click here to read.

On World Tolerance Day, we invite you to the Book Launch of the first anthology from Borderless Journal, “Monalisa No Longer Smiles”

Borderless Journal Anthology

Click here to access the Borderless anthology, Monalisa No Longer Smiles

Categories
Editorial

We Did It!

That good things happen despite darkness, despite prognostications of doom, that light glimmers hope if you strive to focus on your strength in hard times is borne true both in fiction and in life. Perhaps, we cannot get back the old ways (but is that what we want?) but new paths emerge. Old gives way to new. And while trying to gather pearls of human excellence — borne not of awards or degrees but of bringing out the best, the kindest, the most loving in human hearts — we managed to create with a team an outstanding anthology. Woven with the writings of old and new — we created a tapestry together that the editor in chief of our publishing house said was “classy, literary, engaging and international”. That one of the oldest and most reputed publishing houses in India with bookshops countrywide took it on was also an unusual event! We are truly grateful to Om Books International, Shantanu Ray Chaudhuri and Jyotsna Mehta along with all our writers and readers who made our anthology a reality, and to Radha Chakravarty and Fakrul Alam for the kind words they bestowed on our effort.

Click here to access the Borderless anthology, Monalisa No Longer Smiles

Please greet our first anthology, Monalisa No Longer Smiles, with love and friendship. It could be the perfect Christmas gift in the spirit of the season! And as the blurb says, “it will definitely bring a smile to your face because it is a celebration of the human spirit.”

The anthology is different from our journal in as much as it has a sample of an eclectic collection that has been honed with further editing and has some new features. Most of the writing is from our first year and showcases our ethos, except for Lesya’s poetry and interview. Lesya Bakun from Ukraine is still on the run, looking for a refuge — she cannot return home like you or I can. Her family is scattered across number of countries. Her cousin, who was guarding the factory at Azovstal, was taken prisoner. We included her story in the anthology hoping to create global empathy for refugees as the numbers will increase not only due to war but also due to climate change.

The reason we felt a hardcopy anthology was a good idea was because nothing beats the joy of having a bunch of interesting reads in the warmth of your hands (especially where internet cannot reach or is unavailable). In any case, books with the feel of paper, the rustling whispers which carry voices of leaves can never be replaced as Goutam Ghose had also said in his interview which is now part of our anthology.

And that is why we celebrate more books… this time we feature Singaporean prima donna of literature, Suchen Christine Lim, with her new book Dearest Intimate, a novel that spans more than hundred years including the harrowing Japanese invasion during World War II. She shared sound advice with writers: “Suffering is good for the writer. It will deepen lived experience and expand the heart’s empathy.” And perhaps that is what is echoed through the experiences of the other writer interviewed on our pages by Keith Lyons. This is a writer who not only brought out his own books but was a regular contributor of travel pieces for Frommer’s and National Geographic traveling to unexplored destinations — Christopher Winnan. Another writer Lyon had interviewed recently, Steve Carr, has passed on. We would like to convey our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.

We have a number of books that have been reviewed. Reba Som reviewed Aruna Chakravarti’s Through the Looking Glass: Stories that span eras spread across time. Somdatta Mandal has reviewed Shehan Karunatilaka’s The Birth Lottery and Other Surprises and Bhaskar Parichha, Rahul Ramagundam’s The Life and Times of George Fernandes. Basudhara Roy has written of Afsar Mohammad’s Evening with a Sufi: Selected Poems, translated from Telugu by the poet and Shamala Gallagher, verses that again transcend borders and divides. We have an excerpt from the same book and another from Manoranjan Byapari’s How I Became a Writer: An Autobiography of a Dalit, translated from Bengali by Anurima Chanda.

More translations from Bengali, Balochi and Korean enrich our November edition. Fazal Baloch has translated a story by Haneef Shareef and Rituparna Mukherjee by Shankhadeep Bhattacharya. We have the translation of an inspirational Tagore poem helping us find courage (Shonkho Dhulaye Pore or ‘the conch lies in the dust’). Another such poem by Nazrul has been rendered in English from Bengali by Professor Fakrul Alam. He has also shared an autobiographical musing on how he started translating Tagore’s Gitabitan, which also happens to be his favourite book. More discussion on the literary persona of TS Eliot and the relevance of his hundred year old poem — ‘The Waste Land’ by Dan Meloche adds variety to our essay section.

Evoking the genius of another outstanding artiste, Kishore Kumar, who happened to pen thought provoking dialogues in some films, is Shantanu Ray Chaudhuri’s essay, review of a recent book on the legendary actor-singer and an interview with the authors. Infringing the boundaries of literary with popular culture and art and integrating all forms into a wholistic bundle has been part of our ethos. In that spirit we have a musing by Prithvijeet Sinha on Edvard Munch’s famous painting called Scream. We have non-fiction from Australia spanning Meredith Stephens’s recent brush with Covid, Mike Smith visits a Scottish beach in the footsteps of a novelist, Ravi Shankar has given us a poignant piece for a late friend and Candice Lousia Daquin talks of the existence of bi-racial biases. In contrast, Suzanne Kamata sent a narrative that bridges divides showcasing a German wife of a Japanese scientist that draws us to conclude that biases erode over time to create an acceptance of bi-racial people. Devraj Singh Kalsi brings in humour with his funny narrative about a guitarist. Rhys Hughes writes in a lighter vein on Indian cuisine in his column and spouts more funny poetry bordering on the absurd.

Jared Carter has shared beautiful poetry on murmuration in birds and we have touching verses from Asad Latif for a little girl he met on a train — reminiscent of Tagore’s poem Hide and Seek (Lukochuri). Michael R Burch has given us poems setting sombre but beautiful notes for the season. We host more poetry by Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal, Quratulain Qureshi, Jim Bellamy, Gayatri Majumdar, Ryan Quinn Flanagan, Alpana, Jonathan Chan, Saranyan BV, George Freek and many more. We have stories from around the world: India, France and Bangladesh.

Gathering all of your thoughts in strings of words from all corners of the world, we present to you the bumper November issue of Borderless Journal . Thank you all for sharing your thoughts with us. Thanks to Sohana Manzoor for her fantastic painting and more thanks to the whole Borderless team for seeing this issue through. We would not have been able to do the anthology or these issues without each one of you — writers and readers.

Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

There is always hope for a new tomorrow!

Mitali Chakravarty

borderlessjournal.com

Click here to access the Borderless anthology, Monalisa No Longer Smiles

Categories
Musings

The Scream & Me

 By Prithvijeet Sinha

Scream by Edvard Munch (1863-1944). Courtesy: Creative Commons

Dignity of expression is an underestimated phenomenon; in times like ours where everything has to be blurted out loud from the biggest amplifiers, subtlety has become a jaded mode of creative power. What can be understood in two words and understatement needn’t be stretched to a point of vulgar oversimplification through metaphors and symbolism anyway. The sorry state of affairs obviously then finds an outlet through the arts.  Ideally, painting should capture the world as a beautiful sanctuary, where our place as heavenly creatures endowed with virtues galore and innate innocence, is sanctified. This it does in thousands of visual motifs.  But painting also evinces an ample canvas on which our internal world of chaos finds an adequate representation. That is where ‘art’ finds its footing.

For me, one artwork that will always stand the test of time when it comes to representing our internal implosion affected by socio-cultural, political consequences is Edvard Munch’s ‘Scream’ (1893).

I don’t know when exactly I discovered it because it seems to bear such an omnipresent place in our cultural consciousness. However, to the best of my memory, my tenacious relationship with ‘Scream’ commenced more than a decade ago when I first set sight upon its hollowed out, skeletal figure, a personality who, it seemed, had placed us instantly in his/her shoes. Munch’s work thus has gone on to frame every moment that has blown the lid off societal hypocrisies and depravity, for this writer. It’s a scream that we all innately identify with because so much of our lives is spent repressing our self-expression, our sense of self-esteem and by extension, our rights. As our mental health, a culturally coded reality ignored throughout modern humanity’s materialistic stride, becomes a perennial victim of that repression, we yearn to speak. Recount our potential lost chances. Claim our minds, bodies and souls as our own. Retaliate at the status quo and in fair essence, scream.  Scream at the void, at our preceding generations, at calloused authority.

If you ask me then personally, the painting’s stance of an individual left in the middle of nowhere, imploding with the gesture of putting his hands on his ears and crying out, melting with the weight of the world, is most likely to be identified with my journey till now. That literal and oftentimes implicit scream is attached to parts of my whole being where nothing of prejudice, repression or even plainly documented neglect from our adults and guardians should reside. Yet they do.

I scream when my talents as a writer are taken to be temperamental or above careful analysis, as only an individual feat. I scream when a writer’s sensitivity doesn’t translate to a real vocation in the eyes of the world. I scream when my sustained silences groan and moan for days on end, only to be met with a premise of being ‘physically weak’ on my part; when my insides churn with inflaming pain attributable to chronic stomach troubles and indigestion since that day in 2000 where I was cursed with a bout of jaundice. When the strength to write gets overpowered by my depressive disenchantments; when gender roles are used as a rapier in common discourses, I scream.  I scream. I scream. Never audible enough to be heard. Always observing a kind of bourgeois tact that makes me come undone. I scream when the men tail me in moments of solitude at riverside parks, put hands on my body and refuse to acknowledge that there are asexuals out there who don’t crave the crassness of physical pleasure. Or even verbal grooming and cajoling.

I scream when the river gets dirty, filled with pollutants. The trees fall down. When a peaceful day is brutalised by the ancient prophecies of time; when concrete balls, lances of disease and traffic blasts produce a most grotesque symphony of the nature of the world, a preserve of noise, sound and fury signifying nothing especially as our mental states are poured out into doctors’ tables for consultations and fees, I scream. Gulping the air around me and melting with all the foregrounds and backgrounds this world can assist me with, to no avail, I get hollowed out.

Peace is a luxury to us mere mortals. Chaos is the lightning rod that governs us throughout. Since truth can never be shortchanged, Scream always haunts us with its presence, intimately involved in our implosions through the clogged networks of time and memory. I felt its echoes in Apichatpong Weerasethakul’sMemoria(2021), as Jessica, the protagonist, travelled along a network of vibrations emanating from aural worlds around her, dictated by the stillness of nature holding more than it dares to reveal; or, in that eight-minute unbroken piece de resistance in Dea Kulumbegashvili’s Beginning(2020) where her central figure drowns out the pandemonium of sexual defilement by laying her head on the ground, to keep herself sane and from death’s purview.

That scream is released in the final two minutes of the lyrics of Phoebe Bridgers’ breakout single ‘I Know The End’ (2020) where an apocalypse of the mind finds its literal projections compounded by rock guitars and drums, where the serenity of the preceding passages leads to an honest overflow, where aggression is supplanted by an exhausted sigh in the final coda. But also one, where silence is not an option. To me, Munch’s imprints let me reconcile with the fact that more than the politics of life and death as well as class, we are eternally doomed to imparting a facade of silence and repression to our ethos. It’s the inescapable truth and when bigotry such as the ones we encounter infects discourses, The Scream gags to be left out. It should, must be let out.

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Prithvijeet Sinha, has built a prolific published corpus based on the intersection of poetry, cinema and culture. He hails from the cultural epicentre that is Lucknow, India.

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