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Contents

Borderless, December 2022

Art by Sohana Manzoor

Editorial

It’s Only Hope… Click here to read.

Conversations

Shantanu Ray Chaudhari converses with writer Gajra Kottary, a well-known writer of Indian TV series, novels and stories. Click here to read.

A discussion on Samaresh Bose’s In Search of the Pitcher of Nectar, a book that takes us to the heart of the Kumbh Mela, a festival recognised by the UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage, with the translator, Nirmal Kanti Bhattacharjee. Click here to read.

Translations

Nazrul’s Why Provide Thorns has been translated by Professor Fakrul Alam. Click here to read.

Mercy, a story be P. F. Mathews, has been translated from Malayalam by Ram Anantharaman. Click here to read.

Even A Simurgh Cannot Change Destiny, a Balochi folktale translated and retold by Fazal Baloch. Click here to read.

Confessions, a poem written by and translated from Korean by Ihlwha Choi. Click here to read.

The Sun on the First Day, a translation of Tagore’s Prothom Diner Shurjo by Mitali Chakravarty. Click here to read.

Pandies’ Corner

Songs of Freedom: Vikalangta or Disability is an autobiographical narrative by Kajal, translated from Hindustani by Janees. These narrations highlight the ongoing struggle against debilitating rigid boundaries drawn by societal norms, with the support from organisations like Shaktishalini and Pandies. Click here to read.

Poetry

Click on the names to read

Jared Carter, Sukrita Paul Kumar, Rhys Hughes, Asad Latif, Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal, Santosh Bakaya, Phil Wood, Sharanya B, George Freek, Saibal Chatterjee, Jonathan Chan, Sutputra Radheye, Shambhu Nath Banerjee, Michael Burch

Poets, Poetry & Rhys Hughes

In Some Differences Between Wales and India, Rhys Hughes makes some hilarious comparisons. Click here to read.

Musings/ Slices from Life

Near-Life Experiences: Hiking in New Zealand

Keith Lyons escapes city life to find his happy place while hiking in New Zealand. Click here to read.

The Seven Grandfather Teachings

Saeed Ibrahim introduces us to Native Indian lore from Canada and shows its relevance in the current times. Click here to read.

Dismasted in Bass Strait

Meredith Stephens takes us for a sailing adventure with photographs in the Southern Hemisphere. Click here to read.

Musings of a Copywriter

In Of Mice & Men, Devraj Singh Kalsi talks of his encounters with rats. Click here to read.

Notes from Japan

In A Clean Start, Suzanne Kamata tells us how the Japanese usher in a new year. Click here to read.

Stories

Annapurna Bhavan

Lakshmi Kannan closes class divides in Chennai over a meal. Click here to read.

Two Faces of a Mirror

Tulip Chowdhury gives us a story set in a Bangladeshi village. Click here to read.

The Slip

Sushma R Doshi takes a look at the pandemic against an Indian middle-class set up. Click here to read.

Till Life Do Us Part

Devraj Singh Kalsi explores a strange new trend. Click here to read.

Essays

Orangutans & a School at Sarawak

Christina Yin, a conservationist, travels to Borneo in an attempt to create awareness for conserving the Orangutan. Click here to read.

Taiping of the Raj Era

Ravi Shankar explores Taiping in Malaysia with a camera and words. Click here to read.

Ivory Ivy & Stephen Dedalus

Paul Mirabile explores James Joyce’s Stephen Dedalus and his passion for words keeping in mind the hundred year old Ulysees & the even older, A Portrait of the Artists as a Young Man. Click here to read.

Book Excerpts

An excerpt from Radha Chakravarty’s translation of Tagore’s Farewell Song. Click here to read.

An excerpt or two short narratives from Rhys Hughes’ Yule Do Nicley. Click here to read.

Book Reviews

Somdatta Mandal reviews The Shaping of Modern Calcutta: The Lottery Committee Years, 1817 – 1830 by Ranabir Ray Chaudhury. Click here to read.

Rakhi Dalal reviews Freny Manecksha’s Flaming Forest, Wounded Valley: Stories from Bastar and Kashmir. Click here to read.

Basudhara Roy reviews Manoranjan Byapari’s How I Became a Writer: An Autobiography of a Dalit. Click here to read.

Bhaskar Parichha reviews In Search of the Divine: Living Histories of Sufism in India by Rana Safvi. Click here to read.

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

You are all welcome to the book talks of our first anthology

Categories
Editorial

Its Only Hope…

Painting by Sybil Pretious

New year, like a newborn, starts with hope.

The next year will do the same – we will all celebrate with Auld Lang Syne and look forward to a resolution of conflicts that reared a frightening face in 2022 and 2021. Perhaps, this time, if we have learnt from history, there will not be any annihilation but only a movement towards resolution. We have more or less tackled the pandemic and are regaining health despite the setbacks and disputes. There could be more outbreaks but unlike in the past, this time we are geared for it. That a third World War did not break out despite provocation and varied opinions, makes me feel we have really learnt from history.

That sounds almost like the voice of hope. This year was a landmark for Borderless Journal. As an online journal, we found a footing in the hardcopy world with our own anthology, Monalisa No Longer Smiles: Writings from Across the World, which had a wonderful e-launch hosted by our very well-established and supportive publisher, Om Books International. And now, it is in Om Book Shops across all of India. It will soon be on Amazon International. We also look forward to more anthologies that will create a dialogue on our values through different themes and maybe, just maybe, some more will agree with the need for a world that unites in clouds of ideas to take us forward to a future filled with love, hope and tolerance.

One of the themes of our journal has been reaching out for voices that speak for people. The eminent film critic and editor, Shantanu Ray Chaudhuri , has shared a conversation with such a person, the famed Gajra Kottary, a well-known writer of Indian TV series, novels and stories. The other conversation is with Nirmal Kanti Bhattajarchee, the translator of Samaresh Bose’s In Search of a Pitcher of Nectar, a book describing the Kumbh-mela, that in 2017 was declared to be an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. Bhattacharjee tells us how the festival has grown and improved in organisation from the time the author described a stampede that concluded the festivities. Life only gets better moving forward in time, despite events that terrorise with darkness. Facing fear and overcoming it does give a great sense of achievement.

Perhaps, that is what Freny Manecksha felt when she came up with a non-fiction called Flaming Forest, Wounded Valley: Stories from Bastar and Kashmir, which has been reviewed by Rakhi Dalal. Basudhara Roy has also tuned in with a voice that struggled to be heard as she discusses Manoranjan Byapari’s How I Became a Writer: An Autobiography of a Dalit. Somdatta Mandal has reviewed The Shaping of Modern Calcutta: The Lottery Committee Years, 1817 – 1830 by Ranabir Ray Chaudhury, a book that explores how a lottery was used by the colonials to develop the city. Bhaskar Parichha has poured a healing balm on dissensions with his exploration of Rana Safvi’s In Search of the Divine: Living Histories of Sufism in India as he concludes: “Weaving together facts and popular legends, ancient histories and living traditions, this unique treatise running into more than four hundred pages examines core Sufi beliefs and uncovers why they might offer hope for the future.”

In keeping with the festive season is our book excerpt from Rhys Hughes’ funny stories in his Christmas collection, Yule Do Nicely. Radha Chakravarty who brings many greats from Bengal to Anglophone readers shared an excerpt – a discussion on love — from her translation of Tagore’s novel, Farewell Song.

Love for words becomes the subject of Paul Mirabile’s essay on James Joyce’s Stephen Dedalus, where he touches on both A Portrait of the Artist as a young Man and  Ulysees, a novel that completed a century this year. Love for animals, especially orangutans, colours Christina Yin’s essay on conservation efforts in Borneo while Keith Lyons finds peace and an overwhelming sense of well-being during a hike in New Zealand. Ravi Shankar takes us to the historical town of Taiping in Malaysia as Meredith Stephens shares more sailing adventures in the Southern hemisphere, where it is summer. Saeed Ibrahim instils the seasonal goodwill with native Indian lores from Canada and Suzanne Kamata tells us how the Japanese usher in the New Year with a semi-humorous undertone.

Humour in non-fiction is brought in by Devraj Singh Kalsi’s ‘Of Mice and Men’ and in poetry by Santosh Bakaya. Laughter is stretched further by the inimitable Rhys Hughes in his poetry and column, where he reflects on his experiences in India and Wales. We have exquisite poetry by Jared Carter, Sukrita Paul Kumar, Asad Latif, Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal, Michael R Burch, Sutputra Radheye, George Freek, Jonathan Chan and many more. Short stories by Lakshmi Kannan, Devraj Singh Kalsi, Tulip Chowdhury and Sushma R Doshi lace narratives with love, humour and a wry look at life as it is. The most amazing story comes from Kajal who pours out the story of her own battle in ‘Vikalangta or Disability‘ in Pandies’ Corner, translated from Hindustani by Janees.

Also touching and yet almost embracing the school of Absurd is PF Mathew’s story, ‘Mercy‘, translated from Malayalam by Ram Anantharaman. Fazal Baloch has brought us a Balochi folktale and Ihlwha Choi has translated his own poem from Korean to English. One of Tagore’s last poems, Prothom Diner Shurjo, translated as ‘The Sun on the First Day’ is short but philosophical and gives us a glimpse into his inner world. Professor Fakrul Alam shares with us the lyrics of a Nazrul song which is deeply spiritual by translating it into English from Bengali.

A huge thanks to all our contributors and readers, to the fabulous Borderless team without who the journal would be lost. Sohana Manzoor’s wonderful artwork continues to capture the mood of the season. Thanks to Sybil Pretious for her lovely painting. Please pause by our contents’ page to find what has not been covered in this note.

We wish you all a wonderful festive season.

Season’s Greetings from all of us at Borderless Journal.

Cheers!

Mitali Chakravarty

borderlessjournal.com

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

Categories
Excerpt Tagore Translations

Farewell Song

Title: Farewell Song

Author: Rabindranath Tagore

Translator: Radha Chakravarty

Publisher: Penguin, Hesperus Press

‘I may go away from Shillong, but the month of Agrahayan can’t suddenly slip away from the almanac! Do you know what I shall do in Calcutta?’

‘What will you do?’

‘While Mashima makes arrangements for the wedding, I must prepare for the days that are to follow. People forget that conjugal life is an art, to be created anew each day. Do you remember, Banya, how King Aja had described Indumati in Raghuvamsha?’

‘‘‘My favourite pupil has artistry in her blood,’ quoted Labanya.

‘Such artistry of the blood belongs to conjugal life,’ declared Amit. ‘Barbarians generally imagine the wedding ceremony to be the real moment of union, which is why the idea of union is often so utterly neglected afterwards.’

‘Please explain the art of union as you imagine it in your heart. If you want me to be your disciple, then let today be the first lesson.’

‘Very well, then, listen. The poet creates rhythm out of deliberately placed obstructions. Union, too, should be rendered beautiful by means of deliberately placed obstacles. To cheapen a precious thing so that it is to be had for the asking is to cheat your own self. For the pleasure of paying a high price is by no means negligible.’

‘Let’s hear how the price is to be calculated.’

‘Wait! Let me describe what my heart has visualized. Beside the Ganga, there will be a garden-estate on the other side of Diamond Harbour. A small steam-launch would take us to Calcutta and back, within a couple of hours.’

‘But why the need to travel to Calcutta?’

‘Now there is no need to, please be assured. I do visit the bar- library, not to engage in trade but to play chess.The attorneys have realized that I have no need for work and, therefore, no interest in it. When a case comes up, concerning some mutual dispute, they hand me the brief but nothing more than that. But right after marriage, I’ll show you what it means to set to work, not in search of a livelihood but in search of life. At the heart of the mango lies the seed, neither sweet, nor soft, nor edible; yet the entire mango depends on it, takes shape from it. You understand, don’t you, why the stony seed of Calcutta is necessary? To keep something hard at the core of all the sweetness of our love.’

‘I understand. In that case, I need it, too. I must also visit Calcutta, from ten to five.’

‘What’s wrong with that? But it should be for work, and not in order to explore the neighbourhood.’

‘What work can I take up, tell me? Without any wages?’

‘No, no, a job without wages is neither work nor play: it’s mostly all about shirking. If you wish, you can easily become a professor in a women’s college.’

‘Very well, that shall be my wish.What then?’

‘I can visualize it clearly: the shore of the Ganga. From the lowest level of the paved bathing area rises an ancient banyan tree, laden with aerial roots. While cruising down the Ganga to Ceylon, Dhanpati may have tethered his boat to this same banyan tree and cooked his dinner under its shade. To the south is the moss-encrusted paved bathing ghat, the stone cracked in many places, eroded in patches. At that ghat is tethered our slim, elegant boat, painted green and white. On its blue flag, inscribed in white lettering, is the name of the boat. Please tell me what the name should be.’

‘Should I? Let it be named Mitali, for friendship.’

‘Just the right name: Mitali. I had thought of Sagari, in fact I was rather proud of having thought up such a name. But you have defeated me, I must admit.Through the garden flows a narrow channel, bearing the pulsebeat of the Ganga. You live on one side of the channel, and I live just across, on the other side.’

‘Would you swim across every evening, and must I await you at my window, with a lighted lamp?’

‘I’ll swim across in my imagination, crossing a narrow wooden footbridge. Your house is named Manasi, the desired one; and you must give a name to my house.’

‘Deepak—the lamp.’

‘Just the right name. Atop my house, I shall place a lamp to suit the name. A red light will burn there on the evenings when we meet, and a blue one on nights of separation. When I return from Calcutta, I shall daily expect a letter from you. It should sometimes reach me, sometimes not. If I don’t receive it by eight in the evening, I shall curse my ill-fortune and try to read Bertrand Russell’s textbook on logic. It will be our rule, that I must never visit you uninvited.’

‘And can I visit you?’

‘Ideally, both of us should follow the same rule, but if you occasionally break it, I shall not find it intolerable.’

‘If the rule is not to be observed in the breaking, what would be the condition of your house! Perhaps I should visit you in a burkha.’

‘That’s all very well, but I want my letter of invitation. The letter need contain nothing but a few lines of verse, taken from some poem.’

‘And will there be no invitations for me?Am I to be discriminated against?’

‘You are invited once a month, on the night when the moon is at its full, after fourteen days of fragmented existence.’

‘Now offer your favourite pupil an example of the kind of letter to be written.’

‘Very well.’ He produced a notebook from his pocket and wrote, first in English, then in Bengali:

Blow gently over my garden 
Wind of the southern sea
In the hour my love cometh 
And calleth me

Labanya did not return the piece of paper to him.

‘Now for an example of the kind of letter you would write. Let’s see how much you have gained from your lessons.’

Labanya was about to write on a piece of paper. ‘No,’ insistedAmit, ‘you must write in this notebook of mine.’

Labanya wrote, in Sanskrit, and then in English:

Mita, twamasi mama jivanam, twamasi mama bhushanam, 
Twamasi mama bhavajaladhiratnam.
Mita, you are my life, my adornment, 
The jewel in the ocean of my world.

‘The amazing thing is, I have written the words of a woman, and you the words of a man,’ remarked Amit, putting the notebook in his pocket. ‘There is nothing incongruous about it. Whether the wood comes from a red silk cotton tree or from a bakul tree, when set alight, the fire looks the same.’

About the Book

Rabindranath Tagore reinvented the Bengali novel with Farewell Song, blurring the lines between prose and poetry and creating an effervescent blend of romance and satire. Through Amit and Labanya and a brilliantly etched social milieu, the novel addresses contemporary debates about ‘good’ and ‘bad’ writing, the nature of love and conjugality and the influence of Western culture on Bengali society. Set against the idyllic backdrop of Shillong and the mannered world of elite Calcutta society, this sparkling novel expresses the complex vision and the mastery of style that characterised Tagore’s later works.

About the Author

Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), the Renaissance man, reshaped Bengal’s literature and music, and became the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913. He introduced new prose and verse forms and the use of colloquial language into Bengali literature, thereby freeing it from traditional models based on classical Sanskrit. He was highly influential in introducing the best of Indian culture to the West and vice versa, and was a living institution for India, especially for Bengal.

About the Translator:

Radha Chakravarty is a writer, critic and translator based in New Delhi, India. She has co-edited The Essential Tagore and translated Rabindranath Tagore’s major works including Chokher Bali, Gora, Farewell Song, Four Chapters, The Land of Cards: Stories, Poems and Plays for Children and Boyhood Days. She has also translated other Bengali writers from India and Bangladesh, such as Bankimchandra Chatterjee, Kazi Nazrul Islam, Sunil Gangopadhyay, Nabaneeta Dev Sen, Mahasweta Devi, Anita Agnihotri, Selina Hossain, Hasan Azizul Haq and Syed Shamsul Huq. She is the author of Feminism and Contemporary Women Writers and Novelist Tagore. Her latest books in translation are Our Santiniketan by Mahasweta Devi and Four Chapters by Tagore. Nominated for the Crossword Translation Award, she also is also a widely published poet. She taught Comparative Literature & Translation at Dr B R Ambedkar University Delhi.