Categories
Poetry

Poetry by Anasuya Bhar

DUSK
The line of dusk makes itself visible
Not in orangish yellow, but in sullen grey, 
And confused white – 
I yearn towards my tea,
Sip in its golden warmth,
Feel it surging down my parched throat
Along the cold tissues. 
It wizens me -- 
Making me quietly aware 
Of all the days gone by
And how slowly my own sun 
Has passed its noon
And is veering towards its dusky route,
Mostly in grey abandon – 

CODES
There are codes
Unsaid arrangements
Making you act, talk and move
In a pattern specific
Rendering facile, redundant, peripheral
The presence of the other,
Called the outsider,
Who seems to intrude 
Into your closed circles
Of intimacy or conspiracy.  
It is the codes
That determine loyalty and staying – 
Beyond which, there is hardly any saying

DISCOVERY
Again and again
Into the cesspool 
Of confusion, desire and hurt,
Of misgivings and disbeliefs too, 
Sinks the sad heart – 
Until one discovers how
The deliverer is the destroyer. 
Again and again 
One realises
The slips so made and,
In the clarity
One perceives
The dynamics of play. 

Dr. Anasuya Bhar is an academic teaching English literature in St. Paul’s Cathedral Mission College, Kolkata, India. She would also want to be known as a poet.

.

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

Categories
Poetry

Walking Gretchums

By Saptarshi Bhattacharya

WALKING GRETCHUMS

Ever seen a walking gretchum?
'The Scourge of a Good Night's Sleep' they are called.
Exactly when you are tired of the day's din and bustle,
Of trying to crawl up the ladders of your world,
And all you want to do is lie down and start the new day afresh,
Or when you are full and getting ready for your afternoon nap,
They will climb your bed and whisper into your ears,
All that which would have been better if you had not heard.
 
To semi-suicidal teens, they sing songs to overcome acrophobia.
To nine-to-five workers, they sing hymns of living the high life.
To the eligible jobless, they play the clarion call to defiantly create their own worlds.
To the old and wise, they sigh about counter culture blues,
Saying, there's still time to be obscene if you haven't tried that in your youth.
 
Whether they are good or bad is still up for debate though.
However, that is mostly because they sealed the mouths of opposers with craft glue.
Maybe that's why people call them crafty.

Finally, a word of advice for all those who sleep with their ears open,
If you see little horned creatures, with a little microphone and speaker in hand, trying to get inside your mosquito net, don't ignore them.
The worst thing you can do is to leave them
For they feed on human ignorance.
The best thing to do is to call someone else to stare,
Because the walking gretchums have one glaring weakness,
They set themselves on fire when more than one pair of eyes simultaneously look at them.

Saptarshi Bhattacharya is a student at St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata, India. He is an amateur writer and a die-hard Bob Dylan fan.

.

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

Categories
Poetry

The Death of Time

By Ananya Sarkar

THE DEATH OF TIME

You mark the death of everything
Love, anger, fear,
Suffering in its throes…
Yet when you die
How will we know?
For neither the summer breeze
Nor the starlit sky
Will give way to the fact that you are no more...
So when you die
How will we know?

Ananya Sarkar is a creative writer from Kolkata. Her work has been published in various ezines. She loves to go on long walks, cloud gaze and ponder upon miracles.

.

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

Categories
Musings of a Copywriter

The New Year’s Boon

By Devraj Singh Kalsi

After several waves of the pandemic, the merciful Lord showers good news on the Eve of New Year. It is certainly not going to be a ‘knew’ year because in this year we are going to learn things we never knew, some cosmic droppings that take us through pleasant surprises to restore the dwindling faith of mankind in the Creator of the Universe. He proposes to roll out a slew of packages without appearing on any television channel during prime time. The boom of boons for humanity – to live the truth of fantasies.

Our efforts to create a better world have not found meaty success as we are still engrossed in this model or that model, trying hard to adjust accordingly and find an ideal one fit for prescription the world over. No unanimous choice has emerged over the centuries of experimentation but God has been at the receiving end for creating an unequal world, often blamed for creating various categories in the world like first and third. 

While the doomsday club says the end is drawing near and the world is likely to get decimated, with several cities going underwater to create new mythologies and epics, there is big, breaking news coming in: God has decided to give another chance to live by introducing radical changes in the cycle of life and death.

The best phase of life is childhood and poets and writers have celebrated this stage. The seven stages of mankind remain so but the time allotted to each stands revised. The biggest bonanza comes in the form of extension of age. From now on, human beings will live up to 200 years. The doubling of life span is a huge joy for all. Instead of the usual one hundred years of solitude for us, we get another one hundred years of bonhomie and celebration.   

To explain it in detail, God has increased the childhood span of the newborn. Henceforth, every child gets blooming childhood years up to 25 years before turning teenager and then adulthood wades in at the young, callow age of 50. For one hundred years he remains young and virile to enjoy the worldly, sensual pleasures, to multiply without restrictions. The painful period of old age and decay gets shortened. Old age kicks in after 150 years of his existence in this beautiful, big world with continents and countries where most people die in discontent, without seeing even half of their own country. With more time at their disposal, they get to travel a lot and stay young and healthy to carry on with their duties in a relaxed manner. 

Such a long phase of youth ensures no hurry, no stress, and no tension. Carry on at your lumbering pace and enjoy life the way you like without submitting to any pressure. Lovers have more time to stroll in the landscaped gardens and there is no time-bound compulsion of career building, of getting hitched and having kids soon after. As people remain virile for longer and enjoy love and romance for hundred years in a full bloom stage, it is the best gift for people who often crib they cannot enjoy love and romance for long. Platonic love life give way to real, sensual relationships and people will have a gala time to enjoy sans limits. 

God also does not like people turning unhealthy too soon, becoming prone to diseases, and losing the will to live early in life so He has been compelled to bring in structural changes in the biological patterns. With new slabs for various stages of life, a frenzy of excitement, a frisson of delight in mankind is quite expected. 

As a bonus, God has also approved a minimum life span for all. Which means nobody is going to die before attaining that particular age. Since man has created too many resources on his own beyond God’s calculation and imagination, the Lord feels Man should be able to feed more population for longer periods, without starvation deaths, or drought-like situations. Earlier, the Lord kept it deliberately low because he preferred recycling all around, to keep the planet balanced and healthy. Since man has adopted recycling and renewal and has researched a lot to advance age miracle creams and lotions, God has been benevolent to grant a new lease of life to all without discrimination, to outsmart human moves. ‘Live long’ ceases to be a blessing now.

The world battling the current crises is going to get a panacea. The greed factor prevails because there is so much to do and so little time. Henceforth, man can afford to slow down and enjoy the fruits of labour instead of being obsessed and disturbed. He will be able to experience bliss, finally. With the slowing down of everything that is speed-driven, with man realising he is going to be here for long, there is no tearing hurry to tear this world apart for selfish gains.

Thankfully, death will also not remain unpredictable as the time of its arrival in the life of a person happens only after a fixed number of years. Imagine nobody in the family dying before the age of 150 and they can all love each other and not feel hurt. The wheels of life will not get derailed. Families will not suffer due to the premature demise of the head of the family. Removing uncertainty from life about death is surely a precious gift. Parents will not be in a hurry to complete their duties towards their children in the fear of leaving this world with an incomplete schedule.

God will not make a grand announcement, but he will begin its global implementation in all communities to prove that God is one everywhere. The same Creator controls this universe and we should see this miracle and spectacle at the same time to realise that God is one in all religions and gifts the same benefits without discrimination. As the world seems to be prepared for some drastic changes on the horizon, the Lord thinks this is just the right time to deliver a relief package.

2022 is indeed a phenomenal year that is going to change human lives in a big way. People will return to enjoying life in its organic form and remain close to nature, as their materialistic instincts get tamed. The creative folks will produce more literature, music, and the arts will prosper. Science will be used for benefit alone and the nations will become non-competitive. Traditional farming stages a comeback and people lead simpler lives. After centuries of evolution, the human body gets the secret of staying fit for longer. This global change happens to all living human beings and the world synchronizes to this new reality. The mad rush to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries will also stop as people know they are here for sure. The uncertainty factor getting edged out of human lives marks the beginning of a new era. 

It is going to be so thrilling to see nonagenarian men and women with spotless beauty and youthfulness, beaming smiles, and wearing no dentures at all. While this will destroy cosmetic brands and tonic brands, the positive takeaway will be much greater. Of course, humans will have a new set of challenges. They thrive and survive on challenges but not the same set of challenges for centuries, with the same compulsions. As the New Year rings in something new, this will mean a lot new in human lives. So let us all engage to make ourselves comfortable with the new normal that comes as a blessing from God and no other source. For once, even atheists will have to thank the Lord and admit He is indeed the Master of the Universe, who can shape, reshape, renew and extend everything for human beings and discount the need for resolutions, for stopping the race against time, for reversing the wheels of time. 

While I am still in the dreamy state that gives a lot to feel good about the New Year during the wee hours, the alarm clock beeps. If the content of this dream gets realised, all of us who have ended the childhood phase will live with partial regret but the fact that the virile phase gets an extension means we can have an amazing phase of love and romance for more decades to come and also look forward to a curtailed retirement phase, with no hurry to turn senior citizens seeking higher interest credits every quarter and submitting life certificate for pension plans. This deferral means a big relief to those who do not belong to the millennial generation. For God too, it is a huge relief because the unmanageable crowds of materialistic-minded folks frequenting religious places to seek undue favours will stop, and only the genuine devotees who love God will visit Him.

Devraj Singh Kalsi works as a senior copywriter in Kolkata. His short stories and essays have been published in Deccan Herald, Tehelka, Kitaab, Earthen Lamp Journal, Assam Tribune, and The Statesman. Pal Motors is his first novel.  


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

Categories
Musings of a Copywriter

Statue Without Stature

By Devraj Singh Kalsi

 

The mere thought of having my statue installed in the locality raised excitement to an unprecedented level. Having seen so many historical giants standing tall in the thoroughfares across the city, with sticks or swords, mounted on horseback or covered with a concrete canopy shaped like an umbrella to stay protected from bird droppings, rain, and sunburn, I have also been inspired to strike a similar pose and occupy a prime position. But the problem is that I do not have anything called achievement to deserve such veneration from people or institutions. 

I am ready to purchase the commercial space and get the statue erected by a dubious local developer who would not probe why an ordinary mortal without any contribution to mankind should occupy that space. Since it is a private initiative and the expenses are borne by an individual, I am glad I am not wasting money from the public exchequer. My royalty and copywriting earnings should fund this venture. 

My brief to the artist was simple and direct. I should look like a man who is determined not to create a legacy. When he suggested I should at least hold a pen since I was a writer and look pensive, I opposed him saying I was a non-serious, humorous, frivolous, and small-time writer. Since the statue is not towering, a tiny accessory will not look good. Besides, I cannot flaunt a giant pen visible from far since mine is not mightier than the sword. I confessed I have not written anything award-worthy to deserve honours or a phone call from Sahitya Akademi or the Swedish Academy.  

 If my identity as a small-time writer is disclosed, achieving demi-god status in the league of small-time writers would be assured. Many aspirants would throng the spot to seek my blessings, to pay obeisance. Adding some inputs about the long, relentless struggle would inspire those who face rejections for years and decades. Offering their bound manuscript to me for blessings would comfort them before submitting it to literary agents and publishers. So go ahead and inspire them with a few lines on the granite marble slab mentioning how 50 rejections later, my first book was finally published. 

I shared the plan with a property dealer who said the price of land in my area had gone up. He suggested there were cheaper localities on the outskirts of the town where he could get me a bigger chunk of land for half the price. I argued nobody knows me there and he said nobody knows me here either. Well, he gave the right description of a non-descript writer. I abandoned the idea of erecting my statue near my home and conducted a recce to check the peripheral areas instead.   

I went with the real estate agent and selected a spot near the fish market. He introduced me to the seller who was safeguarding his land by building makeshift temples – in case a road widening or highway linking project got sanctioned in the future he would get a lucrative deal before eviction. I booked one hundred square feet area and asked the dealer to cordon that off with bricks and foliage, and erect a signboard in my name to ward off trespassers and generate buzz regarding my name.  

The construction process began immediately and the foundation was laid in a month. My grey bust was ready and the black granite slab encapsulated my story through an inscription. Not only the date of birth but the date of my death was also mentioned as it would increase the amount of respect. There was no formal inauguration ceremony since I prefer a low profile. However, some marigold garlands were put on the bust and rose petals made a carpet near the statue.

I began to visit the place every day – to gauge public response and observe their reactions. Curious people flocked and stopped for a while – to bust the secret behind the erection of the statue. I was dressed in traditional, formal clothes, with a mask and goggles to evade identification. Even when I moved around freely, nobody guessed it was my bust. Most of the people felt this was another revolutionary leader. Some felt the bust represented a sidelined social reformer or a low-key educator from the tribal areas. When they read the content in English, they could not recall what I had written. Some wondered where my books were sold: online platforms or brick and mortar bookstores. Some tech-savvy geeks tried to Google my name and the searches threw some odd pages. They found a photograph online and held it close to the statue to detect similarities. Soon, the bust image was shared by many visitors. It went viral within hours. 

The local bookseller reported there was a flurry of queries regarding my books but he could not get a single copy from the distributor since it was out of stock and out of print. He said many readers expressed sadness that I had left behind a treasure of books waiting to be discovered by the next generation. Some reporters from the regional press came to cover it and soon the local TV channel beamed the story of the statue. 

I reached many households including those in my locality. My neighbours approached me and said my statue was installed in a far-flung area. They found it offensive as I was mentioned dead though I was still alive. They suggested I should report this matter to the police and the miscreants should be caught. I said I did not want to get embroiled in any conflict or controversy but they promised to do it on my behalf.  Who can stop pesky neighbours from poking their ugly noses?!

They formed an independent committee to look into the matter. They went to the area to seek further details of the sponsors. When they could not achieve any breakthrough, they came back disappointed but promised to get justice. I said the matter was not worth pursuing as it was just a statue and it should remain there since I am surely going to die one day. It was good that the statue had been raised during my lifetime, to offer me a wonderful opportunity to admire the artwork while I was still around. In fact, I should go and click a selfie to bask in the glory and thank those who took the initiative.     

When I went there the next day, I found the spot vandalised, with my broken statue lying in pieces. I returned with the shattered bust in a shopping bag. I tried to fix it with an adhesive, to be kept as a memento, on the rooftop of my house. Not a bad idea to fill it with mud and plant a sapling, and see it grow. The attempt to immortalise myself in this small town had gone bust. But the remnants of the statue should remind me of the futile exercise to carve a niche in this world instead of winning hearts.   

.

Devraj Singh Kalsi works as a senior copywriter in Kolkata. His short stories and essays have been published in Deccan Herald, Tehelka, Kitaab, Earthen Lamp Journal, Assam Tribune, and The Statesman. Pal Motors is his first novel.  


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

Categories
Poetry

Indulgence in Silence

By Anasuya Bhar

Woman Reading a Book by Edgar Degas circa 1879. Courtesy: Creative commons
Indulgence 

Confidences, quiet whisperings
My books talk to me
I talk to myself
In endearing tones
Pampering my desires
My little secrets.
My small pleasures
Crowd around me
My sorrows nestle close
There is a smell of togetherness
That could, perhaps, be equalled
To a fond embrace, familiar
Now stowed away into the 
Deeper channels of my mind.
There are places, which 
Give me warmth
There are colours, which
Remind me of moods
There are fragrances, which
Remind me of moments that are memorable. 

     
In Silence

Poetry speaks to her in silence
In absolute silence,
When, even the noises, 
That clutter and clog 
Her senses, and her mind, 
Are all quiet, and ready to listen 
Like the faithful student, all obedient.
Poetry then, speaks to her --
Unburdening, one by one, 
All her disquiet.
Its music, the starkness of plain truth 
Appeal to her, in solitude. 
Poetry speaks to her in silence. 

  Dr. Anasuya Bhar is an academic teaching English literature in St. Paul’s Cathedral Mission College, Kolkata, India. She would also want to be known as a poet.

.

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

Categories
Stories

Mr Roy’s Obsession

By Swagato Chakraborty

I knew about Mr. Roy’s obsession, ever since that day on the beach. We were out to attend a meeting, and at the end of the day we decided to unwind at the beach. In the dying light of the day when the horizons of sky and the land unite in the distance, I saw Mr. Roy suddenly rushing into the sea. He lowered himself in the water and stopped for a moment, before thrusting his hands in it. After a second or two, he pulled out his hand holding a fish.

The whole thing happened so swiftly that it left me flabbergasted.

“Mr. Roy,” I said. “What are you doing?!”

He looked at me with a riant smile on his face and said “Look!”

I looked at the fish. It was wriggling in his hands, struggling, grasping for breath.

“What about it?”

Mr. Roy pointed me to stop. He ran his finger along the spine of the fish. Then, not giving me any time to prepare, started to dig out the flesh with his bare hands. I saw the fish wriggle out once and then fall limp, but it did not stop Roy. Soon, he had finished his work and triumphantly held the fish bone in front of me.

“What is going on?” I asked, bewildered.

“Well,” he explained demurely, tucking the bone in his pocket. “This is my hobby.”

On the train back the same day, I came to know more about Mr Roy’s ‘hobby’. It seems some time ago, at lunch, he had been served a preparation of hilsa fish. While savouring it, a bone stuck in his throat. Rather than trying to get it out or be frustrated, Mr Roy was enamoured of the situation. Since then, he had started collecting fish bones.

“So, you are interested in ichthyology?” I asked.

“No,” he said. “This is just a hobby.”

 However, by the way in which he described the incident, it seemed to me more like an obsession than a hobby.

Some days passed and I forgot all about the incident. One evening, while preparing to leave work for the day, Mr. Roy asked if he could walk with me to the station. He wanted to head to the general store, and it was on the way. I agreed.

It had begun to drizzle by the time we were on the street.

“What do you make of the weather?” I asked looking above.

“Fine!” He said, “Good for fishes.”

“Yeah, I too like –” He did not let me finish. Mr. Roy ran to the nearby bin. A cat was trying to look inside but Roy gave such a squeal, that the feline ran for its life. Roy put his head inside the bin and then stretching his hand inside, retrieved a fish bone.

“A pomfret bone,” he said. “The cat was about to run away with it.”

“Mr. Roy what–”

“I am sorry,” he declared, “I need to store the bone safely in my home now.” And he left me dumbfounded on the street.

A month later on a busy day at work, a parcel bearing the name of Mr. Roy arrived in the office. It was a large box and piqued the interest of more than one of us colleagues. We kept guessing what could it possibly contain – books, computer parts, perhaps a new juicer-mixer? When Roy arrived, we surrounded him with questions about the parcel.

Pleased, Mr. Roy gathered us around his table and unsealed the box with a paper-cutter.

Immediately, a putrid smell engulfed the room.

Inside the box, wrapped in a plastic bag, were dead fish. A few of them were in skeletal form, but most of them were in a state of rot.

Mr. Roy seemed happy and remarked “Just as I wanted them.”

Mr. Roy’s obsession with fish bones had another aspect. When one day he called in sick, I was given the task to deliver some important files to him.

Roy thanked me for my help and invited me in.

“You know,” he said. “I am not sick…it is just an excuse.”

“Oh!” I exclaimed, intrigued. “Do tell what the real reason is.”

He told me to wait and retreated into his kitchen. It was then that I got a chance to look properly at the walls. On each wall, in a series, were framed fish bones of all shapes and sizes.

“Hey!” Mr. Roy called me from behind “I see you have discovered my collection.”

“What is all this?” I asked.

“Well,” He said demurely “Just my hobby. Anyways, here is why I called in sick.”

He placed a large tray on the table. In it was a large, half skeletal fish. Beside it were several tools – scalpel, forceps, knife, a fork, and a small motor drill. Then, with great enthusiasm, Mr. Roy explained to me why he needed them. Apparently, just any fish bone was not sufficient for him. He needed to replicate the same bone that stuck in his throat on that fateful afternoon. Equipped with these tools, he first retrieved and then shaped the fish skeleton, to make it into a skeleton of the fish that held his desired bone. Any fish bones that failed to achieve this form would be thrown out without consideration. “They are vile and useless,” he explained.

“I have a lot of dealers,” he said. “Who give me a steady supply of fish-bones.”

“Why do it at all?” I asked.

He fell silent for a moment and then said “I don’t know. Perhaps because that primal bone was the best of all.”

“Huh?”

“That bone” He whispered “Was superior bone. All others are inferior.”

How can there be a ‘superior’ and an ‘inferior’ fish bone I could not figure out. I did not know what he meant and neither did I wanted to know.

Shortly after this bewildering visit, Roy left town to attend a meeting. It was on a hot afternoon that we received the word that Mr. Roy was dead. Apparently, he had died from choking.

The official report was that they found him dead in his hotel room. He had swallowed a fish bone, which the authorities thought was intentional, given that no trace of any other fish or food material was found in the room. In his belongings was found some medical equipment – scalpel, forceps, knife – strange things to be discovered in an office worker’s suitcase.

Mr. Roy had found his perfect fish bone. The same ‘superior’ fish bone from the afternoon. However, it cost him his life, much like all those fish. At the end, Mr. Roy, the fishes, and the ‘superior’ and ‘inferior’ fish bones, were all equated the as same at the sunset of their lives.

.

Swagato Chakraborty is an undergraduate student from Kolkata, India. He is currently pursuing a BA degree in English Literature and has had a nag for writing since childhood. His work has been published in Aphelion Webzine. 

.

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

Categories
Musings

A Stroll through Kolkata’s Iconic Maidan

Fort William was constructed by the British from 1696 to 1706 with permission from Emperor Aurangzeb. The old fort was damaged during the Siege of Calcutta. A new one was rebuilt (1757-81) near the restored building. The old one became the customs house from 1766 and a post office post-independence and the newer one went to the Indian army. Nishi Pulugurtha roamed the grounds near the fort or the Maidan with a camera & recapped a post covid world as it was in December, 2020.

It is a strange time that we are living in. And it seems to be getting even stranger with every passing day. It has become difficult to concentrate, to work, to deal with things as news keeps coming in. Suffering and death all around, the very sound of the ambulance last evening shook me as I was dealing with the loss of two dear friends. Both gone too early, both to the virus that seems to be wrecking lives in these times.  Staying at home is not an option for all, staying safe and doing things that would keep each safe is difficult for many. The bizarreness of the world we live in haunts and troubles.

As each of us struggle trying to hold on, my mind goes back to a walk one winter morning, towards the end of 2020 (I have been looking through older photographs these days, trying to hold on). One morning last December, I decided to go out for a long walk. Not in my neighbourhood, but a little further away. The city has a few places that one could be in the morning — places that are very familiar and have a charm of their own. Winters in Kolkata are crisp and pleasant. In the heart of the city is what is called the Maidan, a huge expanse of green. It is called Gorer Mathh in Bengali which translates into fort’s grounds. These are the grounds of the Fort William which is just across. The Kolkata General Post Office (GPO) is located near the site of the old Fort William.

Courtesy: Nishi Pulugurtha

The Maidan is an iconic Kolkata location, one gets to see it in films, songs and photographs. The tram trundles along the grounds. It is one of the most scenic tram routes in the city. I have travelled past it myriads of times just to enjoy the ride along so much of green in the heart of the city. However, I do not recall walking there at all.

Courtesy: Nishi Pulugurtha

Well, there I was finally, that December morning. As I walked along one end of the Maidan, with the Chowringhee skyline clearly visible and the tramline running past, the scenes that I saw felt nice. There was the lone milk man on his work routine. No rest for him.

Courtesy: Nishi Pulugurtha

Quite a number of branches were lying around, most of them dry. They create strange shapes here and there. As I walked down from the northern side to the southern and back again, feeling the breeze, sitting down on a broken branch for a while, it sure felt nice being out in the open.

Courtesy: Nishi Pulugurtha

There seemed to be a sense of calm with the sheep out for grazing with the men herding them, the sound of a few jingling bells, the men catching up on some conversation – all in a day’s work.

Courtesy: Nishi Pulugurtha

In another part of the Maidan, a few young people were at a game of football.  A couple of cricket matches were on somewhere else, as the tall buildings look over the green.

Courtesy: Nishi Pulugurtha

A few horses were grazing in another part of the open ground, before being yoked to the carriages that are used for joyrides.

Courtesy: Nishi Pulugurtha

Three men in orange were out on a mission it seemed as they walked real fast cutting across the vast expanse, through the shade towards the road lining the tram tracks.

On some other parts of the Maidan, one could see people resting. On a concrete platform someone was enjoying a siesta.  A jhaalmuri vendor with his spicy, savoury snacks and the tea seller walking around looking for customers provided a respite from languor and more activity as life moved on.

.

Nishi Pulugurtha’s works include a monograph Derozio, travel essays Out in the Open, edited volume of travel essays Across and Beyond, and The Real and the Unreal and Other Poems

.

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

Categories
Ghumi Stories

Nostalgia

By Nabanita Sengupta

I

He spends his days painting his beloved Ghumi – a riot of colours bursts upon his canvas, pouring out the passion he has for the place. I admire the way his brush moves, the way a picture takes shape yet I feel sorry for him. For the solitary life that he has chosen for himself, though he is happy in it. His paintings too have attained a maturity that his clients all over the world much appreciate. Also, it is because of this quirk in him that I have got this lucrative job as a caregiver and my future is almost taken care of. Not just that, I enjoy taking care of him too! It gives a purpose to my lonely life.

II

I have to revisit my origin — the place that had nurtured me for the first fifteen years of my life before I plunged into the real world. Yes real world I said. Because Ghumi was not exactly real. It was almost like a simulation for the real thing — like those driving lessons you know you can take on your computer screen before the actual driving? It was like that.

Rough edges of dangers padded off in a very large extended family. That place was my whole world and a place that I had to leave for the real one; because Ghumi did not hold back anyone. It trained you, taught you, helped you with important inputs for sustainability but ultimately let you go. And exactly at sixteen! That age when the world was either pink or black and very rarely white or grey. That age when either you could be wallowing in romance or rattling off revolution or even both, in a mission to change the world. So it was at that volatile age that we were all simply shot out of Ghumi high on ‘we are the world’ motto to various higher educational institutions across country. And we did survive.

Ghumi, I knew had the solution to my problem. A place that I had not visited for almost twenty years! A place where I had painted the first canvas of my life — a hill with many greens. Ghumi had taught me colours in a way no art teacher could. She lovingly made me aware of the nuances of various shades of a single colour. She was the muse for the budding artist within me. In fact, I feel that the artist in me was Ghumi’s gift. Even now that I am successful as an artist, I feel Ghumi’s colours predominate my palette. My canvases carry a madness of mahua, a glimpse of the huge saal, dark green of the jamun and so much more. 

So much has changed since those early days — in the world, in my life. Yet I have not been able to unhinge myself from her. Of late the association with that place has grown so strong that it is becoming difficult for me to ignore. I have begun neglecting my paintings, my studio and even my wife.

There are spans when I would drown in a deep melancholy, stretching even to days. Neither medication, nor counseling helped much. Geeta, my better half, had been quite understanding and patient to my mood swings and neglect. Initially she had tried to talk it out with me but after a few attempts, she left me to myself. So when I told her that I must go to Ghumi to find a solution, she too supported me. In fact the idea had been initially suggested by her.

III

That was a moment so special — the moment when my feet touched Ghumi after such a long time! What happiness! I felt energised. I wished I could be all around the place all at once but of course my emotions needed to be controlled. Geeta did not come, in spite of my repeated requests. Instead she asked my assistant, Rohit to accompany me. I was grateful for Geeta’s motivation behind this entire Ghumi idea, for inspiring me to embark on it. After a long time I passionately made love to her that night after I booked the tickets. It was overwhelming, and when she was almost spent, I could smell in her the mahua, that intoxicating scent which was so much a part of my Ghumi days. Her face was flushed with the colours of flaming Palash. For one last time I inhaled her deeply and fell into one peaceful slumber. That night, I had one of the most restful nights — soundest sleep in my life.  

IV

Ghumi hadn’t changed much. The factory, the school, the pond — they just looked the same. Even trees had an ancient charm. Like the Lotus-Eaters of Homer, they wove their magic spell upon me. I was mesmerized, forgetting almost everything of my city life. My studio, my wife — they remained a faraway reality for me. I relived my childhood with a gusto that was almost unthinkable. I put up at a guesthouse that had come up in the recent years — one of the few changes that marked the face of Ghumi. The other new additions that I saw were a quaint little cafe, a print-out and photocopy shop, a private bank and a few ATMs. 

It was a three-day trip that I started finding inadequate. But of course, there was Geeta and the studio to return to. Caught in the web of a modern lifestyle, how long a holiday could I afford! But what if I stayed back! I was hit hard by this sudden thought — staying back, and why not. But of course, there was Geeta who was waiting for my return. In the soft afternoon of Ghumi, amid the eucalyptus and sal trees, she seemed to belong to another life. 

I pushed back my fanciful thoughts and putting on my track pants and tee, ventured out alone. Though I had Rohit with me, I was planning to do more of self-exploration. What did he know of my love affair with this place! I wanted to visit those new places that had sprouted upon the face of my old Ghumi and see how much change they had wrought upon her character. 

A desire for a steaming mug of coffee took me towards the cafe. ‘Ghumi Tales’ — that’s what it was called. In the low light of the setting sun it looked more mysterious, as if there was a lot hidden within it. I was drawn towards it. Though a new addition, it had somehow blended with the character of Ghumi. 

That night I made a call asking Geeta to cancel my return tickets. I needed to feel the place a bit more. I would perhaps, one day return to her, after I have made peace with myself.

V

I am Geetanjali, Arun’s Geeta. We have been married for the past six years and I could feel this coming gradually. At first it was nostalgia, a general remembrance of the past. But slowly it turned into an obsession. He stopped most of his activities, spoke only of Ghumi and lived in it. I changed my role in his life — from friend to lover to wife to a caregiver. I knew he needed support, I needed help too. There was no one I knew who could help me — psychiatrist visits were out of question — I knew I could not convince him. Rahul appeared as a Godsend.

As a psychologist and a childhood friend, he listened to my problems attentively. It was he who first made me aware of the terms ‘terminal nostalgia’ and ‘restorative nostalgia’ in which a person wants to recreate his past and wants to live in that period. He said Arun’s was a case of such extreme ‘restorative nostalgia’ which was pushing him towards clinical depression.

I looked at him aghast! How could Arun, one of the most successful artists of his times, one whose career graph was showing a steep rise, become like this? I raged and ranted and cursed my luck — all through Rahul held my hand. I loved Arun but was becoming dependent on Rahul.

The last straw in our relationship was when Arun made love to me comparing me to Ghumi! I could not take it anymore. I refused to go to Ghumi with him but made my secret preparations with Rahul to keep an eye on him from here.

Once there, I could feel the calmness in him, the distractions much lesser. The phone call regarding extension of his stay at Ghumi was as anticipated one; hence I had made arrangements with one of the local elderly women to take care of him during his stay there. For a long-term stay, he would need a proper house with a set up for his studio. Reena aunty, the woman I spoke to had assured me that she would take charge of everything, I would just need to pay for the expenses. I am more at peace now. I have understood that Arun does not need me — we would merely be hindrances in the lives we want to lead. He has found the Land of Lotus Eaters. Nothing perhaps can take him back or make him happy if not Ghumi.

Dr. Nabanita Sengupta is an Assistant Professor in English at Sarsuna College Kolkata. She is a creative writer, a research scholar and a translator. Her areas of interest are Translation Studies, Women Studies, Nineteenth century Women’s writings, etc. She has been involved with Translation Projects of Sahitya Akademi and Viswa Bharati. Her creative writings, reviews and features have been variously published art Prachya Review, SETU, Muse India, Coldnoon, Café Dissensus, NewsMinute.in, News18.com and Different Truths. She has presented many research papers in India and abroad.

.

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

.

Categories
Poetry

In Quiet & Conversation

By Anasuya Bhar

In quiet

You and I have not laid our

Eyes, on each other

For days, months, now

You and I have changed,

Both to the world, and

To us, unknown.

.

Conversation

Two glasses

Sit in eager anticipation

Two chairs

Sit in mute expectation.

Twinkling lights

Empty tables, slow music

Dusk,

All wait for us –

Now drifted,

Now apart.

.

Dr. Anasuya Bhar is Associate Professor of English and the Dean of Postgraduate Studies in St. Paul’s Cathedral Mission College Kolkata. She is also a Guest Faculty at the Department of English, University of Calcutta. Dr. Bhar is the sole Editor of the literary Journal Symposium http://www.spcmc.ac.in/departmental-magazine/symposium/, published by her Department. She has various academic publications to her credit. She is also keen on travel writing and poetry writing. She has her own blog https://anascornernet.wordpress.com/.

.

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