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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
Stories

A Letter I Can Never Post

By Monisha Raman

My most precious Gran,

I have a confession to make; I opened the suitcase you asked me not to. Well, it was a good two weeks after you were buried. While sorting a million things in your room with aunt and mom, I found it, a small, grey one stacked under the pile of boxes in the corner.

For as long as I remember, it had been there in the east corner of your wooden floored room and was out of bounds for adults and children alike. When I pulled it out, there were a few moments of silence in the room. I held the forbidden grey box and the three of us looked helplessly at each other, caught in between the right and wrong as Rumi would say.

When the burden of silence grew unendurable, we opened the suitcase. You may feel betrayed for the three women you trusted the most had the audacity to intrude your private space. 

That night, while in bed, my body turned heavy as I sunk deep into the darkness and chaos of guilt. I gasped for air and the mountain wind heavy with moisture, did little to help. I ran helter-skelter through the chasm of my memory. Your ringing laughter guided my way and your stories echoed like strange noises that reverberate while you walk into a deep cave. The familiar name you had often uttered resounded as I traversed the dark channels. When did I first hear it? I don’t remember.

I do remember some instances of you mentioning the name. It was a random conversation of good-looking men in our vicinity and you did say, a certain someone’s son. On one evening while we were discussing the achievements of men and women in our neighbourhood, you mentioned that name again — a man in your neighbourhood, a certain someone’s son. You told us he was your playmate.

One summer evening, when the winds of the hills touched our skins gently as they basked in the last traces of light from the setting sun, you mentioned that name again. You said that my friend, seated next to me, dressed in a white shirt and beige trousers, reminded you of that man. “Majestic demeanour,” you looked into my friend’s eyes and said, “Yet spirit as gentle as the wind outside.” You smiled as you held his hands. Then, as you uttered the familiar name for the last time in my presence, your eyes turned moist — “You remind me of a certain someone’s son.”

Still wriggling in bed, as images and voices from the past haunted me, I thought of your prized possession, the suitcase. Aunt and mom watched that evening as I flipped opened the case. My hands failed to steady themselves. The three of us gasped as your precious box lay bare, revealing what it had steadfastly concealed all these years — a bunch of safety pins, bundles of ribbon, a crocheted purse with a tie-up opening, some old coins that carry no value, a few pebbles, a bizarrely shaped quartz stone with what looked like columns and faces on it and another crocheted purse with tie-up strings concealed underneath all this.

The quartz that has paled from its years in hiding fit perfectly in my palms. Amid the chaos of sharp edges on it was a central pillar, standing tall.  There were odd figurines on either side.  I left it on the table facing the window.

Finally, aunt laid her hands on the last item– a crocheted purse in a medley of colours. The pouch had the hues of the rainbow, held together intricately with a string in white. Aunt gave it to me to untie the white knot atop the small bag. We all knew that if there was one person who would be forgiven for trespassing, that would be me.

As I put my hands into the pouch, a palm-sized photograph in black and white print emerged. I held it between my fingers. A man dressed formally in a suit and tie with curls spilling over his forehead looked straight into my eyes. He was seated on a stool. The years between us melted as I gazed at his big, bold eyes, which were probably coffee brown, just like yours.

In an instant, I was transported into the room where the photograph was being taken. I asked him about the young girl I did not know– the girl who saw certain magic in him and carried it concealed deep within her even when her octogenarian memory failed her at times. He spoke of your smile and your innocence.

He told me stories about the blue Kurinji that blooms once every twelve years in the mountains and the anticipatory excitement that lingered in the air when the buds appeared, and then gradually how the stretches of the mountains turned an enchanting blue as the flower bloomed — a vision that no combination of words can do justice to.  To him, the memory of appeasing blue was visceral and he elaborated how it pacified him during the dark moments when his strength had nothing to grasp.  The Kurinji may blossom and spread its vigour just once in a decade, but he saw its unfurled radiance all the time; behind his closed eyelids, and that was his elixir, a perpetual force his life depended on. He believed that the bewitching plant was your totem, and your spirit lived in it.

Behind the photograph was a name written in blue fountain pen, the name from my distant memory that you had mentioned on a few occasions and beneath it, ‘son of  ………………….’

As I left the room, a strange shadow reflected from the quartz stone on the table. A boy and a girl (with flowing hair) held each other’s hands from around the pillar. They could not see each other but both of them felt the other, all the time.

                                                                                                                       Love,

Your Doll

Kurinji blooms that flower in the Neelgiri hills of India. Courtesy: Creative Commons

Monisha Raman’s essays and short stories have been published by various magazines in Asia and internationally. Her first collection of short stories is being represented by Zuna Literary Agency, India. Her work can be found at https://linktr.ee/Monisharaman.

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