Categories
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.

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

Categories
War & Peace

Cry, Our Beloved…

The fakir sings a love song
for peace in times of war.

Can peace be the voice of dissent?

-- Mitali Chakravarty, A Love Song for Peace

With an openly-declared call for nuclear alert blaring in the headlines of newspapers, we bring to you reminders from the past of what hatred and war, nuclear holocausts can do to humanity. Recalling the need for peace and for solidarity with all of the human race, we have here a selection of writing from different parts of the world — people who have been writing for peace even without the war that now darkens our own Earth and further impacts humans, living conditions and the climate.

Here is what climate experts said way back in 2017: “The climatic consequences would be catastrophic: global average temperatures would drop as much as 12 degrees Fahrenheit (7 degrees Celsius) for up to several years — temperatures last seen during the great ice ages. Meanwhile, smoke and dust circulating in the stratosphere would darken the atmosphere enough to inhibit photosynthesis, causing disastrous crop failures, widespread famine and massive ecological disruption.

“The effect would be similar to that of the giant meteor believed to be responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs. This time, we would be the dinosaurs.” How much worse will it be now, five years later while we are already impacted by rising water levels and climate change?

We start our presentation with the past impact of a nuclear blast on humans and nature.

Nuclear Holocaust

Surviving Hiroshima : Kathleen Burkinshaw is the daughter of a woman who survived the Hiroshima blast. Burkinshaw suffers neural damage herself from the impact of the bomb that her parent faced. She has written a book called The Last Cherry Blossom recounting her mother’s first hand experiences. Her novel has been taken up by the United Nations as a part of its peacekeeping effort. She has been actively participating in efforts to ban nuclear weapons, including presenting with Nobel Laureates. Click here to read the interview.

Commemorating Hiroshima: Poetry by Suzanne Kamata that brings to life August 6th and the impact of the bombing on the victims and the devastation around them. Click here to read.

Oh Orimen! A poem in Nepalese about a victim of the blast written by a sculptor, Manjul Miteri, who while working on the largest Asian statue of the Buddha in Japan visited the museum dedicated to the impact of the blast. The poem has been translated to English by Hem Bishwakarma. Click here to read.

Mushroom Clouds: Poetry by Michael Burch that reflects on Enola Gay and the Bikini atoll. Click here to read

Surviving More Wars

Our Children poetry by Bijan Najdi, translated from Persian by Davood Jalili. Click here to read.

How Will They Know by Sybil Pretious commemorates the Remembrance Day that mark the end of the first world war. Click here to read.

Soldiers & Missives Poetry by Prithvijeet Sinha. Click here to read.

In a Land Far From Home: A Bengali in Afghanistan, an excerpt from an account by Syed Mujataba Ali, translated from Bengali by Nazes Afroz. Click here to read.

Unveiling Afghanistan: In Conversation with Nazes Afroz, former editor of BBC and translator of a book on Afghanistan which reflects on the present day crisis. Click here to read.

Bundu, Consoler of the Rich is a story based on memories of the Partition by Nadir Ali, translated from Punjabi by Amna Ali. Click here to read.

Categories
Contents

Borderless, November, 2021

Autumn: Painting in Acrylic by Sybil Pretious

Editorial

Colours of the Sky…Click here to read.

Interviews

In Conversation with Akbar Barakzai, a Balochi poet in exile who rejected an award from Pakistan Academy of Letters for his principles. Click here to read.

In Conversation with Somdatta Mandal, a translator, scholar and writer who has much to say on the state of Santiniketan, Tagore, women’s writing on travel and more. Click here to read.

Translations

Rebel or ‘Bidrohi’

Nazrul’s signature poem,Bidrohi, translated by Professor Fakrul Alam. Click here to read.

Motorcar

Jibonananda Das‘s poetry translated from Bengali by Rakibul Hasan Khan. Click here to read.

The Beloved City

Poetry of Munir Momin, translated from Balochi by Fazal Baloch. Click here to read.

Rebranding

A poem in Korean, written & translated by Ihlwha Choi. Click here to read.

Perhaps the Last Kiss

A short story by Bhupeen giving a vignette of life in Nepal, translated from Nepali by Ishwor Kandel. Click here to read.

Morichika or Mirage by Tagore

Tagore’s poetry translated by Mitali Chakravarty. Click here to read.

Poetry

Click on the names to read

Rhys Hughes, Sutputra Radheye, Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal, Sheshu Babu, Michael Lee Johnson, Prithvijeet Sinha, George Freek, Sujash Purna,  Ashok Manikoth, Jay Nicholls, Pramod Rastogi, Ryan Quinn Flanagan, Vijayalakshmi Harish, Mike Smith, Neetu Ralhan, Michael R Burch

Poets, Poetry & Rhys Hughes

A story poem about The Clock Tower of Sir Ticktock Bongg. Click here to read.

Nature’s Musings

Penny Wilkes takes us for a stroll into the avian lives with photographs and poetry in Of Moonshine & Birds. Click here to read.

Stories

Waking Up

Christina Yin takes us on a strange journey in Sarawak, Malaysia. Click here to read.

Rains

A pensive journey mingling rain and childhood memories by Garima Mishra. Click here to read.

Khatme Yunus

Jackie Kabir brings us a strange story from Bangladesh. Click here to read.

First International Conference on Conflict Continuation

Steve Davidson explores an imaginary conference. Click here to read.

The Literary Fictionist

In Fragments of a Strange Journey, Sunil Sharma sets out with Odysseus on a tour of the modern day world. Click here to read.

Musings/Slices from Life

Yesterday Once More?

Ratnottama Sengupta recalls her experiences of the Egyptian unrest while covering the 35th Cairo International Film Festival in 2012. Click here to read.

Embroidering Hunger

An account of life of dochgirs (embroiderers) in Balochistan by Tilyan Aslam. Click here to read.

To Daddy — with Love

Gita Viswanath takes us into her father’s world of art and wonder. Click here to read.

Simon Says

Ishita Shukla, a young girl, explores patriarchal mindset. Click here to read.

Welcoming in the dark half of the year

Candice Louisa Daquin takes a relook at the evolution of Halloween historically. Click here to read.

Musings of the Copywriter

In Crematoriums for the Rich, Devraj Singh Kalsi regales his readers with a dark twist of the macabre. Click here to read.

Essays

Renewal

Jayat Joshi, a student of development studies, takes a dig at unplanned urban development. Click here to read.

Once Upon A Time in Burma: Leaving on a Jet Plane

John Herlihy’s last episode in his travels through Burma. Click here to read.

A Legacy of Prejudice, Persecution and Plight

Suvrat Arora muses on the impact of a classic that has been coloured with biases. Click here to read.

The Observant Migrant

In Is Sensitivity a Strength or a Weakness?, Candice Louisa Daquin explores our value systems. Click here to read.

Book Excerpts

Arundhathi Subramaniam’s Women Who Wear Only Themselves. Click here to read.

CJ Fentiman’s award winning book, The Cat with Three Passports. Click here to read.

Book Reviews

Himadri Lahiri reviews Somdatta Mandal’s ‘Kobi’ and ‘Rani’: Memoirs and Correspondences of Nirmalkumari Mahalanobis and Rabindranath Tagore. Click here to read.

Suzanne Kamata reviews Iain Maloney’s Life is Elsewhere/ Burn Your Flags. Click here to read.

Bhaskar Parichha reviews Anita Agnihotri’s Mahanadi –The Tale of a River, translated from Bengali by Nivedita Sen. Click here to read.

Meenakshi Malhotra reviews Turmeric Nation: A Passage Through India’s Tastes, authored by Shylashri Shankar. Click here to read.

Categories
Tribute

In Memory of Peace

My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori*.
-- Dulce et Decorum Est, Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)

*Translated: "It is sweet and fitting to die for the homeland."

On 11th November, we remember the men who gave up their lives to win wars for those in power. Remembrance Day started as an annual event after the First World War (28th July, 1914- 11the November, 1918) more than a hundred years ago, in memory of soldiers — some of who were lost in the battle grounds, whose remains never got back to their families. Some of these men who fought were from countries that were subservient to colonial powers who started the war and some, like the soldier-poet, Wilfred Owen, were from conquering nations.

This was much before atom bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Eventually, a nuclear armistice was declared. Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948), an internationally acknowledged apostle of peace, had an opinion on this: “‘The very frightfulness of the atom bomb will not force non-violence on the world? If all nations are armed with the atom bomb, they will refrain from using it as it will mean absolute destruction for all concerned?’ I am of the opinion that it will not.” Has this nuclear armistice made the world more peaceful? And if so, what is the quality of peace that has been wrought by drumming fears of annihilation in human hearts? Could the ‘fakir…striding half-naked up the steps of the viceregal palace’ be right after all?

Here we have collected a few stories and poems around ongoing conflicts and wars which stretch to the present day, some old and some new… some even written by men who faced battle…

Poetry

A poem and art by Sybil Pretious in memory of soldiers who died in the World War I.

Soldiers & Missives by Prithvijeet Sinha … Click here to read.

Our Children by Bijan Najdi, translated from Persian by Davood Jalili. Click here to read.

Prose

Line of Control by Paresh Tiwari, a story about the life of soldiers set in the Indo-Pak border… Click here to read.

I am a Coward with Priorities by Tejaswinee Roychowdhury, a story from a soldier’s perspective. Click here to read.

From the Pages of a Soldier’s Diary… by Mike Smith takes you on a journey through the pages of a colonial diary and muses on choices he has made. Click here to read.

Bundu, Consoler of the Rich is a story based on memories of the Partition by Nadir Ali, translated from Punjabi by Amna Ali. Click here to read.

In a Land Far From Home: A Bengali in Afghanistan, an excerpt from an account by Syed Mujataba Ali, translated from Bengali by Nazes Afroz. Click here to read.

Categories
Poetry

Soldiers and Missives

By Prithvijeet Sinha

Ships and Soldiers: Courtesy: Creative Commons
THE MISSIVE

I send a letter to you,

with drops of blood dyed purple,

your favourite flowers pressed with them

and the smell of musk on this dog-eared paper,

to remind you of me.

 

In return,

send back

my whole hometown's exuberance,

a box of saffron

to entwine me to my land

and a promise to pray

and never blame God.

 

With deliverances of freedom,

pray for peacetime

to gallop

like a glorious stallion

on open land

and set me back home.


MACBETH C. 2021

It's so easy to wash one's hands,

rinse off all the blood

in a ceramic bowl

but the splotches will still show.

Look what war has made

of this home.

The blood on our hands

traverses the atlas,

open like a dusty tapestry

in the drawing room.

 

Blood on the table,

blood on the windowsill,

splotches here and there,

stuck like evanescence

on doorknobs,

not one corner spared from ghosts.

 

**

Smell of napalm wafts in the air

and the burning monk's images

make it obvious for him,

tiger eyes peek from beyond

the page

and mortal danger orchestrates stealth,

amidst the overgrown elephant grass

of forests now turned into

a battlefield in his mind.

 

When the world goes to war,

all the loons by the lakes

go dead silent,

as if on some suicidal spree

and the shore,

abuzz with their beck and call,

becomes scorching dry,

turned from fertile land

to sand dunes.

 

There is no sinister time for him

to lose his mind

because there has to be no greater

pressure-point than this war for sanity.

 

The blood on our hands

is dried clean

but the splotches still show.

Greater than a bullet wound

and far more sinister than the

general's fallacies from the front lines.

 

The War At Home starts from his bunker.

The clawing back to his room

ends in loud laughter

and then rage

and then death by combat

with his own ghosts.

The war at home begins there.

Prithvijeet Sinha has been prolifically publishing works of various hues in journals and magazines like   Cafe Dissensus, Confluence, The Medley, Borderless, Wilda Morris’ Poetry Blog, Screen Queens, Rhetorica Quarterly, Lothlorien, Chamber Magazine, Livewire  among others. He believes writing to be the true music of the soul.

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

Categories
Contents

Borderless, May 2021

Editorial

And this too shall pass… Click here to read

Translations

Songs of Seasons: Translated by Fakrul Alam

Bangla Academy literary award winning translator, Dr Fakrul Alam, translates six seasonal songs of Tagore. Click here to read.

Temples and Mosques

Kazi Nazrul Islam’s fiery essay translated by Sohana Manzoor. Click here to read.

Purify My Life

Kazi Nazrul Islam’s poem, Purify my Life, translated by Shahriyer Hossain Shetu. Click here to read.

Waiting for Godot by Akbar Barakzai

Akbar Barakzai’s poem translated by Fazal Baloch. Click here to read.

Solus

Aditya Shankar translates a poem by Sujith Kumar. Click here to read.

The Last Boat

Tagore’s Diner Sheshe Ghoomer Deshe translated by Mitali Chakravarty with an interpretation in pastels by Sohana Manzoor. Click here to read.

Poetry

Anasuya Bhar, Scott Thomas Outlar, Saranyan BV, Matthew James Friday, Nitya Mariam John, RJ Kaimal, Jay Nicholls, Tasneem Hossain, Rhys Hughes, Vatsala Radhakeesoon, Ihlwha Choi, Himadri Lahiri, Sunil Sharma, Mike Smith, Jared Carter

Nature’s Musings

Photo-Poetry by Penny & Michael Wilkes. Click here to read.

Poets, Poetry & Rhys Hughes

Lear and Far

As a tribute to the 209th anniversary of Edward Lear, Rhys Hughes writes of his famous poem, ‘Owl and the Pussycat’, and writes a funny ending for it rooted in the modern day. Click here to read.

Stories

If at all

Shobha Nandavar, a physician in Bangalore, depicts the trauma of Covid 19 in India with compassion. Click here to read.

First Lady

Rituparna Khan gives us a brief vignette from the life of one of the first women doctors in India, Dr Kadambari Ganguly. Click here to read.

Mr Dutta’s Dream

Atreyo Chowdhury takes us into the world of unquenchable wanderlust. Click here to read.

Neemboo Ka Achaar or Maa’s Lemon Pickle

A compelling flash fiction by Suyasha Singh hovering around food and a mother’s love. Click here to read.

The Literary Fictionist

In A Lunch Hour Crisis, Sunil Sharma raises humanitarian concerns that though raised in a pandemic-free world, have become more relevant and concerning given our current predicament. Click here to read.

Musings/Slices from Life

Serve the People

Danielle Legault Kurihara, a Quebecker in Japan, writes of differences in rituals. Click here to read.

Why I write?
Basudhara Roy tells us how writing lingers longer than oral communications. Click here to read more.

The Quiet Governance of Instinct

Candice Louisa Daquin, a psychotherapist, talks of the importance of trusting our instincts. Click here to read more.

Musings of a Copywriter

In Nations without NobelDevraj Singh Kalsi takes a fresh look at national pride with a soupçon of sarcasm and humour. Click here to read.

Adventures of the Backpacking Granny

In Visit to Rural BaoyingSybil Pretious travels to spend a night with a local family in rural China in a ‘hundred-year-old home’.Click here to read.

Essays

Four Seasons and an Indian Summer

Keith Lyons talks of his experiences of seasons in different places, including Antarctica. Click here to read.

Rabindranath and the Etchings of His Mind

Anasuya Bhar explores the various lives given to a publication through the different edited versions, translations and films, using Tagore as a case study and the work done to provide these online. Click here to read.

My Experiments with Identity

Tejas Yadav explores identity from the context Heraclitus, Rumi down to his own. Click here to read.

Can Songs be the Musical Conscience of a Film?

Prithvijeet Sinha uses Gaman (Departure), a Hindi movie around the pain of migrant workers, as a case study to highlight his contention that lyrics and songs convey much in Indian films. Click here to read.

Bhaskar’s Corner

In Manoj Das – The Master Storyteller, Bhaskar Parichha pays a tribute to one of the greatest storytellers from the state of Odisha, India, Manoj Das( 1934-2021). Click here to read.

Book Excerpt

Excerpted from A Bengali Lady in England (1885): Annotated Translation with Critical Introduction to Krishnabhabini Das’ Englandey Bangamahila by Nabanita Sengupta. Click here to read.

Book Reviews

A review of Feisal Alkazi‘s memoir, Enter Stage Right: The Alkazi Padamsee Family Memoir by Rakhi Dalal. Click here to read.

A review of Shakti Ghosal‘s The Chronicler of the Hooghly and Other Stories by Gracy Samjetsabam. Click here to read.

Bhaskar Parichha reviews Raising a Humanist by Manisha Pathak-Shelat‘s and Kiran Vinod Bhatia. Click here to read.

Interviews

Communication scholars and authors, Manisha Pathak-Shelat and Kiran Vinod Bhatia, discuss how to bring up children in these troubled times, based on their book, Raising a Humanist, which has just been released. Click here to read.

Sonya J Nair of Samyukta Poetry talks about the Samyukta Research Foundation and its affiliates and its festival, Anantha. Click here to read.

Sara’s Selections, May 2021

A selection of young person’s writings from Bookosmia. Click here to read.

Categories
Essay

Can Songs be the Musical Conscience of a Film?

Prithvijeet Sinha uses Gaman (Departure), a Hindi movie around the pain of migrant workers, as a case study to highlight his contention that lyrics and songs convey much in Indian films.

 As my essay dives into the realm of the personal intermingling with the universal, I have found that the quintessential point of a space, definitive of our existences and livelihood, flows seamlessly in our lives. A collective omnibus houses our private churnings, moving from one point to another as life scripts new adventures of the mind and the spirit to discover valuable assets and find that sacred space — a home to give refuge to our true and innate selfhoods. The idea of the heart as home of our fiercely personal torrents of thoughts is something I adhere to. As such, the heart is a lonely island and much as personal journals and diaries have a secretly lush inner world to communicate, the subtle and implicit art of songwriting is the external synonym and outlet that universally connects our inner world with the outside.

 The functional meaning of a song is actually born out of the discerning of listeners. Khairun, the lonely young woman at the heart of the film, Gaman (1978), is one such example in a sea of millions around the world, one of countless women left to tend to the hearth while the responsibility of corralling finances snatches their men away from them prematurely. Such is the dilemma that a newly annointed marital union becomes essentially a platonic one, testing the sombre beginnings of this lifelong intertwining of two strangers. As if it’s a rite of passage for their individual selves after they have taken their vows in the public eye and been pronounced as man and wife. They burn for that warmth and familial touch of companionship with these songs sung by playback artistes (conveying from the prism of Khairun) becoming spiritual constants when the physical reality of them staying together is rendered impossible. Through her fortitude and its equal mirroring in her husband’s predicament in the city, we find the power of this union to sustain itself in two different places. Their mindscapes merge and Khairun is a conduit for this film’s portrayal of pain of separation and social anxiety. As if she has a telepathic connect with her beloved as when, through voice-overs, we find her letters informing Ghulam of her own angst and her brooding face and eyes loom over Bombay’s skyline.

 It’s the language of our soul or Aatma as we call it in Indian canon.  We are not alone then. There is no conflict in this union and the words, it seems, flow out of our own being.  The beauty, melancholy and dignified distance invested in them bring the pining heart and the hopeful soul together in perfect tandem.

In Gaman, both protagonists live in the shadows of crumbling aristocracy, in a village in North India where the present is bleak and like a ghost informs the poor population about its impending desolation. In a post-colonial nation, the humbler occupants of this social compartment still have survival to contemplate upon and their lands and farming have given them no respite from debts. As the central characters are Khairun (the iconic actress, Smita Patil) and Ghulam Hasan (another stalwart actor, Farooq Sheikh), the film shot in the erstwhile Muslim and predominantly secular princely state of Kotwara, could be reflective of the dilapidated shells of a centuries old lineage which may have had connections in the past and seen better days. But rampant unemployment, educational lacuna and a hand-to-mouth existence contextualize a move to the big city for the man. The name Khairun itself has a certain melancholic ring to it, I think and Ghulam as his name goes becomes a slave of his fated new beginnings.  Their taciturn marital bond is presented in brief moments together.

 In simple but rousing poetry, the real challenge of moving ahead in the big city while leaving behind the rustic stronghold and a real home is poignantly conveyed.  Identities are at stake and have to find a home, even if it is the most modest resort of reassurance. The womenfolk have no real say or stake in this scenario and Khairun’s silence is a witness to that. The song then that appears is ‘Aap ki yaad aati hai raat bhar’ (Your memories were all that remained all night long).

Composed by Jaidev, written by Makhdoom Mohiuddin and sung iconically by Chaya Ganguly, who won the prestigious National Award for playback singing, love and longing are two sides of the same coin. When I heard this song few years back, it came like a lilt from beyond, the central melody captivated me and made me croon its perfectly structured lines. There was a distinct local character to it and the realism of the situations converged with the romanticism of natural images. These images were stages in their marked separation and the passage of time was invoked. The opening lines translated are, “Your memories were all that remained all night long, moist eyes kept smiling all night long.”  The stoic quality of internalization is very succinct here. “Muskurati Rahi”( a smiling wayfarer) in feminine form reflects the mindset of Khairun, the young bride and woman. There is a brevity of conveying the lull within the heart’s storm. A pensive directness addressed to oneself in isolation and to the beloved is like a pithy interior monologue; a missive to the one who yearns for an established bond.

The song is unique as it’s one of the few ones to begin with the chorus or central refrain which clearly elucidates its personal nature of pathos. The first verse continues with the imagery of the still night and dark, private chambers of the heart where longing is given rest and an assured hand. It goes like, “the flames of pain were burning/alighted all night long /melancholy’s flicker was trembling throughout.”

 The fickle spirit is putting up a brave front and is vulnerable, spending its time in contemplation. From the opening plucking of strings, which I think is the instrument santoor and burgeoning flutes, the intimate incandescence of the couple is set into motion in a composition set in the pure classical mold. Khairun’s dialogue travels all the way to us. There is a shine to their passion for each other which refuses to interfere with their earnest pursuits. 

The second verse is more tilted towards romanticism. Its mesmerising notes are referenced with the flute to symbolise love and its dimensions. In Indian lore, Krishna played the flute for self-definition and courtship. Here, its transcendental spell is cast on a lonely soul as attested in the lyrics, “the tuneful, charming notes of the flute/come as reminders of memories all night long.” The speaker is in third person and omnipresent thus the personal becomes the universal and the use of night imagery can make it the last moorings of an individual before sleep gets the better of her/him and every recollection is committed to memory’s animated storehouse. The invocation of the flute is a sweet token for the promise of every stable relationship. The foundation has to be lovely and full of warmth even though it is an ephemeral ideal.

The talent of the lyricist here is that these escape from falling into a basket of random cliches as its essence is in Urdu poetic tradition.  Look at those plangent eyes of Khairun, deep vessels of wait and ceaseless langour, akin to an Amrita Shergill paintings.  

The mystery of the night has direct approximation in the next verse, “the night moon entered depths of the heart/ its glow illuminated the night.”  The moon is a personal symbol as it’s cast in the image of Ghulam for Khairun and vice versa. The unattainable height of its location is related to the profound number of miles separating husband and wife. Its dim light is the only source of illumination thus hope is enshrined in these lines for the little kernel of happiness that may bless them sooner or later.  The desire for union is prevalent here. In the video of the song, notice how the lyrics pertaining to moonlight are juxtaposed with streetlights and neon lights of Bombay where Ghulam drives a taxi for a living and Khairun tends to the household lighted by a dim bulb. Light plays a crucial role in their overlapping narratives. Winter has set in the village and Bombay is the metropolis on whose streets Ghulam has to ply his cab. 

Finally the gypsy heart that celebrates isolation and is detached from unnecessary expectations finds its way in the final verse, “a lover wanders around lanes/ a voice echoes all night long”

 This is not the blabbering of a madman but the deep call of the soul’s recesses. Should both Khairun and Ghulam adopt detachment till they are united or celebrate their individual and in a larger sense collective isolation? Their private musings do their bidding for the heart. The head and heart dilemma is hence paramount.  The lover’s wandering minstrel like ways approximate the private reserves of love and longing. Dual interplay of inner and outer personas match wits and still lucidity is sought and achieved in the quietude of this composition via slender, elegant employment of guitar, drums and flutes.

 Chaya Ganguly’s voice dominates the sway of restrained pathos and hope here while Smita Patil’s eyes and Farooq Sheikh’s stoicism endure as he posts letters and Khairun holds them. ‘Seene Mein Jalan, Aankhon Mein Toofaan’ (A burn in the chest/ a storm in the breath) captures the rush and milling crowds of big cities where individuality hankers for identity while ‘Ras ke bhare tore Nain’ (your eyes are full to the brim) addresses the aesthetics of longing from the same soundtrack. The playbacks by Suresh Wadkar and Hira Devi Mishra respectively are pitch perfect.  The panorama of humanism under duress finds its true form and content in the direction of Muzaffar Ali (auteur of iconic Umrao Jaan), cinematography of Nadeem Khan, lyrics by Shahryar, writer Hriday Lani and crisp editing by Jethu Mundul.

The music of Gaman won Jaidev a National Award too for best music and deservedly so. The film also won a special mention accolade.

Gaman in Urdu signifies transit, passage, migration, departure or movement but I was surprised by how according to Zen Buddhist currency in Japanese, it is an equivalent of stoic endurance and patience. These markers ultimately are a natural corollary of movement of any kind. The music of Gaman is a perfect amalgamation of the personal and universal and devolves meaning to the idea of distance. Timeless musical exemplifications like these simply don’t exist anymore. It is the soul of Khairun that ultimately guides us to that point of personal transit.

Prithvijeet Sinha has been prolifically publishing works of various hues in journals and magazines like   Cafe Dissensus, Confluence, The Medley, Borderless, Wilda Morris’ Poetry Blog, Screen Queens, Rhetorica Quarterly, Lothlorien, Chamber Magazine, Livewire  among others. He believes writing to be the true music of the soul.

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

Categories
Poetry

Windows

By Prithvijeet Sinha

There are some windows,

like the one Manani* stood by,

with her sweet morning voice calling birds from all the surrounding trees,

to feed them her open heart’s musings

and a little bit of the loneliness she felt,

perched up here on the topmost floor.

.

She was a bird herself,

frugal and simple to a fault,

opening windows to the eastern sky

when the sunrise came to her inner eye

like the first stroke of the universe,

so essential to her at that age.

Living in two spare rooms,

with a prominent prayer house and a central kitchen,

her own birdhouse of sorts.

Just enough for her,

guarded most securely by a balcony and the worldwide open,

free and independent like her.

.

Her window to the world,

her soul left open to be free,

like the leaves and a cluster of beloved sparrows close to her feet

as they kept all her last wishes and secret correspondences in their tiny bosoms.

They sat with her at noon everyday,

peeking at each form and shade of clouds,

as she seemed to imitate the arch of that nose or the impression of that face,

from her family tree in the sky.

**

They come to me by this same window today,

tiny heads poking in and searching for a manifestation of her spirit.

She has simply flown out from here, l tell them,

with no inkling of her final moments or a destination.

.

She came to me with a whiff of the winter chill,

in my windowless room,

by the open partition between roof and yard,

as if arrived to say that her pulse had fallen,

that she had prepared her final prayers before her bath,

and her crop of falling, open hair was her only garment and adornment in that image,

on that fateful day.

.

She was here to say,

she had come out of her two rooms,

out of that forever open window,

held up by her coterie of birds,

right into the soft trillings of my heart.

.

Now I’m here,

vacating her sparse space

and the soul of her freedom

as a solitary sparrow comes to me,

staring at me with a slight right tilt of her head,

just like you always did when in joy.

Something tells me the myth is correct,

you have become one of your own

and come as a winged messenger,

telling me you will always be here.

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And I’m glad it happens to the soul in flight,

the window of your spirit forever open for correspondences.

For there are some windows which trace our ancestry of memories,

from one distant line to our loved ones in heaven.

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NOTE : * the term of endearment ‘Manani’ used in the second line of this poem refers to the Indian compact of mother and maternal grandmother, Ma+ Nani, with which I called my grandmother. This poem is written as a tribute to her and the window of memories she has left open for me ; the details here are all culled from real life observations

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Prithvijeet Sinha is from Lucknow. He is a post graduate in MPhil, having launched his writing career by self publishing on the worldwide community Wattpad since 2015 and on his WordPress blog An Awadh Boy’s Panorama besides having his works published in several varied publications as Gnosis Journal, Reader’s Digest, Café Dissensus, Confluence, The Medley, Thumbprint Magazine, Wilda Moriss’s Poetry blog, Screen Queens, Borderless Journal encompassing various genres of writing ,from poetry to film reviews, travel pieces, photo essays to posts on culture . His life force resides in writing and poetry is his first and only love.

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