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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

The Funeral Attendee

By Ravi Prakash

                                                                                                 

That day, the vast crowd on the road took me by surprise. I was riding back home from the school in the village where I teach. People had jammed the road near a cremation ground. I stopped my bike to ask a man: “What happened? Why are there so many people on the road? They must be thousands in number, don’t you think?”

“Don’t you know? Manglu died this morning. All these men have come to attend his funeral,” the man told me.

“Oh, was he a great leader or saint?”

“No, he was a great funeral attendee.”

“A funeral attendee! I had heard of poets, leaders, and saints whose funerals attracted a crowd like this but never of someone called a funeral attendee. What was so special about him?” I asked again.

“Manglu never left a funeral unattended if he came to know about any death nearby. It was his legacy.”

“Oh, achha[1]!” interjected I, and, having nothing to say more, started the bike.

 “What is so great about that?” I thought. But the crowd I was moving amidst defied the arguments my thoughts provided. This dead man must have been a man extraordinaire in his lifespan.

 But who cares?

I made my way somehow into the crowd and moved the bike ahead.

I came home. The day went as usual, but I realised that I could not stop thinking about that funeral attendee.

 The next day, in school, during recess, when I put a question about the dead man while chatting with my colleagues, it at once caught everyone’s attention. The head teacher, a greybeard, and a native of the village knew about him. He narrated Manglu’s story:

 “About thirty years ago, Manglu had to leave his native village Kherupura due to the disastrous flood. He could never return, for the flood had engulfed his village. The whole of it had vanished into the Rapti.

 “Manglu had nowhere to go. His father died in that flood. His mother had died earlier — a few years ago, and, as he had no sibling, he was left alone with his wife, who was pregnant at that time.

 “He had to move out. Destiny forced him to live a nomadic life. He came to live in Silva village near the main road, which connected two headquarters of the adjacent districts – Shravasti and Bahraich.

 “At first, the couple lived under a tree, but later on, seeing the condition of Manglu’s wife, the village head gave him a small piece of land. On it, he built a mud house. They lived happily for a few months, but Manglu could not save his wife till the following year. She died, I believe, during her childbearing. Manglu was all alone after that tragedy. He had no one whom he could consider as a family. His relatives were living in different places. He could go to any of them, but he decided to live on his own in the village.

 “To make ends meet, he worked as a woodcutter, a labourer, and a hawker, but he never left the village. After his day job, he actively participated in village life and attended every function and funeral, either invited or uninvited. Since he had no one he could call his own, he started regarding everyone as his own. No one took him seriously, but he maintained this routine.

“After many years, finding himself unable to do hard physical labor, he opened a kiosk-like shop by the roadside where he sold petty items like cigarettes, tobacco, and paan[2]. He made acquaintance with everyone who came to his gumti[3]. Motorcyclists, bus drivers, hawkers, rickshaw pullers, peddlers, and beggars – men from all walks of life were his friends. In a year or two, Manglu acquired such fame that people started talking about the directions and distances by referring to his kiosk as a distinctive landmark.

 “Manglu never indulged in hoarding money; he devoted himself to making friends. Anyone could purchase from him on credit. And such a good-natured man he was that even the vilest man paid him back.

 “He widened his social circle. People from adjacent districts knew his name and his thatched kiosk. I would say that he was more famous than a monument. In those days, too, he never left any funeral unattended, either in his village or in any other ones. If the dead belonged to another village, he would take a ride as soon as possible. Sometimes, people at the cremation ground wondered why he had not arrived yet, but he always arrived sooner or later.

“As he grew older, he found himself unable to run the shop. He took shelter in one of his friend’s houses to spend his last days. He could not walk straight then; he suffered from camptocormia–the bent spine syndrome, and he had to take the support of a bamboo staff. He roamed in the village all day with the bamboo staff in one hand and enquired about the well-being of whosoever came in his way. Even at that time, if someone died somewhere, he would try to go there to attend the funeral. 

 “The villagers thought he had a mania for attending funerals. And thus, in the last days of his life, people started calling him ‘the funeral attendee.’ He had become a piece of curiosity for the youngster in the village.

 “And then, he died yesterday. The news of his death spread like wildfire. Can you believe that more than two thousand people attended his funeral? I am not sure what exactly all this resembles, but I would say that Manglu must be smiling in heaven.”

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Glossary

[1] Connotes– Is that so? Literal translation from Hindi — yes.

[2] Betel leaf

[3] A small stall or hutment

Ravi Prakash teaches small kids in a rural primary school. He lives in a small town near the Indo-Nepal border in the district of Shravasti, Uttar Pradesh. 

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