Categories
Index

Borderless July, 2021

Editorial

Reach for the Stars… Click here to read.

Interviews

In conversation with an American poet, Jared Carter, who has received multiple encomiums like the Walt Whitman Award, the Poets’ Prize, a Guggenheim fellowship and much more. He tells us of his life and how he writes a poem. Click here to read.

In conversation with eminent academic and translator, Radha Chakravarty. Click here to read.

Translations

Two songs by Tagore written originally in Brajabuli, a literary language developed essentially for poetry, has been translated by Radha Chakravarty. Click here to read.

Balochi poetry of Akbar Barakzai translated by Fazal Baloch. Click here to read.

Korean Poetry written and translated to English by Ihlwha Choi. Click here to read.

Poetry in Bosnian from Bosnia & Herzegovina, written and translated by Maid Corbic. Click here to read.

Translation of ‘Dushomoy’ by Tagore, from Bengali to English by Mitali Chakravarty on behalf of Borderless Journal. Click here to read and listen to Tagore’s voice recite his poem in Bengali.

Poetry

Click on the names to read

Suzanne Kamata, Lorraine Caputo, Rhys Hughes, Kinjal Sethia, Emalisa Rose, Shahriyer Hossain Shetu, John Herlihy, Reena R, Mitra Samal, Ryan Quinn Flanagan, Shubham Raj, George Freek, Marc Nair, Michael R Burch, Jay Nicholls, Jared Carter

Poets, Poetry & Rhys Hughes

In The Scottish Homer: William McGonagall, Rhys Hughes assays into the times of this bard known as the best of worst poets! Click here to read.

Nature’s Musings

Penny Wilkes takes us Down the Path of Nostalgia with a mix of old and new photography and prose and poetry on how a decade after the end of the Second World War, she started her love affair with photography and nature. Click here to read

Musings/Slices from Life

Summer Studio

Jared Carter writes of a childhood in mid-twentieth century America. Click here to read.

Three Men at the Lalbagh Fort

Marjuque-ul-Haque explores Mughal Lalbagh fort left unfinished in Dhaka, a fort where armies were said to disappear during the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857. Click here to read.

A Stroll through Kolkata’s Iconic Maidan

Nishi Pulugurtha journeys with her camera on the famed grounds near Fort William, a major historic site in Kolkata. Click here to read.

Musings of a Copywriter

In Managing Bookshelves, Devraj Singh Kalsi cogitates with wry humour while arranging his book shelves. Click here to read.

Adventures of the Backpacking Granny

Sybil Pretious concludes her adventures this round with a fabulous trip to Generous Indonesia, a country with kind people, islands and ancient volcanoes. Click here to read.

Essays

Peace: Is it Even Possible?

Candice Lousia Daquin explores war and peace through history. Is peace possible? Click here to read.

Corona & the Police

Subhankar Dutta reflects on the role the police has taken in a pandemic torn world. Click here to read.

A Prison of Our Own Making

Keith Lyons gives us a brief essay on how we can find freedom. Click here to read.

Bhaskar’s Corner

In Richard Hughes: The Reporter Who Inspired Ian Fleming, Bhaskar Parichha showcases a journalist who wrote globally, spicing it up with humour. Click here to read.

Stories

Flash Fiction: Horizon

Tan Kaiyi evokes the spirit of the Singapore National Day amidst the darkness of spread by a deadly virulence. Click here to read.

Flash Fiction: Ice Storm

Niles Reddick tells a weatherman’s story with a twist of humour. Click here to read.

Mr Roy’s Obsession

Swagato Chakraborty spins a weird tale about an obsession. Click here to read.

Magnum Opus

Ahsan Rajib Ananda shows what rivalries in creative arts can do. Click here to read.

Adoption

A poignant real life story by Jeanie Kortum on adopting a child. Click here to read

The Literary Fictionist

In Scarecrow, Sunil Sharma explores urban paranoia. Click here to read.

Book Excerpt

The Parrot’s Tale, excerpted from Rabindranth Tagore. The Land of Cards: Stories, Poems and Plays for Children, translated by Radha Chakravarty, with a foreword from Mahasweta Devi. Click here to read.

Book Reviews

A Sense of Time by Anuradha Kumar reviewed by Rakhi Dalal. Click here to read.

Murder in Daisy Apartments by Shabnam Minwalla reviewed by Gracy Samjetsabam. Click here to read.

The Third Eye of Governance–Rise of Populism, Decline in Social Research by Dr N Bhaskara Rao reviewed by Bhaskar Parichha. Click here to read.

A Special Tribute

Dilip Kumar: Kohinoor-e-Hind

In a tribute to Bollywood legend Dileep Kumar,  Ratnottama Sengupta, one of India’s most iconic arts journalists, recollects the days the great actor sprinted about on the sets of Bombay’s studios …spiced up with fragments from the autobiography of Sengupta’s father, Nabendu Ghosh. Click here to read.

Categories
Editorial

Reach for the Stars

Courtesy: Creative Commons
“Nothing can be unconditional: consequently, nothing can be free.”


“Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.” 

-- George Bernard Shaw,  Maxims for Revolutionists, Man & Superman (1903) 

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), a great writer and playwright, used these epigrammatic lines to bring focus on what people thought was liberty or freedom from oppression, from regimes that were dictatorial. While discussing concepts of freedom, one does wonder if political freedom solves all humane issues, occasions we celebrate with great aplomb, like the birth of a nation.

This month started with the observance of July 4th, the date of the American Revolution in 1776 and the publication date of Whitman’s Leaves of Grass in 1855. In between these two years, in 1789, ten days down the line, on July 14th, another significant occurrence has been handed down by history to be celebrated as the Bastille Day— the day prisoners were freed from Bastille, a major event that led to the overthrow of the insensitive monarchy in France, a symbolic resurgence of the common, exploited man that has often been seen as an inspiration for later uprisings to reinforce the concept of democracy or liberté, égalité, fraternité.

As we move forward in time, towards August, one wonders if liberty attained by these means was good for all fellow humans? France was part of the Allied Forces that with America taking the lead dropped not one but two atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6th and 9th, 1945, to end the Second World War. Did the ends justify the means? Reflecting the cry and suffering of these victims, we have poetry from Suzanne Kamata, a well-known writer from Japan. Michael Burch on the other hand has shared poetry with us which shows how the nuclear programme continued unrepentant despite the devastation it caused. One must give kudos to the descendants of the victims of the nuclear blast that they have forgiven the perpetrators, admitted their own hand in the Second World War and moved ahead. In that spirit, we have an essay on peace by Candice Louisa Daquin, who joins the Borderless team as a writer-in-residence.

We have much happening in poetry this time with an interview of American poet Jared Carter, a recipient of number of awards and fellowships, including the Walt Whitman Award and the Guggenheim fellowship. He walks us through how he created the poem ‘Yeti’ (first published in the May edition of Borderless) and talks of the impact of artifacts from China and India on his own thought processes, the impact of Du Fu (712-770) and much more. We have a poem in Du Fu’s style this time by George Freek and an interesting poem with a Chinese title by Carter, a title that can have multiple connotations and yet each seems to fit the poem perfectly.

Rhys Hughes has brought humour into our pages with both his poetry and essay on William Mcgonagall, who bore the sobriquet of the worst writer in the world through his life and had things thrown at him when he read his poetry in Dundee. Yet, his work survived the beatings, and he lives on known as the ‘Scottish Homer’.

More poetry by Singaporean poet Marc Nair gives us a glimpse of the little island as viewed by someone who has grown up on it. Poetry is always multi-hued, and we have Lorraine Caputo transport us to a Garífuna village in Honduras. Penny Wilkes takes us ‘Down the Path of Nostalgia’ with a mix of old and new photography, prose and poetry on how almost a decade after the end of the Second World War, she started her love affair with photography and nature. It hovers between poetry and musings, and this time we have a rare musing by Jared Carter too. Devraj Singh Kalsi continues cogitating with wry humour while arranging bookshelves. We also have the backpacking granny visiting Indonesia. Post sharing this trip, our granny — Sybil Pretious — plans a little break from publishing to complete her memoirs.

A riveting flash fiction by Kaiyi Tan celebrates the spirit of conquest in these dark times, weaving into the pandemic lore the quest for personal freedom. Stories this time carry a real life one by Jean Kortum on adoption — her own struggle. But then, stories can be real or unreal – draw a bit from both to reflect bigger truths or create alternates that sink into the human mind as a perceived reality and leave an imprint deep inside the heart, like that of Niles Reddick. My conviction is that some lived experiences of writers seep into each story, whether it is from Bangladesh or India or by our literary fictionist, Sunil Sharma. His narrative continues infused by suspense.

We have a complete translated story of Tagore by Radha Chakravarty as our book excerpt this time. ‘The Parrot’s Tale’, ostensibly part of a children’s collection, reflects Tagore’s response to conventional schooling — a reason for him to start Shanti Niketan perhaps. She has also shared two of her translations of Rabindranath’s songs from Bhanusingher Padabali (1884, Bhanusingh’s verses). Chakravarty generously consented to an interview and has given us a glimpse of her journey as a translator and critic.  We also have translated a long poem by Tagore on our pages, a poem that inspires hope, though it was named Dushomoy (1897, Bad Times) finally. The original name had been Swarga Patthe (On the Path to Heaven) as can be seen from a page in his diary. We have been fortunate in finding a recording of his voice reciting the poem in Bengali and the print of a sample page of the manuscript bearing his signature.

We continue with Akbar Barakzai’s poetry translated by Fazal Baloch from Balochi – this time addressed to his daughter reminding for some reason of Nehru’s Letters from a Father to his Daughter — a book I read as a child.  In addition, we have translations from Korea and Bosnia & Herzegovina, from where the young poet, Maid Corbic, has taken up the concept of freedom of the self and of the nation, both together.

Keith Lyons from New Zealand in his very brief essay has quoted American novelist William Faulkner, “We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it.” And perhaps we need to remember this if for no other reason, then, just to maintain our own sanity in these strange, almost unreal times as we attempt to unite as humankind to free ourselves from an unknown and unfathomable virus.

In a more sombre note, last week, untroubled by the virus, a victim of cancer, Bollywood legend Dileep Kumar, aged 98, breathed his last. Ratnottama Sengupta adds an unusual colour to the Borderless Journal with her tribute to this hugely acclaimed actor. In the process, she unfolds for us a brief history of the Indian cinema, and a glimpse of a world that transcends all man made constructs in quest of perfection.

We have an interesting set of reviews this July. Rakhi Dalal has reviewed Anuradha Kumar’s riveting short story collection, A Sense of Time. A murder mystery for young readers, Murder at Daisy Apartments by Shabnam Minwalla, has been reviewed by Gracy Samjetsabam. The Third Eye of Governance–Rise of Populism, Decline in Social Research by Dr N Bhaskara Rao, reviewed by Bhaskar Parichha, seems to be a non-fiction that looks forward to bridging gaps between academia and the real world, a truly felt need. Parichha has also given us an essay on a man who inspired Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, to make him a part of his lore, a journalist who moved around all of Asia with equal aplomb and a sense of humour – a truly global citizen called Richard Hughes.

I want to thank all our wonderful contributors for making this edition a reality. And readers, we leave you to explore the unknown… like that place we call outer space. A huge thank you again to not only all our wonderful contributors, our faithful readers but also to the fabulous Borderless team scattered across the world.  

Before I wind up, a little bird trills a song of hope in my ear. Business tycoons have started stepping into the mysterious void of space to eventually – let us hope — create affordable travel for common man, though it has started off as an expensive proposition. Will this be an industry that will generate more jobs on and off Earth and find new places for man to inhabit? After all, when George Bernard Shaw wrote his plays and essays, we had yet to cross the frontiers beyond Earth, had never even thought of flying across the world in budget airlines or mining moons!

Will we have a new world, a new outlook and a new set of hopes and aspirations as we stretch the frontiers of our home planet?

Wish you all a wonderful month of reading and thinking.

Best wishes,

Mitali Chakravarty

Categories
Poets, Poetry & Rhys Hughes

The Scottish Homer: William McGonagall

William Topaz McGonagall (1825-1902), the son of an Irish handloom weaver, was such a bad poet that he has been hailed as a genius. His knack of bungling every subject he ever attempted, of making even the most tragic events seem funny, is almost unique in literature.

Born in Edinburgh in 1825, McGonagall was drawn to the theatre and first tried his hand as an actor. His performance of Macbeth was a classic of improvisation. Having been run through by Macduff, he refused to die and continued declaiming impromptu verses until a well-aimed kick from the assassin finally brought him to the ground.

His true vocation, however, lay with the written word. He received a fatal bite from the muse of poetry one day in 1877, at the age of 52. “A flame,” he said, “seemed to kindle up my entire frame and I felt so happy, so happy I was inclined to dance.”

This inclination to dance did not impede his literary output. Once he began writing, he found it difficult to stop. His themes were as grand as his rhymes were banal. He bathed daily in pathos and bathos, almost drowning in the tub that he enjoyed thumping. He quickly produced over two hundred poems, nearly all of them about battles, shipwrecks or other disasters, the heroes of which were often squashed.

So on comes the iron-horse snorting and rumbling
And the mountain-torrent at the bridge kept roaring and tumbling;
While brave Carl keeps shouting, The bridge is down! The bridge is down!
He cried with a pitiful wail and sound.
But, thank heaven, the engine-driver sees the red light
That Carl keeps swinging round his head with all his might;
But bang! bang! goes the engine with a terrible crash,
And the car is dashed all to smash.

Whenever human folly was responsible for a catastrophe, McGonagall was quick to point it out. In ‘The Tay Bridge Disaster’, one of the most famous of his creations, he rounded on the architects and engineers with astonishing hindsight, his tone a curious mixture of pragmatic pomposity and melodramatic modesty. The ending of that epic, with its engineering advice, is especially poignant.

Oh! ill-fated Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay,
I must now conclude my lay
By telling the world fearlessly without the least dismay,
That your central girders would not have given way,
At least many sensible men do say,
Had they been supported on each side with buttresses…

In the handful of his poems not concerned with violent loss of life, but only with relatively peaceful loss of life and its aftermath, McGonagall plumbed shallows of solemn profundity rarely waded into before or since. His elegiac but often sadly overlooked ‘Funeral of the German Emperor’ contains one of his most remarkable stanzas.

The authorities of Berlin in honour of the Emperor considered it no sin,
To decorate with crape the beautiful city of Berlin;
Therefore Berlin I declare was a city of crape,
Because few buildings crape decoration did escape.

Unable to find a publisher, McGonagall became his own literary agent and publicist. On one occasion, he even tramped all the way to Balmoral Castle to offer copies of his poems to Queen Victoria in person. But the Queen refused to see him and he had to settle for selling them to the policeman at the gates, one of his few occasions in his career when he earned money from his work.

He spent the rest of his life seeking recognition of his talents. At poetry readings in Dundee, he tormented listeners with his lyrics until they had to resort to throwing peas and other vegetables at him. When these items were abandoned in favour of slushier and harder missiles, he decided it was time to leave Dundee.

I intend to leave Dundee,
Owing to the treatment I receive,
Which does my heart sadly grieve.
Every morning when I go out
The ignorant rabble they do shout
‘There goes Mad McGonagall’
In derisive shouts, as loud as they can bawl
And lifts stones and snowballs, throws them at me.

In the spring of 1890, McGonagall began to suffer headaches. He went to see a doctor who, in the words of a local journalist, “put a tube up his nose and blew into it as if he were performing solo on the trombone”. The trouble was diagnosed as an air cavity blocked by writing poetry. But McGonagall did not take the hint.

McGonagall seems to have remained undaunted by all the adverse criticism he received in his lifetime. He invariably denounced all his critics as “vendors of strong drink”. He was convinced that the world would one day recognise him as the equal of Shakespeare. In some ways, his faith was justified. He has earned the sobriquet ‘The Scottish Homer’ and all his books are now in print.

Indeed, his poem ‘The Famous Tay Whale’ has actually found its way into a respectable anthology. George MacBeth, editor of the Penguin Book of Victorian Verse, defends the poem by insisting that McGonagall “was the first and perhaps so far the only widely known naive poet, and as such he deserves attention”.

McGonagall died in 1902. Many claim that it simply never occurred to him that poetry is an art that demands at least some skill. Others insist that he truly believed he had that skill in abundance. I am inclined to the latter view, but I also sometimes wonder if in fact he knew exactly what he was doing and has fooled us all.

Another consideration: If the purpose of poetry is to entertain, then McGonagall must rank as one of its great masters. There can be no better tribute than the ‘Ode’ composed by the students of Glasgow University in 1891, a deliberate parody of his style.

Among the poets of the present day
There is no one on earth who can possibly be able for to gainsay
But that William M’Gonagall, poet and tragedian,
Is truly the greatest poet that was ever found
above or below the meridian.

Rhys Hughes has lived in many countries. He graduated as an engineer but currently works as a tutor of mathematics. Since his first book was published in 1995 he has had fifty other books published and his work has been translated into ten languages.

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

Categories
Story Poem

The Pirate & the Pirate Queen

By Jay Nicholls

The Pirate and the Pirate Queen

Pirate Blacktarn quaked with fear
For his deadly enemy was near.
Tim Parrot saw her, out on the waves,
With her dreadful ship and her crew of slaves.
“Oh help, oh fear, what shall we do?”
Blacktarn muttered to his anxious crew.
“The Pirate Queen is on her way,
This is a woeful, miserable day.”

“Our Captain is such a terrible wimp.
Even his whiskers have gone all limp,”
Thought Stowaway Fay, who cared not a bean,
“Who is this fearsome Pirate Queen?” 

The Pirate Queen’s hair was fiery red,
She waved a cutlass around her head. 
She was tall and strong and brave and bold
And her crew all did as they were told. 
The sails of her ship were the colour of blood. 
Across the sea they watched her scud. 

“She’s coming, she’s coming,” the crew all cried. 
Pirate Blacktarn went off to hide. 
Tim Parrot flew to the top of the mast. 
“Quick,” said Mick, “we must get away fast.” 

But the Pirate Queen’s ship was faster by far.
They heard her crew laugh, “Harr harr! Harr harr!”
Soon, very soon, she drew alongside.
Across ships jumped the Queen in one great stride.
“All aboard! All aboard!” her fierce crew roared.
And onto Blacktarn’s ship they stormed,
Over the decks the ruffians swarmed.
Till even brave Fay felt fear and panic
And into a tar barrel she jumped dead quick. 
The tar glooped around her, all sticky and thick.
But there she lay hiding, watching the mayhem
And everyone wondered what would become of them. 

The baddies tied up the crew and swilled all the grog 
And went looking for Blacktarn, who lay like a log
Under the table, flat on his belly
His eyes tight shut, quivering like jelly.
“Yo ho ho,” said the baddies, to the Captain’s alarm,
“Don’t worry Blacktarn, we don’t mean you no harm,
We just plan to hang you up from the yardarm.”

They dragged him on deck, all of a swagger 
But one by one, they started to stagger.
They’d drunk far too much grog
And their brains were in a fog
But they held on to Blacktarn as they tottered around
“Here he is,” they shouted with a fierce sound. 
The Pirate Queen swished her cutlass about
Then raised it high to give Blacktarn a clout.
“No, no!” cried Fay, with a wild shout 
And from her barrel she leapt right out.

She was covered in tar, from head to toe 
As she stood repeating, “No, no, no, no!”
She looked so sticky and strange and weird
That the enemy crew were all afeared. 
“A demon, a monster, a sea devil’s here!
Get away quick, before it comes near!”
Their fuddled brains were dreadfully scared 
And they raced to their ship as fast as they dared.

“Come back you cowards,” the Pirate Queen roared.
But at that very second, Tim Parrot soared
Down from the mast and pecked at her head
And even the Queen jumped back in dread.
“Come away Queen, from that terrible ship,”
Called the enemy crew, “quick, give them the slip.”
The Pirate Queen turned and reluctantly ran.
“Come on,” yelled her crew, “fast as you can!” 
So back she turned and set sail at once.
“She’s gone, she’s gone,” cheered Fay in response. 
“We’re free again now, the Pirate Queen’s beat.
Quick, let’s get our crew back on their feet.” 

Tim flew to the crew and pecked at their knots 
Till all were untied and rubbing at sore spots. 
“Get up Captain,” said Mick, all happy and cheerful. 
Blacktarn stared at Fay, so scared he was tearful. 
For brave Fay was still covered in tar and dirt,
So they turned on the hosepipe and gave her a squirt
And swilled her down till at last she was clean,
Chanting, “We’ve got rid of the Pirate Queen!” 

“That’s better,” said Fay, smiling happily. 
“Oh,” said Blacktarn, “it’s Fay I see. 
It’s Fay! It’s Fay!” and he jumped up at last, 
While the enemy Queen sailed away fast
And only a glimpse of a blood red sail 
Told of an adventure to make a sailor quail. 

“I handled that well,” said Blacktarn with glee, 
Come on crew, let’s get sailing across the Lemon Sea.”

Note: The ‘Pirate Blacktarn’ poems were written in the early 1990s but were never submitted anywhere or shown to anyone. By lucky chance they were recently rescued from a floppy disc that had lain in the bottom of a box for almost thirty years. There are eleven poems in the series but no indication as to what order they were written in and the author no longer remembers. However, they seem to work well when read in any order. They all feature the same cast of characters, the eponymous pirate and his crew, including a stowaway and an intelligent parrot. The stories told by the poems are set on a fictional body of water named the Lemon Sea. (Dug up by Rhys Hughes from the bottom of an abandoned treasure chest).

Jay Nicholls was born in England and graduated with a degree in English Literature. She has worked in academia for many years in various student support roles, including counselling and careers. She has written poetry most of her life but has rarely submitted it for publication.

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

Categories
Poetry

A Confessional Poet

By Rhys Hughes

A KIND OF POET

I wait in this box
without locks
for sinners to come
and whisper into
my unseen ear
a list of the deeds
they have done
and undone deeds
they want to do.

And while I wait
it’s true that I write
little verses in lieu
of muttering curses
in response to what
they reveal. I am a 
quiet kind of helper,
a professional father
who strives to heal
the souls that would
rather wallow in sin.

Yes, in this blessed
hollow wooden bin
I convert failures of
the spirit into mildly
satiric lyrics. I am
a confessional poet.


DINOSAUR D’JOUR

The dinosaur
of the day is standing
   in our way.
There are men
on the menu for him
and we are those
    men. But if
you sing one of your
    awful songs
it won’t be very long
before he goes
   away and keeps
      on going.



THE CONFECTIONARY SHIP

The confectionary ship
was once a normal schooner
that was dipped in a vat
of chocolate and should
have been pulled out sooner
than it was but it wasn’t.

Captain Candy is at the helm
and he is lord of the realm
of sweet things but his crew
don’t like him very much.

The problem is that he has
cream for blood and as a
result is very rich, and rich
men tend to look down on
the poor. Whether he is truly
haughty, who knows? But
he is certainly toffee-nosed.


THE TIGHTROPE WALKER

The rope is slack,
I can’t cross the canyon
on that. The rope
    should be taut.

      Taut what?

That’s a question easily
answered. Physics,
geography, economics,
the history of political
intervention.

      Anything else?

Geology, biology and
medical attention.
Please find an educational
establishment
willing to enrol ropes.

     Yes, I will.

Good.
This rope
should be taut
by reputable teachers.
 
 

.

Rhys Hughes has lived in many countries. He graduated as an engineer but currently works as a tutor of mathematics. Since his first book was published in 1995 he has had fifty other books published and his work has been translated into ten languages.

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

Categories
Index

Carnival of Animals

Carnival of animals other than being reminiscent of a circus, brings to the mind a humorous piece of music composed in 1886 by  Camille Saint-Saëns. In the short composition of less than half-an-hour, the range of animals start with lions and capers on to kangaroos, elephants, donkeys, fishes, swans and even fossils! Peeking into our treasure trove, we found gems frolicking with animal-based humour from creatures addressed in the composition of Saint Saëns to frogs, pandas and even cockroaches. So, we decided to do a special dedicated to Carnival of Animals on the Animal’s Rights Awareness Week, June 20-25. May we live in harmony with all animals and see ourselves as part of the same kingdom!

Let us begin with poetry in the lighter vein.

Poetry

Carnival of Animals by Rhys Hughes. Click here to read.

Katsridaphobia by Aditya Shankar. Click here to read.

Kissing Frogs by Rhys Hughes. Click here to read.

Avian Stories , photo-poems by Penny Wilkes. Click here to read.

We conclude our poetry ensemble by dedicating a few lines to the most learned and privileged of animals — the human — and his other friends.

PhD thesis
By Mitali Chakravarty

The elephant with its pink nose, 
Flung up his trunk and with outstretched toes,
Danced a little  stutitu
In a violet pink tutu.

The lion stood on its tail
And did a jig on the rail.

The giraffe twirled its forked tongue
And sang a song with a guitar strummed
By an Orangutan in purple pyjamas
With a gold tooth from Bahamas.

The music pranced. 
The animals danced.

The future PhD stood entranced
And did a thesis on the hippo's glance.
The lissome 'potamus batted its lid
And solved problems by Euclid.
The future PhD stood entranced
And did a thesis on the hippo's glance.

Prose

Our next movement is prose. We have much starting with humorous retellings of cats — I wonder why these felines were left out of the musical composition of Saint Saëns! Our stories make up for it with multiple humorous telling of cats.

A Day at Katabon Pet Shop , a short story set amidst the crowded streets of Dhaka, by Sohana Manzoor. Click here to read.

Peregrine, a flash fiction about a cat who is named after a bird by Brindley Hallam Dennis. Click here to read.

Of Cats, Classes, Work and Rest, a musing by Nishi Pulugurtha. Click here to read.

Bugs of Life, a slice of life by Sohana Manzoor, highlighting her ‘affection’ or the lack of it for bugs. Click here to read.

As we come to the end of our ensemble, listen to the grand finale of the Carnival of Animals and tell us if you could trace resonances of the frolicsome spirit of the composition of Saint Saëns in this selection.

Courtesy: Shourjo

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

Categories
Index

Borderless, June 2021

Editorial

Restless Stirrings… Click here to read.

Interviews

In conversation with Fakrul Alam, an eminent translator, critic and academic from Bangladesh who has lived through the inception of Bangladesh from East Bengal, translated not just the three greats of Bengal (Tagore, Nazrul, Jibanananda) but also multiple political leaders. Click here to read.

In conversation with Arindam Roy, the Founder and Editor-in-cheif of Different Truths, an online portal for social journalism with forty years of experience in media and major Indian newspapers. Click here to read

Poetry

Click on the names to read

Jared Carter, Geetha Ravichandran, Heena Chauhan, Michael R. Burch, Ruchi Acharya, Jim Bellamy, Bibek Adhikari, Rhys Hughes, Ihlwha Choi, Sutputra Radheye, Jay Nicholls, Geethu V Nandakumar, John Grey, Ana Marija Meshkova

Limericks by Michael R. Burch

Nature’s Musings

Changing Seasons, a photo-poem by Penny Wilkes.

Poets, Poetry & Rhys Hughes

In Never Knowingly Understood : The Sublime Daftness of Ivor Cutler, Rhys Hughes takes us to the world of a poet who wrote much about our times with a sense of humour. Click here to read.

Translations

Akbar Barakzai’s poem, The Law of Nature, translated by Fazal Baloch. Click here to read.

Kazi Nazrul Islam’s poem, Shammobadi (The Equaliser) translated by Shahriyer Hossain Shetu. Click here to read.

Tagore’s Amar Shonar Horin Chai (I want the Golden Deer) translated by Mitali Chakravarty, edited and interpreted in pastel by Sohana Manzoor. Click here to read.

To mark the birth centenary of Satyajit Ray, Ratnottama Sengupta translates from Nabendu Ghosh’s autobiography experience of Pather Panchali ( Song of the Road) — between covers and on screen. Click here to read.

Musings

An Immigrant’s Story

Candice Louisa Daquin tells us what it means to be an American immigrant in today’s world. Click here to read.

Navigating Borders

Wendy Jones Nakanishi, an academic who started her life in a small town called Rolling Prairie in midwestern US, talks of her journey as a globe trotter — through Europe and Asia — and her response to Covid while living in UK. Click here to read.

I am a Jalebi

Arjan Batth tells us why he identifies with an Indian sweetmeat. Click here to read why.

The Significance of the Roll Number

Shahriyer Hossain Shetu writes of ironing out identity at the altar of modern mass education. Click here to read.

Musings of a Copywriter

In Creative on Campus, Devraj Singh Kalsi with a soupcon of humour, explores young romances and their impact. Click here to read.

Adventures of a Backpacking Granny

Sybil Pretious visits volcanoes and lakes in Frenetic Philippines. Click here to read.

Essays

Here, There, Nowhere, Everywhere

‘Did life change or did I change from the events of the last year,’ ponders New Zealander Keith Lyons who was in the southern state of Kerala when the first cases of Covid-19 were detected in India last January. Click here to read.

The Story of a Bald Eagle & a Turkey

A photo essay by Penny and Michael B Wilkes on the American bald eagle to commemorate their Independence Day. Click here to read.

The Day Michael Jackson Died

A tribute  by Julian Matthews to the great talented star who died amidst ignominy and controversy. Click here to read.

Remembering Shiv Kumar Batalvi

Amrita Sharma has written a memorablia on the Punjabi poet, Shiv Kumar Batalvi, who wrote in the 1960s. Click here to read.

Tagore and Guru Nanak’s Vision

Parneet Jaggi talks of the influence Guru Nanak on Tagore, his ideology and poetry. Click here to read.

Bhaskar’s Corner

In Amrita Sher-Gil: An Avant-Garde Blender of the East & West, Bhaskar Parichha shows how Amrita Sher-Gil’s art absorbed the best of the East and the West. Click here to read.

Stories

Flash Fiction: Peregrine

Brindley Hallam Dennis tells us the story of a cat and a human. Click here to read.

The Crystal Ball

Saeed Ibrahim gives us a lighthearted story of a young man in quest of a good future. Click here to read

The Arangetram or The Debut

Sheefa V. Mathews weaves lockdown and parenting into a story of a debuting dancer. Click here to read.

Ghumi Stories: The Other Side of the Curtain

Nabanita Sengupta explores childhood and its experiences. Click here to read.

The Literary Fictionist

Sunil Sharma explores facets of terrorism and its deadly impact on mankind in Truth Cannot Die. Click here to read.

Book Reviews

Neelima Dalmia Adhar’s The Secret Diary Of Kasturba reviewed by Meenakshi Malhotra. Click here to read.

Shrilal Shukla’s Fragments of Happiness translated by Niyati Bafna and reviewed by Rakhi Dalal. Click here to read

Bhaskar Parichha reviews Transformational Leadership in Banking edited by Anil K. Khandelwal. Click here to read.

Book Excerpt

An excerpt from Enter Stage Right by Feisal Alkazi with a visual of young Alkazi dancing in one of the earliest discos of New Delhi. Click here to read.

Categories
Editorial

Restless Stirrings

As we stand on the threshold of a new normal that will eternally rewrite the history of social interactions, of movements across the globe, of new world orders that will have to be more inclusive and more transparent to world view, we will, perhaps, feel the need to redefine business laws so that even countries with lesser wealth are able to access vaccinations and peace. We are now looking  up to leaderships which seem to be in crises themselves. Sitting securely on a tiny island that is well governed, an island where affluence and well-being set it adrift from the turmoils of countries around it, I wonder thirty years from now, what will mankind be like…  Will we be forever marred by the current events of the world? Globalisation has ensured that none of us can be secure on any secret island. There can be no land of lotus eaters hidden from the rest of mankind and accessed by only a few anymore. Even if one region is affected by the virus in any corner of the world, can the rest of the world be pandemic free? Perhaps, a question that those who peddle in vaccines and human well-being can address.

These issues have not only been highlighted by the news media but have also found echoes in some of our content this time. Keith Lyons’s essay talks of his last stay in India, when a tourist carried the  the pandemic  unwittingly into Kerala in February 2020 and subsequent repercussions. More stories and poems that dwell on the spread of the virus this year cry out for compassion. One hopes young poet Ruchi Acharya’s verses are born true.

One day the roses of hope will grow
Meeting the horizon,
Roses that, even plucked, will not die
But will bloom and bloom
Every single day that passes by.

We have young writers on the virulence of the virus and mature pens like that of globe-trotting academic Wendy Jones Nakanishi, who maps the pandemic from UK. Perhaps, we will find a new direction eventually.

There have been calls for uniting above divides as a single unit called mankind earlier too, from greats like Tagore and Nazrul. This time we carry translations of both — Nazrul’s translated poem calls for uniting against artificial divides drawn by man-made constructs and Tagore’s translation talks of redefining through self-reflection. An essay on Tagore by academic Parineet Jaggi talks of the impact of the teachings of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, on Tagore.

We have essays on writers and icons from around the globe. A photo-essay on the bald eagle, heralding the American Independence Day on the 4th of July, gives a humorous anecdote on how the eagle was chosen above the turkey. We have more variety by Candice Louisa Daquin, an immigrant in US, who shows how important human movement across man-made borders is to the development of a country. Michael Burch has given us beautiful poetry reflecting the history of America and American dreams, one of them with the voice of the legendary Mohammed Ali. These verses add substance to the concerns raised by Daquin. Jared Carter brings to us the colours of life with his poetry.

We have humour in verses from Rhys Hughes and even from a young poet, Sutputra Radheye. Limericks from Michael Burch and Penny Wilkes photo-poetry on ‘Changing Seasons’ puts us in a more cheerful mood.  More poetry from multiple writers across the world, including Nepal, Macedonia and Korea, have found their way into our journal.

Hughes has also given us a comprehensive and interesting essay on a twentieth century poet called Ivor Cutler, who said much as he sang his poetry and was encouraged by Paul McCartney of the Beatles. The brilliant poetry of Akbar Barakzai continues translated on our pages by Fazal Baloch and one must give many thanks to the translator for his indefatigable energy and for bringing us wonderful fare from Balochistan. An excerpt translated by eminent journalist Ratnottama Sengupta from Nabendu Ghosh’s autobiography ends with Satyajit Ray’s starting his famed career with Apu’s triology (based on Pather Panchali, a novel by Bibhuti Bhushan Bandopadhyay). These three films have become iconic in cinema history.

We were fortunate to have Professor Fakrul Alam agree to an interview. An eminent translator, critic and academic who has lived through the inception of Bangladesh from East Bengal, Alam has translated not just the three greats of Bengal (Tagore, Nazrul, Jibanananda) but also multiple political leaders like Mujibur Rahman. In this exclusive, he has taken us through the annals of history, reflecting on less-known perspectives of the Partition. Also, in conversation with Borderless, is Arindam Roy, a journalist with forty years’ experience and the founder of Different Truths who started his writing career, much in the tradition of Cyrano de Bergerac on a humorous note.

This time our backpacking granny, Sybil Pretious, gives us a glimpse of her wisdom, wit and compassion while visiting Philippines and talks of an ancient death ritual, volcanoes and strange mud baths. Devraj Singh Kalsi explores young romance in his tongue-in-cheek fashion. We also have more semi-humorous musings from young writers across borders. While Sunil Sharma has explored facets of the impact of terrorism, the other stories are told in a lighter vein.

Our book excerpt from Feisal Alkazi’s Enter Stage Right has a picture of the young artiste in a discotheque dancing in abandon — check it out. It made me smile. Rakhi Dalal has reviewed Jnanpith Award winner Shrilal Shukla’s Fragments of Happiness translated by Niyati Bafna. The book review by Meenakshi Malhotra of Neelima Dalmia Adhar’s The Secret Diary of Kasturba brings out an interesting facet on Gandhi and women in the Independence movement. It makes one notice the contrasts in the perspectives of Gandhi and Tagore, who created women like he saw around him in fiction. Kasturba’s life also contrasts with the independence found in the life of the avant-garde artist, Amrita Sher-Gil, who lived around the same time. In an essay, Bhaskar Parichha has shown how Sher-Gil lived out her dreams, blending the best of the East and West, while Malhotra writes, that though “Gandhi called women to join the national movement … he was not seeking to emancipate, but more to call forth their capacity for self-abnegation and self-sacrifice.”

Parichha has also introduced us to the need for changes in the banking sector in India while reviewing Transformational Leadership in Banking edited by Anil K. Khandelwal. Perhaps these will be part of the changes that will ultimately lead to a revision of old systems and the start of new ones. Changes, though not always welcomed or convenient, hopefully will lead to progress that can mould our future into a happier one. Restless stirrings transformed mankind from cave dwellers to an intelligent race that can assimilate nature and technology to survive and dream of a future, living among stars.

As Borderless reaches out to unite mankind transcending artificial constructs, its attempts can bear fruit only with support from each and every one of you. I would like to thank all our editorial team for their wonderful support, contributors for being the backbone of our content, and all our readers for continuing to patronise us.

Do take a look at our current issue for the writers who remain unmentioned here but create phenomenal bridges towards a borderless world.

Best wishes,

Mitali Chakravarty

Categories
Humour Poetry

Carnival of Animals

By Rhys Hughes

 Silky Salathiel

Silky Salathiel was a travelling cat

with the taste of the Orient on the tip of his tongue.

He wandered the streets of Mandalay

enticed by the scents of ginger and lime,

where the oldest songs are sung

in the Rub-Al-Khali

he scratched at the rugs in Bedouin tents.

.

I knew him well when I was young.

We sailed the Brahmaputra in an old sea-chest,

lived in a basket in Kathmandu,

climbed the mountains of the Hindu Kush,

bathed in fountains of milk in Xanadu,

and I was the friend whom he loved best;

the oldest fish in the Caspian Sea.

.

But of course I lived longer than him

(now he is gone memories are all that remain).

He was not just a cat but a travelling cat

who danced flamenco in the castles of Spain,

licked the cheese in shady Provence

and drunk the ale in the snowy Ukraine.

Silky Salathiel the travelling cat

with the taste of the East on the tip of his tongue

and the taste of the West

on the tip of

his tail.


THE CASANOVA KANGAROO

The Casanova Kangaroo
    is a bounder
       but he’s no cad
    or utter rotter
(and if he was an otter
    he wouldn’t be
fishy either). He’s not a
        womaniser
who disguises his desire
as charm. In fact
the only thing he has in
      common with
the original Casanova is
that they both wrote
      their memoirs.

       Chapter One,
‘My Early Life in a Pouch’


PANDEMONIUM

Pandemonium is
not a state of disorder
but a state ruled
by pandas. They
will try to bamboozle
you with booze
made from bamboo
shoots and seduce
you with the music
of bamboo flutes.

The capital of the state
of Pandemonium
is called Nebulosity
City but I don’t know
why. No one actually
lives there. Pandas
prefer the countryside.

.

Rhys Hughes has lived in many countries. He graduated as an engineer but currently works as a tutor of mathematics. Since his first book was published in 1995 he has had fifty other books published and his work has been translated into ten languages.

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

Categories
Story Poem

Pirate Blacktarn gets Lost

A strange tale in verse by Jay Nicholls

Pirate Blacktarn, terror of the Lemon Seas 
Shivered in an icy breeze. 
“This is odd,” he muttered crossly,
“Suddenly I’m feeling chilly.”

“This is weird,” the crew agreed.
Big Bob grumbled, “it’s cold indeed.”
Colder it grew as the days went past.
The North Wind blew with an icy blast.
Blacktarn stayed in his cabin by the fire,
Piling the coals up higher and higher.
Poor Tim Parrot could hardly speak,
For a giant icicle hung from his beak. 

“This is dreadful,” groaned all the crew. 
The tips of their noses had turned pale blue. 
Then a monstrous iceberg passed them by
With a jagged tip nearly scraping the sky.
Blacktarn stayed in his cabin, very snug 
Where the roaring fire made a cosy fug.

“What’s happened” wondered the frozen crew,
The Lemon Sea’s turned an icy hue.”

Then Stowaway Fay jumped up suddenly
And emptied out her mug of tea.
She tied it fast to the end of a rope
And dropped it into the sea, in hope.
Back she hauled it and started to drink.
But the taste of the water made her think.
It was chilly and strange and salty to savour,
Not a hint of lemon was in its flavour.

“I knew it,” she cried, though her voice was hoarse
“Our daft Captain’s set the wrong course!
Of navigation he hasn’t a notion,
We’re adrift in the Arctic Ocean!”

At this the crew grew very mad.
“Our daft Captain is really bad.”
Below decks they charged with an angry roar 
And banged on Blacktarn’s cabin door. 
Blacktarn pretended he didn’t hear,
He hid in the cupboard, quaking with fear.

“Silly Captain, you’ve read the chart wrong,
Now take us back where we belong.”
“It’s not my fault,” he squeaked through the door,
“I’ve never read a sea chart before.”
The crew let out a mighty groan.
“Typical, we might have known.”
“Well,” said Fay, “we’ll read the chart.
Hand it over, let’s make a start.”

Blacktarn pushed it under the door
And the crew spread it out across the floor. 
“We go north, no east, no nor’,nor’ west.”
“No,” said Fay, “south is best.”
But which way was south? No one knew
Until through the door Tim Parrot flew.
The fire began melting his frozen beak
And at last poor Tim was able to speak.
“This way’s south, just follow me,
I can guide you back to safety.”

Just ahead of the ship he flew,
Hoping to find the waters they knew. 
At long, long last, they smelled lemon in the air.
“Hurrah, hurrah, we’re nearly there.”

Then out came Blacktarn, onto the deck,
“Just come to give the sea chart a check,
Now that we’re back in the Lemon Seas at large.
Of course with a captain like me in charge
You know you really can’t fare badly,
Come on crew, keep sailing across the Lemon Sea.”


Note: 
The ‘Pirate Blacktarn’ poems were written in the early 1990s but were never submitted anywhere or shown to anyone. By lucky chance they were recently rescued from a floppy disc that had lain in the bottom of a box for almost thirty years. There are eleven poems in the series but no indication as to what order they were written in and the author no longer remembers. However, they seem to work well when read in any order. They all feature the same cast of characters, the eponymous pirate and his crew, including a stowaway and an intelligent parrot. The stories told by the poems are set on a fictional body of water named the Lemon Sea. (Dug up by Rhys Hughes from the bottom of an abandoned treasure chest).

Jay Nicholls was born in England and graduated with a degree in English Literature. She has worked in academia for many years in various student support roles, including counselling and careers. She has written poetry most of her life but has rarely submitted it for publication.

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