Categories
Index

Borderless, October 2021

An Ode to Autumn: Painting by Sohana Manzoor.

Editorial

Making a Grecian Urn… Click here to read.

Interviews

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.

The Traveller in Time: An interview with Sybil Pretious who has lived through history in six countries and travelled to forty — she has participated in the first democratic elections in an apartheid-worn South Africa and is from a time when Rhodesia was the name for Zimbabwe. Click here to read.

Translations

Travels & Holidays: Humour from Rabindranath

Translated from the original Bengali by Somdatta Mandal, these are Tagore’s essays and letters laced with humour. Click here to read.

The Quest for Home

Nazrul’s Kon Kule Aaj Bhirlo Tori translated from Bengali by Professor Fakrul Alam. Click here to read.

Mysteries of the Universe

Akbar Barakzai’s poetry in Balochi, translated by Fazal Baloch. Click here to read.

Gandhi & Robot

A poem reflecting the state of Gandhi’s ideology written in Manipuri by Thangjam Ibopishak and translated from the Manipuri by Robin S Ngangom. Click here to read.

Sorrows Left Alone

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

The Song of Advent by Tagore

Written by Tagore in 1908, Amaar Nayano Bhulano Ele describes early autumn when the festival of Durga Puja is celebrated. It has been translated from Bengali by Mitali Chakravarty. Click here to read.

Poetry

Click on the names to read

Michael R Burch, A Jessie Michael, John Grey, Rupali Gupta Mukherjee, Mike Smith, Saranyan BV, Tony Brewer, Baisali Chatterjee Dutt, Jay Nicholls, Beni S Yanthan, Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal, Pramod Rastogi, Jason Ryberg, Michael Lee Johnson, Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad, Rhys Hughes

Animal Limericks by Michael R Burch. Click here to read.

Nature’s Musings

In The Lords of Lights, with photographs and a story, Penny Wilkes makes an interesting new legend. Click here to read.

Poets, Poetry & Rhys Hughes

In Pessoa and Cavafy: What’s in a Name?, Rhys Hughes comically plays with the identity of these two poets. Click here to read.

Musings/ Slices From Life

At the Doctor’s

In this lighthearted narration, Farouk Gulsara uses humour to comment on darker themes. Click here to read.

Taking an unexpected turn

Nitya Pandey talks of a virtual friendship that bloomed across borders of countries during the pandemic. Click here to read.

Travel in the Time of Pandemics: Select Diary Entries of an Urban Nomad

Sunil Sharma gives us a slice from his travels with vibrant photographs, changing continents and homes during the pandemic. Click here to read.

Musings of a Copywriter

In Surviving to Tell a Pony-taleDevraj Singh Kalsi journeys up a hill on a pony and gives a sedately hilarious account. Click here to read.

Essays

A Season of Magical Mellow Wistfulness

Meenakshi Malhotra through folk songs that are associated with Durga Puja explores the theme of homecoming. Click here to read.

What Gandhi Teaches Me

Candice Louisa Daquin applies Gandhiism to her own lived experiences. Click here to read.

How Women’s Education Flourished in Aligarh Muslim University

Sameer Arshad Khatlani dwells on the tradition of education among Muslim women from early twentieth century, naming notables like Ismat Chughtai and Rashid Jahan. Click here to read.

Once Upon a Time in Burma: Of Friendships & Farewells

John Herlihy takes us through more of Myanmar with his companion, Peter, in the third part of his travelogue through this land of mystic pagodas. Click here to read.

When Needles Became Canons…

Ratnottama Sengupta, who has edited an encyclopaedia on culture and is a renowned arts journalist, gives us the role ‘kanthas’ (hand-embroidered mats, made of old rags) played in India’s freedom struggle. Click here to read.

Stories

Lunch with Baba Rinpoche in Kathmandu

Steve Davidson takes us for a fictitious interview with a Tibetan guru in Nepal. Click here to read.

The Tree of Life

An unusual flash fiction by Parnil Yodha about a Tibetan monk. Click here to read.

Odysseus & Me: A Quest for Home

A short fiction from Bangladesh by Marzia Rahman on immigrants. Click here to read.

Dawn in Calicut

Krishna Sruthi Srivalsan writes of a past that created the present. Click here to read.

I am a Coward with Priorities

Tejaswinee Roychowdhury tells a story from a soldier’s perspective. Click here to read.

The Literary Fictionist

In Bapu, Denied, Sunil Sharma explores the fate of Gandhiism in a world where his values have been forgotten. Click here to read.

Book Excerpts

An excerpt of In a Land Far From Home: A Bengali in Afghanistan by Syed Mujtaba Ali, translated by Nazes Afroz. Click here to read.

An excerpt from letters written by Tagore from Kobi & Rani, translated by Somdatta Mandal. Click here to read.

Book Reviews

Aruna Chakravarti reviews Golden Bangladesh at 50: Contemporary Stories & Poems edited by Shazia Omar. Click here to read.

Somdatta Mandal reviews Wooden Cow by T. Janakiraman, translated from Tamil by Lakshmi Kannan. Click here to read.

Gracy Samjetsabam reviews Suzanne Kamata’s The Baseball Widow. Click here to read.

Bhaskar Parichha reviews Mohona Kanjilal’s A Taste of Time: A Food History of Calcutta. Click here to read.


Categories
Editorial

Making a Grecian Urn

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty — that is all
                Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”  
  
John Keats (1795-1821), Ode to a Grecian Urn
‘Beauty is Truth’ : The Potato Eaters(1885) by Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890). Courtesy: Creative Commons

What makes for great literature? To me, great literature states the truth — the truth that touches your heart with its poignancy, preciseness, sadness, gentleness, vibrancy, or humour.  If Khayyam, Rumi, Keats, Tagore, Frost or Whitman had no truths to state, their poetry would have failed to mesmerise time and woo readers across ages. Their truths – which can be seen as eternal ones — touch all human hearts with empathetic beauty. Lalon Fakir rose from an uneducated illiterate mendicant to a poet because he had the courage to sing the truth about mankind — to put social norms and barriers aside and versify his truth, which was ours and still is. This can be applied to all genres. Short stories by Saki, O’ Henry or plays and essays by Bernard Shaw — what typifies them? The truth they speak with perhaps a sprinkle of humour. Alan Paton spoke the truth about violence and its arbitrariness while writing of South Africa — made the characters so empathetic that Cry, My Beloved Country (1948) is to me one of the best fictions describing divides in the world, and the same divides persist today. The truth is eternal as in George Orwell’s 1984 (1949) or Suskind’s Perfume (1985). We love laughter from Gerald Durrell or PG Wodehouse too because they reflect larger truths that touch mankind as does the sentimentality of Dickens or the poignancy of Hardy or the societal questioning of the Bronte sisters, George Eliot, and Jane Austen. The list of greats in this tradition would be a very long one.

 Our focus this time is on a fearless essayist in a similar tradition, one who unveiled truths rising above the mundane, lacing them with humour to make them easily digestible for laymen – a writer and a polyglot who knew fourteen languages by the name of Syed Mujtaba Ali (1904-1974). He was Tagore’s student, a Humboldt scholar who lived across six countries, including Afghanistan and spoke of the things he saw around him. Cherished as a celebrated writer among Bengali readers, he wrote for journals and published more than two dozen books that remained untranslated because his witticisms were so entrenched by cultural traditions that no translator dared pick up their pen. Many decades down the line, while in Afghanistan, a BBC editor for South and Central Asia, Nazes Afroz, translated bits of Mujtaba Ali’s non-fiction for his curious friends till he had completed the whole of the travelogue.

The translation named In a Land Far from Home: A Bengali in Afghanistan was published and nominated for the Crossword Awards. This month, we not only run an excerpt from the translated essays but also have an interview with the former BBC journalist, Afroz, who tells us not only about the book but also of the current situation in ravaged Afghanistan based on his own first-hand experiences. Nazes himself has travelled to forty countries, much like our other interviewee, Sybil Pretious, who has travelled to forty and lived in six. She had been writing for us till she left to complete her memoirs — which would cover much of history from currently non-existent country Rhodesia to apartheid and the first democratic election in South Africa. These would be valuable records shared with the world from a personal account of a pacifist who loves humanity.

We have more on travel — an essay by Tagore describing with wry humour vacations in company of his niece and nephew and letters written by the maestro during his trips, some laced with hilarity and the more serious ones excerpted from Kobi and Rani, all translated by Somdatta Mandal. We have also indulged our taste for Tagore’s poetry by translating a song heralding the start of the Durga Puja season. Durga Puja is an autumnal festival celebrated in India. An essay by Meenakshi Malhotra explains the songs of homecoming during this festival. It is interesting that the songs express the mother’s views as highlighted by Malhotra, but one notices, never that of the Goddess, who, mythology has it, gave up her life when the husband of her own choosing, Shiva, was perceived by her family as ‘uncouth’ and was insulted in her parent’s home.

In spirit of this festival highlighting women power and on the other hand her role in society, we have a review by Somdatta of T. Janakiraman’s Wooden Cow, translated from Tamil by Lakshmi Kannan, where the protagonist upends all traditional values ascribed to women. Another book which is flavourful with food and would be a real fit on every festive occasion is Mohana Kanjilal’s A Taste of Time: A Food History of Calcutta. Bhaskar Parichha tells us in his review, “In the thriving universe of Indian food books, this clearly stands out.”

Aruna Chakravarti’s review of Shazia Omar’s Golden Bangladesh at Fifty also stands out embracing the colours of Bengal. It traces the title back to history and their national anthem — a Tagore song called ‘Amaar Sonar Bangla – My Golden Bengal’. Gracy Samjetsabam’s review of Suzanne Kamata’s The Baseball Widow, a cross cultural novel with an unusual ending that shuttles between America and Japan, winds up our review section this time.

As Kamata’s book travels across two continents in a pre-covid world, Sunil Sharma in reality moved home from one continent to another crossing multiple national borders during the pandemic. He has written an eye-opening account of his move along with his amazing short story on Gandhi. Another unusual story creating a new legend with wonderful photographs and the narrative woven around them can be relished in Nature’s Musings by Penny Wilkes. This time we have fiction from India, Malaysia, Bangladesh and America. Steve Davidson has given a story based partly on Tibetan lore and has said much in a light-hearted fashion, especially as the Llama resumes his travels at the end of the story. Keeping in step with light humour and travel is Devraj Singh Kalsi’s account of a pony ride up a hill, except it made me laugh more.

The tone of Rhys Hughes cogitations about the identity of two poets across borders in ‘Pessoa and Cavafy: What’s in a Name?’ reminds me of Puck  or Narada! Of course, he has given humour in verses with a funny story poem which again — I am not quite sure — has a Welsh king who resisted Roman invasion or is it someone else? Michael Burch has limericks on animals, along with his moving poem on Martin Luther King Junior. We have much poetry crossing borders, including a translation of Akbar Barakzai’s fabulous Balochi poetry by Fazal Baloch and Sahitya Akademi winning Manipuri poet, Thangjam Ibopishak, translated by Robin S Ngangom. A Nazrul song which quests for a spiritual home has been translated from Bengali by no less than Professor Fakrul Alam, a winner of both the SAARC award and Bangla Academy Literary Award.

Former Arts Editor of Times of India, Ratnottama Sengupta, has shared an essay on how kantha (hand embroidered rug) became a tool to pass on information during the struggle against colonial occupation. The piece reminded me of the narrative of passing messages through mooncakes among Chinese. During the fourteenth century, the filling was of messages to organise a rebellion which replaced the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368) with the Ming (1368-1644). Now the filling is delicious lotus paste, chocolates or other edible delicacies. Women were heavily involved in all these movements. Sameer Arshad Khatlani has highlighted how women writers of the early twentieth century writing in Urdu, like Ismat Chughtai, created revolutionary literature and inspired even legendary writers, like Simone de Beauvoir. There is much more in our content — not all of which has been discussed here for again this time we have spilled over to near fifty pieces.

We have another delightful surprise for our readers – a cover photo of a painting by Sohana Manzoor depicting the season titled ‘Ode to Autumn’. Do pause by and take a look at this month’s issue. We thank our writers and readers for their continued support. And I would personally like to give a huge thanks to the team which makes it possible for me to put these delectable offerings before the world. Thank you all.

Wish you a wonderful month full of festivities!

Mitali Chakravarty,

Borderless Journal

Categories
Story Poem

The Voyages of Caractacus Gibbon

By Rhys Hughes

Caractacus in Rome: A Welsh king in 1st century AD who resisted the Roman invasion. Courtesy: Creative Commons
THE VOYAGES OF CARACTACUS GIBBON

First Voyage

He took a ship,
a sailing ship,
and he sailed away
across the bay
but then he turned around
with a frown and groan
and came right back
to his home town
and postponed his
trip for another day
because it was raining.
Oh, brave Caractacus Gibbon!


Second Voyage

He took a ship,
another ship,
and he cast away
the mooring ropes
and all his hopes
of having fun
were at a high
as he toured the sun
kissed lands on
the far ocean’s side
and his smile was wide
as he allowed the tide
to pull him into a harbour
where damsels stood
in a welcoming pose
with very few clothes
and he told them stories
about the glories of
sailing the deep blue sea
on a vessel of wood
and they giggled
as if tickled and wiggled
hips and pouted lips
and he was a happy man.
Oh, plucky Caractacus Gibbon!


Third Voyage

He took a ship,
a gift from the king,
tied up in a ribbon instead
of string, and he
sailed it far by following a star
to the edge of the world
where a pool that whirled
span him around
and down with a dreadful sound
and he ended up
spilling a cup of rum
over his tum and then his bum
as the ship capsized
and his subsequent sighs
were deeper than any abyss.
Oh, sopping Caractacus Gibbon!


First Drunken Interlude

I’m a jolly sailor
but I go to a very good tailor
and so you can see
when you look at me
my coat with a hood
fits perfectly and so
do my shirts, my trousers too,
but just to you I must
confess that I look a mess
because I wear them back to front.
Is that understood?


Fourth Voyage

He took a ship,
a groaning hulk,
and though he sulked
and made a fuss
like a fish on a hook,
he sailed it through
the foaming murk
of the stormy passage
where it’s not at all obvious
If he’ll emerge alive
in time for his tea
at a quarter past five
but he did, yes he did.
Oh, thirsty Caractacus Gibbon!


Fifth Voyage

He took a boat,
a rowing boat, 
and he rowed it
right into the mouth
of a thesaurus
and because the planks
of his hull were porous /
hollow / full of holes
he wallowed / rolled
until he was swallowed /
consumed by the waves
but he remained
bold / courageous / brave
as he went down
in a race to the bottom
without a frown
on his visage / face.
Oh, valiant Caractacus Gibbon!


Second Drunken Interlude

You are a figurehead
most alluring, and if I said
we ought to wed
I wonder how
you would respond?
And yes, I know
you are made of wood
and fastened to the bows
of this ship with pegs
But I don’t care,
you have great legs.
Let’s get varnished together!


Sixth Voyage

He took a canoe
all painted blue
and he paddled while addled
with a potent brew
and somewhere out there
upon the sea an eel jumped
up and bit his knee
but for only for a moment.
Well, we are quite aware
that when an eel
bites our knee in such a way
that eel’s a Moray.
Only when it bites our knee
for rather longer can we say
with confidence that
the eel’s a Conger,
and this one didn’t do so.
And now he wishes
He was resting on a couch,
ouch ouch ouch!
Oh, sore Caractacus Gibbon!


Seventh Voyage

He took a raft,
which is extremely daft,
and he let it drift
in a random direction
and for many days
without a purpose
he sat and talked to dolphins
with great affection
but never to creatures similar
in shape and size
who were a lot less friendly
and a little less wise.
Yes, he sat and talked
for many long days
without a porpoise.
Oh, lonely Caractacus Gibbon!


Third Drunken Interlude

Come with me
and be my fantasy girl
under the pearly grey
of the stormy sea
and we’ll drink tea
laced with rum
and have such fun
in courteous Atlantis
dunking biscuits
provided gratis
by the inhabitants
beneath the sea.
Come my love,
we ought to risk it.


Eighth Voyage

He took a ship,
a paddle steamer,
and splashed his way
to the port of Lima
to buy bananas
from tropical farmers.
What a dreamer!
But he didn’t know
he had a stowaway,
a cunning schemer
hiding in the hold.
And then one night
on the journey back
when the stars were bright
and the wind was light
the uninvited passenger
came up on deck
and climbed the mast
fast to the very top.
Heck, it was a monkey!
And the hold was full
of empty banana skins.
Oh, fruitless Caractacus Gibbon!


Ninth Voyage

He took a yacht,
how about that?
carved in one piece
from an iceberg,
And he sailed away
with an open mouth
directly south
to the hottest place
on the face of the earth
but he kept his cool
for as a general rule
he rarely panicked
unless his mechanic
who was a parrot
shouted a warning
that the ice was melting
which he soon did
just before flying away
unlike the captain
who was forced to stay
and end up in the drink.
Oh, steamy Caractacus Gibbon!


Last Voyage

He took a ship,
a sailing ship,
and he wrapped it up
in a very big sack
and addressed it to
you-know-who
or maybe you don’t
but that’s not my fault,
and with a stamp
he mailed it thither
like a gigantic arrow
in an enormous quiver
because it’s easier
to let the post office
do the work while
he stayed behind
with an enormous smirk.
Oh, efficient Caractacus Gibbon!
Categories
Pirate Poems

Pirate Blacktarn is Nearly Blown Away

By Jay Nicholls

Pirate Blacktarn is Nearly Blown Away


Pirate Blacktarn was feeling dizzy,
The winds above his head were being very busy.
They were roaring altogether in a contest of blowing,
Till the pirates didn’t know if they were coming or going.
Whooosh! went the West Wind, warm and wet.
EEEssh! hissed the East Wind in a fuss and a fret.
Rruusssh! went the North Wind, cruel and cold,
Swisssh! blustered the South Wind, burning and bold.

The pirate’s poor ship was spinning round and round
And the crews’ ears buzzed with the rush of sound.
“I’m going to be sick,” moaned Blacktarn yuckily.
“I’ll look after you,” said Big Bob pluckily.
“Eeeehow!’” blew the East Wind, “these Lemon Seas are mine,
I’m the wind to rule over this lemony brine.”
“Rubbish,” whooshed the West wind, “it’s me they need,
To bring them the rain, it’s obvious indeed.”
“Oh no,” niggled the North Wind, “oh no, no, no,
The Lemon Seas need me to bring them ice and snow.”
“Shusssh,” blew the South, “what’s needed is my breeze,
To bring the breath of warmth to the lovely Lemon Seas.”

The pirate’s ship tilted from side to side,
The crew fell on the deck and began to slide.
They clutched at the ropes and the yardarm and the sails,
Rakesh the mate grabbed at the rails,
Stowaway Fay tied herself to the mast,
Tim Parrot perched on her shoulder and held on fast.
It was the worst of storms the Lemon Seas had ever known.
“We’ll be blown to bits and pieces,” cried Blacktarn with a groan.
The ship tilted one way and the mast almost snapped
And then tipped the other as the great sails flapped.

The North Wind blew hailstones that clattered on the deck
And the West Wind whirled rain that poured down Blacktarn’s neck.
The East Wind blew a fog that hid them all from view
Till the South scorched it away, “Phew, phew, phew.”
“We’ll drown, we’ll drown,” moaned the terrified crew.
But all of a sudden the sea began to glow,
And a magical figure surged up from below.
Sea horses danced and sea nymphs sang
And all on its own, the ship’s bell rang.
For Neptune himself appeared on the scene.
He shook his trident which glittered gold and green.
For he was very angry and his face was very stern.
The Winds went silent and looked down in concern.
“What do you think you’re doing, blowing like fools
Over some stupid argument about which wind rules?”
“Puff,” muttered the West wind in great alarm,
“We didn’t really mean to do any harm.”
“I didn’t start it,” stuttered the East wind in a hurry.
“Nor me,” whinged the South, “I just blew a little flurry.”
“No, no,” fluttered the North, “it was only just in fun,
We didn’t really mean any harm to be done.”

“It’s just not good enough,” Neptune told them in a rage,
“You’re causing problems for sailors at every stage.
Ships are lying stranded in oceans far and near
Because you rowdy lot are all quarrelling here.
There’s no wind for any ship to sail, not even the smallest,
Everyone is stuck from the littlest to the tallest.
Now you just stop huffing and listen to me,
I’ll have no more rows over who blows on the Lemon Sea.
For a quarter of the year, the West Wind will bring rain,
To make sure the Lemon Seas are full of water again.
Then the next quarter the North Wind shall blow
And sometimes, not too often, bring the sleet and the snow.
The quarter after that shall blow the breeze of the East
And in the final quarter, last but not least,
Shall come the South Wind with the heat of the sun,
So all winds shall have their turn when my will is done.”

“What a good idea,” cried Blacktarn and his crew,
While the Winds huffed and puffed and wondered what to do.
But they daren’t defy Neptune, the Emperor of the Sea,
So grumbling and rumbling, they had to agree.
“Good,” said Neptune, “I’m glad we’ve settled that,
Now I’ll board ship and see Blacktarn for a chat.
Let the South Wind stay now and the rest of you go.”

So the West and East and North roared away in a tornado
And set the ship reeling in the last awful storm.
But Neptune raised his trident and the South Wind blew warm
And calmed the angry seas till all was at peace
And the waves whispered with relief that the storm would cease.
“Now let’s have a party,” cried Neptune once aboard.
“How useful,” said Blacktarn, “to be friends with the Sea Lord.”
So they danced and sang all day and all night.
But when they awoke at the sun’s first light,
Neptune and his sea nymphs were nowhere to be seen.
“Was it a dream?” wondered Mick, “what did it all mean?”
“Never mind,” called Blacktarn, “I stopped those winds all blowing,
Now set sail crew, it’s time we were going.”

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 twelve 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
Poets, Poetry & Rhys Hughes

Pessoa and Cavafy: What’s in a Name?

Sometimes we know that something is untrue but we decide to believe it anyway. There may be several points in its favour, clues that seem to add up to a revelation. Then one shortcoming is noted and the speculation is ruined, revealed to be utterly implausible. Yet we keep hold of the notion because it remains aesthetically pleasing.

Such is the situation with my contention that the poet Pessoa (1888-1935) was the same man as the poet Cavafy (1863-1933) I discovered the work of both these special individuals in recent years. Pessoa I knew first, I have travelled to Lisbon often, I saw his statue sitting outside his favourite café, heard his praises sung by lovers of fine literature. Then I began reading him and I found a remarkable voice, a highly original talent.

Cavafy intruded later into my consciousness. His name was bandied about in Lawrence Durrell’s wonderful Alexandria Quartet (1957-1960) and I saw a copy of his collected poems in a very curious bookshop outside a peculiar village in a remote part of an obscure region of rural England. I felt a pull to that volume but I neglected to buy it on that occasion. Only when I saw a reprint of one of his poems called ‘The City’ standing alone did I realise that he had a supreme talent for pithiness.

And so I became a reader of these two luminaries, poets who excel in embossing their subliminally potent but often wistful visions onto modern reality. They are both among the best poets I have read. But I began to see an odd congruence between the pair. I started to link them together in my mind. There were so many points in their lives and working methods that seemed to correspond closely, too closely, that I finally wondered: Might they be the same man? Was this possible?

Yes, it is possible, even if not especially practical. There are cases in the history of literature that are no less extraordinary. Sometimes one man turns out to be several men. The author Luther Blissett is a case in point. He is an amalgam, or rather a conglomeration, of several individuals and as a result he barely exists in his own right. More frequently two or more men turn out to be one man. Kurban Said and Essad Bey are examples of this situation, for both are facets or sides or masks of one person, a true enigma by the name of Lev Nussimbaum (1905-1942).

Both types of deception are intended to create mystery and to baffle investigators, to allow those who indulge in the trickery to experience the displaced objectivity that comes with the transmigration of identity. On occasion identities multiply so prolifically that it is difficult to keep track of them all, and while we may wonder who exactly is who, the individual who is the original source of the identities acquires a status akin to that of the trunk of a venerable tree. The flowers and leaves on the branches are noted while the trunk is neglected or even forgotten about. This is clearly what some trees and some authors want.

Even a hasty examination of the respective lives of Fernando Pessoa and Constantine Cavafy will throw up some intriguing parallels and a few distorted symmetries. Pessoa was born in 1888 and died in 1935 at the age of 47, still a relatively young man. Cavafy was born in 1863 and died in 1933 at the age of 70. These dates show that they are absolutely not the same man. Pessoa lived in Lisbon, at the far western end of that longish body of water called the Mediterranean. Cavafy lived in Alexandria, at the far eastern end, and on the other shore.

So they lived far apart, almost as if they wished to throw people off the scent who might otherwise have remarked on the similarity of their appearance and eccentricities. If we draw a straight line between Lisbon and Alexandria and plot the halfway point, we end up in Tunisia. Were there any poets of great skill living in Tunisia at the time of Pessoa and Cavafy? There was Mahmoud Aslan, for one, and Aboul-Qacem Echebi, for another. What does this have to do with the subject in question? Not a great deal. But if a person had two identities and had to be in Lisbon at certain times and in Alexandria at others, then to base oneself right at the midway point of those two cities is wise.

This is idle conjecture and nonsense and yet Pessoa and Cavafy both lived and breathed in the medium of enigma. Neither man submitted work for publication, preferring to share it only with a few friends, or with the darkness inside a large wooden trunk. Pessoa wrote under many different names, which he liked to call his ‘heteronyms’. A school friend described him later as “pale and thin and imperfectly developed. He had a narrow chest and was inclined to stoop. He had a peculiar walk and some defect in his eyesight gave to his eyes a peculiar appearance, the lids seemed to drop over the eyes.” He studied diplomacy but was a poor student. Then a sizeable inheritance from his grandmother allowed him to set up his own publishing house, which he named ‘Ibis’.

The Egyptian bird chosen for this business venture is perhaps a clue that I have seized on too eagerly. Alexandria is in Egypt, of course, and Cavafy worked his entire life in an office, as Pessoa had expected to do. Both men travelled when young because of family commitments, Pessoa to Africa and Cavafy to England, but after their return they preferred to remain exactly where they were and never travel again. Pessoa lived in a series of cheap rented flats, Cavafy lived in one cheap rented flat, each man pretending to be unaware of the other, partly because it would have been very difficult for Pessoa to have access to Cavafy’s poems, and vice versa, but also in order to preserve the illusion they were different men? I am clutching at straws, I know, but straws can thatch roofs, and roofs are what best protect us from the elements.

Pessoa enjoyed setting puzzles for his readers and swathing himself in clouds of obscurity while hiding in the passages of a labyrinth. Cavafy on the other hand appears less mischievous on the surface but certainly was also interested in transformations of identity, in particular the way that an individual in the present can absorb some of the sentience, attitudes, even wisdom of those who are long dead. Both poets are considered loners and yet their work yearns for connection. Was isolation necessary in order to continue with the elaborate deception?

No, of course not, and yet I wish that was the answer. If Cavafy was really one of the heteronyms of Pessoa, I would regard the trick as surely the greatest ever played in the history of literature. But Pessoa died first. So might Pessoa have been a reverse-heteronym of the older but longer-lived man? We tend to believe that a subset must exist inside the set it belongs to. Perhaps Cavafy was a heteronym that was so realistic it came alive and hopped off the page into the world. He might have been a tulpa, one of those mythical entities brought into life by an act of sheer thought. A wish made true.

None of this speculation has any place in serious poetic studies, but I am not here to be serious, I am here to scratch an intellectual itch. Habits can be shared by men, talent too, but if we look closely at photographs of Pessoa and Cavafy we see the same elusive quality in their eyes, sadness and strength mixed together, interiority without inferiority, a deep ironic wisdom. They are figures who exist outside the time that frames them, a pair of warped mirror images, somewhat neglected during their lives but always with the promise of greater recognition later. And that recognition came in a surge and lifted up their reputations to such a high point that we now acknowledge them both as obvious geniuses and find it very difficult to believe they were ever unappreciated.

Pessoa employed at least seventy-two heteronyms, identities not only with individual names but distinct signatures, temperaments, biographies, ambitions and destinies. And if Cavafy was the secret seventy-third of the heteronyms? Is there any evidence for this wild proposition? Consider the Cavafy poem entitled ‘Nero’s Deadline’ and the essential function in the text of that same number, seventy-three.

Nero wasn’t worried at all when he heard
the utterance of the Delphic Oracle:
“Beware the age of seventy-three.”
Plenty of time to enjoy himself still.
He’s thirty. The deadline
the god has given him is quite enough
to cope with future dangers.

Now, a little tired, he’ll return to Rome—
but wonderfully tired from that journey
devoted entirely to pleasure:
theatres, garden-parties, stadiums…
evenings in the cities of Achaia…
and, above all, the sensual delight of naked bodies.

So much for Nero. And in Spain Galba
secretly musters and drills his army—
Galba, the old man in his seventy-third year.

Spain is not Portugal but it is an adjacent country. Cavafy was not an ancient Roman, but he was an adjacent sort of fellow, a modern Greek. It is very unlikely that he was a heteronym but would he have been willing to admit it if he was? None of Pessoa’s other heteronyms were especially keen to reveal themselves as fictional. Nero thought that the oracle was a reference to himself and his own age whereas in fact it alluded to the age of the man who soon succeeded him.

And why is seventy-three a magical number? It is a prime number and Pessoa died in the prime of his life. In binary it is written as 1001001, the neat symmetry of a line with one end in Lisbon, one in Alexandria and a middle in Tunisia. In octal it is written 111, three men or the same man in different positions? It is a star number, a centred figurate number that can form a regular hexagram, and both Pessoa and Cavafy were stars. It is an emirp number, meaning that written in reverse it is also a prime. It is used by radio operators as a substitute for “best regards” because when written in Morse Code it is also a palindrome and sounds the same forwards as it does backwards, another mirror image.

Shall I continue in this fashion? It is unnecessary.

I will finish by pointing out that 73 is the atomic number of tantalum and that both poets remain tantalising. At no point do I really believe that Pessoa and Cavafy were the same man.

Yet there is something satisfying about the idea.

.

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

Borderless, September 2021

Editorial

The Caged Birds Sing…Click here to read.

Interviews

Professor Anvita Abbi, a Padma Shri, discusses her experience among the indigenous Andamanese and her new book on them, Voices from the Lost Horizon. Click here to read.

Keith Lyons talks to Jessica Mudditt about her memoir, Our Home in Myanmar, and the current events. Click here to read.

Translations

Be and It All Came into Being

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

Adivasi Poetry

A poem by Jitendra Vasava translated from the Dehwali Bhili via Gujarati by Gopika Jadeja. Click here to read.

A Poem for The Ol Chiki

 Poetry by Sokhen Tudu, translated from the Santhali by Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar. Click here to read.

About Time

Korean poetry on time written and translated by Ilwha Choi. Click here to read.

Of Days and Seasons

A parable by the eminent Dutch writer, Louis Couperus (1863-1923), translated by Chaitali Sengupta. Click here to read.

Road to Nowhere

An unusual story about a man who heads for suicide, translated from Odiya by the author, Satya Misra. Click here to read.

Abhisar by Tagore

A story poem about a Buddhist monk by Rabindranath Tagore in Bengali has been translated by Mitali Chakravarty. Click here to read.

Poetry

Click on the names to read the poems

Arundhathi Subramaniam, Michael R Burch, Sekhar Banerjee, Jeff Shakes, Ashok Suri, Tim Heerdink, Srinivas S, Rhys Hughes, A Jessie Michael, George Freek, Saranayan BV, Gigi Baldovino Gosnell, Pramod Rastogi, Tohm Bakelas, Nikita Desai, Jay Nicholls, Smitha Vishwanathan, Jared Carter

Nature’s Musings

In Sun, Seas and Flowers, Penny Wilkes takes us for a tour of brilliant photographs of autumnal landscapes with verses. Click here to read.

Poets, Poetry & Rhys Hughes

In Memory Gongs, Rhys Hughes creates a profound myth tinged with a tongue in cheek outlook … Click here to read.

Essays

Crime and the Colonial Capital: Detective Reid in Calcutta

Abhishek Sarkar explores the colonial setting up of the Calcutta detective department in 1887. Click here to read.

The Myth of Happiness

Candice Louisa Daquin ponders over the impositions on people to declare themselves happy. Click here to read.

Once Upon a Time in Burma: Of Babies and Buddhas

John Herlihy takes us through more of Myanmar with his companion, Peter, in the second part of his travelogue. Click here to read.

Bhaskar’s Corner

Bhaskar Parichha explores links between Politics & the Media. Click here to read.

Musings/Slices from Life

Cyclists

Mike Smith muses about a black and white photograph from his childhood. Click here to read.

Leo Messi’s Magic Realism

Sports fan Saurabh Nagpal explores the magic realism in famous footballer Messi’s play with a soupçon of humour. Click here to read.

Infinite Possibilities & Mysterious Riddles

Keith Lyons gives a lively account of traveling across borders despite the pandemic. Click here to read.

Word Play

Geetha Ravichnadran explores additions to our vocabulary in a tongue-in-cheek article. Click here to read.

Musings of a Copywriter

In When I Almost Became a Professor, Devraj Singh Kalsi gives humour tinged reasons on why he detached himself from being an academician. Click here to read.

Stories

Flash Fiction: Turret

Niles M Reddick relates a haunting tale of ghosts and more. Click here to read.

Silver Lining

Dipayn Chakrabarti travels through moods of the day and night. Click here to read.

Captain Andi is in love

Dr. P Ravi Shankar explores a future beyond climate change in Malaysia. Click here to read.

The Cockatoo

Revathi Ganeshsundaram captures the stardust in ripening years. Click here to read.

The Missing Tile

Saeed Ibrahim’s story reflects on the ties between an old teacher and a student. Click here to read.

The Literary Fictionist

In Return of the Ghost, Sunil Sharma explores the borders between life, ideas and death. Click here to read.

Book Excerpt

An excerpt from Kobi’ and ‘Rani’: Memoirs and Correspondences of Nirmalkumari Mahalanobis and Rabindranath Tagore, translated by Somdatta Mandal, showcasing Tagore’s introduction and letters. Click here to read.

Book Reviews

Rakhi Dalal reviews Anvita Abbi’s Voices from the Lost Horizon. Click here to read.

Basudhara Roy reviews Bina Sarkar Ellias’ Song of a Rebel and Other Selected Poems. Click here to read.

Bhaskar Parichha reviews Wendy Doniger’s Winged Stallion and Wicked Mares. Click here to read.

Categories
Poets, Poetry & Rhys Hughes

Memory Gongs

By Rhys Hughes

“Very rarely do we remember our previous incarnations. But if you drink from this pool, you will live them again.”

“All of them?”

“Yes, in reverse order, right back to the original form of life. The pool is magic and a secret known only to the select few. I drank from it when I was your age. I am passing the secret to you.”

“What did it feel like?”

“I felt everything. Then there was a sound like a gong and I was taken back further. Each time the gong sounds you will remember a lifetime, an earlier incarnation, in sequence.”

“Right back to the beginning? To the first?”

“Yes, to the lowest.”

“Then I will drink from it now.”

He was free in the oceans and the whole of the blue expanse was open to him. How he sported in the waves! The feel of the spray on his back was a delight as he broke the surface again and again. He felt like leaping into the air and twirling a somersault or two.

The sun was low in the west and it seemed that the waves rose above it and made it into a new type of jellyfish. Orange and tranquil, it warmed itself on its journey towards the horizon.

He watched it through the lens of the ocean and it delighted his eye, a variation of beauty in this fluidly wonderful world. But then something to his left caught his attention, a disturbance on the surface that churned the water into ruddy foam. A life in danger!

One of his brothers was drowning, being pulled under by a force that was irresistible, a predator from the deeps. Without hesitation, he turned his nose in that direction and propelled himself at maximum speed. When the collision came, his inertia caused the grasping green tentacles to relax their cruel grip in the shock of the impact.

His brother was saved. Together they swam away from the nightmare and the knowledge that he was a very good dolphin filled him with serene delight. But he never suspected that rebirth upwards would be his reward. He regarded his action as a simple duty.

The dull booming of an unseen gong filled his head.

Now he was sitting in the forest.

All morning he had been eating bamboo and he was daydreaming of more bamboo and wondering how it might be possible to grow a bamboo thicket in his stomach in order to save on chewing, which was a tiresome chore, but one he never once neglected.

As he reached for another length of bamboo he noticed that an injured bird was flapping on the ground nearby. It would not survive the coming night in this condition. Some hungry creature was certain to chance upon it. Yet the injury did not have to be fatal.

He scooped up the bird and placed it on his stomach, where it nestled in his fur and closed its weary eyes. As far as he was concerned it could remain there, comfortable and protected, until it was healed. The chewing of bamboo would continue until then.

The gong sounded again, as if from another world.

He was a beautiful cow drinking from a river. There were crocodiles in the water, vultures overhead, but all was reasonably safe at the moment and his hooves and horns were healthy.

But what was this? Two lions had seized a calf.

He stopped drinking and snorted.

And yes, he was a ‘she’ in this incarnation but there was still a he who was remembering. He was simultaneously aware of both lives, the one in his present, which was also the future to this creature, and the one from a previous existence, which was a memory but also a reality that he felt he was experiencing for the very first time.

The other cows had fled, but without any faltering he dashed into the thick of the action. The lions were reluctant to give up their prey but such a fuss did he make in the struggle that finally they turned tail and ran, and that is how the calf won a reprieve.

The gong came once more, and already he had grown used to the note, the low shimmering reverberation of it.

He would hear the gong many times that morning.

And each time it sounded, it took him back to an even earlier stage of his fantastic existence, down the long ladder of life, through every species in creation, vegetable as well as animal, insectoid as well as mammalian, into species unfamiliar to science and back out of them again, lower and lower, towards the floor where the most base entity of all lurked, trapped in its sludge of ancient time, a monster.

But that floor was still far away, impossibly distant.

Capybara, a South American mammal

He was a gentle capybara, wading philosophically into a swamp and taking care not to step on the frogs. He was a giraffe, long eyelashes wet with the dew from low clouds, declining to strip more leaves from a tree that was wilting in a long drought.

And the gong sounded sweetly.

He was a mischievous monkey now. He stole bananas but offered one to a sick cousin prone on a tree branch.

Down he went, faster along the chute of time.

He was the lion that seized calves, the snake that swallowed birds, the squid that attempted to drown dolphins.

He was a vulture who refused to peck at a dying jackal until death had obliterated its suffering. He was the dying jackal who hastened his demise with a sheer act of will, in order that the good hungry vultures would not be kept waiting. He was his best self.

He was the kind spider, the thoughtful worm.

And the gong boomed again.

He was a mosquito and he buzzed like a miniature saw in the ear of a despondent elk and something told him that he was almost the lowest of the low, the second lowest creature in the world, that there was only one species worse than his own. But he felt no guilt or remorse. Why should he? Blood was his essential happiness.

Yet there was a spark of compassion deep in his soul.

A spark or perhaps an ember.

On the tundra, he thrived among this herd of elk and the large beasts were to him no more than casks of red wine to the connoisseur, vintages and years included as part of the bargain with oblivion. I came out of the void for just this purpose, he said.

But then the anguished cry of the elk moved him.

I am disgusted with myself.

The taste of blood is sour to me now.

I have had enough. I will perish if I decline to drink. So be it. I am a good mosquito and perhaps I will be reborn as something higher like an ant. And if I am a good ant, what then?

I might eventually climb the ladder of rebirth to the top rung.

And what will be at the top?

There is only one sure way to find out. I will begin that journey today by refusing to drink from this elk or any other. My bloodsucking days are over and so is my existence in this form.

And now the gong sounded again, for the very last time.

The lowest being had been reached.

The very bottom of the pit of existence, the nadir of life.

He scowled and put his foot down.

The accelerating car weaved erratically across the road as he shouted into his phone, buying stocks and shares, knocking a cyclist over in the wind of his passing, laughing as he did so, calling other numbers, telling his wife that she was an idiot, ordering one of his subservient managers to find any excuse to sack half the employees, threatening his secretary with a pay cut if she was unwilling to sleep with him, ordering his accountant to falsify the figures on his tax return.

The lowest species of all in this immense universe.

He was travelling too fast for the bend ahead. He cast aside the phone and gripped the steering wheel with both hands. Sweat poured down his face, dripped onto his expensive suit.

He came off the road and bumped down an uneven grass surface. He saw that he was heading for disaster. The gradient of the slope increased and his brakes did nothing to slow him.

A tree stood directly in his path at the base of the slope and next to it a boulder. The tree was slender and if he struck it, the blow would probably not kill him, only destroy the tree. He knew what he had to do and gritted his teeth. What a superb adventure to tell everyone at the next meeting of the board of directors! It would enhance his reputation still further, for he was truly a man of action, a winner.

Some strange sentiment rose up in his mind.

A tree was a life too. Why should it be sacrificed for his sake?

But that was nonsense. He was human.

Far more important than a tree!

Yet the sentiment persisted and in fact came to dominate.

He abandoned himself to the urge.

At the very last instant he swerved into the boulder, sparing the tree, and his last thought was that perhaps rocks are alive too, that his act of kindness was only a lesser of evils.

But he had done his best. That was his comfort.Then his universe vanished.

The gong did not sound. There were no notes left.

Not even a ghostly echo.

“Are you awake, my friend?”

“Yes, I am back in the present age. I feel scoured but also refreshed by my voyage into previous lives. That final life, the oldest memory, is one I shall probably never forget.”

“You are a billion species removed from such horror. Do not let the images and the evil depress you. We all must start from somewhere in order to climb to the highest point.”

“And higher than us? Only Nirvana remains.”

“Who knows? Maybe entities on other planets or in other dimensions will come before the ultimate state.”

“We must strive to find out, but not strive too hard.”

“Yes, to want Nirvana is a desire too, and aggressive desires cause all the troubles that exist. Let us remain calm and continue our lives as if we desire nothing that we do not have.”

It was time to leave the pool.

Slowly, as they turned to walk away, the two elephants trumpeted and flapped their enormous grey ears.

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
Pirate Poems

Pirate Blacktarn Finds Treasure Island

By Jay Nicholls

PIRATE BLACKTARN FINDS TREASURE ISLAND


Pirate Blacktarn was searching for treasure,
The thought of gold filled him with pleasure. 
An old grey pirate had given him a map
Of a route to follow without a mishap,
To a secret island with a secret cove 
Where buried deep was a huge treasure trove. 

After a long, long sail, land came into view.  
“That’s it! Treasure Island! Come on you crew,”
Blacktarn called in excitement as they rowed ashore, 
Right, let’s get digging and soon we won’t be poor.”

The crew began to dig and dig and dig
Till the hole they made was very, very big. 
They dug all day in the fierce hot sun, 
“Phew,” grumbled Mick, “this is no fun.”

Blacktarn watched from the shade of a tree. 
“Think of all those riches, all that gold for me.”
The crew were exhausted and wanted a rest. 
“A rest,” cried Blacktarn, “Good heavens, you jest!
“You keep digging, there’s something I’ve seen. 
Look over there, something shiny and green.” 
It’s emeralds I know and maybe rubies too. 
Quick, dig faster, hurry up you crew.”

But they only found a bottle of old, green glass. 
“Huh,” said the crew, “this is just a farce.”  
 “Well keep on digging, this treasure’s buried deep,”
Blacktarn said sternly. “You haven’t time to sleep.”

Then Fay saw a glint, just a hint of gold. 
“This is it,” cried Blacktarn, “here’s wealth untold.” 
But when they dug deeper, all that they found 
Was a bright brass button but nothing else around. 

Blacktarn stamped and stomped with rage,
“Dig deeper still, treasure’s the next stage.”
They dug and dug till they were aching and tired 
And even the tips of their noses perspired.

“Keep thinking of treasure,” said Blacktarn happily. 
“Are you sure it exists?” asked Bosun Mick snappily.

Still they dug and they saw something white 
So they dug even deeper and had a big fright. 
There lay a skull, sunk in the sand
And lying close by, a skeletal hand. 

“That’s it,” said the crew, “we’re not digging any more,
The treasure map’s no good, that’s for sure.”
“Nonsense,” said Blacktarn, “it’s from a very nice chap.
“Exactly a year ago, he gave me this map.”

“Wait a minute.” said Mick, “What’s the date today?”
“It’s April the first,” said Stowaway Fay. 
The crew all groaned, then started to laugh, 
“April Fool, Captain, you’re a dunce and a half.
There never was any treasure at all.” 
But poor, sad Blacktarn started to bawl. 

“Never mind Captain, it’s no use crying,
Let’s have a feast, with some fish we’ve caught for frying,” 
Said Bosun Mick and Rakesh the Mate. 
“Then we’ll start dancing, so make sure you’re not late.”
So deep into the night they danced under the moon
And ate and drank and sang, till the following noon. 

“I’ve never really cared much about treasure,” 
Said Blacktarn merrily, lazing at leisure. 
“Tomorrow we’ll leave, for we’ve the Lemon Seas to travel
And lots of strange adventures still to unravel.” 

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 twelve 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

Cat Poems by Rhys Hughes

RIMSKY’S THE LIMIT

Rimsky was a business cat
but he had no suit
and had no hat. Nonetheless
he knew what he was about
when he told his bold
colleagues how to act
without fear in the
big wide commercial sphere.

They ran a factory
those industrial felines
and dominance was their motivation.
No other kitties throughout the nation
were quite as ruthless
or half as lethal
despite their purrs
as Rimsky’s gang of profiteers.

Hostile takeovers and mergers
increased their assets yearly
and Rimsky grew less surly
and licked his fangs in sheer delight
as every deal he struck went right
for his furry people
all of whom were other cats
who loved to win.

By charging less than his rivals
he undercut them drastically
and forced them into bankruptcy
until his firm was the only one
among the few left in credit.
“Rimsky is a bandit. To rack and ruin
he has driven us!” they all said it
and it was perfectly true.

Dog biscuits was the product
that Rimsky’s empire was based on
and when he had a monopoly
he changed the ingredients
to summarise his power.
A few drops of poison in the flour
and the greatest dream
of every feline was realised.

The dogs they died one by one
across the land. Such fun for Rimsky
and his friends, that merry band,
to witness the harrowing ends
of mongrels and pedigrees alike.
A joyous and uplifting sight
to crown their delight as they
walked around the dogless towns.

Dog and bird who hear these words
take care to guard your skin.
Beware of fat sinful cats
devoted to the profit margin!
The Cat that Got the Cream

Tufty was the cat

that got the cream but he went

very far to get it.

Out the door and down the street

on his little furry feet

following the North Star

in a sort of waking dream.

.

Who had sent this gentle puss

on such an arduous errand?

Naught other than

his own desire to see the world

before he expired

compelled him through the night.

For sure he must get

the cream before it curdled.

.

He made no fuss

but simply leapt every hurdle

on his lonesome path.

Over walls and hedges he did go

until he reached his

destination, which was the local

train station, and there

he waited for the milk train

to arrive at long last.

.

Shaken and churned

by the motion of the locomotive

the milk should be

the finest cream he might hope to see

or sniff and taste

in summer, winter or any season.

This at least was Tufty’s

reasoning… He wasn’t wrong.

BIAS TO KITTENS

I wear a poem as a hat
one of yours in fact.
I stole it from a chest of drawers
while you were distracted
by the claws on the shadow of
the paws of a cat.

That cat was me and still
I am but now I have a
sonnet with a brim. It was
written with a quill and homemade
ink. You are an old fashioned
damsel, I think.

If you were a kitten and fast asleep
upon my lap, I doubt I
would mind your blatant theft
of all my hats and maps.

Even the plundering of my
bulging purse would be
forgiven, let alone the snatching
of such a minor verse.
But you are not.

My, it is hot under this hat!

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.

.

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

Categories
Index

Borderless August 2021

Editorial

Triumph of the Human Spirit… Click here to read.

Interviews

Goutam Ghose, multiple award-winning filmmaker, writer, actor discusses his films, film-books and journey as a humanitarian artiste. Click here to read.

Dr Kirpal Singh, a well-known poet and academic from Singapore, talks of his life and times through colonial rule, as part of independent Malaya, and the current Singapore. Click here to read.

Translations

Bundu, Consoler of the Rich

A story based on memories of Partition by Nadir Ali, translated from Punjabi by Amna Ali. Click here to read.

Akbar Barakzai’s Songs of Freedom

Akbar Barakzai’s poetry translated from Balochi by Fazal Baloch. Click here to read.

An August Account of ‘Quit India’ Movement

Ratnottama Sengupta translates from Bengali the excerpts recorded by Sandhya Sinha (1928-2016), who witnessed an upsurge in the wake of the Quit India Movement, part of India’s struggle against colonial rule. Click here to read.

Froth

A short story by Dev Kumari Thapa, translated from Nepali by Mahesh Paudyal. Click here to read.

Mother’s Birthday Dinner Table

Ihlwha Choi translates his own poem set in Santiniketan from Korean to English. Click here to read.

Deliverance by Tagore

Tran’ by Tagore translated from Bengali to English by Mitali Chakravarty, art and editing by Sohana Manzoor for Borderless Journal. Click here to read.

Essays

The Idea of India: Bharata Bhagya Bidhata – The Making of a Motherland

Anasuya Bhar explores the history of the National Anthem of India, composed by Tagore in Bengali and translated only by the poet himself and by Aruna Chakravarti. Click here to read.

A Life Well-Lived

Candice Louisa Daquin discusses the concepts of a life well-lived. Click here to read.

Once Upon a Time in Burma: Land of a Thousand Pagodas

John Herlihy explores the magnificent sites of Mandalay in company of a Slovenian friend in the first episode of his quartet on his Myanmar. Click here to read.

Bhaskar’s Corner

In Tagore & Odisha, Bhaskar Parichha explores Tagore’s interactions with Odisha, his impact on their culture and the impact of their culture on him. Click here to read

Poetry

Click on the names to read the poems

Jaydeep Sarangi, Joan McNerney, Vandana Sharma Michael Lee Johnson, Priyanka Panwar, Mihaela Melnic, Ryan Quinn FlanaganKirpal Singh, Sutputra Radheye, John Linwood Grant, Julian Matthews, Malachi Edwin Vethamani, Rhys Hughes, Rachel Jayan, Jay Nicholls, Jared Carter

Nature’s Musings

Becoming Marco Polo: Poetry and photography by Penny Wilkes

Poets, Poetry & Rhys Huges

In Dinosaurs in France, Rhys Hughes explores more than tall tales; perhaps, the passage of sense of humour in our lives. Click here to read.

Musings/Slices from Life

Me and Mr Lowry’s Clown

Mike Smith’s nostalgia about artist Pat Cooke (1935-2000) takes us back to England in the last century. Click here to read.

Seventy-four Years After Independence…

“Mil ke rahe gi Azadi” (We will get our Freedom) by Aysha Baqir muses on Pakistani women’s role in the independence movement and their current state. Click here to read.

The Road to Freedom

Kanchan Dhar explores personal freedom. Click here to read.

The Coupon

Niles Reddick tells us how Covid and supermarkets combined into a discount coupon for him. Click here to read.

Musings of a copywriter

 In 2147 without Borders, Devraj Singh Kalsi meanders over Partitions, borders and love stories. Click here to read.

Stories

Rituals in the Garden

Marcelo Medone discusses motherhood, aging and loss in this poignant flash fiction from Argentina. Click here to read.

The Best Word

Maliha Iqbal explores the impact of wars in a spine chilling narrative, journeying through a range of emotions. Click here to read.

Do Not Go!

Moazzam Sheikh explores dementia, giving us a glimpse of the lives of Asian immigrants in America. Click here to read.

The Protests Outside

Steve Ogah talks of trauma faced by riot victims in Nigeria. Click here to read.

Brother Felix’s Ward

Malachi Edwin Vethamani takes us to an exploration of faiths and borders. Click here to read.

The Literary Fictionist

In The Chained Man Who Wished to be Free, Sunil Sharma explores freedom and democracy versus conventions. Click here to read.

Book Excerpts

Beyond The Himalayas by Goutam Ghose, based on a five-part documentary taking us on a journey along the silk route exploring parts of Pakistan and China. Click here to read.

Our Home in Myanmar – Four years in Yangon by Jessica Muddit, a first hand account of a journalist in Burma. Click here to read.

Book Reviews

A review by Meenakshi Malhotra of Somdatta Mandal’s The Last Days of Rabindranath Tagore in Memoirs, a translation from a conglomeration of writings from all the Maestro’s caregivers. Click here to read.

A review by Keith Lyons of Jessica Muddit’s Our Home in Myanmar – Four years in Yangon. Click here to read.

A review by Rakhi Dalal of Maithreyi Karnoor’s Sylvia: Distant Avuncular Ends. Click here to read.

A review by Bhaskar Parichha of Arundhathi Subramaniam’s Women Who Wear Only Themselves. Click here to read.