Seasonal Outpourings

Auf Wiedersehen Autumn

Autumn by Sohana Manzoor

As autumn gives way to winter, here are explorations that give us a glimpse of the season, its colours, its feel across different parts of the world and their varied interpretations. We have the vibrancy captured in colours by Sohana Manzoor and Sybil Pretious. There are reactions to events that happened at this time in different parts of the globe from Ratnottama Sengupta and Sutputra Radheye — have we healed after these events? Have things got better?

As Europe starts a new wave of pandemic lockdowns, Mike Smith takes us for a trip to Trieste, rich with the heritage of James Joyce, Umberto Saba and Baron Von Trapp of Sound of Music. Prose from Tagore(1861-1941) translated by Somdatta Mandal showcases some of his reactions while traveling in Japan, America and Europe in the autumn of his life. We can vicariously travel to different parts of the planet! While verses by Michael Burch and George Freek explore the season and the autumn of life, poetry by Rhys Hughes and Sekhar Banerjee add zest to the fall with humour. Revathi Ganeshsundram brings us a poignant narrative of new friendships. A short story from maestro storyteller from Holland, Louis Couperus(1863-1923), translated by Chaitali Sengupta, paints a darker hue of autumn while Tagore’s poetry gives us a festive feel generated by the season in Bengal. Enjoy our melange of autumnal lores!


Autumn & Me: Poetry by Michael Burch. Click here to read.

Algae Masks: Poetry by Sekhar Banerjee. Click here to read.

Autumnal Dirge: Poetry by Sutputra Radheye. Click here to read.

The Night Music: Poetry by George Freek. Click here to read.

A story poem by Rhys Hughes about The Clock Tower of Sir Ticktock Bongg, who spends his autumn of life in the most peculiar way. Click here to read.

Translation of Amaar Nayano Bhulano Ele or The Advent Song by Tagore describes autumn in Bengal. Click here to read. 


Yesterday Once More?: Ratnottama Sengupta revisits an autumn in Egypt. Click here to read.

Me & James Joyce in Trieste: Mike Smith travels in autumn to Trieste, an autumn in a pre-pandemic world. Click here to read.

Of Days & Seasons: A parable by Louis Couperus, translated from Dutch by Chaitali Sengupta. Click here to read

The Cockatoo: A short story about new friendships in the autumn of life by Revathi Ganeshsundaram. Click here to read.

 Letters from Japan, Europe & America: An excerpt from letters written by Tagore in the autumn of his life, translated from Bengali by Somdatta Mandal. Click hereto read.

Painting by Sybil Pretious

Borderless, September 2021


The Caged Birds Sing…Click here to read.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


The Caged Birds Sing

...Don't you know
They're talkin''bout a revolution
It sounds like a whisper...
-- Tracy Chapman,'Talkin 'Bout a Revolution
Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 
— Bible 

We are living in strange times that seem to be filled with events to challenge the innovativeness of man. As if the pandemic were not enough, concepts that had come out of the best in our civilisation to unite mankind have been convoluted by a minority to manipulate and hurt the majority into submission. Life is not about surviving with faint-hearted compliance but about having the courage to live it as you want, facing it full up front, to voice out in unison against injustices, wrongs, and most of all to loan strength to help and care for each other. Often to understand this, we need to hinge on to our past, to learn from our heritage. But do we do that? In the hectic drive to be successful, we tend to ignore important lessons that could have been imbibed from the past. Like, did you know that the tribes in the Andaman can save themselves from a tsunami?

Padma Shri Anvita Abbi tells us all about the Andamanese and her attempts to revive their moribund language in her interview and book, Voices from the Lost Horizon, reviewed by Rakhi Dalal. While the review focusses on the uniqueness of Abbi’s work and the publication with its embedded recordings of the tribe fast dissolving into the morass of mainstream civilisation, her interview highlights the need to revive their lores that evolved out of a 70,000-year-old culture. On the other hand, Jessica Mudditt, interviewed by Keith Lyons, dwells on the ongoing crisis in Myanmar, which has been clearly the focus of her book, Our Home in Yangon. This interview focusses on the here and now of the crisis. But most crises have their roots deep and perhaps an exploration of these could help. There are 135 ethnicities in Myanmar but how many are actually integrated into the mainstream? Are they in the process of getting ‘lost’ like the voices of the speakers of Greater Andamanese?

That is why we tried to showcase a few such strains that are going unheard in the loudness of the ‘civilised’ mainstream. We have translations in poetry from Santhali and Adivasi, touching on the concerns of those who are often considered underdeveloped. And, perhaps, as Abbi said in her interview about the Andamanese, we can say much the same for these tribes too.

“These tribes are neither poor, nor uneducated (their knowledge of environment comprising birds, fishes, medicinal plants and their … weather predictions, and the Earth they walk on is amazing) …”

Distinctions have been created by a ‘civilisation’ entrenched in mono-cognitive enforcements leading to the loss of trust, confidence, languages, cultures and valuable knowledge about basic survival. Perhaps we can attempt to heal such wounds by imbibing the openness, love, devotion and compassion shown by the Buddhist monk, Upagupta (who is still revered in Myanmar as Shin Upagutta), in the translation of Tagore’s story poem, ‘Abhisar’ or ‘The Tryst’.  Somdatta Mandal’s translation of Tagore’s letters introduce similar humanitarian concerns when the maestro mentions a German anthropologist and his wife who for the betterment of mankind were journeying to study tribals in India. Tagore remarks, “The people for whom they are willingly prepared to undergo hardship and to overlook all sorts of danger are not their relatives, nor are they civilised.” And yet even a century ago to fathom more about mankind, attempts were being made to integrate with our ancient lore. The concept of being ‘civilised’ is of course now much under the microscope. What is being ‘civilised’?

 Is it about having power? We have Akbar Barakzai’s poem translated by Fazal Baloch on creation looking at the divide between a ‘civilised’ God and man. The theme stresses the two sides of the divide. More translations from Odiya, Dutch and Korean further mingle different flavours of the world into our journal — each questioning the accepted norm in different ways.

In an edition focussed on myths and stories from which we evolved, Rhys Hughes has created an unusual legend around elephants. His poetry also deals with animals — cats. One wonders if the T S Eliot’s famed ‘Macavity, the Mystery Cat’ could have to do something with his choices?  We were fortunate to have Arundhathi Subramaniam share her poetry on myths around Indian figures like Shakuntala and Avvaiyar and the titular poem from When God is a Traveller that won her the 2020 Sahitya Akademi Award. Michael R Burch continues on the theme dwelling on Circe, Mary Magdalene and Helen. Sekhar Banerjee has a more iconoclastic approach to myths in his poetry. Jared Carter talks of modern myths perpetuated through art and cultural studies as does Mike Smith in his musings with his glance back at the last century through a photograph.

We have poetry by a Filipino writer Gigi Baldovino Gosnell from South Africa, looking for a new world, a new legend, perhaps a world without borders. Tohm Bakelas has given us a few lines of powerful poetry. Could these poems be a reaction to world events? Smitha Vishwanath has responded to the situation in Afghanistan with a poem. In this edition, photographs and verses in Penny Wilkes’ ‘Nature’s Musings‘ draw from the universe. She writes, “The sun never asks for applause” — a powerful thought and perhaps one mankind can learn from.

Ghost stories by Niles Reddick and Sunil Sharma perpetuate the theme, especially the latter has a ghost that questions myths of ‘isms’ created in the modern-day world. We also have a writer from Malaysia, P Ravi Shankar, with a futuristic legend set in a far-off time where man has embraced the reality of climate change and artificial intelligence. An interesting and fun read as is Devraj Singh Kalsi’s professions about why he did not become a professor, Geetha Ravichandran’s light musing on word play and a young writer Saurabh Nagpal’s musing, ‘Leo Messi’s Magic Realism‘ — a footballer viewed from a literary perspective!

While our musings make us laugh, our essays this time take us around the world with the myth of happiness deconstructed by Candice Louisa Daquin, to Burma and deep into Kolkata’s iconic history of the detective department started in the nineteenth century. There is an essay by Bhaskar Parichha that explores politics and media and mentions ‘gatekeepers’ of the media who need to be responsible for influencing public opinion. Guess who would be the gatekeepers?

Bhaskar Parichha’s review of Wendy Donniger’s non-fiction exploring myths around horses, Winged Stallion and Wicked Mares, and Basudhara Roy’s review of Bina Sarkar Ellias’ Song of a Rebel and Other Selected Poems perpetuate the theme of the importance of the past on the one hand and question it on the other. But that is what Borderless is about — exploring the dialectics of opposing streams to re-invent myths towards a better future.

We have a bumper issue again this time with nearly fifty posts. I invite our wonderful readers on a magical journey to unfold the hidden, unmentioned gems scattered on the pages of the September Issue of Borderless. Thank you again to an outstanding team, all our global contributors who make every edition an adventure and a reality and our wonderful readers. Thank you all.

Have a beautiful month!

Mitali Chakravarty

Borderless Journal


The Kingdom of Salt

By Sekhar Banerjee

The Kingdom of Salt

My aunt, not a poet and now dead, used to say 
an ocean is a dark kingdom of tear,
fish eggs and the lost ships
Geography teachers always place a town 
near a bay and fasten the bay with a quay 
Like a tissue 
and a tear drop hanging from the eye 

A river can never really hook a bay and pull it inlands 
as suggested by some Indian map-makers,
 traditional, when in love; 
a bay is too moody and expansive
Like a huge enemy ship lost from a dark fleet 
It is a descendant of the ocean and some clownfish

If you want to prevent the ocean at the bay, you build 
an abrupt settlement of raw fish, 
sweat water, mechanics and the fishermen 
at the river’s hem;
install iron links, a hollow sky, piers and the jetties;
start a family, rear kids, beat the wife 
and drink local liquor, always sweet and sour, like a village pastor  
and sleep at the start of a dark night 
It sometimes happens with all anglers, some lovers,
a few retired geography teachers and the dealers
of tear, hook and fish

My mother, a poet and now dead, used to say 
a river and a bay can never be separated
like love and a fall from grace
Like the clown fish and the shipwreck. Like tap water 
and a blue bucket beneath. Like a flow 
and the loss of it 

Sekhar Banerjee is an author.  He has four poetry collections and a monograph on an Indo-Nepal border tribe to his credit. His works have been published in Indian Literature, The Bitter Oleander, Ink Sweat and Tears, Verse-Virtual,  Setu, Kitaab, Borderless Journal, Better Than Starbucks,  The Tiger Moth Review, and elsewhere. He lives in Kolkata, India.



Borderless, April, 2021

Greetings from Borderless Journal for all Asian New Years! Click here to read our message along with the video and a translation of a Tagore song written to greet the new year, with lyrics that not only inspire but ask the fledgling to heal mankind from deadly diseases.


New Beginnings

A walk through our content and our plans for the future. Click here to read.


In Conversation with Arundhathi Subramaniam: An online interview with this year’s Sahitya Akademi winner, Arundhathi Subramaniam. Click here to read.

Sumana Roy & Trees: An online interview with Sumana Roy, a writer and academic. Click here to read.


(Click on the names to read)

Arundhathi Subramaniam, Jared Carter, Matthew James Friday, Michael R Burch, Aparna Ajith, Jenny Middleton, Rhys Hughes, Jay Nicholls, Achingliu Kamei, Vatsala Radhakeesoon, Ihlwha Choi, Smitha Vishwanath, Sekhar Banerjee, Sumana Roy

Photo-poetry by Penny Wilkes

Poets, Poetry & Rhys Hughes

With an introduction to Blood and Water by Rebecca Lowe, Rhys Hughes debuts with his column on poets and poetry. Click here to read.


The Word by Akbar Barakzai

Fazal Baloch translates the eminent Balochi poet, Akbar Barakzai. Click here to read.

Malayalam poetry in Translation

Aditya Shankar translates a poem by Shylan from Malayalam to English. Click here to read.

Tagore Songs in Translation

To commemorate Tagore’s birth anniversary, we translated five of his songs from Bengali to English. Click here to read, listen and savour.

Tagore Translations: One Small Ancient Tale

Rabindranath Tagore’s Ekti Khudro Puraton Golpo (One Small Ancient Tale) from his collection Golpo Guchcho ( literally, a bunch of stories) has been translated by Nishat Atiya. Click here to read.

Musings/Slice of Life

Pohela Boisakh: A Cultural Fiesta

Sohana Manzoor shares the Bengali New Year celebrations in Bangladesh with colourful photographs and interesting history and traditions that mingle beyond the borders. Click here to read.

Gliding along the Silk Route

Ratnottama Sengupta, a well-known senior journalist and film critic lives through her past to make an interesting discovery at the end of recapping about the silk route. Click here to read and find out more.

The Source

Mike Smith drifts into nostalgia about mid-twentieth century while exploring a box of old postcards. What are the stories they tell? Click here to read.

Lost in the Forest

John Drew, a retired professor, cogitates over a tapestry of the Ras lila. Click here to read.

Tied to Technology

Naomi Nair reflects on life infiltrated by technology, by Siri and Alexa with a tinge of humour. Click here to read.

Adventures of a Backpacking Granny

In Inspiriting SiberiaSybil Pretious takes us with her to Lake Baikal and further. Click here to read.

Musings of a Copywriter

In Tributes & AttributesDevraj Singh Kalsi pays tribute to his late mother. Click here to read.


Reflecting the Madness and Chaos Within

Over 150 Authors and Artists from five continents have written on mental illness in an anthology called Through the Looking Glass. Candice Louisa Daquin, a psychotherapist and writer and editor, tells us why this is important for healing. Click here to read.

At Home in the World: Tagore, Gandhi and the Quest for Alternative Masculinities

Meenakshi Malhotra explores the role of masculinity in Nationalism prescribed by Tagore, his niece Sarala Debi, Gandhi and Colonials. Click here to read.

A Tale of Devotion and Sacrifice as Opposed to Jealousy and Tyranny

Sohana Manzoor explores the social relevance of a dance drama by Tagore, Natir puja. We carry this to commemorate Tagore’s birth anniversary. Click here to read

Photo Essay: In the Midst of Colours

Nishi Pulugurtha explores the campus of a famed university with her camera and words and shares with us her experiences. Click here to read.

Bhaskar’s Corner

Oh, That lovely Title: Politics

A short piece by Bhaskar Parichha that makes for a witty comment on the forthcoming Indian elections. Click here to read.



Rakhi Pande gives us a story about a woman and her inner journey embroiled in the vines of money plant. Click here to read.


A sensitive short story by Sohana Manzoor that makes one wonder if neglect and lack of love can be termed as an abuse? Click here to read

Ghumi Stories: Grandfather & the Rickshaw

Nabanita Sengupta takes us on an adventure on the rickshaw with Raya’s grandfather. Click here to read

Flash Fiction: The Husband on the Roof

Carl Scharwath gives us a story with a strange twist. Click here to read

Flash Fiction: Flight of the Falcon

Livneet Shergill gives us a story in empathy with man and nature. Click here to read

The Literary Fictionist

A playlet by Sunil Sharma set in Badaun, The Dryad and I: A Confession and a Forecast, is a short fiction about trees and humans. Click here to read.

Book reviews

Bhaskar Parichha reviews Reconciling Differences by Rudolf C Heredia, a book that explores hate and violence. Click here to read.

Nivedita Sen reviews Nomad’s Land by Paro Anand, a fiction set among migrant children of a culture borne of displaced Rohingyas, Syrian refugees, Tibetans and more. Click here to read

Candice Louisa Daquin reviews The First Cell and the Human Costs of Pursuing Cancer to the last by Azra Raza. Click here to read.

Book Excerpt

Excerpted from Raising a Humanist: Conscious Parenting in an Increasingly Fragmented World by Manisha Pathak-Shelat and Kiran Vinod Bhatia, the focus is on media and its impact. Click here to read.

Sara’s Selection, April 2021

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


Poems from the East

By Sekhar Banerjee

Lataguri East Cabin, south of Nepal

Did I ever tell her– Moon always looks good 
where rail tracks intersect and depart near the woods?

She never found a moon over the rail tracks south of Nepal;
for that you need to have a railway cabin near the woods –
a crossing, and rail tracks that are resolute 
yet unmindful
Because all rail tracks are cartographers 
on vacation, like us 
Rail tracks have established their claim, as if, to be set up
near the woods and settlements
They know the shortest route 
to stations, home, the woods
and the location of an honest full moon

I should have also told her 
how it feels to be a forlorn railway track near home 
where only two trains pass to measure each other every autumn 
when the leaves of shimul trees float mid-air,
and descend slowly on railroads to feel the warmth 
of ballast and metal 

It is simple and cryptic, when tracks meet and change path
like baffled lovers; they depart –
changing towns, stations and homes but locked 
permanently in intersections 
near a full moon somewhere over Lataguri East Cabin, 
south of Nepal 

The Middle Path

You look at your own room – 
it is your last hypothesis on earth
The middle path
Your inertia of taking a side, left or right,
is the wisdom of a carpenter
who knows how the saw goes straight
like a judgment 
and it saves half of the continents, 
skin of an orange,
dolls from China, notebook from Bhutan, 
while giving you options 
to take a U-turn, to give up or to start
and proceed straight like a termite 
in a labyrinth inside a piece of driftwood
where there is no side like a Murakami book
on your table which, in the third chapter, deals with
cherry blossoms and music  

Your room is now almost Buddhist 

Sekhar Banerjee is an author.  He has four poetry collections and a monograph on an Indo-Nepal border tribe to his credit. His works have been published in Indian Literature, The Bitter Oleander, Ink Sweat and Tears, Kitaab, Borderless Journal and elsewhere. He lives in Kolkata, India.



Humour Poetry

Algae Masks

By Sekhar Banerjee

It is always easy to use Google maps

when you love to guess

a place but do not wish to reach,

as if, it is an old mulberry bench

in a bottomless sleep


However, you will not possibly find

this place

where I am sitting now in the middle

of autumn’s heavy late-afternoon traffic – an urgent

meeting of brown dry leaves

and some broken yellow sunlight


Here I am going to leave

all old latitudes and longitudes

neatly creased

and folded like a new tourist map

near the empty tea cup; in them, you may find

shadows of fish, bougainvillea seeds,

bees in November, dry deciduous leaves

and ample ember 


But coordinates are much like our obsessions– hard to go;

they will follow

you through the busy streets in the evening

behind every pedestrian with algae masks

like numerous notifications

for one lost search


Sekhar Banerjee is an author.  He has four collections of poems and a monograph on an Indo-Nepal border tribe to his credit. He is a former Secretary of Paschimbanga Bangla Akademi and Member-Secretary of Paschimbanga Kabita Akademi under the Government of West Bengal.  He lives in Kolkata, India. 





By Sekhar Banerjee

Watermelons have intense violence stored inside

them — the blood and serum of summer

and they are always calm. I appreciate the plant’s climbing habit

from the womb of the seed

to the intricate womb of heat — vertical and horizontal;

it has a miasma of secrecy to hide

what it is developing inside its

spherical mind


And the rind of the fruit is striped,

dark green or blotched

to guard whatever finally transpires —  red

or pink

with numerous sorrowful pips throughout

like a smile without a meaning


and I think of the sandy soil of a roadside farm or a forlorn

river-bed somewhere which was harsh

on it — like a trigger

to finally teach us  

how something develops — from seed to plant

to fruit and from fruit to seed to plant again

in reverse order — the order that we generally follow

in love


Sekhar Banerjee is an author.  He has four collections of poems and a monograph on an Indo-Nepal border tribe to his credit. He is a former Secretary of Paschimbanga Bangla Akademi and Member-Secretary of Paschimbanga Kabita Akademi under the Government of West Bengal.  He lives in Kolkata, India. 




Republic of Rananim

Sekhar Banerjee explores the relevance of D H Lawrence’s utopia … a tribute to the great writer who was born on 11th September 1885

D H Lawrence

“I want to go south, where there is no autumn, where the cold doesn’t crouch over one like a snow-leopard waiting to pounce. The heart of the North is dead, and the fingers of cold are corpse fingers. There is no more hope northwards, and the salt of its inspiration is the tingling of the viaticum on the tongue.” – writes D.H. Lawrence, or rather, D.H.L, in a letter to J.M. Murry in October, 1924 from a ranch in New Mexico. His death was then only six years away.

Lawrence always wanted to go somewhere. As we often do.  But, classically, DHL’s escape was never a tour. It was a flight; a refuge; an escape to an alternative space. We do not do it always.  However, we, at least some of us, do it sometimes.  We go from North to south and, again, from South to North with a secret intention of a flight even to the East and the West.  His letters reveal that it was neither a romantic wish nor a search for a place to live happily ever after. It was a desire, a fate, an ending ordained. This mortal wish was neither aggravated by a logical conclusion to live happy and healthy for another seventy years and write more on ways of the world, intimacy and relationships in a secluded place, nor by a wish to be immortal. He, actually, sought a comfortable place to live and die, unmasked. All he wanted was to unbound, to unfurl himself like a flag of his being — a flag of DHL. It would have been his republic.

However, deciding on a direction depends solely on where you are, and how geography and, to some extent, your perspective affect you. A north can be a north just beside your house, a south can be a south beyond your town or the continent, and a west is something which is just opposite of the east and vice versa.  But directions, rather than your perception of a place in a desired direction, dictate how you interpret directions and places.  Lawrence, for that matter, went almost to the end of directions — Australia to the south and Mexico to the west. And he had tried to measure such kilometres and latitudes that encompass Sri Lanka, India, and Vietnam in Asia besides some major cities nestled in sunshine in Europe and, obviously, in America.  Why had it become so imperative to traverse so many miles for him, mostly in sea from 1913 till his death in Venice in 1930 like an unhappy fish?

Aldous Huxley writes: “I remember very clearly my first meeting with him. The place was London, the time 1915. But Lawrence’s talk was of the geographically remote and of the personally very near. Of the horrors in the middle distance – war, winter, the town- he would not speak. For  he was on the point, so he imagined, of setting off to Florida- to Florida, where he was going to plant that colony of escape, of which up to last he never ceded to dream. Sometimes the name and the site of this seed of a happier and different world were purely fanciful. It was called Rananim, for example, and was an island like Prospero’s. Sometimes it had its place on the map and it was Florida, Cornwall, Sicily, Mexico and again, for a time, the English countryside. That wintry afternoon in 1915 it was Florida.”

The search for such Rananims gets more pressing when faced with constrictions — of war, of societal regulations, of totalitarian regimes, of rigid beliefs, of weather and of health — mental or physical, or, for that matter, a pandemic of world war proportions.  Don’t we all now harbour a wish to escape to a sanctuary of safety of eternal sunshine and quietude? 

The desire and resonance for a Rananim is as old as the birth of fire and use of iron. For Lawrence, it started as early as when he was seventeen or eighteen. All he wanted at that age was to take one of the big houses in Nottingham where he and all the people he liked could live together. This idea of a Rananim, a safe sanctuary of emotions and wellbeing, surfaced in DHL’s mind throughout his life. Beginning as a child’s wish to an indistinct political philosophy to a romantic idea of a promised, virgin haven  to, ultimately,  a dystopia of his own psyche, the Rananim he harboured inside the recess of his colourful mind changed its place , shape and essence with the changing realities of the world and the standing of his mind. But he held on to it like a piece of wood which he would use to make his own chair and would sit comfortably under the shade of a tree in a place only to be soothed — free and happy. In a letter to S.S.Koteliansky (January 3, 1915), Lawrence writes:

“We are going to found an Order of the Knights of Rananim. […] I want to gather together about twenty souls and sail away from this world of war and squalor and found a little colony where there shall be no money but a sort of communism as far as necessaries of life go. […] We keep brooding the idea – I and some friends.”

This was a pure, almost naive, wish to escape to someplace else.

Do we have our Rananims ? Don’t we all have a faint trace of an idea of living a ‘full’ life in another place, another time, as if, it is a memory of the past life? Don’t we actually have a sense of a perfect place etched in our skulls like a sense of proportion or a sense of aesthetics? How many times did we say while visiting a place that we would have loved to settle here or how many times did we look for pieces of land for a perfect dwelling – mostly in the countryside? What, then, compels us to think in a certain way for a paradise which might be lost forever?  Is it the endlessness of wars, violence or a pandemic? Is it a Sylvania (Latin: forest land ) printed in our genes since pre-historic times?  Or, rather, is it a monolith of a society which, slowly but surely, bypasses the individual and his or her otherness?  The more ‘other’ you are , the more you are excluded , and that, in turn, like the stereotypical third law of Newton, forces one more to dream up a parallel world, a civilisation of his or her own like an exclusive club with limited members. It’s either a Prospero’s Island or a Rananim of D.H.L.

We all have our republics within ourselves. And there are definite yet illegible directions inside our lingering thoughts to reach those Utopias. In another place, in another landscape, in another country, in another time, or in another society. We also, intrinsically, know that these Utopias are also destined to fail. They are always conceived to fail. Still we wish to find one.

Sekhar Banerjee is a bilingual writer.  He has four collections of poems and a monograph on an Indo-Nepal border tribe to his credit. He is former Secretary of Paschimbanga Bangla Akademi under the Government of West Bengal.  He lives in Kolkata, India. 




Two Poems

By Sekhar Banerjee


The renovated church near the promenade

has a large bell

in wrong metals – it sounds like a sea-coast cannon

and the new washrooms stand side by side


like soldiers, anxious

before returning to the garrison

You spin oddness and similarity like a nervous Tibetan

weaver making religious motifs

on a scarlet silk scarf

or a sleepy tailor stitching consecutive wrong

buttonholes in a formal shirt

We take a side and arrange similarity throughout the series, as if,

every uneven number is our special child


There is an ice-cream seller with a pair

of maroon shades in the rain

You can’t decipher his eye movement


like dissimilar chairs in a perfect table

You come to understand

juxtaposition is rather a choice than a coincidence


The Essayist

Nowadays every organ in my body

is an individual. I walk like the French Revolution

and I see the working of my limbs

 like an eighteenth-century staggering power loom

I roam and I count

one by one: this is my hand, this is my head,

this is my perception of my face

And, I know, those are my legs which will not let me fly

and that is my only solace for losing all wars nearby

like an essayist balancing his words

in the second draft 

And I look at my severed legs only in the dark

when the last pomelo flowers of spring

start blooming on them,

as though, they are my French floral brocade shoes

and I float

with my bereaved knees

 like a renaissance painting – white and blue


Sekhar Banerjee is a bilingual writer. He has four collections of poems and a monograph on an Indo-Nepal border tribe to his credit. He lives in Kolkata, India.