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
Stories

I Am a Coward with Priorities

by Tejaswinee Roychowdhury

The man on the radio said that the war was over. He said that we won. He said it with such elation it seemed we had won the World Cup in a game of cricket. Young boys and men on the bus rejoiced much the same way.

It never made much sense to me, claiming to win a war one never fought, or a game one never played; rejoicing over the win as though it was born out of one’s own blood and sweat. I certainly did not rejoice. I did not fight the war; I ran from it. Well, as far as the government was concerned, I did not desert the army. They would not hunt me down and drag me to court. But I did run, and I knew it; soon, everyone would.

I walked through the paddy fields and past the ponds blanketed in water hyacinths. The driver boy of a cycle van had offered me a ride home. I refused; not because he was a familiar face, but because I decided that I did not deserve it. I was a quitter. Quitters do not deserve free rides. Although at the time I scored the voluntary retirement citing domestic and personal reasons, during the hiatus between the attack and the war, I did not think that I was a quitter. I knew that it was only a matter of time before the war broke out, but I was confident and I had my priorities set. In all my years in the field, I successfully anticipated enemy movements, but I failed to anticipate the guilt and the regret that would engulf me after the initial euphoric relief would wear off.

My wife opened the door. I could tell by the look on her face that she was not expecting me. The war was over, but I could not have been home so soon. She was confused, but she was happy. My little one had made her way into the seventh grade, and my parents were frailer than I had last seen them. I looked at their smiling faces and realized that the guilt and the regret were merely a late reaction to my friend. I was right where I wanted to be — home.

“You’ll regret this,” my friend had said.

But I did not argue because he was not there, riding shotgun in the patrol jeep when the vehicle sped into the boulder on the side of the road; he was not there when I discovered the blood and brains of the driver spattered across my uniform; and he certainly was not there when I realized that the driver was not supposed to die that afternoon. We had to change our vehicle at the last minute. Our right-hand drive jeep had malfunctioned as soon as we left the base; so, we returned and switched it for a left-hand drive one, something the shooter had no notion of. As I washed my uniform at the base that evening, I longed to hold my daughter in my arms, embrace my wife, and see my parents. I knew that the attack would trigger the war, and I knew that I had to run before it started.

It has been months since I came home. My wife rarely looks me in the eye anymore. She hides away from the neighbours and keeps to herself within the four walls of the house. I can understand why. And I should feel the guilt and the regret I had started to feel when I was walking through the paddy fields, but I do not; not since I attended the funeral of my friend who had warned me that I would regret my choice; not since I saw his inconsolable widow and his helpless little girl pretending to look brave. I did not join the army to become a forgettable martyr; I joined because I needed a job; because I needed to feed my old parents; because I needed to impress the family of the girl I loved and wished to marry. I am not a hero; I am just a man, a coward with priorities. And my wife will simply have to make peace with that.

Tejaswinee Roychowdhury is a lawyer with an LL.M. in Business Law, who finds catharsis through the written word. Her words have appeared in the Kitaab magazine among others.

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