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Re-Markings, a biannual refereed international journal of English Letters, aims at providing a healthy forum for scholarly and authoritative views on broad sociopolitical and cultural issues of human import as evidenced in literature, art, television, cinema and journalism with special emphasis on New Literatures in English including translations and creative excursions.​

Re-Markings

Re-Markings Sep 2019 Cover

Re-Markings
Vol. 18 No. 2 September 2019

Editorial

Way back in 1964, V.S. Naipaul created a huge furore in private and public discourse when he unabashedly pronounced in his An Area of Darkness: “Indians defecate everywhere. They defecate, mostly, beside the railway tracks. But they also defecate on the beaches; they defecate on the hills; they defecate on the river banks; they defecate on the streets; they never look for cover.” Though Nissim Ezekiel quickly countered Naipaul’s stance in his brilliant essay, “Naipaul’s India and Mine,” by underlining the fact that “the hypersensitivity of the writer ought not to trample on the sensitivities of other people,” he did not refute the hard reality that Naipaul exposed. Naipaul’s statement remained a cause for national embarrassment even half-a-century later as is evident from a World Health Organization (WHO) report published in 2014 that stated that more than half a billion people in India still “continue to defecate in gutters, behind bushes or in open water bodies, with no dignity or privacy.” Nothing had changed and it appeared nothing would change. Then descended on the despairing scenario a mortal called Narendra Modi who created a sensation by declaring in his 2014 election campaign, “Toilets first, temples later.” I do not know whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi was aware of Naipaul’s observations with regard to sanitation in India but his election promise, backed by concrete and resolute action under his direct leadership, became a rallying point for creating an unprecedented movement for rural sanitation. The result of his ability to combine vision and mission for the uplift of the ‘common man’ is there for all to see. In this context I would like to recall the lines from a poem entitled “Seeds of Dreams” penned by none other than Modi himself:

You may have dreams, or you may not

But these seeds of dreams

That I sow in my land

I drench with sweat and await

Their sprouting, become a banyan tree.

Modi’s phenomenal triumph in the Lok Sabha elections and his emergence as an icon of world-wide popularity has brought to the forefront his exemplary charismatic personality. Walking with Kings and yet being able to retain his ‘common touch’, Modi commanded such awe and respect that even the internationally known powerful magazine Time that had used the epithet “A Divider in Chief” on its cover in an issue before the Elections were over had to retract its pronouncement and acknowledge, in an article published immediately after the election results were declared, that “no Prime Minister has united the Indian electorate as much in close to five decades.” In one of his poetic utterances Modi has written:

The sea roars and striving

Takes the sky in its arms

This is my inspiration,

My strength, my youthful energy.

– “We Merge as One,” A Journey: Poems by Narendra Modi.

If one looks at these poetic statements of Modi in the light of his aspirations and dreams and what he has been able to achieve as an individual as well as the head of the world’s largest democracy, one can easily understand how what we write from the inner recesses of our heart and soul may shape what we ultimately become.

Thus, while conveying our heartfelt felicitations to our worthy Prime Minister for creating laudatory landmarks with his words and deeds, I am optimistic that, under his dynamic leadership, India will not only become an economic and political super power but also a “heaven of freedom” in a vibrant democracy where  each one of its citizens, dedicated to the motherland, can proclaim, without the fear or anxiety of any Big Brother watching him or her, what Walt Whitman envisaged for true democracy in his Song of Myself:

 

One’s-Self I sing, a simple separate person,

Yet utter the word Democratic, the word En-Masse.

 

Of physiology from top to toe I sing,

Not physiognomy alone nor brain alone is worthy for the

Muse, I say the Form complete is worthier far,

The Female equally with the Male I sing.

 

Of Life immense in passion, pulse, and power,

Cheerful, for freest action form’d under the laws divine,

The Modern Man I sing.

These are times of great upheavals and changes where we are a witness to inherent contradictions between the ideals we cherish and the ground reality that we confront in our day-to-day existence. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had once remarked: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” I can say assert with all humility, how In a span of eighteen eventful years, through over one thousand essays, interviews, articles, poems, short stories, critiques and reviews, Re-Markings has consistently provided a healthy forum to academics, scholars, researchers, writers, critics, intellectuals, literary and social activists to break their silence and articulate forcefully their authoritative views on broad sociopolitical and cultural concerns of human import in India and various parts of the globe.

It gives me immense pleasure to place in your welcoming hands this celebratory issue marking the 40th milestone in our eventful journey together since Re-Markings embarked on its mission in March 2002. This issue is ‘celebratory’ not because it marks a certain number on the graph of time but because it showcases an amazing variety of responses to “things that matter.”  My heart rises in pride and thankfulness to acknowledge with deep feelings of gratitude the measure of affection and esteem displayed by so many friends in associating themselves with Re-Markings in general and with this landmark volume in particular.

Even a cursory glance at the list of contents in this volume shows the range and variety of responses to issues and concerns of abiding universal interest. The conversation with Dr. Purabi Roy reveals the missionary zeal of a fearless crusader engaged in a lifelong quest to unravel the truth about the disappearance of the immortal legend of India’s freedom: Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. In his interface with Re-Markings Cyril Wong, the young iconoclast from Singapore, reaffirms, “I don’t subscribe to an “art for art’s sake” type of philosophy. If a poet is going to kill a tree to print a book, surely the poems printed should count for more than just acrobatic performances.” E. Ethelbert Miller, in coming to terms with the events in his home country, the USA, narrates with agony, “What begins to shut down over a short period of time is our tolerance and love for ‘the outsider’ and stranger.” In his inimitable style, Prof. Jonah Raskin from California shares his reasons for writing Murder Mysteries.  Prof. Shanker A. Dutt’s poignant response to historical calamities like the Partition of the subcontinent in 1947 and the Riots of 1984 painfully reminds us how “the outcome of divisive politics can often be an archival reference for history’s shame.” Prof. Abdul Shaban emphatically brings out how Urdu, the language of Ganga-Jamuni Tehjeeb, became the instrument of politics related to divisive politics. Prof. Asim Siddiqui’s piece on Shahryar’s ghazals and nazms succinctly celebrates “virtues of rationalism and man’s progress in the world.” Dr. Tijan M. Sallah’s masterly tribute to Chinua Achebe, the “Teacher of Light” and the undisputed founder of African Literature, tells us that we desperately “… need patriots like him,/ Whose rich thoughts and acts energize our people.” Dr. Sanjukta Sattar’s views on Women entre-preneurs introduces a new dimension to the discussion on questions of women empowerment. Dr. Aparna Lanjewar’s reflection on Buddhist Dhamma from both marginal and mainstream perspectives offers a unique view into a seminal area of contemporary human concern. It is significant that Prof. Santosh Gupta’s essay on Amitav Ghosh features in this volume at a time coinciding with the award of the 54th Jnanpith to Amitav Ghosh, the relentless activist against environmental degradation. Amitav Ghosh created history when he became the first recipient of the award as a writer writing in English. His statement in this context is a befitting testimony to the value of Bhasha literature: “Even though I write in English, I draw constantly from Bangla and its vast imaginative resources.… Communication between languages and across different habits of mind, always require, humility, patience and a willingness to listen.”

In addition to the above contributions, the offerings by our guests from the USA and the U.K. – Iris Jamahl Dunkle, Lindsay Adkins and Samiullah Khokhar – are truly invigorating. To all these writers, poets and critics, I am hugely grateful for responding so spontaneously and warmly to my invitation for this special collection.

I am no less grateful to our regular member-contributors whose valuable forays into a variety of themes like Mental Health, Russian Revolution, Ismat Chughtai, R.K. Narayan, poems, short story and review essay etc. have qualitatively added to the discourse in question. For the immeasurable graphic and ideational support that helps us present Re-Markings in ever new forms each time, I remain deeply thankful to our Executive Editor, Sandeep Arora. I am also thankful to Prof. A. Karunaker and Mr. Sudarshan Kcherry for their interest in our ventures. Last but not least, I am happy to put on record my everlasting gratitude to Dr. Sunita, my partner in life, for always being there to ensure I am able to give my very best to the journal.

 

Nibir K. Ghosh

Chief Editor

CONTENTS

The Truth about Netaji: A Conversation with Purabi Roy – Nibir K. Ghosh

‘Cosmopolitan Communion of Perspectives’: A Conversation with Cyril Wong – Nibir K. Ghosh

Reflections – E. Ethelbert Miller: Our Lives are Touched by Sports, The Blown Save, Don Larsen for a Day, The Outsider: An E-Note

Why I Write Murder Mysteries – Jonah Raskin

The Wounds of Violence in Train to Pakistan and Amu: Interfacing Text and Film – Shanker A. Dutt

Urdu and Politics: The Neglect and Decline of a Syncretic and Modern Language of India – Abdul Shaban

Shahryar’s Spots of Time: Poetry and Poetics – Mohammad Asim Siddiqui

Imagining a Dialogic Ecological Protest: Amitav Ghosh’s The Great Derangement Santosh Gupta

Making of Women Entrepreneurs: Journey to Economic and Social Empowerments – Sanjukta Sattar

Emancipatory Buddhist Dhamma: Reflections and Challenges – Aparna Lanjewar Bose

Mental Health: A Challenge in Today’s World – Priti Verma

Russian Revolution: A Corollary of Communist Suppression – Divya Gupta

Prafulla Chandra Ray: Constructive Nationalist, Humanist and Scientist – Shashi Sheikh

Ismat Chughtai: A Bold Feminist Voice – Satyendra Prasad Singh

Mentoring of the Soul in R.K. Narayan’s A Tiger for Malgudi  – Bijay Ketan Pattanayak

Ecological Study of Amitav Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide Natabar Jena

 

POETRY

Tijan M. Sallah: Teacher of Light, The Red-billed Hornbills of Coco Ocean

Iris Jamahl Dunkle: Ghost Slut, What We Left Behind was Corporeal

Lindsay Adkins: Melody, I Write You from the Bathtub

Samiullah Khokhar: Godliness, Hypocrite (Translated by Urvashi Sabu)

Amol Raut – Museum of Humanity, To Survive

 

SHORT STORY

 

The Non-Veg Prasad – Manoranjan Behura

REVIEW ESSAY

Shashi Tharoor’s Hindu View – Shweta Awasthi