Category Archives: Tin Trunk : Editorial

LOVE IN THE TIMES OF CCTV

Sumana Roy

That the camera still cannot capture the mind’s hidden secrets is great consolation and relief.

Living in a world being increasingly leached of secrets is painful. There is love, that which is fuelled by a chain reaction of the creation and discovery of secrets. There is surprise, that which derives its energy from the centrifugality of secrets. There are relationships which flower only outside the camera. There are stories that die when trapped on camera. The CCTV has turned people into nations, and our lives into instalments of surveillance. There is always the fear of slippage, of a hand moving to a neighbour’s collar, a word dropped without wooing consequence. And there is the fear of moving away from the linearity of sanctioned love, of waiting at roadsides to let love gather moss like it only can.

We are now scared of being lovers, at least on camera. The camera vetoes all other loves – only the legal, love by law, must be pampered. The other love stories gather in the dark room, where they are scanned and analysed for unconstitutionality.

To be a lover in the age of CCTV is to be a criminal.

Our contributors, Kaushik Barua in his short story, and Rony Nair, Namrata Pathak and Jyotirmoy Talukdar, in their poems, write about that love, their love crimes.

 

 

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TROUBLED LAND

Uddipana Goswami

Image: Divya Adusumilli

Image: Divya Adusumilli

Touted as an island of peace in the otherwise ‘troubled’ Northeast periphery of India, Mizoram has nonetheless had a turbulent past. The traumatic experiences of this not-so-distant past have often been brushed aside or silenced. But no matter how deep this silence, it cannot drown the sounds of airplanes bombing entire villages out of existence. Nor can it hide within its darkness the cries of people uprooted from their hearth and home who were then resettled in contained environments.

With the passage of time people may want to forget why an earlier generation was forced to take up arms in a land where the hills seem capable of instilling only calm. But literature does not allow us this luxury of escape from the traumas of our past. It forces us to face our history so that we may be able to turn towards our future, healed. And this healing process has started, with so many scholars and writers rediscovering, revisiting those troubled years, trying to make sense of the traumatic past.

In our Tin Trunk this issue, the Northeast Review presents a small selection of this literature from this Rambuai, the troubled land. We are grateful to have Margaret Zama’s comprehensive overview. An extract from Malswami Jacob’s novel takes us back into that world. Roluahpuia’s research brings us the narrative of a woman rebel. And our selection of poetry tells us about all the rest: the pathos and the pain, the remembering and the forgetting, the living and the letting go.

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In our regular section, Roderick Chalmer’s memoirs also take us back into the past – a different kind of past though – and one remembered with affection, not pain. Chalmers, who owned a tea estate in Assam before retiring to London, writes about growing up a tea planter. Sanjoy Barbora reviews Dhruba Hazarika’s Sons of Brahma. We have an excerpt from Aditya Sudarshan’s novel The Persecution of Madhav TripathiWe also hope that the poems by Saskia Priftis and Somak Ghoshal are well received by our readers.

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LISTENING

Sumana Roy

Image: Divya Adusumilli

Image: Divya Adusumilli

As a teacher, I am conditioned to move between ‘Can you hear me?’ and ‘Why don’t you listen to me?’ in the classroom. Listening, the subject of our Tin Trunk for this issue, asks various questions of the experience: Meherin RoshanaraDebolina Dey and Jyotirmoy Talukdar speak about various genres of listening, audible and inaudible, in their poems; Anu Kumar writes about listening to Hindustani classical music as a child; Daya Bhat’s short story tells us what it means to be imprisoned in sound; Goirick Brahmachari’s photo-essay is an investigation of listening as it plays out in the creases and curves on human faces, and Madhumita Das’s photo-essay is about the cosmopolitanism of the listening experience.

We’d love to ‘hear’ from you too.

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XARODIYO/AUTUMNAL 2014

Sumana Roy

divyaLatecomers turn excuses to fanciful reasons. We have to join their company for the Sharodiya issue. Three people running a magazine is a joke, we know, but we are happy to laugh along with you even when the joke is on us. I hope you will enjoy the poems, stories, essays and artwork as much as you do the season: Saikat Majumdar writes for us again, giving us an extract from a work-in-progress, V Ramaswamy translates a story by Subimal Misra, Samrat Choudhury writes about the pujas in Shillong, Ashfaq Saraf writes about autumn in Kashmir, Rumpa Das tells us a new Durga story, Rini Barman writes about plants in the festive season, Vinita Agarwal looks at autumn’s interiority, Shruti Sareen at its smells, Subhadeep Paul at the goddess’s womanhood, and Arjun Chaudhuri writes about the many women that constitute Durga.

I hope you enjoy the reading festival.

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TAWANG AND INNER LINE PERMITS

Sumana Roy

tawang

© Divya Adusumilli

Autocorrect tells me that I should change ‘Tawang’ to ‘Twang’. That, I think, is a good indicator of the awareness of the place in the popular imagination. I use the word ‘popular’ with caution, given Tawang’s recent appropriation as a place worth only a tourist’s interest. Continuing with the Tin Trunk’s journey to geographical landmarks in the north east this year, we stop at Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh.

I went to Tawang as a tourist and returned as a roadie. For that is one of the things that the journey to Tawang brings to the long distance traveller: an acute awareness of one’s feet and an inexhaustible belief in one’s eyes. The eyes do not want to close even at the end of a long day – what if something leaks out, something falls away from the line of vision?

Keki Daruwalla, one of India’s most important writers, has written about his travels and relationship with the Himalayas in poems, travelogues and short fiction. For the North East Review, he gives us a poem on Tawang.

The sense of the road being more than a path, that I mentioned about Tawang, permeates Amandeep Sandhu’s rich travelogue – Sandhu’s essay was written several years ago, and the draft travelled through his many computers. So many journeys from Tawang.

Kishalay Bhattacharjee, who grew up in Shillong, shares a photo essay on Tawang, one that captures the serious light-heartedness of the place.

Arjun Chaudhuri’s short story, in keeping with the roads-to-Tawang spirit of our Tin Trunk, moves between Tawang and the Barak Valley, between time present and time past.

We hope you enjoy these Inner Line Permits.

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MEMORIES OF KANCHENJUNGA

Sumana Roy

Kanchenjunga - cover

Painting : Mayank Chhaya

My memory of the Kanchenjunga is as old as my first memories of my mother. And that, of course, is saying something. Growing up in Siliguri, the Kanchenjunga was punctuation in the way I literally saw the world, both necessary and extravagant, a bit like mother’s love. It was a sibling I had to leave home when I took holidays, and when I returned to it, the reciprocity always came as a surprise – its sudden appearance in a train window, its glorious abhimaan from a plane window, and often, on Saturday afternoons, after waking up from an affectionate siesta, a call for a holiday with it. When my brother and I first learned to ride bicycles, it was to the Kanchenjunga that we wanted to go. Our parents did not stop us. I think of it now as the first lesson that the mountain peak taught us.

In this Tin Trunk on the Kanchenjunga, we have Mayank Chhaya’s cover photo, his Kanchenjunga. Sampurna Chattarji, who went to school in Darjeeling, grew up with the Kanchenjunga. Samraghni Bonnerjee grew up in Siliguri too, and having lived away from it during her university years in a tropical city, she returned to the mountains recently. Ruma Chakravarti writes about Satyajit Ray’s film, Kanchenjunga, and what the mountains do in that film. The Kanchenjunga has inspired Pooja Garg Singh and Jyothsna Phanija to write poems, Parinda Joshi and Anuraag Baruah to write stories, and the good doctor Subrata Ray to look for the mountain’s soul in a photo-essay, as he calls it, during his stint as a medical officer in Darjeeling.

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Mayank ChayaMayank Chhaya has been a journalist for the past 33 years with extensive reporting out of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the United States. He has written two books so far, both biographies. The first was in 1992 about Sam Pitroda, who revolutionized India’s information technology and communications sector. The second book was the only authorized biography of its kind of the Dalai Lama titled ‘Man Monk Mystic’, which has been published in 24 languages worldwide since 2007 to critical acclaim. He is currently working on three more books, two movie scripts and one television series. He is also a regular poet in Hindi and Urdu and occasional one in English. He lives in Chicago.

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RED RIVER

Sumana Roy

Bifurcation Photo : Nitoo Das

Bifurcation
Photo : Nitoo Das

Until I chanced upon the Brahmaputra, I did not believe in love at first sight. Water is a secret weakness – perhaps more so because I do not know how to swim. On the Brahmaputra at night, I discovered the imagined narrative of surrender. Waking up to it the next morning, I wanted to be a prophet – I wanted to walk on water. Not having lived with it for a significant period of time, my love for the man river has still not been domesticised. I wanted to begin the year’s Tin Trunk by swimming upstream.

And so an excerpt from Indira Goswami novel, The Bronze Sword of Thengphakhri Tehsildar, in Aruni Kashyap’s translation.

Janice Pariat’s Brahmaputra is a well-kept secret, one that she shares with us in her essay Folk Song and a River.

Tanmoy Sharma takes us to the man who gave the old man river a home in his voice – Bhupen Hazarika. Whether you hear him sing alone or with the river, Sharma’s remarkable essay traces the cultural life of the Brahmaputra.

KVK Murthy aligns his life with the river, a four decade old relationship, in his poem, Dibrugarh 1974 – Bangalore 2014.

Nitoo Das captures the Brahmaputra like water inside her throat, capable of journeys in two directions. Here is her photo-essay, Conversation with Crows.

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XARODIYO/AUTUMNAL

Durga sketch

Non fiction A 3-D Shirt for the Buffalo Pankaz K. Sharma
Section 140 Pujo and Food Parama Ghosh
Photo Essay Making of the Goddess Marine Mukherjee

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BOOK-CRICKET

Sumana Roy

Sketch 2013-08-07 18_11_16

Not being fond of the Twenty-20 format of the game, I often find myself turning to a ‘comfort book’ during the IPL season. Here is a short extract from the section titled “Kids”:

They had just finished making the hay in a Cheshire field, and some seven or eight village boys were endeavouring to bowl a sturdy little seven-year-old batsman. Thanks to the thick stubble, the ball was playing antics enough to make Dick Tydesley wriggle with envy, when a little nipper in the slips – pessimistic of ever getting an innings – shouted ‘Hey! that’s fourteen! Declare!’ He was joined in a general chorus which for volume and gesture left Duckworth a non-starter.

The seven-year-old leaned on his bat and raised his hand as a signal for silence. ‘I’ll declare when I’m bowled,’ he announced.

The ultimatum had not the effect of restarting the game; but it subdued the barrackers, who remained stationary. The wicket-keeper broke the silence.

‘They’re my stumps,’ he said, ‘so declare, or I’ll take ‘em ‘ome!’

It is from The Guardian Book of Cricket edited by Matthew Engel and the entry is dated July 14 1930. The pages of my copy of the book are yellow and brittle, it having been a precious gift from my father’s friend who had got it for us from England. Apart from reading the entries by Guardian cricket writers many times over, I have used it to play ‘Book-Cricket’ many times. It somehow felt more authentic, giving my ‘paper team’ boundaries and over-boundaries from an ‘English Cricket Book’ or getting my brother-Opposition out: the last digit of the page opened to giving us the incremental score. Until we opened the book to page 20 or 30 or any other number ending with zero and were declared out.

Our Tin Trunk for the Sharodiya issue is a late cut on book-cricket and cricket-book. KVK writes a review essay on Vaibhav Vats’s Triumph in Bombay: Travels during the Cricket World Cup. An extract from Gulu Ezekiel’s Captain Cool: The MS Dhoni Story is here. Soni Somarajan documents the provincial cricket life in his photo-essay, Imaging an Image, and Amlan Chakraborty gives us a tweet-essay on the IPL in our Section 140.

Keep batting like the seven year old boy above.

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Readers Anonymous

Sumana Roy

© Divya Adusumilli 2013

© Divya Adusumilli 2013

In the recent protests at the Taksim Square in Istanbul, Turkey, protesters created an uncommon gesture of resistance: they stood with books in their hands, reading. In photographs, I saw a woman reading The Myth of Sisyphus, a man The Crisis of the Modern World, other men and women reading from Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four and When Nietzsche Wept. The subject of this Tin Trunk is Reading, Books, The Reader, The Writer, all uppercase beasts in our July-August issue.

Sudeep Sen looks at books, the hands that hold them, the fingers that turn their pages, the fine materiality of the page turning process, and the comparative ages of books and readers in his photo essay, Paper Trails.

Manjiri Indurkar writes about the vicarious lives of a reader in her essay, Universal Book Depot, the name of a bookstore in her small town, but also an appropriate metaphor for the reader.

Debojit Dutta writes about two different kinds of writers and the subsets of their universe, asking, ‘Must the Reclusive Writer Die?’

Reading is one of our oldest connections with our childhoods, for we continue to use the same technology of recognition all our lives. And therein the fascination with the ‘Child Reader’.

Smriti Lamech’s photo-essay is about her eight year old son’s reading habits. In Aviv Lamech Kalambi’s life, there is only one ruling sign: the Sign of the Book.

Diptakirti Chaudhuri’s photo-essay is a record of his children’s reading habits, their poses and postures, and also how reading material and reading devices have changed for children over the last decade.

Natasha Badhwar’s one minute film records the complex relationship between race, culture, typography and reading, this in the life of a 3 year old girl, Sahar.

Ishita Basu Mallik’s graphic fiction, Gilgamesh, offers an interesting peek in the life of a woman reader, giving us a deliberately ironic aphorism in its first frame – ‘The Best Way for a Girl to Live’.

Dechen Tenzing gives us another take on the relation between reading and gender, this from the perspective of the consumer of YA literature.

In this issue, we introduce Section 140, a new category: the tweet-essay, a series of tweets around a specific theme. Anees Salim, whose experiences as a writer dealing with rejection slips and the happy turnaround that came through after his invention of the character of Hasina Mansoor is now common knowledge, writes about the #Writer. Tammy Ho Lai Ming’s poetical tweet-essay is about the #Poet.

The act of reading, our addictive dependence on it, our willing victimhood to print capitalism, the complicated relationship between reading alone and the shared experience with a commune of readers, its creation of a culture of privilege and exclusion – in this, we are in therapy together, we Readers Anonymous.

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