Atreya Sarma U

Editorial





Those who have handled sciences have been either men of experiment or men of dogmas. The men of experiment are like the ant, they only collect and use; the reasoners resemble spiders, who make cobwebs out of their own substance. But the bee takes a middle course: it gathers its material from the flowers of the garden and of the field, but transforms and digests it by a power of its own.

– Francis Bacon.

Dear Readers, Writers, Well-wishers,

We have to move on as a part of a continuum, not as a wishful and blissful isolated particle. Let’s try to be syncretic rather than sectarian. Motivated divisiveness wouldn’t help anyone, it only exacerbates the matters. While an honest divergence of views is but natural, it has become a trend with some to make sweeping proclamations based even on a wobbly foundation of superficialities, unsustainable & motivated theories, unverifiable bromides and personal and sectarian convenience. Literature being rooted in the society, at least part of it has tended to draw sustenance from the contemporary socio-political discourse. Some of these attempts, loaded with exaggerated self-importance, seek to tear the evolutionary fabric of society, by pulling out the fibres that are perceived as unacceptable in certain quarters.

Let literature be a Baconian or Swiftian bee – but not a spider – catering to the greatest good of the widest lot. (Let’s confine the arachnidan reference to the present metaphorical context, and not to the ongoing scientific researches on the benefits one can spin from a spider’s web! Nobody denies the identity or the raison dêtre of a spider or of any other creature. After all, every creature has its space and role in the divine scheme.)

Even the ancient Indian aesthetics suggest the universal good of literature – Vishwa Shreyah Kavyam. Whatever be the criticism of our present day movies otherwise, they have one overarching merit. Their appeal is not sectarian, but universal. Otherwise they would simply bomb. Similarly, general and creative literature can cater to a wide spectrum of readership rather than to groups with hardened interests. Whenever there is a situation of deep-rooted conflict or a perception of such conflict, the only way out is an objective dialogue but not a vicious and supercilious monologue.

We have a special Feature in this issue, and it is on Sufism & Sufi Literature which brings “moments of solace and peace to your soul,” as our Guest Editor Dr Mohsin Bin Mushtaq Shah puts it, and “for [the spirit of] love to prevail over everything else.” The mix of 10 articles, 14 poems, one interview, and one book-review – with contributors from India, Pakistan, UK and USA – gives a comprehensive enough and appetising idea of the harmonising alchemy of Sufism, as reflected in the vast fund of Sufi literature across climes and times. The contents include a twin-article by Dr SL Peeran, an authority on the subject. I thank all the contributors and the young Mohsin for his proactive offer which has borne fruit in the Feature.

When Derek Walcott, the Nobel laureate (Literature) passed away on March 17, 2017, Jaydeep Sarangi, volunteered to do a festschrift on the Caribbean litterateur from St. Lucia. The result is the Focus on Derek Walcott which sheds light on the Nobel laureate’s varied life & work, on his thoughts of freedom, identity-quest and spiritualism. You would certainly enjoy the fare of articles and poems by 13 eminent scholars including those from Italy, UK, S. Africa and Canada. A bouquet of thanks to Jaydeep and to the contributors. Jaydeep pays a touching, pregnant and pithy homage: “Derek is no more. We gather his silence near the ghats of the Ganges. Eyes are heavy. Rain will start after this sentence.”

The section of Literary Articles & Discussions under the editorship of Charanjeet Kaur has always been academically educative and literarily stimulating. In the current issue, she presents articles and conversations by 12 litterateurs that “span a long geographical and cultural belt across the globe” from “Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh to Mexican American writing,” as she sees them. You would savour all of it, in full measure.

Our new Editor for Fiction – Smitha Sehgal, picks out 8 short stories of a kaleidoscopic variety by veterans, young, and new – all of them equally engaging and purposive. Hearty welcome to Smitha, who, in her Editorial Musings, says: “Language is the midwife of thoughts and writers are akin to the Kabuliwallah bringing us the bundle of dried apricots and grapes from their faraway lands.”

The general Poetry section sparkles with 34 poems by 9 sensitive poets, and Editor Ambika Ananth, herself a sensitive poet, finds “rejoice, rejuvenation, emancipation, condemnation” in them. The poems featured include four by Sunil Sharma, a prolific and respected writer across genres.

Editor Atreya Sarma presents reviews of 8 interesting books across three genres. Nirojita Guha reviews bestselling writer Sanjeev Sanyal’s The Ocean of Churn which tells us how the Indian Ocean has shaped the human history. Rittvika Singh reviews ‘the best writer of the Indian commercial fiction genre’ Anuja Chauhan’s Baaz, a patriotic romantic comedy set in the foreground of the 1971 Indo-Pak war. No less stimulating are the other reviews.

This time, owing to the pressing preoccupations of Editor Priyadarshi Patnaik, our Art Gallery has taken a break, only ready to bounce back in the Jul-Aug issue with the ‘Contemporary Young Art of India: Part 2’ – showcasing the work of a galaxy of 12 artists from various States

I thank colleague, GSP Rao, for his overall guidance and support.

Now, take a tour across the sections, and enjoy the fare at your convenience.

Your suggestions and feedback are welcome.

Atreya

PS/NB:

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