“They are like us, English is not mother tongue to them,” said a dear friend, responding to a farrago of excitement and disappointment during a discussion on poetry originally penned in English by a few upcoming Venezuelan writers. While ‘farrago’ has perhaps become the most searched word by Indians over the last one week, one is compelled to ponder over the stature of English in our thoughts.
The legacy of colonial rule has undoubtedly left its imprint on our psyche, to mention the least. While post-independence era saw a generation that revelled in King Lear and Macbeth taught in Universities, post globalisation era is marked by a surge of English writings by Indian authors. Electronic media has played its own role in shaping our reading habits. This has consequently contributed to an increased readership. English literature is no more confined to the elitist drawing rooms and convent schools. You could easily spot readers engaged with English literature on a regular metro ride. Nevertheless, one wonders, which is that language that roosts in our thoughts?
For a writer of fiction, which is “that” language is which his/ her thoughts take birth? While on the subject of vernacular literature, it is undoubtedly the mother tongue which rules the roost, could we say the same about all Indian writings in English?
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. Editing this issue of Muse India, one could not help but feel the similar excitement little Mini must have had configuring whether the bundle had an elephant or apricots. While some of the stories were flawless with natural flair, some stories stood obstructed between the barrier of thoughts in vernacular and the effortlessness of thoughts birthed in English. One is reminded of Sylvia Plath who once said that thesaurus is one book she would rather live with in a desert isle than with a Bible. Yet, can a thesaurus distil the emotion that stirs in the heart of a writer dipping his thoughts to ink, like the faint flutter of a single leaf on a silent night?
With these prefatory observations, let’s now get to the nub of the matter.
Out of the 25 stories received, here is the list of 8 stories that have finally made it to the current issue, after a multilevel appraisal. Our congratulations to all of them, and three of them – KS Subramanian, Palak Sharma, and Pragya Bhagat are the first-time contributors to Muse India. Even Sunaina Jain should be considered a new entrant to this section, for this is the first story by her to be published, though her reviews have appeared in Muse India. Congrats to her as well.
- Himalayan Splendour: Chandra Mohan Bhandari
- Convenient Friendship: Debasis Tripathy
- Tulasi has flowered: KS Subramanian
- Old Man’s Fare: Mohammad Shamsur Rabb Khan
- The Strange Journey: Palak Sharma
- Portrait of an Old Man: Pragya Bhagat
- His Love: Shweta Tiwari
- Lost and found: Sunaina Jain
In addition to Atreya and me, five writer-members of Muse India have helped us in appraising the stories for the current issue. They are – Chandra Mohan Bhandari (whose story has been appraised by others), Lahari Mahalanabish, Sindhuja Ramasubramanian, Usha Kishore and Jasneet Kaur. Our sincere bouquet of thanks to them for their readiness and service.
Happy reading! Happy time!
PS: Muse India keeps a gap of at least two issues before repeating the same writer in order to cope with the very large demand for the Fiction section and to encourage more and more new voices.