Excerpts and Abstracts: TMYS Review March 2022



    Title: Contemplation - where is my home?

    Poet: Merry Baruah

    Poet intro: Merry Barua, Associate Professor of English at Cotton University, has a PhD from Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati and specializes in Indian Writings in English, Literature of the North East and Literary and Cultural Theory. A former Visiting Faculty at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (Guwahati campus), she is interested in translation and published many research articles and book chapters. Merry Baruah says she has accidentally took to writing verse.


    The rivers swell

    And dances to the tone

    Of Deodhani -

    My home shivers and crumbles

    Disappearing finally

    Into the river’s embrace.

    I gather the leftover pieces of home and hearth

    Along with my kinsmen

    To sing the song of gypsy life

    In search of another fragile haven.




    Title: Return to Sender

    Poet: Gayatri

    Poet Intro: Gayatri’s latest book is Anitya: How to Make the Most of Change and Transform Your Life (Hachette, September 2021). Her previous works are Sit Your Self Down, a novice’s journey to the heart of vipassana (Hachette, 2020), Who Me, Poor? (Bloomsbury, 2017), Indigenous (Juggernaut, 2016). In 2021, her poetry has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and her short fiction features in the Femina- Diwali special issue on Light. Gayatri is currently a student of the Nalanda Diploma in Buddhist philosophy.


    Scalded by stone, scorched by clay, seasoned by asphalt 

    I bloom with the heat of reverse migrations

    Cracks in my feet, flyways traced in lines of salt

    Drawn home by the scent of my mother’s sweat


    In the froth of wild yeast; an ancestral starter

    Hope, activated with a sugared covenant

    Of legacies to pass beyond the martyr,

    Sheafs of anabasis pressed into moist earth..




    Title: The Journey to Nowhere

    Poet: Suman Sarma

    Poet Intro: Suman Sarma, a lecturer by profession is a poet, translator, and writer with a number of published books on English literature to her credit. She is one of the founder directors of Guwahati Grand Poetry Festival, one of its kind literary forum of the NE, working passionately for bringing various literary traditions and forms to the readers by giving fair exposure through blogs, publications, and live events. She hosts the popular literary event, Veritable Verses, showcasing the eminent poets and writers of NE, India, and abroad through a virtual platform. An educationist for the past twenty-five years, Sarma has managed to create a community of poets and writers who regularly contribute and engage in literary activities and discourses. A quarterly e-magazine Soul Connection is edited by her along with regularly translating poems from Assamese to the English language for publication in different magazines and newspapers. 


    From here on, it's a lone battle

    For her with her little daughter, all but three years

    As she rocked her on her lap to sleep 

    The sun made a pale appearance

    A pale ray of hope, yet hope it is.

    Enough for her to make the first move

    No matter how big or small,

    Yet a step towards somewhere 

    Or Nowhere!





    Title: The Migrant’s Tale           

    Author: Asfiya Rahman

    Author Intro:  Asfiya Rahman, a management post graduate, is a teacher by occupation and a writer by inclination. Her foray into writing began with a one year stint as a freelancer with a national magazine followed by many years as a content writer. She turned her hand to fiction later. Her stories and articles have been published by Women’s Web, Youth Ki Awaaz and Juggernaut Publishing among others. She is the winner of The Story Awards 2020 by SheThePeople and is the author of the Wild Card sports drama trilogy. Prior to a career in writing she has coached students in French and English. She is an avid reader and loves to travel. In her spare time she loves to daydream about the perfect library she hopes to have in her house someday. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram under the handle @doonwriter


    As Raju shuffled along on the dirty road he felt as if he had been walking his entire life. He knew that it wasn’t true, that there had been a time when he had food and money and a bed to sleep in but it all seemed like a dream now. Time and distance seemed blurred. He no longer remembered how many days it had been since he started walking.

    This was only the second time this seventeen-year-old was returning from the city and it could not have been more different than the first. He had come to his village six months ago for Diwali with gifts for everyone. He had spent time with his friends in the village who had not been able to find jobs yet, and had filled them with envy about his life for Raju had a job in the city. He worked as a busboy in a small restaurant. It was hard work but a good life. He worked from morning to night, six days a week and got one day off every month. And in return for that he got two meals a day, a place to stay and a small salary every week. He had been able to see the sights in the city, he had even gone to watch a film and had been shocked at what a luxurious experience it turned to be. He had been saving money to help his family in the village. Every month he would send some money home to his mother. On his last trip home she had dragged him to every relative’s house beaming with pride at her son...but now what would she say to see him turn up like this. His belongings were packed in his small backpack, his clothes were dirty, and his shoes? He looked down at his feet. The endless walking had made his feet swell and he could no longer wear his shoes and now he was wearing a pair of mismatched slippers that have been found somewhere on the road.




    Title: Miles to Go Before We Sleep

    Author: Shyam Sundar Pal

    Author Intro: Shyam Sundar Pal is a Senior Research Fellow and Teaching Assistant under the supervision of Dr. Ananya Ghosal (from the research group Literature and Other Arts) in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Indore. Currently, he is working on The select adapted films of Satyajit Ray. His research interest broadly lies in Films of Satyajit Ray, Bangla Cinema, Rabindranath Tagore, Bangla Short Story, and Adaptation Studies. Mr. Pal has participated and presented papers in national and international webinars, seminars, and conferences. Mr. Pal also keeps interest in literary translation and creative writings bilingually (English and Bengali).


    "Nani, I cannot breathe through this net," Yatim says repulsively.

    Nani replies, "This is not any net. This is a mask. Don't remove it, my son. There is a virus in the air.”

    The roads are deadly empty. Nani tries to remember and then asks her grandson, "Yatim, were the roads so empty when we came to Gujarat?"

    Yatim replies," I can't remember, Nani. Perhaps, they weren't."

    "True… how can you remember? You poor little kid!" Nani gasped. "The gorment has called for a lawdown, my son. They told people not to come out of their houses. So that virus cannot spread".

    Nani’s mispronunciations still manage to answer Yatim's questions and her own concerns about the usage of masks and the emptiness of the roads. The sixty-year-old woman with a fragile body and white hair, has loads of the years forcing her to bend a little. Six-year-old Yatim is short and thin, curly hair filling his head. It's been four long hours that Nani and her grandson have not seen a single living soul on their way. They are frightened imagining to be the only surviving species of a vast extinct civilization.  It is only the second week of April, and the scorching sun shows no mercy upon these two pedestrians. The tired souls have been on the roads for the last three days, returning home from Ahmedabad to a small village in Purba Medinipur, West Bengal. Even they are entirely clueless about which point they have reached so far.

    They walk for a couple of minutes more and then sit beneath a huge tree just beside the road. Yatim is sweating a lot, Nani calls him in her lap. She wipes the sweat off his face and neck with the lower end of her sari. Yatim rests his head in her lap. Although there is no cold and a soothing wind blows, the fatigue of the roads gives Yatim a very quick sleep. Nani, for a while, keeps on gazing at the sleeping face of her dear kid, and for some time, she guilts herself for the trouble and pain the kid is going through right now. She runs her fingers through his forehead and hair. As much as she keeps on gazing at the face of the little kid, tears roll down from her eyes and drop on the cheeks and the mouth of Yatim. She quickly takes her sari and wipes the drop of tears.




    Title: The Empty-Eyed Men

    Author: Prachi Sharma

    Author Intro: Prachi Sharma is pursuing her doctoral studies, author, editor, content developer, award-winning short story writer, and journalist in training. She obtained her Master’s degree in Pharmacy Practice from Manipal University and has since worked in health communication. She is the author of six published books, including The Alphabet Killer, The Dark Side of Innocence, Bloody Desires, When He Remembered, Tea Time for the Jilted Lover, and A Predator in Paradise. Two of her short stories, The Invisible Neighbors and The Gentleman At The Corner Table, have been contracted and published by Juggernaut Books. Four of her stories, including Love in the Times of Crime, The Last Local to Churchgate, The Monster in my Dreams, and Chakka, have been published in anthologies. She is currently working on her first collection of horror stories and a crime series set in Bollywood.


    They are coming! They are coming! They are coming!

    My sleep is punctured by the sound of the radio, a distant but clearly audible crackle, punctured by the sound of static. I sit up in bed abruptly, panting. My nightclothes are drenched in sweat. When I touch my temples, they are damp with sweat too. My body seems to have woken up before my brain did, my limbs ready to leave the comfort of the bed and…run.

    I prepare to call out to Mother, but my voice seems struck in my throat. Fear seems to have caught me in its vice grip, paralyzing me. A black veil is descending in front of my eyes. Shadows go past with the speed of wind, the last thing I see before the veil descends completely.

    Look around. See where you are, what are the avenues of exit. Tiptoe like a cat, crawl if you have to. Look for Mother, Father, and Abdul. But first, take a deep breath. You need to preserve your energy for running.

    But running from what? And running where?

    I take several deep breaths to calm down my galloping heart. When the sound of blood rushing in my ears stops, my vision starts to clear. My eyes start to relay information to my brain about where I am.

    Wait, what is this? Is this a dream?

    The sound of the radio is still there, distant but audible. But the walls of my room…are not the walls of my room. Father had painted the walls of my bedroom a pistachio green because pistachio is my favorite dry fruit, and green my favorite colour. These walls are a sterile, unknown white. There are no pictures on the wall. The sheets are also different in texture and design.






    Title: Malignant Memory: The Plight of Kashmiri Pandits and their ‘Imaginary Homeland’.

    Author: Pallabi Chowdhury

    Author Intro: Pallabi Chowdhury is a resident of West Bengal, India. She has completed her graduation and master’s from Visva Bharati University and is presently pursuing MPhil from there. Her current research topic is concerning women writing in North East India. She recently presented her paper dealing with women artisans of rural Bengal in an International Virtual Conference conducted jointly by Visva Bharati and Claflin University, USA. Her areas of special interest include gender and trauma studies, traditions of folklore and oral literature and their retellings in varied cultures.


    The exodus of Kashmiri Pandits is a source of collective as well as individual trauma for those who have lost their homes and families to militant atrocities and impoverished refugee camps, the generation who have lived this trauma and the future generation who have access to the memories through stories are equally affected.  In The Work of Mourning, Derrida observes the inability to find public words in a state of loss. He believes, “Speaking is impossible, but so too would be silence or absence or a refusal to share one’s sadness." Siddhartha Gigoo observes in his panel discussion on 14 January 2020, conducted by TMYS Review under the rubric “Violence and Exodus: Representation of Migration in Literature and Cinema” that it’s impossible for him to describe a camp though he remembers it every day. For these displaced people letting out the agony is difficult but also the only form of healing that they can resort to. Innumerable memoirs, diaries, nonfictions and films bear testimony to the recurring motifs of the glorious past of the Kashmiri Pandits in juxtaposition to the pathetic present in the camps. This essay attempts to elucidate that these people are entrapped within the loops of malignant memories that keep repeating. They may survive and leave the camps but the camps never truly leave their minds.

    Keywords: Memory, Trauma, Kashmir, Exodus, Refugee, Militancy, Homeland.


    These people clung to their glorious past as the present was too oppressive for them. The past and its memories acted as refuge and the old stories acted like an ointment upon an old festering wound. Gigoo shares how his grandmother didn’t talk much but shared stories about her family, home and her childhood days with utmost ecstasy. She never kept photographs with her, neither was she attached to any of her belongings. Stories was all she had, it was all she could take with her while leaving her precious possessions behind. “Her memory was a cage from which nothing escaped. We were baffled by the infallibility of it all”, (Gigoo 109) writes the narrator. The displaced families continuously shift from one place to another, they cannot afford the luxury of attachment, they spend decades in these places but are unable to call it their home, “twenty years in exile, yet Kashmir was home.” (Gigoo 112).




    Title: Memories of Departure: Reviewing ‘Forced Migration’ in Select Novels by Abdulrazak Gurnah

    Author: Dr. Subhrasleta Banerjee

    Author Intro:

    Dr. Subhrasleta Banerjee is a faculty member of the Department of English, Balurghat Mahila Mahavidyalaya, Balurghat – which is her residential town. Also an accomplished danseuse, Dr. Banerjee has presented papers at different international and national-level conferences and seminars, and has published widely on her subjects of expertise. She could be reached at subhrasletablg@gmail.com.


    In the post-9/11-world, issues like ‘xenophobia’ and ‘forced migration’ have become household words. Following the suicidal attacks on the World Trade Centre, Muslims in different parts of the world – especially those settled in the U.S.A. and the U.K. – had to face public ire, and were forced to migrate to the ‘safer’ parts of the world. However, if the history of African literature is reviewed, one could comprehend that ‘forced migration’ is an issue with which the Africans – especially those of the Islamic faith – were long familiar. Several revolutions in Africa had, time and again, compelled writers and intellectuals to migrate to other nations, and this list includes the name of ‘Abdulrazak Gurnah’, the winner of the 2021-Nobel Prize in literature. If Gurnah’s novelistic oeuvre is reviewed, one could notice the issue of ‘forced migration’ being associated with the predicament of the principal character of almost all the novels that he has had written so far. The present paper proposes to reread select novels by Gurnah to highlight the issue of ‘forced migration’ and its association with the main characters.  Even a casual rereading of the novels reveals that armed conflicts – ongoing or from the past – are the principal causes for the compulsory displacement of the principal characters from their native lands to foreign nations. This tallies with the life story of the writer himself who was forced to migrate from his native Tanzania to the U.K., following the growth of widespread African sentiments against Muslims of Arabic descent.


    Gurnah, Novels, Forced Migration, Culture, Dislocation


    Admiring Silence (1996) is a continuation of the forced migration theme. In it, an unnamed Tanzanian man – perceptively built on Gurnah’s own personality – lives in the U.K., to where he escaped from Tanzania in the early-1960s’. In his host country, he takes a White English lover, and brings up a daughter with her help. For his own sustenance, he teaches at a London-school, and, in his spare time, he writes fiction. However, when he returns to Tanzania/Zanzibar after twenty years, he notices a disturbing unfamiliarity and a sense of homelessness, which is the tragedy of almost all the forced-migrants.

    As Marina Sofia summarizes in her blog ‘Finding Time to Write’:

    “Following a bit of a health scare (and a becalming of the political situation in Tanzania), he decides to go back to his home country and see his family once more. His mother wants to marry him off, the rest of the family (and the ‘more liberal and progressive’ current government) hope to lure him back with a job and the chance to rebuild the country. However, our narrator soon discovers that he no longer belongs to that ‘home country’ either. He is ruthless when it comes to portraying the people he left behind, or analyzing the social and political situation, the sense of ‘victimhood’ and blaming the colonial past for any present failures.




    Title: Identity Crisis among the Bengalis living outside Bengal - A Case Study of the Dandakaranya Refugees

    Author: Mohana Chatterjee

    Author Intro:

    Mohana Chatterjee, completed her graduation in History Hons from Bethune College and Masters in History, from Rabindra Bharati University. After which she cleared UGC NET examination in History. Currently, she is pursuing her PhD from Diamond Harbour Women's University, under the guidance of Dr. Anindita Ghoshal. Her PhD topic revolves around the Partition Refugees, who were rehabilitated in the Dandakaranya region. In the past, she has worked as a guest lecturer in the Acharya Prafulla Chandra College of Kolkata, in the Post-graduate section. Presently, she is working as a Research Assistant for the Kolkata Partition Museum.


    The Partition of India resulted in a massive exodus of people, who found themselves on the wrong side of the borders. Unlike Punjab, where the whole process of migration was completed in a very short span of time, in case of Bengal, the migration continued over decades. The Dalit/Namashudra community were not only the last one to migrate from East Pakistan, but they were also the most unfortunate ones, as they did not receive any kind of assistance from the State for their rehabilitation inside West Bengal. For rehabilitation, they were sent to faraway places like Dandakaranya and Andaman, mostly against their will. In case of Dandakaranya, they got engaged in multiple conflicts with the local tribes, who essentially viewed them as 'Outsiders'. Many years have passed since their rehabilitation in Dandakaranya region under the Dandakaranya Project, yet till today they are essentially viewed as outsiders. The differential treatment done with them being the major witness of this fact. Along with this, the loss of native language, culture and heritage, produce a sense of Identity Crisis among the Bengalis of this region. This paper would try to look into the lives of the Bengali Refugees living in the Dandakaranya region and analyze the question of Identity Crisis in this context. Oral narratives would be used as the major tool to conduct this research.

    Keywords: Refugees, Identity Crisis, Dandakaranya.


    This sense of political insecurity is coupled with the differential treatment done with the Bengali Refugees present in Dandakaranya. Mr. Asha Ranjan Mali, a resident of Malkangiri District, shares that every time a Bengali person applies for any kind of government aid, he/she has to provide his/her identification at each and every step, which is clearly not the case with the local tribal people. Every time the Bengalis have to prove that they are a legal resident of their place, or else they are doubted as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. This ultimately reflects the discriminatory attitude, faced by the Bengalis of Dandakaranya, in their day to day lives.

    Asha Ranjan Mali, interviewed in Malkangiri, Orissa, 22nd October 2021.


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