Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Issues’ Category

Issue 12: Fall 2018

Fiction

Lose Yourself

Every time, he’d apologize. Every time, he’d place a hand on her back, and rub counterclockwise. No one knows me like you do, he’d say, which was true to an extent. After all, Sita and he were friends since elementary school and after what happened to Sita at UConn and when she returned, he was there, ready to welcome her.

A Different Music

Yes, she admitted to her shell-shocked parents’ friends one evening: she liked John Denver more than Iqbal Bano. She understood him; the lyrics made sense. But more importantly, his songs made her happy. She had heard them call it “hippie music” but she didn’t care. She wanted it, she needed it, she craved it.

Zahida

“It was during those days that Zahida became certain there were some things she knew better than others, and this was definitely one of them: the shelf-life of death was shorter than any other item in this world, and would not last, even a single day, on her Chai trolley. It expired immediately, and Zahida knew that if it was not thrown out, it would quickly begin to stink up the place.”

Poetry

Blue

To meet you and feel cut open
like fruit, like a suitcase that bursts open while you
collect your boarding pass

the truth is
hindi is a warzone with thunder and blunt
edges, and my feet slipping always

Essays & Interviews

Cowboys and Indians by Nathaniel Wander

It’s often said that anthropologists study a people. In fact, what we do is to learn from and with them.

Homecoming by Shruti Mungi

“It’s a thought that haunts me everyday, making me feel as young and naive as the day I left home in their eyes, as the day I had last fully known my parents. Perpetually ten.”

On Friendship and Writing by Varsha Tiwary

“If writing is an act of self-acceptance then no technique helped me tap my inner writer, than the quiet, reassuring knowledge that just a phone call away, another beautiful, intelligent, completely sane and poised woman felt just as insane and messy inside as I did.’

Reviews

Ghost in the Tamarind by Subramanian Shankar

The narrative is memorable with every character forming budding attachments with the reader.

Immigrant, Montana by Amitava Kumar

The Prematurely guilt-ridden, and perpetually seeking pardon for leaving home.

When I Hit You Or, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Wife by Meena Kandasamy

Critiquing the selective interpretation of an ideology.

Table Manners by Susmita Bhattacharya

Evocation of geographical space and the character’s place in it.

Temporary People by Deepak Unnikrishnan

Humorous, absurd and imaginative.

Issue 11: Spring 2018

Fiction

Mountains In Her Eyes

The automatic doors suddenly jump open and a batch of Indian passengers come through, bedraggled from their journey. Their eyes scan the crowds on either side of the aisle, in search of loved ones. A few minutes later, a new batch appears, and amongst them is Annapurna.

In Exile

Soon it would be Bohag Bihu then! The letter had most certainly brought on these thoughts. His mother had probably woven twenty gamusas on the loom by now. He imagined her sitting by the kitchen shed, sliding the shuttle and pulling in the reed. Ratul watched the kite dip and sway and reach out till it was little more than a speck.

Chaawri Bazaar

“You make me late every morning,” Azhar said, shaking his head in exasperation, as he saw Seema skipping over the front steps, shouldering her school bag, her braids bouncing with her walk.
“What can I do,” she said, “I need to wait for my turn to bathe.”
Azhar looked her up and down, pretending to be surprised, “This is after bathing?”
She made a mocking face, “Don’t worry, you look like no prince either.”

Defiance

“This is how my life is clearly marked – pre and post-eight – an age that defined the rest of my life; when the only window which I had into Abbu’s world closed on me.”

Poetry

On the Last Night in Dhaka, Bangladesh

After a morning highway ride
to Savar, passing roadside piles
of white bags stuffed
with broadcloth pockets,
gingham shirt fronts,
denim lapels—tons
of cotton remains
from factories—

Curfewed Friday

Things were different once
The cleft sky wouldn’t burden
my leaking skull.
During the famine of addresses
I inhabited some square feet.

Polly-Mango

After the last bell sang release
we poured out of school
onto open street like an undisciplined army
Girls in rust
convent school uniforms
(skirts: knee-length socks: knee-length
nail polish: you’re going straight to hell)

Essays & Interviews

An Interview with Amulya Malladi

Roots, Music

Mumbai Noir – Bombay and Its Underworld As Seen Through Literature

Reviews

Thwarted Escape: An Immigrant’s Wayward Journey by Lopa Banerjee

There is a sense of happiness in forgetting. But the acts of forgetting and remembering are inseparable. There can be no remembering without forgetting, and vice versa. The distance between the two is a language – the language of memory.

A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena

The fresh, outlandish opening of the novel that shatters the usual expectations associated with this sub-genre and foregrounds its narrative design, is definitely one of its highlights.

Polymorphism by Indira Chandrashekhar

Casts a net of stories in which her narratives slip through like eels among the reeds of reality, keeping her readers in swift pursuit.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

It is an epitaph in the form of a novel written by Paul Kalanithi for his own burial – an epitaph negotiating death, ensuring his memory lives on in time, creating a profound impact on anyone who visits it.

Art

1_KrishnaSreedevi Gummuluri

Despite a rough start and a secretive past, Krishna chooses to live in the moment and inspires everyone through his strong will and wisdom.

4_ElephantKamolika Roy Chowdhury

On a quiet afternoon, when a lull prevailed all over and most birds and animals had withdrawn to shady hideouts to escape from the hot afternoon sun, a mother elephant carefully guarding its calf, escorted it to this waterhole for a drink.
Location: Yala National Park, Sri Lanka
Date: October, 2014

1_afternoon-nap-with-jeannieShruthi Chandrasekaran

…an affirmation of the joy that already exists in my life; and I am excited and happy to find that other people share these joys…So here it is, and I hope it reminds you to carry with you the bursts of happiness and colour that occur alongside the burden of functioning.

Issue 10: Summer 2017

Fiction

The Fragrance of Freedom

In the midst of the dust and darkness and distant sound of gunfire, Arul sat like a God, his limbs extended effortlessly, his face open and neutral; he looked breezy as if he was fragrant with freedom.

The Second Honeymoon

They were meant to leave next week, very early, Subbu had said, and Lalitha was already dreading it. She couldn’t imagine surviving even a minute with Subbu without the blanket of everyday routine wrapped around her tired body. And to think she would be alone with him for one whole week!

The Housewife

For the few times that Ruplekha and Rion dated, during the three months of their official engagement, the time allotted to them by their parents for “getting to know each other”, she found him to be handsome, well-mannered, and with a good sense of humour – all of the attributes she liked.

Poetry

Pain/Takleef

bongaigaon

the caked muddy houses
the ponds
and the fish.
You cannot be from there
and still be here.

Mulberry Tree

the tree cast an afternoon shadow
that made my mother think
of the black eyes of crows, the running
water in the dark.

A Touch of Darkness

There is a beauty in piercing the darkness of judgment
by making love, finding freedom
in luminous iron chests – fragrant dahlias.

Essays & Interviews

An Interview with Hoshang Merchant

I wanted to write the secrets of an Indian gay world, the knowledge that I picked up in the gay terrain of 1960s Bombay. I wanted to shape the literary world of the gay writings of India through this anthology.

The Efficacy of Modern Democracies at and beyond Home

With the normalization of Trumpism’s exclusionary rhetoric, neoliberal capital exacts an alarming sway on democratic pluralism in the hardline Hindutva societies of Modi’s India.

Reviews

The Cosmopolitans by Anjum Hasan

Qayenaat is a refreshingly different protagonist. She is not the typical Indian woman. She is fifty-three years old, single, keeps in touch with her ex-boyfriend, is not afraid to take on lovers and doesn’t have a religion. She does not have a steady job but has an intense love for the arts.

Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag

…The change in the family’s circumstances as equal parts disaster and miracle, unpredictable in its causes as well as its effects.

Good Girls Marry Doctors: South Asian American Daughters on Obedience and Rebellion edited by Piyali Bhattacharya

The book provides a window into the complex world of the South Asian female experience which is as diverse and as multifaceted as the South Asian cultures themselves.

In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri’s In Other Words deserves to be read and re-read, for it is an incredibly sincere account of the journey of a writer who, while at the peak of her creative abilities of expression in a particular language, courageously chose and attempted to learn to read and write in another one.

Art

01_2011_dots_green_redKrittika Arvind

I just like to ‘dot’ my thoughts down rather than jot them down. The grappling in my mind for the right word, in the language I want to express myself in kills the spontaneity and easy flow of the thoughts and feelings. The visual languages I use help me record thoughts in the form of wandering dots, dashes or lines to create patterns.

Issue 9: Winter 2017

Fiction

Gone

Any dreams of a special night had dissipated in his clumsy embrace, his evident unease. She’d promised herself that she would contain her tears, but how could she, when the person she held closest in the world felt so foreign?

Hood

“Go home!” Viraf was told. Not to his South Bombay stomping grounds… Not to Seth Building and his loved ones… No. Go home to Iran. To a place he’d never seen.

The Road to Shillong

“Manas died an hour ago, in an accident on the road to Shillong. Yet, by an incomprehensible error, he was sitting in my room, by the window, with a sad air of regret about him.”

Windows

“Back on the streets, his misery is only enhanced by how the world around him seems still the way it was, while he has just earned himself an experience that is supposed to be one for a lifetime.”

Poetry

Belonging

always unable to pass
checkpoints, traverse your canyons. Punished or blessed,
I can’t tell through the ache, my body

A Litany (for the native informant)

It might interest you to know,
speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,
that I am the sound of the only brown person in the room.

The Lake (Haibun)

These trees understand PTSD; their branches are hacked everyday. Purging in autumn, reborn every spring. They share in bounty, they share in pain.

Marrow (Nariman Point, Bombay)

We don’t speak the same
language at home, can I teach you
the word for peanuts staining newspaper

Essays & Interviews

On Being Left Behind

This picking up, caressing and eventually letting go of third languages becomes a habit — they’re transitory, like you. And because you never stay in your home state, your mother tongue is never on the syllabus. But English stays. You don’t even notice when it becomes your first language.

To Complicate a Love Song: An Interview with Vivek Shraya

For me, queering gender suggests a kind of deliberate subversion of gender. I am not trying to subvert gender — I am trying to be myself in a world where I am seen as a boy who is subverting gender.

Reviews

Moving Forward Sideways like a Crab by Shani Mootoo

The novel… highlights Trinidadian Indian culture which has been severely underrepresented in Caribbean literature.

Native Believer by Ali Eteraz

M was a man who ate the West, breakfast, lunch, and dinner.” Religion was something as foreign to him as Bollywood, but not for long.

South Haven by Hirsh Sawhney

The book is ambitious in trying to cover not just the immediate issues of the Indian immigrant family, but broader issues like bullying, the lure of sex, drugs, and the problems with education.

Tell: Poems for a Girlhood by Soraya Peerbaye

Soraya Peerbaye is a Canadian poet currently living in Toronto. Tell: Poems for Girlhood, her second collection of poems, received the Trillium Book Award and was shortlisted for the prestigious Griffin Prize for Poetry, awarded to Canadian poets.

Art

01_AmmiBeena Azeem

I explore the push and pull of race and sexuality, ritual and religion, the human condition, submission and domination, and positioning of females culturally and traditionally….

01_BecausePallavi Singh

I am exploring the grooming culture amongst Indian men, that is showing a change from the traditional alpha male. I have approached this phenomenon from the lens of commercialization and corporates. Armed with creative marketing, they have made way for a male centric society to open up to personal beautification, traditionally considered to be a feminine affair.

Issue 8: Summer 2016

Fiction

Cardinal Directions

These are the bright points in Atif Janjua’s work week, or fortnight, perhaps — in truth, the meetings come in a non-calendrical pattern.

Fragrance

He didn’t know how many days had passed, for he had lost track of time, of day and night, of weeks.

Letters from Nairobi

I understood mostly the sadness written large on her face, which if I looked close enough was tear-stained perhaps for the life she had led or more likely for the life that has passed her by.

Poetry

kurinji flowers

blues, stitched across
rust-red valleys
streak the earth,

The well belongs to the landlord (Kuan Thakur Ka)

The stove is made out of mud
The mud is sourced from the lake
The lake belongs to the landlord

Under your footstep, Mira steals saffron

Halo of bees pealing: unmantle
stigma. I lick fingers, stinging
simmer, smearing erupt blue

patch of sky

in this new home
a sterile backyard
compact patch of grass baba mows

Traveller On Foot

I skip the part where he sat down.
Only walking interests me.

Essays & Interviews

Hari’s Mercedes

“If she does not speak Hindi, you do not speak Spanish, and neither of you speak much English, how do you communicate?” Words come out of my mouth in Hindi. Hari only smiles. I am truly puzzled. How am I going to explain the wedding vows to the bride? For four thousand years, Hindu marriages were conducted using scriptures written in Sanskrit that most men and women did not understand. In my effort to modernize the rituals, I insist on translating the important vows for couples. I suppose today I will have to skip that and return to traditional ways.

Sofa Talk

In the last decade or so, women from Russia, Ukraine and other Eastern European countries increasingly feature as backup dancers who flank the heroine or hero in Bollywood films. Casting skinny white women as backup bestows clout, panache, international credibility and foreign style. Some of the Russian and Eastern European women might indeed be excellent dancers, but the decision to cast them in Indian movies ultimately reflects the symbolic and preferred nature of whiteness.

Spirited Karachi

Empress Market is nothing short of your imagination. Their policy is simple: everything must remain in the open. And so it does; the products are lain right in front of you for your picking. It’s dark inside and what light that does break in from the canopy engulfs what it lights in dominating colour. The spice section shines a dusky, ethereal orange.

Art

6_marinae2Ansel Oommen

The ballpoint pen offered a discrete advantage in its ubiquitous and functional camouflage. The rapid punctuated sweeps of my work mimicked the organic strokes of transcription. In a second, I could draw a leaf or solve a quadratic equation or write an essay, even shifting between tasks…

2_Floral-BouquetAruna Ivaturi

The ‘tree’ in the ‘grass field’ is formed of nanorod bunches scratched from the substrate surface for transmission electron microscopy measurements.

Issue 7: Winter 2015

Fiction

How to Sell

As a woman, being smart is dangerous unless you cut it with sexy. It seems trivial, but chalk it up to the thousands of unspoken but shared truths between mothers and daughters.

In the End

Pushed against two walls were white bookshelves that Bharath had not taken, though they were, technically, furniture. There were gaps, like broken teeth, where his books had been.

Silk Stole

Even her once-dark, voluminous curls were growing thinner by the day, like her Supperware income.

Poetry

Reading the News from Nepal

What cracked was a place where metal wheels stamped with prayers
spin to spool the words away.

Banner

What deity governs this smelting
ore—slogan, heresy-talk, and your face

Is the postcolonial always already normcore

For hard times, learn to monetize your damn brown self
We are all #bindis now

Essays & Interviews

An Actual (South) Asian American Speaks from the Ruins of Best American Poetry

Our anger over the faux-et’s appropriation and dishonesty is absolutely necessary. We are right to be angry and to demand that this whole matter be corrected, addressed, and fixed. The stake is the erasure of people of color in a system structured to eliminate us through the pretense of “good” poetry, which presumes poems should be chosen without taking the representation into consideration. Yes, racism still exists, and there are still whites-only poetry communities and spaces.

Makers of Memory: Women in Occupied Palestine and Kashmir

The corporate media have failed to tell the whole story of what occupation looks like in occupied Palestine and occupied Kashmir. Contrary to Western assumptions and stereotypes, Palestinian and Kashmiri women continue to live with dignity and act in resistance. As storytellers, mothers, and organizers, women make up the backbone of these movements for sovereignty and independence, breathing life into what freedom could look like.

The War on Education

How can girls from Afghanistan/Pakistan come from educated backgrounds? How can Pakistani men and women have coeducation with all the taboos in their society? How can Pakistani families live in a house? How can a village schoolgirl be brave and intelligent? It’s just all simply unheard of. And if someone defies the stereotype—well, they’re an exception. They are of little consequence, or deserve to be shot in the head, or they are a CIA agent.

Art

1-Bath-me-7Sudipta Modi

1-elephant1Kalyani Ganapathy

Reviews

Dear Mrs. Naidu by Mathangi Subramanian

The most profound message underlying this gentle, funny book is that you can only change your world if you have the courage to change yourself first.

Rainsong by Pratyaksha

The author compares the layout to a plate of food: the short pieces are like hors d’oeuvres, adding piquancy, aroma, and flavor to the main course, which is the long story.

Ram-2050 by Joan Roughgarden

This is a science-fiction tale that attempts to distance itself from its religious predecessor—the reader has to keep this in mind when he embarks on reading this book. There are no kingdoms, only corporations. There are no Brahmins, only geeks.

Tiffin: Memories and Recipes of Indian Vegetarian Food by Rukmini Srinivas

The book is truly a feast for the mind, providing recipes interspersed between personal anecdotes and stories, a veritable compendium of tiffin or snacky food that can be eaten at any in-between meal times and occasionally substitutes as a light meal, taking the reader beyond the limits of idli and dosai that commonly define South Indian cuisine.

Issue 6: Summer 2015

Fiction

Swimming at Midnight

Adjusting to calling myself blind was like adjusting to calling myself a wife, or a mother. It changes how people see you – how you see yourself.

Hands Held To His Eyes

I entered one of the conference rooms to find everyone huddled around a radio. Indira Gandhi: shot. Shot. The word in English is more onomatopoeic than we realize.

Poetry

Back home

She asked me not to sit
Not to touch anything
Or even be touched

Baffle Roof

The pastels used to coat windowed
Barriers against the chill of Rajasthan’s
November—-another strain of roof.

Brink

Closed eyes dusted with ash
Charcoal and red it clings to the skin
Ebony, brown or white?

Essays & Interviews

Love Language

Balancing on the tricky tightrope between “Indian” and “American” already felt hard enough without throwing language into the mix. I occupied this space of linguistic liminality, neither feeling completely bilingual nor completely monolingual.

Summer Pervez In Conversation with Olivier LaFont

Acting and writing fulfill two distinct needs in me. I’ve always looked at them as facets of storytelling, which is my central passion. In fact when I act I ‘write’ my character and scene as I do it, and when I write I act out the characters and scenes in my mind. So the two are inextricably linked.

Art

1_Kirigami-Exploration11Uttam Grandhi

…Paper and origami teach me the true sense of tolerance. You fold it, crumple it or slash it, paper sustains everything and produces a beautiful piece of art.

1_HoliLouie Crew Clay

4_haridwar_bottleChrista Pandey

1_Even-the-Elderly-Enter-the-FrayLilla Dent

Reviews

Atmospheric Embroidery by Meena Alexander

Towards the end of Atmospheric Embroidery, one realizes that Alexander’s angst about dislocation is no longer dictated by the geographical or cultural, but rather by the metaphysical.

The Normal State of Mind by Susmita Bhattacharya

Susmita Bhattacharya’s debut The Normal State of Mind is not your typical novel. Here is a book dealing with big subject matters: the limitations put upon widowed women, the illegality of homosexuality in modern day India.

Warrior by Olivier Lafont

Olivier Lafont’s debut novel, Warrior, is a frenetic, adrenalin-charged fantasy caper. Its hero, Saamu, is a Indian demi-god and must save the world from an imminent apocalypse.

Issue 5: Spring 2015

Fiction

What Happens In India Does Not Stay In India

She felt for the step behind her with one foot, then the other, hoping illogically that if she walked all the way to her parents’ room backward, she would unremember the entire conversation.

The Discipline of Haircuts

The touch of Sultan’s hand was warm and rough, almost electric against his skin and Avinash suddenly had a vision of holding his hand to his nose. What would it smell of – tobacco and hair-cream?

Poetry

Untitled

Like those asleep, she gathers us into her embrace,
One by one, she comes and gathers us into her embrace;

For Wagah On Sunday

was Partition not enough.
was this body only yours
that you could hurt it like this.

Atithi Devo Bhava

How unnerved they are
by our friendly, yet obnoxious neighbours
who look at them like exotic creatures,
only faintly resembling us Indians.

Essays & Interviews

Datuk in the Wallet

I kept Datuk close to barely-there Nepali and Indian rupees, flush against the photo of the lover I reunited with in Chennai, and then in Kathmandu, although—assuredly—they would have despised each other the first time they met

Battling the Sea: Maldives

A coral archipelago of about 1200 islands, Maldives faces a formidable foe in the sea that besieges it… An average ground elevation of just 1.6 metres renders it vulnerable to growing sea levels, a phenomenon that threatens to create millions of environmental refugees across the globe before the end of this century.

In Conversation with Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

Stories create the world. Seeing stories that look like your own, that you’ve never read written down before, or that are stories you’ve never thought of before that change your whole idea of what is possible, are a big revolutionary deal.

Art

001Khairani Barokka

Freedom-1Celeste Regal

Brutality is often brushed aside; victims are expected to quickly forget. This creates a walled-off disconnect with the rest of the world. I seek to transport the viewer toward events and responses most people would rather ignore.

1-620x465Samina Farooq

1-Legal-Genius-3Dinusha Jayawardane

Reviews

A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev

All Mili had ever wanted was to be a good wife. A domestic goddess-slash-world’s-wife-number-one-type good wife. The kind of wife her husband pined for all day long. The kind of wife he
rushed home to every night because she’d make them a home so very beautiful even those TV serial homes would seem like plastic replicas.

Home, Uprooted: Oral Histories of India’s Partition by Devika Chawla

‘Home’ as a figurative and emotional entity is a difficult concept to configure, for those who were forced out of their natural homes and then went on to build homes in a different environment, starting out as sharnarthis, or the dreaded term, refugees.

Jaya Nepal by Martin David Hughes

Jaya Nepal opens with the protagonist, Benjamin Creed, a young wide-eyed, jet-lagged Peace Corps volunteer, arriving in Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu…

Sultana’s Dream by Begum Rokheya Sakhawat Hossain

Sultana’s Dream was first published in 1905, ten years before the American feminist and novelist, Charlotte P. Gilman, presented her feminist utopia, Herland. Yet Sultana’s Dream languishes in relative obscurity, and even those interested in feminist science fiction are often ignorant of this work…

Issue 4: Fall 2014

Fiction

Corvus

He had re­entered my life like a changing season: without omen, a single door opened
onto a transformed landscape, rainfall from a cloudless sky, a tree that burst into ripeness overnight. I prepared for him to leave it the same way.

Black July

She marvels at these feet, at their earnestness in moving away from loss. At the biology in her that has so assuredly chosen her unborn child over her dying husband.

Why It Often Rains in the Movies

In the early days of our marriage, I’d been moved a few times from twitch in the pants to passion, but it was only in the movies that tabletops, walls, balconies, and bathtubs were ideal surfaces for sex.

Poetry

Badaun

mother, the banyan spreading
a colony of tarantulas through her bones

Letter from Nabila Rehman to Trayvon Martin

They will call us collateral
for someone else’s
safe sleeping.

Sly Smile

“Don’t give them money, it goes to the mob!”
Yes, dark criminalizes here,
Too.

Stoichiometry

Measures of salt seep from orgasmic arch
Sufi foot taps echo in New Delhi slum

The Prayer

One crow, then more, in the pebbled courtyard.
New voices join in, here’s to dawn, to dawn;

Essays & Interviews

Red Thread at Fatehpur Sikri

All around me the brown faces are my face, and their retroflex consonants also curl the tip of my tongue and ricochet off my palate. And as I wander through the bazaars, elbow­-to-elbow amidst locals and tourists, I find I am nostalgic for memories of a life I did not live and to which I can never return.

The Journey Home

While West Pakistan controlled Bangladesh, all visible manifestations of culture and
nationalism were suppressed. The suppression became more and more violent over time, as intellectuals actively urged Bengalis to be proud of their own culture and heritage and to resist Pakistani control. Nearly 1,000 academics, journalists, physicians, lawyers, writers, artists, and engineers were murdered, and my Nani and Dada were two of few who escaped this systematic slaughter.

Art

001Malavika Rajnarayan

Linear drawing demands sharpness in my articulation, a keen observation and keeps my intellect nimble. The human figures I draw reflect this attempt for nimbleness and strength. My language and aesthetics are closely aligned to Indian and Asian cultural traditions, where the poignancy of ideas are conveyed through beauty, grace and poetry.

1_Ambassador-ColorCourtney Stephens

Even though the city can be very chaotic, I think of it as almost silent, as though parts of it died awhile ago and are quietly dreaming themselves into the present.

Reviews

Family Life by Akhil Sharma

Akhil Sharma follows his award­winning debut, An Obedient Father, with Family Life, a first­person bildungsroman about a boy and his older brother migrating to the United States East Coast from India in the late ’70s.

Fragments of Riversong by Farah Ghuznavi

Farah Ghuznavi’s collection of short stories is an opportunity to journey to Bangladesh, to live alongside the characters and share their dreams, aspirations and fears.

Her Name is Kaur by Meeta Kaur

This anthology is a pleasant and refreshing surprise. I found myself captivated, moved, and inspired by the wide­ranging essays written by young Sikh­American women.

Issue 3: Summer 2014

Fiction

The Humanly Dog of Colonel Haider Usman

Ms. Bhonsle knew the diplomatic power that is necessary for a single woman in her fifties who lived alone. Indeed, balance meant a moderation of excesses that would otherwise not fit into Indian middle-class life.

Skokie Nights

Rimi loved the tragedy—or rather, the poetry—of teenage girls found dead. She didn’t want to be raped or murdered or harmed in any way. She just wanted to be a corpse, like some girls wanted to be a bride or a princess.

Poetry

A-B-C-D

A for assimilation
B forgetting the brown
C for Columbus, not Colombo—
that song that every immigration child knows

Republic Day, 2014

I wanted to parade a toy soldier,
Impotent and unmanly,
In this country of men and manners.
I asked the police for permission.
They said, sorry,
We only parade puffed up chests.

forest, matheran hills

notice, she said, language body nature prayer
follow the same rules of resting

My Father’s White Shirts

i fill the washing machine with soap and a week’s worth
of my father’s undershirts
tangled like a clutch of heron’s eggs ready to hatch
only one will live

Oranges, memory

I buy one and dig my nails
beneath skin. Ride these waves
of scent with me

Essays

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni on Books for Young Readers

I wanted a story that would be a great adventure for readers, but also one that would introduce readers to the Indian landscape, Indian ways of life, and Indian philosophy and values. I wanted a magical object out of Indian myth. I wanted a reverse quest tale (returning a magical object to its original home) . . .

A Dynasty of Dust

India can harden hearts or fill them with the ripe, sweet fruit of compassion. If the pilgrim is sincere, and attentive, and lucky, then India might deign to reveal partially glimpsed hints of the truths that lay hidden beneath the surface and beyond the cloaking veil of maya woven out of dust and traffic diesel fumes and smoke from wood-fires in rusted upright oil drums . . .

A White Girl Makes Bangladeshi Piaju

Being from Vancouver, I’ve tried South Asian cuisine in fusion form, because Vancouver is the First Lady of fusion food cities. However I don’t recall ever having a traditionally prepared South Asian dish, let alone preparing one myself. I hoped with the available resources I would be able to meet the challenge. So, to Google . . .

Art


1_American Beauty II_2014_hibaHiba Schahbaz

I am investigating issues of self-identification within the lexicon of miniature painting, and in the process, re-contextualizing miniature painting in contemporary art. By observing the symbolism and iconography of the cultures around me, I construct imagery that fuses the real with the imagined.

1_The Edifice Butterfly_tulikaTulika Ladsariya

My paintings are a social commentary on the division of society through the iconography of labor. Bricks, lumber, plaster, and bright house paint recur in my oeuvre. Through this process of hunting, lugging, and working with heavy material, I try to empathize with the workforce that I depict and choose to think of art as labor.

1_hayfever_michelleMichelle Cherian

As I wander through the streets of Kathmandu on a crisp morning, I take in 80s neon pink, stark black-and-white stripes, an emerald green satin sash . . . These are the immediate colors and textures that glide through my mind as I download this moment’s inspiration.

1_Evry1wants2leave_shoiliShoili Kanungo

When I draw, I like using a lot of details. I think of the page as a nonlinear storyboard, with no guidelines for where to go and—hopefully—lots to discover. When I paint, I am a little obsessed with swirling lines. I do love lines.

Reviews

Celluloid Man: Back to the Future

The new documentary Celluloid Man highlights the legacy of P. K. Nair and the debt the country owes this visionary.

Geography of Tongues by Shikha Malaviya

Shikha Malaviya’s first book is a collection of poems that awakens the reader’s sense of taste, offering poems about pineapple pastry, mashed bananas and milk, guava leaves, red chilis and pomegranates, strawberries and mangoes.

Paging Ms. Marvel: The Perks and Perils of Creating an Islamic Feminist Superhero

The new Ms. Marvel comic series offers its readers something exciting, progressive, and new. Kamala Khan, who later transforms into Ms. Marvel, is the first major South Asian superhero protagonist in the Marvel comic book–verse.

Column

Ask the Unicorns

You do know the difference between procrastination and foreplay, don’t you? If you treat spending time with your book as just an obligation or, worse, a job—well, we all know how that kind of love affair goes.

Issue 2: Spring 2014

Fiction

Alexithymia

My thaththa conducts a neurological exam on his newest patient, the cricket. Antennae quiver as thaththa speaks. He asks the cricket to explain the meaning of the following expression: he kicked the bucket.

Once Again Next Year

From somewhere in the darkness rose the groans of a skinny, stammering boy and the chanting voices of a group of young men and women. Aaschey bachar aabar hobey. The annual slogan of the pujas that was meant to reassure everyone about the continuity of the festival, of joy and of life itself.

Poetry

Draupadi

In real life, she wasn’t blue like in the comics,
she was dark as soot,
probably darker.
She appears when we’re not looking
like
her parents only wanted a boy to do all the fighting

Street Dog Dreams: Rashbehari Avenue

Is he riding shotgun in an auto-rickshaw, his scarred ears
flapping in the diesel dust?

Eulogy to a Skinny Midriff

On summer trips overseas when I was 3, 6, 9, 12,
My aunties used to whisper, What are you feeding her?

Pankti in Five Padas

So you remember Superman,
not Shaktimaan, veal not enthu
cutlets in Ramarajan pants
turning up half hour early
to help the host host his party?

Essays

Raining in Bhutan

Pine air wood smoke crick of jungle insects peaked white chortens with relics in their bellies kuzuzangpo-la do you speak Dzongkha curfew 8pm too many voices culture kit in bag (maple syrup, Canadian flag pins) where you from chilip we had Americans here before.

Finding Home In Madonna Inn

The rooms emulated Bollywood as an ode to the homeland, while the décor, the ambience, and general visual appearance were carefully cultivated and curated to reflect an aspirational Middle Eastern lifestyle. These houses were ornate and grand, an interesting coexistence of nostalgic narratives of home and interpretations of the current life away from home.

Shifting Mobilities: Diasporas in Flux in Monica Ali’s Brick Lane

Although entrepreneurial labor is a valid way of achieving integration and attaining conventional ideas of success, it unfortunately seems to come at the expense of political participation.

Art

01_Main_WorkSa’dia Rehman

Sa’dia Rehman works with themes such as isolation, shame, and hidden social boundaries. Her installations, sculptures, and works on paper explore subjects that are considered taboo such as sexuality, power hierarchies, and normative ideals around gender.

01_smiling_manJoão Pires

Understanding India is as futile as finding the sun at night. Unlike any other place I’ve been, this is a country to feel, to take a deep breath and sense, and it will all come to you. Out of all this contrast and shapeshifting, there’s something that sweeps the whole country: life.

Sabina England

My film explores the emotional state of a woman’s mind: her relationship with self, her relationship with the other woman, her relationship with the divine, her relationship with Mother Earth, her relationship with humanity.

01_BrothersAmina Shafi

In 2010, I went with a team to Nepal to process refugee applications of ethnic Nepalis who fled Bhutan from persecution or were forcibly repatriated back to Nepal by the Bhutanese government. On my time off, I explored the cities of Damak, Kathmandu, Bhaktaphur, and Dharan.

Column

Ask the Unicorns

Start a “Touchstones” document or a small notebook. Absorb the rhythms and cadences of your touchstones. Feel their heartbeats.

Issue 1: Fall 2013

Fiction

Boys Like That

Boys like that are ugly babies. They smile at everyone and offer wilted flowers to tables and plastic chairs. Nobody picks them up unless it is an absolute emergency.

The Summer of Young Uncles

That summer, all of Saima’s uncles began appearing. They were like those Russian nesting dolls made out of the same mold: some with red moustaches, some with brown, some short, some skinny, some fat, but they all had the same look.

Amrikan Dreams

Krishna held firm to the view that a traditionalist was a dependable man. A man of moral fiber who would never let a beautiful woman or wayward daydream distract him.

Poetry

what it’s like to be sri lankan in 2012 for those of you who aren’t

It’s going home to Jaffna if you’re young, Tamil and male and not automatically being snatched by either army. Maybe. For a moment.
It’s white vans.

Kalkatiya

she asked the emissaries, “How much
for a day’s toil?” They carried us away to a dock
and locked us down. Paid in irons, we tore our throats…

At the Dancing Square—Chowk

Not all men are tone deaf unable to hear the call
of hunger. Body, bosom, bare hips, needless to say
bare feet. She cannot afford the luxury of sleep.

Model Minority

the Punjabi slips
pungent
against my teeth, weeps
when I stumble
at its edges: arches
and whorls I cannot read.

Pickling

embalming mangoes in mulled mustard oil, she tells me
the best of the season must live longer. So each April
she carefully preserves. Pickles in glass jar churning…

Here Is a Red Cat and a White Cat

All these children with their dark glossy hair;
They sail on in their small shoes.
They are floating upward almost…

Essays

Flying Saucers

I took the glistening black vinyl out of its sleeve, removed the dust wrap, placed it on the turntable.
… Lost in the grooves of these long-playing records is the history of discography, which began in 1902 with the founding of the Gramophone Company of India.

The Cab Driver and I

The driver freezes in the middle of his three-point turn. He gazes up into his rearview mirror for a better look at me. “You’re from Pakistan, and you teach Americans?” His frown is so concentrated that he looks angry.

Bitter Honey: Sexual Violence in Desi Hip Hop

Although generally approbatory attitudes toward sexual violence in music would not necessarily lead directly to rape, they create and reinforce a culture that allows rape, facilitates woman-blaming, and disempowers women. In the context of the Delhi gang rape case and the protests that ensued, it is important to note that this culture attacks women just for being women.

Race, Class, and Gender at the Margins: Exploring My Name is Khan

Post-9/11 Islamaphobia, enveloping all brown-skinned people into one homogenizing dominant gaze, opens some room for mutual recognition of Otherness at the margins of American society.

Art

Freedom Colour

… moments where the “play” that arises from the festival allows for a freedom of transgression between caste, class, and gender lines in India.

Indo-Caribbean

Indians have lived in the Caribbean since the mid-1800s, brought by the British as indentured laborers to work in sugar and rice plantations in Trinidad, Guyana, Jamaica, and other colonies.

Delhi Through the Night

…the gaze of a middle-class, academically-oriented woman from a relatively small town, who feels more comfortable and safe behind a camera as she walks anonymous through the wide and narrow, intimidating and yet liberating streets of the capital city of Delhi.

Sacred Heart

…delicate interplays between vulnerability and empowerment, intimacy and exhibitionism, and subjective and collective expressions of feminist, queer, and cultural identities.

Reviews

Fasting for Ramadan by Kazim Ali

In trying to grasp and define the contours of his own spirituality, Ali comes to some of the most startling and refreshing conclusions about his own religion and selfhood.

Karma Gone Bad: Or How I Learned to Love Mangos, Bollywood, and Water Buffalo by Jenny Feldon

For an immigrant such as myself, who moved from a big city in a developing nation to battle the loneliness of living in the US, I was eager to read Jenny Feldon’s reverse experience.

The HarperCollins Book of English Poetry edited by Sudeep Sen

This anthology serves as a conglomeration of assertive, fresh voices, a long way off from the rich inherent, albeit stringent, tradition of Itihasas and Puranas.

Crossing Black Waters by Athena Kashyap

Kashyap writes of sundering, separations, crossings, reunions, and uncertain reconciliations. The break with an imagined home is never forever; return is always a possibility yet remains unsatisfying whenever it occurs.

Column

Ask the Unicorns

A spoonful of hot ghee is nothing like unicorn blood; and yet it is a way of extending the life of the butter. … Now I’m going to tell you the secret to immortality.

Editorial

Why Jaggery?

The publishing world often tries to put its writers into boxes: easily-marketable boxes. You can’t really blame them, in some sense—it’s much easier to create a shelf in the bookstore, label it ‘ethnic literature’ and then put all the ‘ethnic’ writers there, than it would be to market each complex writer individually. The big publishers want a young desi woman to write an arranged marriage novel, because they know where the market is for those books. There’s a reason they keep putting red saris on our book covers; they know what sells.


The inaugural issue of Jaggery is co-sponsored by the Asian Studies and Asian American Studies Programs at the University of Illinois at Chicago.