“The Best Plan is No Plan”: A Cauldronful of Love, Politics and Friendship in David Yates’s The Secrets of Dumbledore

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore' review: Less of magic, more  about greed and lost love - Entertainment News

At the end of Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts, Emma Watson speaks of how  Harry Potter represents the power of storytelling and encompasses everything that is safe, good and kind. For the generation that grew up with Harry Potter, and for many more succeeding generations, this is certainly true. Perhaps this is why spin offs like Fantastic Beasts prove so successful with the audience even though the Fantastic Beasts franchise, according to many a critic, lacks the original magic of the series. But what it lacks in magic the franchise makes up in nostalgia and grandiosity: the cinematic universe of Fantastic Beasts, from the very first film, is opulent and darkly lavish. We left The Crimes of Grindelwald at the crucial juncture of Credence finding out his identity as a Dumbledore from Grindelwald and the phoenix soaring across the sky to land on his arm. The Secrets of Dumbledore begins where the events of The Crimes of Grindelwald ended: we meet Grindelwald and Dumbledore chatting in a muggle coffee shop with Grindelwald warning Dumbledore to stay out of his way.

     The Secrets of Dumbledore opens with the theme of love: lingering stares, nostalgic memories shared, passions simmering beneath the surface between Dumbledore and Grindelwald. But this love is not pure or uncomplicated: it is a love born out of twisted ideas and wrapped ideals. Grindelwald will not let Dumbledore forget that their association led to the birth of his vision for a muggle free world and to reinforce that knowledge, there is the blood pact, a cruel talisman that Dumbledore carries around his hand. Jude Law playing Dumbledore and Mads Mikkelsen playing Grindelwald are excellent actors who make the emotions in their scenes together go up a notch and bring out the complexities of their relationship beautifully. When Theseus, Newt’s brother, asks Dumbledore what possessed him to make a blood pact with Grindelwald, Dumbledore’s answer is that it can be any one of the poisons of love, naivety or friendship. The Secrets of Dumbledore as a film navigates this beautiful yet poisonous terrain of friendship and love coupled with politics: the film’s background is the rise of political Fascism in Europe.

     Newt Scamander is adorable as usual in his bumbling, awkward way but in this film Newt does not enjoy center stage. There are a host of other characters who share screen space: there is the resourceful Professor Lally Hicks, the mysterious Yusuf Kama, the ever entertaining Jackob Kowalski, the lovesick Bunty (Newt’s assistant who nurtures a soft spot for Newt). All of these characters are at their core kind and good who remain committed to foiling Grindelwald’s plan of taking over the world and oppressing the non-magic people.  But their plan, as Newt says, is to have no plan. And it is here that the film falters a little: trying to tie too many threads together, walking the tightrope of love and politics makes Yates’s universe a bit tedious and scattered. Add to that the lack of a proper plan on the part of the characters to defeat Grindelwald ( which translates to the lack of a proper plot for the film) and The Secrets of Dumbledore does run the danger of driving away its loyal audiences. But what saves the film and the franchise is the echoing beauty of Rowling’s writing: every time Jacob cracks a joke, laughs hysterically or cracks us up, we see the hand of a master storyteller at play. The scenes between Lally and Jacob are beautiful, an ode to friendship that can be brave and courageous in the worst of times.

     We have to agree with Lally when she says that Jacob is essential to defeating Grindelwald because he is a man who ‘won’t duck behind the counter’ when he sees a wrong deed taking place. Jacob is the heart of this film: funny, rambling yet essentially a kind and generous man who is madly in love with his old sweetheart, Queenie. The ageing Dumbledore told us in Harry Potter that love is the purest and oldest form of magic: it can withstand the greatest evil. In The Secrets of Dumbledore a young Dumbledore proves this again and again: he reminds his brother of his love for his son and how that love needs to be claimed. He is himself tortured by his love for Grindelwald but refuses to let that love manipulate his intentions or motivations.  Interspersed with love in the film is politics: the two rarely mix well and in this film they mingle to create a simmering cauldron of fearsome terrains. The film takes us on a tour of 1930s Europe where we are met with increasing cries of support for Grindelwald and a continent that is fast surrendering to ‘what is easy’ and not fighting for ‘what is right’. Fascist politics rarely follows any rationale and this is what we witness in The Secrets of Dumbledore: Grindelwald woos the crowds with his rhetoric of anti-muggle speeches and nobody questions as to how a muggle free world is going to be better or in what way are muggles a threat to wizards.

     Rowling understands the power of speeches, rhetoric, politics of purity and hate all too well. We see how Lally, Newt and Jacob are overpowered by the overwhelming support for Grindelwald in the German Ministry of Magic. We feel for Jacob as he watches Queenie walk past him  to execute Grindelwald’s twisted orders. We weep with Dumbledore for the helpless Credence and the cruel way he has been manipulated by Grindelwald. Friendships and love need to be cherished; otherwise they can fester and kill. Credence symbolizes this all too beautifully: abandoned at birth by Aberforth (Dumbledore’s brother), hungry to belong, lonely and abused, Credence becomes an obscurious, suppressing his magic and identity which bursts out of him in stressful moments and can be threatening for him and others around him. Grindelwald feeds Credence’s resentment, his hate as all fascists do; he misuses Credence’s power and lures him into the dark world of his politics. It is to Credence’s credit that he recognizes Grindelwald for what he is and thwarts his plans at the end.

     At the end, The Secrets of Dumbledore take us to Bhutan, a magically beautiful mountainous country where the election for the new Minister for Magic is to take place. Grindelwald has a clever plan of his own which Newt and his gang need to thwart to prevent a disaster. Both Newt and Grindelwald have a vitally important creature, a quillin, who has the power to choose a worthy leader. Credence stands up to Grindelwald and reveals the true nature of his creature and thus ultimately does the right thing. The film concludes with Grindelwald fleeing the scene and then we jump to the wedding day of Jacob and Queenie (who also ultimately sees the evil Grindelwald for what he is). The concluding scene is a hot bath in a warm cauldron of the central emotion in the film, love. Jacob and Queenie, Tina and Newt make us grateful for the existence of love even in the darkest of times. The Secrets of Dumbledore is not a masterfully crafted film; it is not even a very good film perhaps. But it is an entertaining and a love filled film that reminds us of the magic of a wonderful world, and that resonates with the message: “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times if only one remembers to turn on the light”.    

 

 

Somrita Misra is Assistant Professor in the Department of English in Chanchal College, Malda, West Bengal. She is a Potterhead, a researcher in children’s literature and a thorough bibliophile.

An Interview with Kavita Ezekiel Mendonca by Susmita Paul

 

Q. 1. Reminiscences about your childhood are strewn across your recent collection of poetry, such as ‘Light of the Sabbath’. Could you tell us why is it that your childhood surfaces so eloquently in this collection?

Memory is a wonderful thing. It has allowed me to celebrate the warm and loving personalities and places of my childhood in my chapbook, ‘Light of The Sabbath.’ It has allowed me to re-live my childhood days, to walk with my paternal grandmother down the broken sidewalks of Bombay with ‘every square inch teeming with humanity’, to the synagogue to light the lamp, ‘to squeeze the purple grapes of faith’ on sacred Sabbath Fridays, with my aunt, whose faith could move mountains, ‘Those hands that move mountains/ Stirred the curry fluffed the rice/. ’Faith may move mountains’… She is also celebrated in my poem ‘Chain of Events.’ Speaking of the gold chain with a Star of David pendant that she gave me before she left, I wrote in the poem: ‘These are the chains that bind/ Twenty-two carat gold/ into bonds of love’…

It is memory, and not merely nostalgia, that has prompted me to recreate the distinct taste of the China Grass Halwa (Indian pudding) made by another aunt, to eat ‘the curry with ten green chillies when we visited the village of Alibaug, instead of the twenty she usually put in’, referring to my ‘Alibaug aunty’, and to have a ‘jovial uncle with a rich laugh who owned a grain mill and where the grain poured out of the ancient machines like his patient and unselfish love for us’, to name a few of the dear people celebrated in my poems. Despite a challenging childhood due to a complicated family situation, I was blessed with aunts and uncles on both sides of the family, who freely gave me an abundance of unconditional love. The reminiscences of my childhood are celebrations of the relatives that peopled my young world. I would have to put together a whole other book of poems which commemorates my grandfathers, uncles, and my cousins. I do have individual poems about them.  My amazing aunt Hannah, whom I celebrate in my title poem, ‘Light of The Sabbath’ more than helped me survive the traumas of some of the loneliest times in my life. She was there at my birth and remained in my life till she made Aliyah to Israel.  Her faith and devotion to her God when ‘she read all one hundred and fifty psalms each Saturday’, is something that is indelibly engraved on my mind. My memories capture the essence of these souls, paying tribute to these strong yet gentle extended family members, and immortalizing them in verse.

In the poem about my maternal grandmother, ‘The Ballad of Little Ma’, my memory takes me to my petite, yet strong four-foot eleven inches tall grandmother who ‘spoke less, but when she put her hand on your shoulder/ you knew you were loved.’  And who had ‘no muscles or six pack / just strength of heart and soul.’

My childhood was a magical time, and yet, to borrow that well-known Dickensian phrase from the ‘Tale of Two Cities’, ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.’ My focus in my chapbook was on ‘the best of times.’

 

Q.2. From the vantage point of your Jewish identity, how important is writing to stop the  erasure of socio-religious-political identities?

I was born and raised in the Bene-Israeli Jewish community in Bombay, the largest of the three communities of Jews in India. We were a minority community like the Parsis. Many Jews rose to prominent positions like Dr. E. Moses who was a Mayor of Bombay. Several Jews became prominent doctors, teachers, and lawyers The Jews, like the Parsis, blended seamlessly into the Indian landscape and never faced any discrimination. Many people in the western world express surprise to learn that there are Jews in India. The community of Indian Jews that immigrated to Israel in large numbers in the fifties and sixties by contrast, faced much discrimination in Israel.  Indian Jews were not even considered Jewish. Darker skin color and a failure to speak fluent Hebrew are cited as being among the causes of discrimination. Numerous Jews left India for a better life in ‘The Promised Land.’ ‘Next year in Jerusalem’ was the dream of so many Jewish people I met when I was young. To their credit, the Bene-Israelites are making strong efforts to preserve their heritage and even getting some of their traditions like Malida, an Indian Jewish Thanksgiving ceremony, cited in textbooks. They are working hard to assert and retain their identity.  Poets, artists, and writers can document this rich heritage through their work and ensure their history and presence is well-established as a significant presence in the world, and not erased. The world has much to gain by learning about diverse minority communities in India, and in other parts of the world as well.

In a New York Times article titled ‘Fighting Erasure’, Parul Sehgal says “Erasure refers to the practice of collective indifference that renders certain people and groups invisible… It goes beyond simplistic discussions of quotas to ask: Whose stories are taught and told? Whose suffering is recognized? Whose dead are mourned?”

We were a liberal Jewish family. At my grandparents’ homes particularly, we observed the customs and traditions of the Indian Jewish community, which are often quite distinct from those of the Western Jews. Since I attended a Christian school and also worked in Christian schools in India and overseas, I learned much about Christianity. As I grew older, I wanted to discover my Jewish roots and see what impact they had on forming my world view and the influence on my life today. In my poem ‘Shipwreck’, I speak about the origins of my people who arrived on the Konkan coast of India as their ship struck a rock, with most perishing, but according to legend, seven couples survived.  The fair-skinned, curly-haired light-eyed people arrived over two thousand years ago and settled in the villages there, later moving to Bombay ‘I am from that same seed/ Descendant of those shipwrecked warriors/ God’s rock occurs in dreams/ my ‘ship’ breaks ever so often/ On life’s rocks but I survive/ like my ancestors/  Pressing seeds into verse/ To preserve a story of survival/ Not just on Saturdays.’

In my poem ‘Ancestral Shipwreck’ I also describe the origins of my community.

I arrived on stormy seas/ Flung against a rock by a shipwreck/ I don’t remember who I was fleeing/ Or why I boarded the ship. / The village gave me shelter/ I remembered *The Shema and The Sabbath/ I forgot my language…

 

 

Q.3. In writing, we carry the legacy of our ancestors- both biological and literary. How does it affect you, given that your father Nissim Ezekiel is considered the father of Indian poetry in English?

It is a matter of immense pride, along with an equal measure of humility for me, that my father, the late poet Nissim Ezekiel, is widely acknowledged as the Father of Indian Poetry in English. Biologically, I am his daughter, his flesh and blood. My name ‘Kavita’, which means poem in Sanskrit, was perhaps both symbolically and prophetically given to me by my father.  Or he might have had a vision, like the prophet Ezekiel! My mother told me that when I was born, my father rejoiced as if he had written his best poem!  It is significant that I was not given a Jewish name. In several interviews and presentations about my father I have always maintained that preserving his legacy is near and dear to my heart. It is more important to me than my own writing. Many of the poems I write are either dedicated to my father or make reference to him in one way or another. We shared a deep bond. In my poem ‘Daddy’ I write that ‘the love of words is my steadfast inheritance.’ My father sowed the seeds of my love of words… the beginnings of my literary legacy. My home was always more full of books than any other household object. My father was a voracious reader and poured his love of reading into all three of us. He held informal poetry reading classes in the house, which I attended as a child.

The biological relationship was never one of mere physical connection, his genes to mine.  There was a powerful engagement with each other – total acceptance of the other, but also suffering in acknowledging the reality of the other’s life – its strengths, weaknesses, sometimes uncaring, other times, too involved… but never indifference.  To me that is the essence of love.

My poem ‘My Father, That Man’ is a poem that speaks of my love and admiration for my father’s passion for words. The last lines express my hope that he has left something of his gift for writing poetry for me. ‘I know that man well/ For he was my father/ I have his flaws/ In my genes/ And perhaps a little/ From his gift of words.’

 

Q.4. How far do you think Indian poetry in English has evolved since its beginning?

I think every generation of Indian poets writing in English have made a unique contribution to the field of Indian poetry in English. The style and content of pre-colonial poets was very different from poets of the post-colonial generation. It is the same with contemporary poets. In my opinion, it would be somewhat unfair to judge the quality of poetry of various eras by placing them in a sort of direct comparison with each other. Or juxtaposing them to render one seemingly superior and more evolved than the other.  I can’t remember the exact source, but when asked if his writing was different from his predecessors, one of the Indian English poets writing in post-Independence (1947) times said, “That’s just the way we wrote.” With contemporary poetry, I find a lot of experimentation with several types of poetry like Haiku, Tanka and Haibun, Prose poetry, to name a few.  Also, in keeping with the pressing concerns of the times, the content of today’s poetry reflects themes like Climate Change, Racism, Feminism, and other urgent political and social issues. Several poets have adopted a more colloquial style, which is actually my preference.  Translation has also begun to occupy an important space in the field of poetry today.

 

Q.5. How do you visualize yourself in the poetic arena of contemporary English poetry? 

I spend a lot of my time, writing about my father, giving readings of his poetry, lectures, and presentations about him. Preserving his legacy is very near and dear to my heart. I am more than happy to introduce him to the younger generation of poets, that may not be acquainted with him, as well as to international audiences. For me this is a labor of love, and more important than my own writing. Of course, I am a published poet myself and enjoy writing poetry. I have taught poetry in schools and colleges in a teaching career spanning over four decades and published my first book ‘Family Sunday and other poems’ in 1989. Raising two children and working full time consumed the intervening years. I happily, but sometimes wistfully, put my writing on hold. Giving time to my family was important at that stage. It was a priority for me.  After a long hiatus, having retired from teaching, I started writing again and my chapbook ‘Light of The Sabbath’ was published in September 2021. My simple desire is to share my most treasured memories and experiences with readers.  My greatest reward is when the poems are well-received and have touched the reader is some way.  My poems are also a record in verse of my family history.  On one occasion, my father, knowing my love of the Beatles, bought me a book of their lyrics from a bookshop in New York. He inscribed the book ‘To Kavita, with faith in her potential.’ If, in some small measure I can fulfil that potential, then I have not only fulfilled his hope for me, but my own dream for myself.

Kavita: Thank you for the opportunity of sharing my thoughts and ideas with you.

Susmita: Thank you Kavita for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us. We are filled with gratitude.

 

Kavita Ezekiel Mendonca was born and raised in a Jewish family in Mumbai.  She was educated at the Queen Mary School, Mumbai, received her BA in English and French, an MA from the University of Bombay in English and American Literature, and a Master’s in Education from Oxford Brookes University, England.  She has taught English, French and Spanish in various colleges and schools in India and overseas. Her first book, Family Sunday and Other Poems was published in 1989, with a second edition in 1990. Kavita is the daughter of the late poet, Nissim Ezekiel. She manages her Poetry page at https://www.facebook.com/kemendoncapoetry/

Susmita is a creative writer and independent scholar with bipolar mood disorder with schizophrenic potential. She writes in English and Bengali and is published in “Headline Poetry and Press”, “Montauk” and “Learning and Creativity”. Her published books are Poetry in Pieces (2018) and Himabaho Kotha Bole (When Glaciers Speak) (2019). She is the Founding Editor-in-Chief of The Pine Cone Review. Her personal website is www.susmitapaul.org 

Two Poems by Rizwan Akhtar

Free Market Economy

Not for ambition or bread—Dylan Thomas

just when the evening is about to collapse

like a market haggles rattles and shut

his tea settles in a cup bringing a reprieve

behind window a dusty urban Narcissus

flouts lavish curls (on a glossy cell phone)

so that when the day is done and the memory

tucked inside body is worn by sweating labor

nine to five battle with bread culminates

he is on a soft pillow munching dreams

indeed his muse is an aristocrat unaware

of her assets whipping world’s stock exchange

compare to this mean vendor of survival whose

poetic is so undernourished even trees he choose

gasps for more oxygen and grass craves water

the sun is so capitalistic intent on lurching him

a wildness lives at heart’s surroundings.

Hermeneutics

We do not live in proximity

with a sea and neither are

there gods so our pantheon

never originated except an

encounter on a bench since

then only personifications

be any other implicit way

to wind up all our chapters 

we shouldered even trees

close by called for glossary

ever since there is a simile

stuck on some page treated

your arms for all sorts of

purposes from a nuanced

analogy to a wild biting

to say I love you was the

death of punctuation till

an alcove of silence and

the book alone shelved.

Rizwan Akhtar’s debut collection of Poems Lahore, I Am Coming (2017) is published by Punjab University Press, Lahore .He has published poems in well-established poetry magazines of the UK, US, India, Canada, and New Zealand. He was a part of the workshop on poetry with Derek Walcott at the University of Essex in 2010.

Poems by Devika Mathur

BARREN DAYS

These days, possibly
I could stay awake all night
without lids open
without an outgrown mass for affection
staring into the raw rims of oval mouth- night shifters, I say.

A thing might be done during the afternoons
but generally nothing much happens in my house
all yellow- mahogany ruptured landscape
with tainted smiles to watch
monotony of colours, pigments and textures.
I have frowning faces all over
for spilled, spoiled milk (whatever you say)
A woman dragging her shadow in circles
counting till 50 backwards to go off to sanity,
nothing to stop her,
often, she skips if not running.

I can smell the salt all day.
Through the hanging stale night lamps,
a toothpaste now old and rusting
with beds cracking,
days pale like the birds bereft of water

brown as your memory
brown table, brown cinema and nothing wonderful.
Breakfasts are small,
small and wholesome.
Pinkish fruity nectar,
jasmine tea
and no words.
The rose from my balcony is my muse
a snippet from a falling sky-
it reminds me of my field of stone,
air and blur.
Sunsets and smiles.

These days, possibly
I can imagine going off to sleep
with everything inside my clumsy fist.
Askew, I will wake and break.

A RED FANCY

Red washbasins under my tongue
mosaic bones,
a shiver on my knee,
red is the sky and red is you.

This time is a wound now,
red fluttering itch.
I see you in my transparent dreams-

made of paper hearts and porcelain art,
a red opaque mirror
of us-

holding a sniffle of barren mouth
a sniff and a snuggle-
how do you want this?

how much do you want it?
A red shadow.
a red bed for a growling moon.

Count the ways, now.
the red floors of mannequins dancing/ the nail bite/
the fever. 
Count the ways you want it again?

  Cold now. 
Almost slippery.
Close to the red door.

Close to immature death once again.
The red sky is empty again.

-Devika Mathur resides in India and is a published poet, writer, and editor. Her works have been published in The Alipore Post, Madras Courier, Modern Literature, Two Drops Of Ink, Dying Dahlia Review, Pif Magazine, Spillwords, Duane’s Poetree, Piker Press, Mojave heart review, Whisper and the Roar amongst others. She is the founder of the surreal poetry website “Olive skins” and writes for https://myvaliantsoulsblog.wordpress.com/   She recently published her book “Crimson Skins”  and her five poems were also published in Sunday Mornings River anthology recently and has her works upcoming in two more fierce anthologies

Remembering K.K

K.K is no more. Words most of us thought we would never get to hear since we hold on to the silly and unproven belief that death follows the ritual of visiting the old before the young. But as I type this and as you read this, we are in a world which does not have that man in flesh and blood, where his sudden departure and absence has been felt more sharply than the implosion of a star.

I first SAW K.K. on T.V on a show called the Bhaskar Ghosh Show on Star Movies in the year 1999. I put “SAW” in all caps because those were the days where one only heard playback singers- the social media bandwagon was still a decade away. The playback scenario in Hindi Films was ruled by Kumar Sanu, Udit Narayan and Abhijeet—Sonu Nigam still had not achieved the stardom that came to him post Kal Ho Na Ho and was more of a familiar face as a host of a Musical Talent Hunt show.

 K.K. came like a breath of fresh air. In those days, the Indie Pop scene was not as tedious, monotonous and lacking in depth as we have now. Alisha Chinai, Euphoria, Daler Mehndi, Colonial Cousins were churning out one hit after another. Add to it, the charm of the music videos, introducing certain faces (Vidya Balan, Shahid Kapoor, Bipasha Basu, John Abraham, to name a few) which would later go on to launch a thousand ships. K. K’s Pal was released that year, along with the Nagesh Kukunoor’s growing up/boarding school drama Rockford and Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. So in a space of months, three songs, speaking of three different stages of adulting and teenage evolution, slowly crept into our lives with the calm assurance of a ghost who refuses to be exorcised. Tadap Tadap from Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam was a wail of a lover- railing against a God for making him fall in love and against the fickle nature of love itself. Pal, the song was more soothing and comforting, a song meant for the people residing on the opposite axis of heartbreak. And Yaaron Dosti would become a staple at school and college farewells.

With time, the legend of K.K. kept on growing. If you believed in the maxim, “Our Sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thoughts…” then you knew why K.K was in everybody’s playlist. I mean, who would not like a man who sung Sach Keh Raha Hain Deewana and Awaarapan, Banjarapan (A song so poignant that we forgot to criticise John Abraham’s emotiveness or the lack of it on screen). MTV and Channel V gave him the kind of airtime that was required for his voice to grow on us. And he straddled different lands- those of despair in the songs mentioned above and of elation and celebration and just plain masti in Koi Kahe Kehta Rahe and Dus Bahaane.

His musical collaboration with Pritam helped the latter find feet for himself in the Hindi film industry. The other two important cogs in the wheel were the Bhatt production house and Emraan Hashmi. Emraan had this amazing knack of making any song on screen sound and look better. Not that K.K needed any help. But their collaboration worked, be it in Tum Mile, The Train, Gangster and Jannat. In between all this, was the soul stirring Alvida from Life in a Metro, a song which had two versions, the other sung by Bangladeshi rock stalwart James and where, with all due respect to James, K. K’s version was a couple of miles ahead. His voice had the wonderful playback quality to it, it was not merely of a singer’s but that of a voice that was meant to be heard on screen.

But things change. And not always for the better. In the last few years, we heard less and less of him. The old timers have either stepped away from the limelight or are seen as judges in various reality shows. Not K.K. He was active in the live concert scene and had been selective about collaborating with music directors. Various factors may be responsible for this— there has been a flurry of old songs being remade and recreated, the auto-tune phenomenon which has taken away the skill element from playback singing and finally the tendency of music directors to have more than one version of a single song in a film’s soundtrack but which gets to feature in the film proper and which meant for unplugged version and only for the album being at the mercy of the producer. The landscape of the music industry had changed. For the ones in their early youth now, he was just another name. But not for us.

It has been just over a week since his demise. I have stayed away from the FM and Spotify, lest I chance upon the various tribute shows and playlists that have been curated for him. But I have hummed his songs continuously. Without being conscious of it. Without taking much of an effort. There is no discrepancy or duality or hypocrisy there. The fact remains that there has been a void which will not be filled up. Very similar to the void created with the absence of another genius, Irrfaan. I have sat in the evenings and nights and wondered why does it hurt? Where does it hurt?

The truth is this loss is a very selfish loss. Very few of us are railing at the unfairness of life, or the unpredictability of death. That is something we have been accepted. With K.K, a particular generation has lost a part of themselves. This grief is a very private grief, something that people of this generation might not able to grasp fully. K.K voiced the longing, grief, love and hope and hopelessness and friendly banter of millions. He was a sign where things were not made available too easily. One had to go to music websites filled with trackers and questionable links, the most popular being one from the other side of the border, and see if the songs had been uploaded. Very few of us could afford the CDs and since cassettes were slowly setting with the western sun, the only available option was to download songs from the internet. He is the symbol of the times when, since these songs were not available at the press of a button, the wait for them to be played on TV, on countdown shows or even on the FM was a agonising one but it was all worth it.

We are all holding on. It is funny how most times on social media and Whatsapp, we are only looking backward to the times gone by. We are active members of groups and subscribe to pages which deal with the forgotten taste of childhood and adolescence. K.K was a guardian of a treasure, the keys to whose doors we have willingly given away. And that is why this death hurts. When K.K sang Zaara si dil mein de jagah tu, it was a request that he didn’t have to make.

Poems by Oindri Sengupta

Two faces

My city has a history of nothingness.

Like many other cities that are born

out of someone’s despair and dreams,

my city too erupted from a lost sigh,

kept behind by a broken promise at the night’s end.

We are all dust-gatherers here,

cleaning our rusted memories before fading into light.

You came in during a dark hour

when the city found eloquence in its salty waters,

around the sound of its graves,

under the silence of the sky.

Drifting from one thread of light to the other.

Your call was like the madness of the soul

that once tasted the flavour of flight.

My feet followed you,

looking for answers,

While the city discovered its being scattered

on the road we left behind in sleep,

you discovered the elemental colours of life

on the path that you carved inside me.

Oindri Sengupta teaches English at a Govt School in Kolkata. Her poetry has been previously published in journals like The Lake (UK), Istanbul Literary Review, Chiron Review, Life and Legends, Outlook India, Muse India, and is upcoming in Poetica Review (UK) among others. Her poetry has also been used and adapted into a play, ‘Another Rainbow’. Her debut collection of poems ‘After the Fall of a Cloud’ has recently been published by Hawakal Publishers (New Delhi) in 2022.

Interview with Lisa Schantl by Susmita Paul

 

Please follow the link below to listen to the conversation between Susmita Paul and Lisa Schantl who is the founder and editor of the Tint Journal.

Lisa_SchantlLisa Schantl is also a project assistant at the Institute for Art in Public Space Styria. She holds a Master’s degree in English and American Studies with a focus on (North American) literature and the environment, as well as Bachelor degrees in that same field and Philosophy. In addition to her research in literature written in English, she is very interested in international relations and literary translation. Her journalistic and critical work has appeared in Versopolis, Anzeiger, PARADOX, The Montclarion and more, her creative work in Asymptote, UniVerse, Artists & Climate Change, The Hopper, The Normal Review, PubLab and more.

 

Susmita is a creative writer and independent scholar with bipolar mood disorder with schizophrenic potential. She writes in English and Bengali and is published in “Headline Poetry and Press”, “Montauk” and “Learning and Creativity”. Her published books are Poetry in Pieces (2018) and Himabaho Kotha Bole (When Glaciers Speak) (2019). She is the Founding Editor-in-Chief of The Pine Cone Review. Her personal website is www.susmitapaul.org 

Two Poems by Jagari Mukherjee

THEATRE

He says,
your poetry reminds me of the Russians.

I search for the color and taste
of the Volga on my tongue.
Instead, I find a hole
where once a charred theatre stood.
My mouth turns a veritable Kiev:
Lev tries to scream out from my throat
while Fyodor jabs Rogozhin’s knife
to scoop out my vocal chords.

(Ice cream.)

He says,
your poetry reminds me of the Russians.
I reply,
I’ve got a sore throat.

*NOTES:

Lev: Tolstoy
Fyodor: Dostoevsky
Rogozhin: Character from ‘The Idiot’

THE THIRD DAY
(After Hieronymus Bosch’s painting The Garden of Earthly Delights)

I am the artist’s God
bent over my art–
till today, I have used
my grisaille palette of grey-green.
I must make a radiant sun
and a soft-toned moon
as lanterns to add some sheen
to my masterpiece, this crystal globe.
Three days down, four to go.
I intend to consult the Testament
and splatter colors on my artist’s robe.

Being God, could I not foretell
The Fall which must come
in my Eden?
Open the panels of Bosch’s triptych
and you will see
a Paradise and a wasteland
fill my garden.

Hieronymus has painted it well.
I mould artists out of matter
and they paint me on panels
and ceilings of chapels,
(with gorgeousness flatter).
A fair effort at gratitude, too, I recall.

Some call me jealous,
others call me kind.
Nobody knows my mind.
But they love my son
who saved the world.
I am an artist’s God
about to create Life…
the greatest satire of all.

Jagari Mukherjee is a poet, editor, and reviewer based in Kolkata, India. She has two
full-length books of poetry and two chapbooks. Her latest full-length collection, The
Elegant Nobody, was published by Hawakal Publishers in January 2020. Jagari is the
Founder and Chief Executive Editor of the literary journal, EKL Review.

Poems by Sneha Bhura

 

Bother

 A blank wall is a canvas

On a sore head Sunday

The sitar sings self-care

Fingering oil into hair

 

Bristle brush, watercolour

Camel black, burnt umber

On plastic kitchen palette

They slather and slubber

 

 

Long, quivering iron logs

Go up and down the wall

They stop in their tracks

An arc their rise forestalls

 

 

It still looks like a prison

So I paint quiet creepers

Which fall like ribbons

The bars sing Vermeer

 

 

Is it a floating headboard

Or a secret garden door?

A question not as vexed as

If or not he cares anymore 

 

History, it rhymes

 

 

When you fixed your tie

And cleared your throat

To ask, “Do you like boys?”

I pursed my lips and ran away

You were nine, I was eight

 

 

Now, as I wait

For a flicker of a text

You are that tie-trendy ghost

With wounded eyes

And a bloated nose

 

 

A schoolboy image of a pop star

With hair parted like Jesus

In his biochemistry class

Except you now chase kites

Where the wild things are

 

 

A moonstruck missive

With several dotted postscripts

Was an era of unrequited love

Now I can swallow a toad

Pretend I am above, and far.

 

 

Combat Yogini

 

High up in the mountains,

She is learning the Ras Lila.

 

 

Often, on her way there,

She cries alone in a forest. 

 

 

A lost love laid down the path,

She knows no double-back.

 

 

Along came a guy de diplomat,

She later learnt was also trash.

 

 

Food, internet and a room, 

She asked for nothing more.

 

 

To mummy, papa and sister

She is a bad mother, a whore. 

 

Sneha Bhura is a Delhi-based journalist with The Week magazine. She has worked for publications like Open magazine, Mint Lounge and Fortune. Her first chapbook, Velvet Grapes: Drunk Midnight Poetry (Hawakal Publishers), was out in January 2021. Her most recent poems have been published in the Madras Courier, The Punch Magazine and The Chakkar.

Poems by Tapati Gupta

Indifference

Dewdrops on the branches

Bemoan the loss of lives.

We look at the statistics of casualties

Over our steaming tea

The grocery list demands attention

The imbroglio of war in a far country

 Leads to a webinar on international relations.

The seagull flies away in fear

Of human indifference

The vultures crave for more food 

But shiver at the thought of missile fire

The little sister cries for her mother

Her brother lifts her with his weak hands

Mortar shells hit their house.

I must go and do my grocery

Before prices spiral

Suddenly I hear a sound of soft sobbing

As the dew dissolves in the heat of hatred

Crows start a colloquium in the trees

On the topic of human cruelty

My crumpled grocery list escapes my fingers

Is my sky still blue?

The Old Canyon

The old canyon

What does it hide

Love, peace or strife

Let me collect the love and peace

Even though it may break me apart.

Bare branches pierce the blue

The leafy ones nod happily

Am I bare, I wonder.

I descend the slope

Treading on green grass

Sometimes on prickly thorns

Blood oozes

But I discover newness

A breath emanates from the depths

The blood is now the purple of peace.

A tree trunk softens itself for me

it assures the security of centuries of love.

Let it last, let it last

Somewhere a coyote sings to its mate.

Tapati Gupta is a retired Professor of the Department of English, University of Calcutta and former Head of the Department. An erudite scholar, a theatre, arts and music aficionado and an enthusiastic photographer, she continues to pursue new interests with indefatigable zeal.