Title: When the Flood Stops
Poet: Chaitali Sengupta
Chaitali Sengupta is a writer and a poet by passion, a financial analyst and a language teacher by profession. She’s a translator and volunteer journalist, based in the Netherlands. “Cross Stitched words”, her debut collection of prose-poems, has been recently published by SETU publications, USA. Her two translated works (from Bengali to English) are “Quiet whispers of our heart” & “A thousand words of heart”. She has contributed largely to esteemed international anthologies and online/print literary journals, including Café Dissensus, Different Truths, Borderless Journal, Muse India. Her translation of a human interest documentary for the Dutch TV channel NPO.nl was widely appreciated.
The poem When the Flood Stops has been written after hearing the panel discussion on Poetry of floods and Environmental Activism by Sumana Roy, Nishi Pulugurtha, Shelly Bhoil and Deyasini Roy.
In the hollowed out, half-submerged shack,
we returned when the flood stopped.
The drunken mad dance of water, now ends, retreats, like
a recluse, where it is meant to be.
Joins the gray, haughty, tumultuous sea, leaving behind
the salt, that flirts with us, sits on us, like a humid
second skin; the deep-cold salty water, settling in
our precious acres, soaked all our farmlands.
Title: Boons and Banes
Poet: Megha Mazumdar
Megha is a student of English Literature, pursuing her post-graduation from St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata, India. She is also a silver medal holder for her academic performance at AMITY University, Kolkata. Megha has been scribbling poetry for a long time and her major turning point in life has been Keats’ trance romantic poetry. She extends her reach to learning and writing multilingual poetry, her current area of interest being Spanish Imagist poetry. Megha has published in several national and international journals, including The Criterion and IJELS. She has recently presented a paper at the ICSC Conference, on South-Asian Canadian Diaspora, among her other presentations. Contexts of the poem Boons and Banes have been drawn from A.K Ramanujan’s A River (1965), William Wordsworth’s It is not to be Thought of (1815) and Kalidasa’s Meghaduta (4th-5th CE, approx.)
Sometimes, when I close
My eyes, to respond
To a hypothetical sudden over-pouring
Of dirty, grey waters,
Gushing into my well-ordained, yellow room,
I struggle down a gulp,
Lick my dry set of still lips,
As I strive to line-up
My dry skin underneath
The ones that have got wet,
I feel the wetness in my eyes-
I shed a few drops to decipher
Ramanujan’s monster at Madurai,...
Title: Floods of Despair
Poet: Dr. Chitra Thrivikraman Nair
Dr Chitra Thrivikraman Nair b.1976 is an academic and bilingual poet anchored in Kerala. She has published a number of research articles in indexed, refereed national and international journals and books, and is on the Editorial Board of two prominent journals. She is also a member of various academic organisations. Her poems in English and in Malayalam have been published in various journals and anthologies. Her maiden anthology of poems in English titled ‘Shades of Life’ has been published in 2021 by the Third Eye Butterfly Press, Florida, USA. She is Assistant Professor of English at Government Sanskrit College, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala and is also a Research Supervisor in English of the University of Kerala.
The soft waters of the stream,
Gently caressed by the breeze.
Suddenly there comes a massive gush,
Trembling the nature in a rush.
Which lay calm till then.
As the waters gushed over,
Thoughts of oneself vanished forever.
As everyone was engulfed
In the fierce waters of death.
Title: The Empty Nest
Poet: Rutuja Pradhan
Rutuja Pradhan is a poet and a short story writer from Mumbai. She completed her MA Honours with Research in English from University of Mumbai and now works as a freelance proofreader. She is also an independent researcher and works with trauma, gender and graphic novels. Though she primarily writes online, some of her poems and short stories have found their way into anthologies. Her first poetry book, From Cullet to Kaleidoscope is expected to be published by the end of 2021. She posts her work on her Instagram.
I walk gingerly through the pile of rubble that once
made walls of my house.
Broken pieces of my mother’s favourite crockery
that only ever touched our lips when we had guests
lie partially submerged in muck.
Title: The Deluge
Poet: Punam Sharma
Punam Sharma is a content writer. Her work involves branding people and their brands by highlighting their powerful and authentic traits. She projects a reflection of people's personas through storytelling. She also writes blogs, articles and social media content. Passionate about writing poetry, Punam is also a Bharatnatyam dancer. Besides, she dabbles in painting and loves to actively participate in cultural events. She has anchored a couple of programs, been a part of organizing committees for cultural events and choreographed dance numbers for different occasions.
Minoti lay awake till the wee hours,
Securely holding her 6-year-old,
As the night long rains soaked the earth damp.
The grey mist mingled with the scent of the soil,
Reeking of some old memories,
Glared at her through the windows that looked fragile,
Against the violent mood of the wind.
There was as though some foreboding in the lightening;
Each time it struck,
She held little Horukon tighter.
Title: Myth, A True Story
Author: Ankita Dutta
Author Intro: Ankita Dutta has completed her Masters degree in English and is currently pursuing B.Ed. Besides being a school teacher, she is also doing an International PG Diploma course to become an English Language Trainer. She is adept in Sanskrit. George Orwell’s 1984 is her scholarly inspiration. Ankita’s research interests lie in the English Postcolonial Dystopian literature and she looks forward to pursuing this for her doctoral studies. Besides academics, she is interested in culinary art and is also a trained Bharatanatyam dancer.
Grandmother Yangzi had an ardent habit of storytelling. Even if her sons and grandsons were away from her, she would still try to tell them stories, by sending letters regularly. She drafted those in her beautiful calligraphy. She had all sorts of stories to tell – about mythological beings, about people, about origins, about the world. Huang did not remember her face exactly, but she must have been very old for her to have access to such vast knowledge. Huang was born in Qinghai just like his grandma. They both enjoyed their lovely times together when they dwelled in Sichuan. Later on, she decided to go and spend the rest of her life with her relatives towards Wuhan while Huang travelled towards Jinan in search of an outstanding life. Their paths had never crossed since then. Only the stories remained with him, and once in a while they came through letters. How grandma knew where he was exactly remains a mystery to this day!
Huang thus knew a plethora of tales, but he did remember one story particularly. This one story was very special, very close to Huang’s heart. The story was about floods; his grandma had sent him the story when he was in the prime of his life. Floods do occur once in a while, not by happenstance; she wrote, “Floods were the cries of the river!” Rivers always love to acquaint with people – rivers love to play with them, to help them and to provide them with fresh flowing water. But not always can humans value kindness. Often people torture them, in various ways, and so they cry. They cry because of the pain they feel when they are grieving such barbaric behaviour. This crying has been named floods, and these floods do perish lives, property and civilizations. Yet humans can never understand their pain; they will still blame the river. Rivers are but mild, they cannot hold on to their wrath for long. People remember only their own hardships; they curse rivers till their last breath.
Title: Still They Rise
Author: Shyamolima Saikia
Author Intro: Shyamolima Saikia is working as an Assistant Professor in the Dept. Of English, Gargaon College, Sivasagar, Assam, India. She has presented research papers in various National and International Seminars. Besides editing a number of books, she has also published a book of poems titled Palimpsest. Her poems have been published in Borderless Journal, Muse India, Indian Periodical, Virtuoso, Teesta Review, Soul Connection, newspapers like “The Assam Tribune”, “The Sentinel” and anthologies like Antargata, Fragrance of Life, the Kali Project etc. She is also the recipient of the Best Poetry Award, 2020 in the Writers’ Festival organized by Cape Comorin Trust. Moreover, she also contributes short stories and prose-pieces in regional dailies, magazines and online platforms. She is the editorial member of Ruminations, a Peer Reviewed Bi-Annual International Journal. Further, she is the member of Association for English Literary Studies, ELTAI, Education Research and Development Association (ERDA) among others.
The meadows of the village looked lush green with monsoon clouds fleeting across the sky. Rongmon’s hamlet was situated on the banks of the river Dikhow, a tributary of the mighty Brahmaputra. It was his grandma who had told him tales of this river, which according to her, had beheld many a clan arrive and go from the reigns of Sukaphaa, the first Ahom king at Charaideo to the coming of the Burmese and later the British. It was on its banks that a resilience was put up by many a courageous lot against the Kacharis to the Mughal onslaught. A life-giver to the large number of people dwelling on its shore, the river has been sustaining humble and meagre lives from days of yore.
The little shoulders of Rongmon had to bear a myriad responsibility. In the weekly haat (village bazaar), he had to sell the yield of the vegetables his father cultivated laboriously in their garden. He was in the sixth standard at school and had to carry on his studies, too. His father was meticulous regarding his studies. “Get up, you lazy fellow!” His father would wake him up at 4 in the morning. The still sleepy head would rouse from his bed and go to his table to study. In winter days, he would have to take a lamp to read for there was no electricity in their hut. His mother would, in the meantime, milk the cows. A little later, the young boy would go out to distribute the milk which his mother had milked. Life was no doubt difficult for him, yet it was full of adventures, too.
Title: Baba’s Old Steel Box
Author: Subhankar Dutta
Subhankar Dutta, an alumnus of Banaras Hindu University & Midnapore College, is currently a Senior Research Fellow and Teaching Assistant in the Humanities and Social Sciences Department (HSS) of IIT Bombay. He is working on Performance, History, and Cultural Politics of the Gajan (Hook Swinging) Festival of Bengal. He is a senior academic editor at New Literaria, an International Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies. His creative and academic writings have been published from International Journal of Creative Literature for Peace and Humanity, Rupkatha, JCLA, Aalokon, and others. He is part of Abhyuday, the social body of IITB working towards social inclusiveness; and Asamayer Bondhu, an NGO working at the flood affected Bengal Coast. He also works with Qissa Kothi, a Mumbai based theatre group, and served as the PG Convener of Fourthwall, the Dramatics Club of IIT Bombay. For more details, please see, https://subhankarduttas.wordpress.com/
It was a Monday evening. The deep dark sky was looming large and kissing the horizon with an engulfing tenacity. It might rain heavily tonight. While returning through the narrow path of the jetty ghat, Devika was often looking at the sky. After three days of continuous pouring, finally, today, she got a chance to go out of the house and attend classes. While the schools were closed and online classes were a far-fetched dream, Devika's last hope was village tuition teacher Atul, the only graduate of the village. All others had migrated to the big cities of light, life, and luxury. Atul sir had seen a bit of it and always installed the same dream: grow big, dream big. Devika also wanted to build a small concrete house beside this jetty ghat road: one bedroom, one kitchen, one room for the Gods, and a small thatched cottage for Nandi, their much-loved family member. By the time Devika finished her sketching of the dream house, she had reached home. Putting the nylon bag containing books, mat, and pen on the floor, she hugged her mother tight.
‘Maa, today, sir taught us about light and dark. Darkness is absolute, and light is temporary. Maa, when will the light (electricity) come to our village?'
'Are Devi, I don't know all these. Ask these questions to your uncle, he goes on campaign with the party, he knows these better. Go wash your legs and do the evening prayer at the Tulsi Tola.'
'If Baba would have been here, he would have definitely answered it. But, you always keep me aside from all these curiosities,' Devika replied with anguish and disgust.
A silence prevailed throughout the house.
Title: Morality and Flood Narratives in Indian Mythology
Author: Neil Nagwekar
Neil Nagwekar, 24, is from Mumbai, India. He is editing a political novel while completing M.A. in English Literature at The English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad. He has worked for mid-day and co-directed a production at the National Centre for the Performing Arts, Mumbai. His principal literary influences are Foucault, Marx and T.S. Eliot. You can find him on Twitter @NeilNagwekar talking about football, the death of poetry in the age of Instagram, or his fanfiction that fixes the end of Game of Thrones.
This paper recounts three ancient Indian flood narratives in a modern light—namely, the Matsya Avatar legend in The Satapatha-Brahmana, the differing versions of the same deluge recorded in Radcliffe-Brown’s The Andaman Islanders, as well as the tale of Buddhist carpenters near Benares narrated in The Jātaka. The morals of these tales are surmised and later compared to the contemporary world, with a brief focus on the Kerala floods in 2018 and 2019. It is observed that the cause and purpose of the mythological floods is a conscious attempt by Indian deities to purge humanity from immoral deeds. Consequently, it is argued that the modern individual’s apathy toward climate change metrics may be analogous to the rise of adharma in ancient flood narratives, and that man-made deluges are the result of purely material forces, in the form of unwanted, exploitative human interference into nature’s ecosystem.
Keywords: climate change, floods, matsya avatar, puluga, samudda-vāṇija-jātaka
August was a grim month for Kerala in 2018 and 2019. In this period, the state was subject to deluges and landslides that cumulatively claimed over five-hundred lives and wrecked several homes, agricultural lands, roads, revenue departments, etc. A close examination of the requisite parameters led to the conclusion that improper soil-piping, illegal and unsafe mining, high-rise building constructions and climate change were key reasons behind the floods. This classified the disaster as man-made. In an India Today article titled Kerala’s Man-Made Disaster, the messaging of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in 2019 was clear: “The monsoon related disasters have taught us that we need to embrace eco-friendly living and ensure minimum exploitation of our land” (Jacob).
Despite these floods occurring precisely in August of 2018 and 2019—and despite Kerala being called ‘God’s own country’—there is clearly no abstract attempt to correlate floods with the wrath of gods. Indeed, over the centuries, such mythological flood narratives have completely succumbed to scientific discourses that can posit (and prove) causal relations between events. Empirical analysis can determine if the cause of a particular flood is related to climate change, deforestation, plastic, palm oils, urbanization, cyclones, etc., depending on the case study. This is, in part, why today’s relative obsolescence of mythological narratives is obvious. These narratives tend to ascribe gods, demons, curses, chosen ones, etc. as the reason and purpose of deluges. They prescribe sacrificial rituals over methods of irrigation, drainage, mitigation, etc. that would otherwise be practically helpful for the farmer or migrator. In addition, the sources of these stories are not even reliable enough to be considered as historical fact, let alone scientific fact.
Title: The Aquatic Wrath – Portrayal of Flood in Indian Cinema
Author: Tishya Majumder
Author Intro: Tishya Majumder lives in West Bengal, India. She is an author and has published ten poems and one short story in various journals and anthologies. She has received the University Silver Medal for securing the second position in B.A. and the University Gold Medal for securing the first position in M.A. in English Literature from University of North Bengal. Currently, she is a Research Scholar in the Department of English, Raiganj University.
In Indian cinema, several movies have attempted to portray natural disasters and their effects. Flood has been the theme of a handful. What is essential in a movie about flood is the realistic depiction of the physical and the psychological trauma faced by the flood victims. From their safe seats the audience should be able to feel at one with the characters on screen, comprehend the wrath of nature and understand the evanescence of life. In the essay I shall analyze three Indian films – Kedarnath, House Owner and Tum Mile – that are based on real floods that have occurred in India. Whether these three movies have successfully conveyed to the audience the horrific and distressful experiences of facing a flood is the primary focus of the essay.
“All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was.”
Nature has caused India to face the wrath of flood time and again. According to the Geological Survey of India (GSI), about 12.5% of the country is prone to floods. In the last two decades, parts of India have been consumed by over fifteen floods – Mumbai Flood (2017) , Kashmir Flood (2014), Chennai Flood (2015) , North India Flood (2013), Bihar Flood (2008) to name a few. The deadly nature of flood has quite literally swept people off their feet only to carry them towards destruction. Adding to it is the ruination of property, loss of trees, crops and animals, deterioration of the health conditions of the survivors and so on, all of which add up and walk towards the disruption of normal life. Floods have also caused harmful and long-lasting psychological effects on its victims – the death of loved ones, homelessness, loss of livelihood, shortage of resources, displacement of residents, are a few aftermaths which have led to symptoms of depression, anxiety and Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
When we talk about disaster movies, there are two factors that require attention – one, the realistic portrayal of the physical destruction and second, the psychological trauma faced by the victims. The two need to go hand in hand in order to make the audience have a true understanding of the effects of a disaster from their safe seats. In the words of Roman Polanski, the Polish-French film director, “Cinema should make you forget you are sitting in a theatre”. In order to achieve that in a disaster movie, one requires incredible execution. How far has Indian cinema been able to meet the goal is the real question.
Title: The Journey of Human Prosperity Signalling Devastating Floods
Author: Mita Banerjee
Author Intro: Mita is an independent researcher who voices her opinion through her writing skills. She loves to write on various issues prevailing in and around her and through her writing she tries to reach out to the general readers. She is also engaged in creative writing and writes short stories and poems.
The journey of human civilisation that had started thousands of years ago and had appeared to be extremely promising at a certain juncture of time has turned into a growing menace looming largely before itself. Human prosperity has become the harbinger of several natural calamities, floods being the most potent means of destruction, affecting people across the globe that now requires relocation of the communities from these flood affected areas. The insatiable human demand for growth and prosperity has made humans repeatedly overlook the limits of intervention with other earthly things and environment, thus bringing nature and man in conflict with each other. The article discusses floods from three perspectives: the effects of global warming, the effects of building dams, and the effect of concretising cities with buildings; all three causes being the outcome of human dreams of a better and prosperous future.
Key Words: Human Prosperity, Floods, Relocation
Ever since the iron age when the work of clearing forests started preparing lands for cultivation, human desire has never met its goal. So much so that this insatiable demand wants to bring everything under its control - the earth, the air, the water, the animals, and every natural resource available on this planet. This zeal of conquest became more effective in the eighteenth century; a period when the industrial revolution bloomed in England, and thereafter, created a new appetite that perpetuated within the society in the form of capitalisation and globalisation. The journey of human civilisation that had started thousands of years ago and had appeared to be extremely promising at one point of time, has become a growing threat looming largely over the humanity itself; to the extent that it has become the harbinger of several natural calamities, threatening the increase of floods that now requires relocating communities. This article will bring to light how uncurbed human activities, resulting from their narrow and selfish desires, have ended in disturbing the natural balance leading to floods which are threatening human settlements in the coastal regions, flood plains, and cities.
Stories of flood abound in the mythological texts of the Mesopotamian, Indian Chinese, Greek, Irish, Polynesian, natives of Australian civilisation, because settlements evolved around the river basins and as a natural phenomenon rivers have over flown under the effect of excessive rain and floods disturbing, disrupting and rejuvenating human life and living. But of late, this natural phenomenon is seen to have taken a dismal form due to increased human activities which have destroyed the prevailing environmental balance. Human activities leading to the increased carbon emission and global warming, resulting in the melting of polar ice caps and the rise of sea level; building embankments followed by the technically advanced constructions of dams and barrages across the rivers to stop the flood waters flowing inland; and the uninterrupted construction of roads, rails, and buildings by filling the river, ponds, and blocking the wetlands, are all making way for the increased flood situations across the world. Surging waters of the floods, caused by incessant rains and cyclonic weather in the coastal regions have compulsorily shifted localities to newer grounds who on return discover their original homeland being engulfed by flood waters.
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Editorial by Dr. Prasun Chatterjee
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