Author: Samina Hadi-Tabassum
Samina Hadi-Tabassum is an associate professor at Erikson Institute in Chicago where she teaches courses in child development. Her first book of poems, Muslim Melancholia (2017), was published by Red Mountain Press. She has published poems in East Lit Journal, Soul-Lit, Journal of Postcolonial Literature, Papercuts, The Waggle, Indian Review, Classical Poets, Mosaic, Main Street Rag, Connecticut River Review, Pilgrimage Literary Journal, Riksha, Clockhouse, The Canopy Review, and Souvenir. Her poems were performed on stage in 2017 as a part of the Kundiman Foundation and Emotive Fruition event focusing on Asian American poetry. In 2018, she was named a semi-finalist for the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award in Chicago.
Samina Hadi-Tabassum has also published a few short stories: “Maqbool” in New Orleans Review in June 2018; “Lateef” in Another Chicago Magazine in October 2020; “Sajid” in Chicago Quarterly Review in December 2020. Maqbool is a chapter in a 2020 Penguin anthology focusing on Muslim writers worldwide.
“Where are you going?” asked Adnan as his son Hassan was getting ready to leave the house. The smoke from Adnan’s cigarette snaked in front of the patio door. He could not see his son in the jagged shadows of summer that fell across the southern walls of their red brick mansion. Adnan could only hear his son’s voice coming from inside the empty house through the glass pane.
“To the masjid. For jumma,” answered Hassan, frustrated that his father sat outside smoking on a Friday afternoon while his friends’ fathers would be at the masjid, genuflecting with their sons, hugging and greeting each other afterwards.
“Is it that late already? When will you be back?”
“I don’t know. I might go to Bilal’s house later. Mummy said I need to be back before dinner.”
“Yes, of course. Will Bilal’s sisters be home as well?”
“I don’t know. Why are you asking?”
They both knew why. That Hassan was in love with Bilal’s younger sister. Adnan had seen her at the masjid at the last Eid prayer, talking to Hassan and his friends in the parking lot. She was Punjabi, a few feet shorter than Hassan, dressed in an emerald green kurta for Eid, her dupatta perfectly folded to cover every inch of hair.
Author: Rushati Dasgupta
Rushati Dasgupta is a research scholar in English Literature; she is pursuing her Ph.D from Jain Deemed-to-be University, Bengaluru. Her doctoral thesis focuses on the literary representations of select diasporic communities. She hails from Jalpaiguri, West Bengal. She has won numerous accolades for her academic excellence and extra-curricular activities. She has completed a Certificate Course on Creative Writing from British Council, Kolkata. Her publications range from research articles to poetry and short stories, both in print and electronic media. Formerly, she was a Copy Editor at Thomson Reuters and has been a facilitator of an online certificate course on Creative Writing, conducted by Abhaskar School of Acting, Kerala. Rushati is also a dancer who is trained in Bharatnatyam and an amateur artist who likes to doodle in her leisure time.
“Have you ever experienced racism?” she asked me one fine day out of the blue.
I was taken aback for a few seconds. It was for the first time someone had asked me this, though it had been a while since I moved to the States. Even when #blacklivesmatter trended all over the social media, I personally did not encounter any such question. Very confidently I replied, “No!”
A few days later I told her, “Maybe the dogs are racist!” I am a cynophilist, so naturally I tend to greet dogs and pet them. But the dogs here in Columbus vehemently start barking at me, but are affable with my French friend who doesn’t even like dogs!
The “she” I am referring to is my girlfriend, not the conventional one though. She lives miles apart in my hometown, in India. Though we went to the same school where she was my junior, but it took us over a decade after school to finally start interacting with each other; and
it happened through social media. Before you assume anything, no I am not going to bore or entertain my readers discussing my pangs of separation and hurdles of a long distance relationship.
MOM IN MINNEAPOLIS
Author: Shivangi Singh
Shivangi Singh lives in the U.S. with her husband, two boys, and Happy Singh, the dog. A self-published author, she is passionate about creating storybooks for children. One of her five children's books, 'Happy's Hairy Tale - The Corona Cut' is a part of the Indie Minnesota Anthology. Currently, she works as a part-time content writer and an educator. When creative ideas visit her, she captures them in her blog - Stories by Shivangi. She loves the folk art forms of India and often creates art inspired by the Indian culture. Before coming to the U.S. from India, she worked as a journalist with Zee News and covered entertainment and literary stories. She had the opportunity to interview writers like the Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka, Khushwant Singh, Ruskin Bond, William Dalrymple, Hari Kunzru, Amitav Ghosh, and Chetan Bhagat, to name a few. She holds a master’s degree in English and has received awards for her creative writing skills by organizations such as UNFPA.
As I lay on a hospital bed at Fairview hospital in Burnsville, Minnesota, USA, tears rolled down my cheeks. I was all alone; no one had come from India. It was July 21, 2014, and my second baby was due the following day through a C-section.
"How will you take care of a new baby, a toddler, and your household without any help?" My sister had texted a while ago. "I am leaving everything in God’s hand!" I replied. That is what most of the Indians do when they are in flux.
My husband had left for the apartment to take care of our older one - a three-year-old toddler. The hospital did not allow two guests, and since the baby came early, nobody was there to take care of our little boy.
Less than a year ago, I had arrived in Minneapolis from New Delhi during winters with my husband and a toddler. My husband had got placed on-site by his IT company, and we came along. Little did we know that we would stay on after subsequent job contract renewals like thousands of other Indian families who never plan to live here yet are unable to leave...
Author: Mita Bandyopadhyay
Author intro: Mita Bandyopadhyay is a senior researcher in the department of Humanities and Social Sciences at the National Institute of Technology (NIT), Durgapur. Her area of interest is visual popular culture, with particular reference to Bollywood movies and the way the audience react to the movies, that is, cognitive film studies.
Smita opened her eyes and found herself awake; she had had a bad dream. Tonight she was alone on her bed, because her husband, Rajvir was not there with her. He was in a different room, on a different bed. Since last night, Rajvir had chosen to go to bed separately.
Sitting over her bed Smita looked outside. She could not see anything beyond the balcony; it was dark everywhere, there was no electricity, no moon, no stars; the surrounding blackness revealing something which was yet beyond her comprehension. The tar coloured sky roared and thundered to the accompaniment of intermittent flashes of lightning creating a network of forks, making enchanting illuminations across the sky. Smita sat there for a few minutes enraptured by the wildness of nature, but soon transposed to her present state by droplets of water patting against her face. Within minutes the clatter of the rain began to rise and water started lashing against her window pane, adjacent to the bed. Smita shut the window instantly. Next, she went to Rajvir’s room and shut his room’s window too. For a moment she stood there, looking at him with deep desire in her eyes; if only Rajvir gave her the space to lie next to him, she would instantly accept his proposition even if the bed was meant for a single person.
Author: Sanchaiyata Majumdar
Ms Sanchaiyata Majumdar is currently working as an Assistant Professor of English at Garden City University, Bangalore. She completed her graduation from one of the prestigious colleges in India, Bethune College, Kolkata in English Literature, and her post-graduation in English Literature from University of Calcutta ranking within top ten positions in her class. In 2017, she successfully completed her MPhil on “Re-reading Marquez’s Women: A Study of Selected Characters” from Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata. She has qualified UGC-NET with high percentage twice and is presently pursuing her PhD from Christ University, Bangalore. Apart from that she also has to her credit an additional post-graduate diploma degree in Print Journalism and has an experience of working as a trainee sub-editor in the Statesman, Kolkata. She is an Associate Editor of The Dawn Journal. Having more than six eventful years of teaching experience at college and university levels, her areas of interest are Latin American Literature, Literary Critical Theories, Post-modernism, Business Communication and so on. Added to all of these, she is presently a core committee of the Planning, Monitoring, Statistics and Evaluation Board at Garden City University. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of GCU World Magazine. She has been a university question paper setter for almost three years at MAKAUT, West Bengal for English and Business Communication. She has numerous national and international publications and keeps herself vibrantly pro-active in conducting events, lectures, seminars, mentoring sessions pertaining to academia and administration. She nurtures her skills through extensive reading, online courses, paper publications and presentations which is a passion for her.
It was tedious. Although I hash-tagged my airport picture as ‘dreamcometrue’, it was tedious! My friends back in India would envy me, their mothers would wish they had a dadabhai like mine, their fathers would perhaps start looking for NRIs for them, but I felt the eight long hours in a flight as nothing more than tedious. Ma was not allowed inside the airport. I made sure not to look back once I passed the glass door. When I called Ma after having settled down inside the flight, all she uttered in her shaking voice was, ‘Give dadabhai the red dhaga and make sure he ties it around Golu’s arm...give Dhara the tiffin boxes immediately after reaching their home...tell Dhara to put a black mark under Golu’s feet….” I felt angry and sad. Ma was so concerned about dadabhai and boudi that she forgot to miss me. I hastily said, “Ma, I remember everything. Will ask dadabhai to let you know after I reach...Bye” and disconnected the call. I think Ma wanted to say something more, I felt I heard a short breath.
Sydney airport disappointed me. It was nothing grand. As if someone thought of it suddenly and thus found out a place in the middle of nowhere and here it was! I missed Kolkata airport. The nostalgia set in. I walked out following the instructions to the baggage claim, collected my Safari trolley bag and tried to look calm! Thankfully, the aloo posto didn’t get the better of the Australians so that my bag was intact. Shraddha’s mother had warned Ma that Indians aren’t treated well in Australia. One of her distant cousin sisters was made to take out all the Indian spices that she was carrying for her daughter at Melbourne airport. Ma was apprehensive after hearing it.
THE MEANING OF LIFE
Author: Indranil Adhya
Author intro: Indranil Adhya belongs to Baidyabati, a municipal town in West Bengal, north of Kolkata. He pursued schooling and Engineering studies in India. Thereafter, he moved to the UK for postgraduate studies. He has been residing in Paris, France for the past six years where he completed his PhD and is currently, a life science R&D scientist at PMC Isochem, France, a US-French based pharmaceutical company. Apart from his profession, he takes ardent interest in literature, history and sports.
It was the autumn of 2013. The weather was vibrant and colourful and beaming with positivity. All happy faces rushing towards the security gate of the Netaji International airport, Kolkata, India. A young boy with bright eyes and mixed emotions embarked on his very first journey to the UK to pursue his postgraduate studies. After months of writing long cover letters and receiving several disappointing rejections, I had finally bagged a position at the University of Sheffield with an Indian International Merit scholarship. This is my story of hopes, dreams and trust and how life taught me the hard way that, “Never judge a book by its cover”.
I spent the whole afternoon at the airport contemplating what I would do once I reached London. I was equally excited and nervous about my very first flight ever in my life. During the time I left for the UK, the currency exchange rate touched sky high and thus, I was able to procure only about 180 GBP to spend the first few days of my stay before my bank in India could start disbursing money after I opened a bank account in the UK. Most of the students had pre-booked University accommodations before their departure and the administration urged us to reserve rooms as fast as possible as they were rolled out on a first come first served basis. I believed this was the university's way of fleecing us and I was under the impression that I could easily find a better and cheaper apartment once I stepped into the country.
DEAR AMERICAN DESCENDANTS
(A letter to my flesh and blood a hundred years later)
---- By Invitation ----
Author: Prof. Nandini Bhattacharya
Nandini Bhattacharya is a writer and Professor of English at Texas A&M University. Her fields of expertise are South Asia Studies, Indian Cinema, Postcolonial Studies, and Colonial Discourse Analysis, Women’s Studies, and Creative Writing. She has published three scholarly books on these subjects, the latest being Hindi Cinema: Repeating the Subject (Routledge 2012). Her first novel Love’s Garden was published in October 2020. Shorter work is published in Oyster River Pages, Sky Island Journal, the Saturday Evening Post Best Short Stories from the Great American Fiction Contest Anthology 2021, The Bangalore Review, The Bombay Review, and more. She has attended the Bread Loaf Writers' Workshop and been accepted for residencies at the Vermont Studio Center and VONA. Her awards
include first runner-up for the Los Angeles Review Flash Fiction contest (2017-2018), and Honourable Mention for the Saturday Evening Post Great American Stories Contest, 2021. She’s currently working on Homeland Blues, her second novel, about love, caste, colourism, and violent religious fundamentalism in India, and racism and xenophobia in post-Donald Trump America. You can find her on Amazon, Twitter; Instagram, Facebook and her Blog.
I have now spent more than half of my life away from ‘home.’ I have seen about thirty years of the twentieth- and twenty-first-century political evolution—perhaps I should glorify it less by calling it ‘Change,’ while pessimistic moments suggest using the term ‘Devolution’—during which fascist ethno-nationalist regimes have been bred, fed and reared all over the world, including in the United States. This is my second continent.
Only recently, I decided I would try to write about my diasporic ‘after-life’ by writing two letters. Both would be records and confessions of me turning and changing with the earth that made and hosts us, and which has in its turning at some point slid me westward and made me either homeless or metropolitan, depending on one’s perception of ‘ambition-based diaspora’ who respond at some point to the geopolitical siren song of ‘the west,’ with all its consequences in uneven, unsustainable globalizations, such as colonialism and neoliberalism, for ‘the rest.’ The first letter, the one I share today, is to my imagined American descendants (assuming they will exist and have a planetary home to live in). The second letter will be written backward, to ancestors in India, my homeland, who grew older and whom I lost during my second life in America.
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