From the Editor’s Desk
I've been travelling through central India, meeting tribes of India, watching strange trees flower at night..snap open and wither, Mahua flowers lying on the ground smelling like honey, fungal activity coming alive in secret places, and nature spreading it's canvas like mycelium- invisible, dystopian and inevitable. When you walk through the dirt road on Indian soil, especially when you come from the other world of urban India, you sometimes feel as if you are suddenly part of a brilliant dystopian world. I walked for miles by the waters of the Betwa and Narmada- rivers that are holy, sacrosanct and everyday nourishers. On these banks you understand how water is precious, poetic and yet realistic. Nothing here is superfluous, everything is vital and elementary, life giving and life taking, even. Yet it feels like a miracle just to be able to walk down the uneven road here, through the narrow alleys in what is supposedly Gonwana land- from where we had all begun.
Like poetry, walking allows you to slow down, pay attention, lean in. I have been planning this issue for a while, in my head perhaps I have been planning it longer than I could put it down on paper. There are many who walked with me in this, and yet when I wanted clarity, I craved the touch of water on my toes, these very waters which touch so many in different ways. Central Indian soil is often red, at times aluvial, at most times it is alone. Cotton grows here in plenty, on some days I would walk through fields of fluffy cotton blowing in the wind and my hair would be covered in white flakes- a dystopian novel in the making as if. I'd stop in the afternoon sun when everything turns brown, where even the sparse grass that follows you around is a shade of brown. In that stillness of the river, the dry land and the cotton fields, the only sudden sound is that of the flutter of a bird, or the bell on the neck of a goat wandering around. I ask myself at times like this, in the shade of some random tree, or while watching the waters receding in places- what is poetry?
I think to myself then, that of all the languages you can learn or speak, poetry is perhaps the most important of them all, for it outlasts all of us. It returns us to the basics, and yet lets us fly into a space one can only imagine- like gossamer thread on a rainy day filled with sunshine, it makes you look at everything differently, minutely. If attentiveness to life is a way of observing the world around you more keenly, and seeing everything differently, poetry changes us, only if we allow it to. Everything else is secondary, only how you perceive poetry, and how it makes you feel instinctively becomes the ultimate truth.
I hope the writing in here is like shade on hot summers, warmth on winter days, and the beginning of the ability to imagine where no one else dares to venture.
From the banks of the river Betwa, I sign off. I give you water, I give you poetry.
Maitreyee Bhattacharjee Chowdhury
Managing Editor, The Bangalore Review