The past four issues of gulmohur have had photographs by our co-editor Jagjit as the cover page. This issue, we have a brilliant artwork by the artist and “propagandist” Anupam Roy. The painting titled ‘Conservation’, in charming hues of blue and red, draws us to the bold and fine strokes in black and the blank white space that forms the image of water monitor at the roots of a plant guarding a “Constitution-like book”. The original image is painted on a bigger surface (96” x 60”): you may zoom in into the picture, thanks to the good resolution, and admire the finesse of Anupam’s brushwork.
Anupam writes, in his Artist’s Statement (read under the Essay section of this issue), “The complex referencing of the constitutional discourse within the order of endangered organisms, protecting each other within the unreality of being and the reality of violation and violence, creates a space for longer engagement outside and around the image.” His artworks are political, not merely in the explicit sense of the term, but in the more subtle transformative/ transgressive sense, also. They are at once his medium of engaging himself artistically and politically and also of unveiling, the ‘political’ in all its contradictions and potentialities, in the process. He adds: “A utopian continuum places the proposition of a critical conservatism in the post-environmental world. At the passing moment of the ‘long death of environmentalism’ and the global trend of politico-industrial green-washing, my works vouch for a counter-politics of land conservation and environmental protection, asserting the questions of disproportionate ownership of land and resources.” The counter-hegemonic understanding of one’s social and political existence then becomes a blaring encounter through Anupam’s work.
Tathagata Biswas writes a brief narrative of his experience of translating the French philosopher Alan Badiou’s work In Praise of Politics from the English to Bengali. It is a self-reflective piece on the subtle concerns of translation; while, it also gives us a prospect to think of politics in a liberating manner. He writes: “By committing oneself to Truth, one becomes a Subject. Apart from this commitment, politics also has an enthusiasm, a collective joy, a joy of the sorts we experience as an audience while watching a theatre performance. This joy does not emanate from self-interest or from purchasing commodities. It is a gesture of a collective body, a joy of creating new truth, creating new language to express that truth, a joy we find in poetry. Politics in this sense is a creative endeavour, not a game of power, a procedure to create Truth.” We hope this essay motivates us to pick up Badiou’s works and engage with them in earnest.
This issue has an interesting range of short fiction, brilliantly crafted poetry, with a couple of them translated from Hindi, and personal as well as political essays. The articulations in these consist of immense reflection, spontaneity, sharpness, and in some cases, of plain gripping simplicity. There are so many parameters on which literature is judged (the good from the bad; and the great from the merely good). We hope our editorial selections justly reflect our ‘sensibilities’ as a literary magazine and yet spare room for writings outside of it. We continue welcoming submissions across all genres and themes and we particularly encourage translations from Indian languages into English.
gulmohur stands in solidarity with the jailed activists and intellectuals of the Bhima Koregaon case; the victims of caste and gender violence; the victims of fundamentalist oppression anywhere in the world; and with all those who dissent in the spirit of democracy to safeguard our ever-diminishing freedoms.
We thank, once again, Anupam Roy for his kind and generous contribution of his artworks to the magazine. We are immensely grateful to all our friends (on and off social media) who have helped us reach out. We also thank our contributors for trusting us with their submissions. Above all, we thank you, readers for your encouragement and support. We thank you for all of your warm wishes on our first anniversary. Cheers!
We sincerely hope you enjoy this fifth issue. Please do comment your feedback to the authors on the webzine. Do share the writings you like with people around you. Happy summers! Stay hydrated. Keep reading.