When he was sixteen, Mr Tolkien fell in love with a girl three years his senior, one Miss Edith Bratt. Tolkien’s guardian, a Catholic priest ordered the young boy to have no contact with Edith, a Protestant, till the boy came of age. For six years, Tolkien waited, pining after Edith until that birthday could arrive. She broke of her engagement to another man that day, converted to Catholicism, and they were married for the rest of their lives.
It was not the love story which grabbed my attention. It was what came after. Tolkien couldn’t have commissioned a Taj Mahal for his beloved. Instead he left instructions to have the names ‘Beren’ and ‘Luthien’ engraved on their shared gravestone, a reference to the famous pair of star-crossed lovers he had created in The Middle Earth. Is literature a reflection of what is, or what is, is a reflection of literature?
In a correspondence to someone I love, I realized that what I seek from this person is by practice but a dream, that can’t be realized. What I could do, and did eventually, was to write a small book. A book of everyday breathing, every day chais, and every day mornings, that are set in the present. I set about creating dialogues, living the moments, on paper. Fiction is solace, as much an escape from reality, as a reflection of it. I envy Mr Tolkien whose idea of beautiful lives on paper, was his truth.
However, here at The Bombay Review, we are not looking for Tolkienesque love stories, but if there is a Beren and Luthien in you, you have to let it out.
In fiction this issue, we have two stories longer than our usual length, but ultimately better for it. Niyantha’s story, The Implicit, talks about the jitters of an explorer in his own country and his relationship with his fellow travellers. Kritika in her story titled, ‘Wednesday’, set in the foreground of festive Diwali and naxalism, follows a woman as she ventures out on to the lonely Hazaribaug railway station to meet a Wednesday from her past.
Garima Pura, Poetry Editor had this to say about this issue’s pieces: Wale sketches memoirs of a night that has left its blemishes in Alterations, while Saranyan’s Seven Sisters skims through summer mornings, discerning clouds and birds, one at a time. Echezonachukwu Nduka’s Invitation, seeks one to accompany another through paths not traversed. And finally, Disha Pandey’s Contemporary Dilemmas views social media ‘sharing’ in a brutally honest light.
The Bombay Review this summer, has been conducting literary events across the country. We are on a three city tour, that begun with Mumbai, went to Chandigarh and will finally reach Pune in the first week of July. With the success of each event, we have come to realize how performance story tellers and poets crave such platforms, and the lack of it in India. We are hoping to see more such events, and avenues open up, all over.
Special thank you to the three smart women who are conducting these events: Antara Pednekar in Mumbai, Vidushi Bhatia in Chandigarh and Huda Merchant in Pune.
In August, we complete one year, and we urge readers to lookout for our first print anthology, which is slated to release some time next month. It will feature the best of our online pieces. People who have been published in TBR! Keep your fingers crossed!