Dr. Usha Bande
Volume 1, Issue 1, Pg 02
To write an editorial is in itself a difficult proposition. And to write an editorial for the first issue of a magazine is doubly so. However, being the editor of Penmanship Personified the onus fell on me and I had no choice but to accept the challenge; as I sat brooding over the contents, the flicker of a dream of these young would-be writers came surging through the pages and my fingers struck the keyboard.
Here is Penmanship Personified, a magazine devoted to fiction or to put it more succinctly, to short story and here are young men and women who have dreams to enter the world of storytelling. When Anshuk Atri expressed his desire to bring out a magazine of short stories, I was a little skeptical yet enthusiastic; enthusiastic, because there are very few magazines in English in India that cater exclusively to short stories. We thought, our budding writers do need a platform to stimulate their literary curiosity. Once we zeroed in on various preliminary aspects, Anshuk and his team got to work and within surprisingly a short time the overall pattern was drawn.
Life itself is a story. Scores of stories are strewn around us daily. Not that everyone can draw on those scattered links but the few with roving eye can pick up the threads and weave a tale from the fabric of life and consciousness. The present issue of Penmanship Personified contains stories predominantly by young writers. The themes are familiar: love triangle, mother-daughter love, crime and gruesome revenge, ghosts, suicide and so on but the presentation has unavoidable contemporary touch. Readers of old school might find the flippant and “I-could-not-care-less” attitude unpalatable but that is the contemporary reality which the young are facing and living through. This overall pattern is inevitably set within the surrounding social system and a reader is bemused by the luridly surreal and utterly plausible vibrant world that emerges from these situations. Not that all stories paint a murky, slapdash world. Some of the stories make an obvious effort to stay motivated and inspired which saves them from rolling into the abyss of gloom. We cannot overlook the impact of the myriad forms of contemporary malaise as well as joys on the psyche of the young.
The story writers are from almost all over India: from places as diverse as Bangalore, Chennai, Ambala, Kolkata and of course, Shimla. These are upcoming Ph.D students, young professors/lecturers who have just entered the profession, a retired veterinary scientist and a senior professor. Dr. Anita Sharma’s lead essay on short story provides a bird’s eye view of the genre and can serve well to induct the new writers into the art of story writing. One refreshing feature of the magazine is inclusion of the section ‘Stories by Young Writers’. There are two sprightly stories by school going children: Samiya Rahaman a student of class 6th and Vidhi Bhanishali studying in class 8th. The Book Review section introduces two new works and the new trends in writing which may help upcoming writers in getting their road maps aright.
I would be missing on a vital aspect were I to omit mention of the cover picture: colorful, expressive and discerningly empathetic.
I put on record my appreciation for Anshuk Attri and his team for their incessant efforts and laser-focused approach.
Dear Readers, this first issue of Penmanship Personified is now out of our hands into yours and much depends on your feed-back. We welcome your constructive criticism which would be a compass to guide us on this crucial literary voyage.
Dr. Usha Bande, till recently Fellow, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla and also Visiting Professor at Vishwa Bharati University, Shanti Niketan (WB), was on the faculty of English Literature in Govt. College for Women, Shimla. She retired as the Principal Govt. College,Arki, HP. A regular contributor to The Tribune, Alive, Women's Era, Times of India, Indian Express, and many other newspapers and magazines, she has numerous research papers and more than a dozen books to her credit.