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Contributors
 

Meena Alexander
Jeff Barry
Richard Berengarten 1
Richard Berengarten 2
Richard Berengarten 3
Mashey Bernstein
Denise Duhamel
Geoffrey Heptonstall
Aamer Hussein
Neil Langdon Inglis
Laura Moser
Paschalis Nikolaou 1
Paschalis Nikolaou 2
Sean Rys
Maureen Seaton
Bina Shah
Carole Smith
Angela Topping
Julie Marie Wade
Ronaldo V. Wilson

Issue 21 Guest Artist:
Anne Noble

President: Peter Robertson
Vice-President: Sari Nusseibeh
Vice-President: Elena Poniatowska
Senior Editor-at-Large: Neil Langdon Inglis
Deputy Editor: Allen Hibbard
Deputy Editor: Geraldine Maxwell
Deputy Editor: Jerónimo Mohar Volkow
Deputy Editor: Bina Shah
Advisory Consultant: Jill Dawson
General Editor: Beatriz Hausner
General Editor: Laura Moser
General Editor: Malvina Segui
Art Editor: Calum Colvin
Deputy General Editor: Jeff Barry

Consulting Editors
Marjorie Agosín
Daniel Albright
Meena Alexander
Maria Teresa Andruetto
Frank Ankersmit
Rosemary Ashton
Reza Aslan
Leonard Barkan
Michael Barry
Shadi Bartsch
Thomas Bartscherer
Susan Bassnett
Gillian Beer
David Bellos
Richard Berengarten
Charles Bernstein
Sujata Bhatt
Mario Biagioli
Jean Boase-Beier
Elleke Boehmer
Eavan Boland
Stephen Booth
Alain de Botton
Carmen Boullossa
Rachel Bowlby
Svetlana Boym
Peter Brooks
Marina Brownlee
Roberto Brodsky
Carmen Bugan
Jenni Calder
Stanley Cavell
Sampurna Chattarji
Sarah Churchwell
Hollis Clayson
Sally Cline
Marcelo Cohen
Kristina Cordero
Drucilla Cornell
Junot Díaz
André Dombrowski
Denis Donoghue
Ariel Dorfman
Rita Dove
Denise Duhamel
Klaus Ebner
Robert Elsie
Stefano Evangelista
Orlando Figes
Tibor Fischer
Shelley Fisher Fishkin
Peter France
Nancy Fraser
Maureen Freely
Michael Fried
Marjorie Garber
Anne Garréta
Marilyn Gaull
Zulfikar Ghose
Paul Giles
Lydia Goehr
Vasco Graça Moura
A. C. Grayling
Stephen Greenblatt
Lavinia Greenlaw
Lawrence Grossberg
Edith Grossman
Elizabeth Grosz
Boris Groys
David Harsent
Benjamin Harshav
Geoffrey Hartman
François Hartog
Siobhan Harvey
Molly Haskell
Selina Hastings
Valerie Henitiuk
Kathryn Hughes
Aamer Hussein
Djelal Kadir
Kapka Kassabova
John Kelly
Martin Kern
Mimi Khalvati
Joseph Koerner
Annette Kolodny
Julia Kristeva
George Landow
Chang-Rae Lee
Mabel Lee
Linda Leith
Suzanne Jill Levine
Lydia Liu
Margot Livesey
Julia Lovell
Laurie Maguire
Willy Maley
Alberto Manguel
Ben Marcus
Paul Mariani
Marina Mayoral
Richard McCabe
Campbell McGrath
Jamie McKendrick
Edie Meidav
Jack Miles
Toril Moi
Susana Moore
Laura Mulvey
Azar Nafisi
Paschalis Nikolaou
Martha Nussbaum
Tim Parks
Molly Peacock
Pascale Petit
Clare Pettitt
Caryl Phillips
Robert Pinsky
Elizabeth Powers
Elizabeth Prettejohn
Martin Puchner
Kate Pullinger
Paula Rabinowitz
Rajeswari Sunder Rajan
James Richardson
François Rigolot
Geoffrey Robertson
Ritchie Robertson
Avital Ronell
Élisabeth Roudinesco
Carla Sassi
Michael Scammell
Celeste Schenck
Sudeep Sen
Hadaa Sendoo
Miranda Seymour
Daniel Shapiro
Mimi Sheller
Elaine Showalter
Penelope Shuttle
Werner Sollors
Frances Spalding
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
Julian Stallabrass
Susan Stewart
Rebecca Stott
Mark Strand
Kathryn Sutherland
Rebecca Swift
Susan Tiberghien
John Whittier Treat
David Treuer
David Trinidad
Marjorie Trusted
Lidia Vianu
Victor Vitanza
Marina Warner
David Wellbery
Edwin Williamson
Michael Wood
Theodore Zeldin

Assistant Editor: Sara Besserman
Assistant Editor: Ana de Biase
Assistant Editor: Conor Bracken
Assistant Editor: Eugenio Conchez
Assistant Editor: Patricia Delmar
Assistant Editor: Lucila Gallino
Assistant Editor: Sophie Lewis
Assistant Editor: Krista Oehlke
Assistant Editor: Siska Rappé
Assistant Editor: Naomi Schub
Assistant Editor: Stephanie Smith
Assistant Editor: Robert Toperter
Assistant Editor: Laurence Webb
Art Consultant: Verónica Barbatano
Art Consultant: Angie Roytgolz

 
Click to enlarge picture Click to enlarge picture. Shams
By
Aamer Hussein
Translated from the Urdu by the author with Carole Smith
 

 



1.

That day Shams and I sat on the train and talked endlessly. The fields outside were covered in water. It was July but there had been floods.

2.

We travelled for seven hours and reached the town on the edge of the river at five. The sun was still high and the roofs of the tall fortlike buildings glowed in its rays. At once we set off to wander the lanes of the unknown town. The river had broken its banks and several streets were under water.

3.

After the literary festival that evening and the next morning we made the same long journey back. Shams said, I brought along a book but I'm not in the mood to read, let's talk. We talked and talked and outside the rainwater still drowned the fields. Once it seemed as if the branches of a submerged tree were making gestures to the sky – but we talked on and on.

4.

I'd known Shams for thirty-five years. When we first met I was seventeen and she about thirty-five. We both liked singing and poetry. Then there was a revolution in her country, and traitors took over mine. At thirty I gave up singing and some years later she did too. She'd had some successes, but I was too shy and too busy to look for fame. We also began to write at about the same time. I wrote stories and she accounts of her life. People remarked to us both, You colour your writings with exile.

5.

Some time ago we'd had a misunderstanding. It was on her side. But during that long journey she didn't refer to it, and neither did I. Perhaps silent anger can be washed away by rainwater. I remember Shams saying, What a worry it is, this having to make a living wage - it kills you - I'm far away from my country, far away from my faith - I don't want to die alone in this desolate city.

6.

When we said goodbye I saw regret in her eyes.

7.

I met Shams once again after that journey. She took me to dinner. She thanked me for many things but I couldn't understand what her gratitude was for.

8.

One day in winter a weeping friend told me, Shams is ill - a flood of worries has swallowed her up. It snowed that day.

9.

Shams and I spoke only once more. On the phone. Again, her grateful words – then she said, When I'm a little better come and see me.

10.

But just before spring arrived she died.

11.

She left no will, But a friend said she had given verbal instructions that she wanted fire, not earth, as her final element.