Almasy returns to the Cave of Swimmers because he had promised Katherine to do so only to find her wrapped in the parachute, dead. He had returned after three years. What is the use of keeping such a promise? It is too late but still the promise must be kept even in futility of its purpose, which Michael Ondaatje beautifully depicts in his novel The English Patient. But what if a promise is not kept? Last year’s Booker Prize winning novel The Promise by Damon Galgut depicts exactly that, though without showing any direct correlation between the many funerals and the unkept promise made to Salome. Only Amor, who becomes a nurse, stands tall and steadfast almost like another nurse, Alyssa in Andre Gide’s novel Strait is the Gate, which deals with the idea of sacrifice of love. If Amor is like Alyssa, then Alyssa is like Sarah of Graham Greene’s novel The End of the Affair, where Sarah to keep a promise made to God sacrifices her love for Maurice Bendrix. Then we have BrionyTallis in Ian McEwan’s novel Atonement who promised herself to reunite her sister Cecilia and her lover Robbie whose separation she had caused due to a terrible mistake of hers as a thirteen year old adolescent. She couldn’t do it in real life and had to atone for it until she did it in fiction at the fag end of her life. She also belongs to the circle of promise keepers.
It is a spectral circle – this circle of promise keepers. EKL Review, in the initial promise it made of being avant-garde, wants to belong to that circle. In that effort it resurrects spectres. When Richik Banerjee reviews Jagari Mukherjee’s chapbook of poems, Letters to Inamorato, he reviews it as the ghost of Inamorato. In Ria Banerjee’s film review of The Lighthouse the mermaid that appears is spectral. In Muhsina K. Ismail’s flash fiction the image of the thread-less kite disappearing into the sky becomes spectral. Even in Dustin Pickering philosophical ponderings there is lurking a ghost called God. This issue of EKL Review has two interviews also and a plethora of poems all veering towards the avant-garde. In the beginning was the promise and we live life with the hope of realizing it. The avant-garde is the spectre of the future and to encounter it we have promised to imagine against the grain. Welcome to the circle of promise keepers.
Amit Shankar Saha