Translated from Bangla by Mohammad Shafiqul Islam

Triumph of Truth

We didn’t mantle the narrative of triumphing truth

with gold or silver;

we didn’t fix it in a frame on the wall;

in the bleeding heart

we didn’t enclose it –

the narrative of triumphing truth

is written with eternal letters.

Read, O nature readers,

the truth-searching travellers,

the guests coming from a distant land,

read it in your own tongues –

all the letters of the language of

truth narratives

all over the world

are natural –

all readers can comprehend the narratives.

The mother tongue of truth is unique;

it reads the same everywhere in the world.

My Armed Forces of Words

Your shadow has mingled with bullets and sunlight

Your feature doesn’t bend on the right or the left

Standing bowed down or lying on the ground

You crawl in the parade or trench or roofless shade

The greens of the country turn red at your sight

You’re soldiers measuring the motherland every night

I don’t know the finite land, but words are everything

My words are infinite like motherland, my distinct feeling

We keep it close to life and the warmth of our hearts

Always ready to join the war to fight monsters

Seeing it, the beauty of the world has turned red

The soldiers are at work to expand their land 


Famine 1974

Eat, dear, eat –

eat molasses and puffed rice,

eat flattened-and-fried rice

and rice with milk –

do you have a smell, the smell of your motherland’s oil?

You must smell it

as the Bengal saucepan has just scorched

frying fifty-four thousand square jilapi sweet;

                             would you eat, dear, eat the jilapi?


In Search of Food, 4507 BC

A young man:

                             Let’s kill the wolf,

                             eat its fried liver

                             scattering bones all over.

                             You can have a deep sip of blood

                             but don’t let a third person in here.

A young woman:

                             You understand everything,

                             you understand killing, blood,

                             liver too

                             but you don’t understand a thinker –

                             you dropped a life into my womb!

                             Listen, I didn’t fail to count it right –

                             now the world population is thirty-three thousand.


Jesus Mujib

You could become Eichmann, the story of a killer,

or declare the capital punishment

but what an astounding artery

                                            cruised to your heart!

With innocent Bengalis’ blood the monsters played holi.

That power and that indomitable spirit

in your magnanimous heart, still you forgave them.

O Father, you didn’t blow up the monsters’ skulls.

So the impostors, the fake priests

read the verdict of revenge in company of the dark.

O Father, with two hands spread, you’re the name of ultimate sacrifice,

children’s sins wipe away through your Bengali blood.

Flow of the Ganges won’t stop, neither will stop Bengali poets’ nib,

the blood won’t dry too, O Father, you’re Jesus Mujib.

Lakshman Sen’s Sorrow

We still feel sad at Lakshman Sen’s distress.

One can’t be a king fleeing through back doors.

We may be descendants of the kings

Akbar, Man Singh or Isa Khan

whose arms are always set to kill –

horse power in legs, brays in the voice,

one who isn’t Lakshman Sen or a traitor –

this Bengal belongs to powers, not ordinaries.

Dependent, special subjects too, are the Bengalis

when the leader is none other than Netaji Subhas.


Woman Too

Do you know

a woman?

Do you agree to the lie

women also love?


Not an Ancient Briton

Not an ancient Briton, why then does it seem

I’m the subject of King Uther?

Residents of an isle encircled by

the sea and mountain, we’re yet to get civilized;

crocodiles in water, beasts on land –

between the devil and the deep sea –

and a few two-footed killers around;

with all this rises and sets the sun,

with all this the water of our sea

gets wild and red

every morning and evening.

And more depressing, King Uther

is still celibate and childless;

we don’t know if he’s impotent; still reluctant

to cultivate the fertile and silted land of women

with a plough;

(how indifferent men are to themselves!)

Ferocious Gorlois on the southern sea

is his opponent; a tyrant and sybarite, the king

lives in his sky-scraping castle,

a chalice and queen Igraine beside him,

preparing for war against Uther.

Today all praise for Uther, let him be the victor.

Mohammad Nurul Huda, an Ekushey Padak and Bangla Academy award winning poet, is currently Director General of Bangla Academy

Mohammad Shafiqul Islam : poet, translator and academic, teaches English as Associate Professor in the Department of English at Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, Sylhet 3114, Bangladesh

Illustration : Najib Tareque

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.