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Bangla poetry at the DLF 2016

  • Published at 02:46 pm November 8th, 2016
  • Last updated at 03:12 pm November 8th, 2016
Bangla poetry at the DLF 2016

Rabindranath’s flute

Nirmalendu Goon

Those who sang with their fingers on the flute

those who wrote poems at midnight -- those farmers,

those factory workers who were the real makers of steel,

who made biscuits and shirts for me and sari for Nilima;

they all are different people now; their homes are

the bastion of revolution now!

Those who sang with their fingers on the flute

those who learnt from the school, or from the world,

or from this civilisation, or from nature,

those students and teachers and workers --

they have come together and are all very different now.

They don’t sing songs anymore,

they’ve all become different people now.

Those who thrust wooden ploughs into the heart of the soil,

those artists, those labourers

who sang with their fingers on the flute,

who dreamt in their sleep;

leaving the village by the Dhaleswari river

they are all rushing towards the city now!

They threw their ploughs away and have taken up

iron-made arms;

in their foreheads flash the red ribbons.

In the exultation of triumphing over the city,

they call Rabindranath independence;

they call his songs sten guns.

Those who sang with their fingers on the flute,

those who wrote poems at midnight --

they all are farmers now -- seasoned farmers of revolution.

For you, the barrel of a gun has become a flute in my hand too!

(Translated by Rifat Munim)

[He is a leading poet in Bangla literature. He stole the limelight as soon as his first volume of poetry, Premangshur Rokto Chai, was out in 1970. He has since published at least 35 poetry collections including Na Premik Na Biplobi, Tar Age Chai Somajtontro, Banglar Mati Banglar Jol and Chasabhusar Kabyo. The theme of a revolution by underprivileged groups cuts across his voluminous body of work]

[caption id="attachment_29963" align="alignright" width="222"]rubi rahman Ruby Rahman[/caption]

The flute I would leave behind for my daughter

Ruby Rahman

I wonder, what can I leave behind for my daughter!

I am in my late fifties.

I do not have the ability to buy a flute

that I would offer her when I would leave this world.

My mother had wonderful bright fingers

that danced upon the keys of piano-

She glowed like a tiger seen in the forest

             on a moonlit night.

She held up the glorious arrogance of

            the mount kanchanjangha

As she stood upright.

But keeping aside all those

She gave me a shawl--

An ancient worn-out shawl

Which she inherited from her father- in -law.

I wrapped up my entire world with this wrapper

              in winter and in wet days,

In the days of happiness or days full of dismay.

The houses these days are cloudy and filled with clouds.

The cold winter wind always trespasses into the house

With endless effort I somehow manage to protect myself

               with that worn out shawl.

As a star-studded sky

The old shawl is gradually getting filled up

                    with numerous holes.

I have not inherited my mother’s instinctive skill of mending;

Cotton derived from lamb’s wool

That could have kept the shawl warm

                 is unknown these days in the market.

I can only faintly remember a flicker of fire

That I found glowing inside my mother.

Nowadays the houses are too much cloudy

Our days are ridden by bone-chilling cold.

How can I assure myself that

My daughter would be provided with adequate warmth

                  by that old worn out shawl ?

Or should I ask my mother for that indomitable holy fire

That I found burning within her !

(Translated by the poet)

[Ruby Rahman, born in 1946 in Dhaka, received her BA and MA degrees in Bangla, English and Psychology from Dhaka University, and for many years taught English at a college in Dhaka. She has several books of poetry to her credit and is one of the few luminaries in the feminist literary tradition of Bangla literature]

[caption id="attachment_29965" align="alignright" width="215"]Asad Chowdhury Asad Chowdhury[/caption]

Rights of the tiger

Asad Chowdhury

The first man I met at the zoo was actually a human being

he was feeding peanuts to the monkeys,

the loitering kids were picking up the bits and pieces

trampled on the ground.

Pointing with his fingers he showed me the tiger cage.

Disappointing everyone, the tiger slumbered on,

A large chunk of meat dozed in front of him,

The children were unhappy and did their best

to mimic a tiger’s roar.

The adults hadn’t expected such manners from the big

                            cat either.

I had some urgent business with the tiger.

But I was tense that it would be in a foul mood,

and also because I hadn’t learnt tiger talk very well.

Never expected the tiger to be asleep at all.

One day as I was going over my questions

written on a piece of paper one last time,

which I wanted to ask the animal,

I was aroused by the happy shouts of women and children --

the tiger was finally displaying its blood red tongue.

I was impressed with it all. But the problem was getting close

enough to the tiger to ask anything.

But then amazing me, the tiger itself sauntered close

and calling me up asked,

Well, you could have gone to the Sundarbans you know or

spent some money and visited some tiger sanctuary away somewhere else

to meet a tiger -- but ah, well anyway,

                                            what’s your point?”

I humbly said, “Sir, your tiger rights are being violated all

around. We have been fighting to establish human rights.

If you permit, we can try the same for all the tigers of Asia,

Africa and Latin America.

Hearing this the tiger howled with laughter just like

a scary villain of the tinsel world.

Didn’t you once write a poem to heal all the unwell green of

this earth? “

I had to agree, nodding my head sheepishly.

Please leave tiger rights alone for some time

and try curing yourselves for a change.

Man and earth are seriously ill, in case you noticed.”

He seemed really disturbed at it all,

and that’s how I got rid of worries about tiger rights.

(Translated by Afsan Chowdhury)

[Asad Chowdhury is a poet, writer, translator, radio and TV personality and journalist. He is a former director at the Bangla Academy, Dhaka, and has worked as an editor at the Bangla service of Deutsche Welle. He was a contributor and broadcaster at Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra in Kolkata]

[caption id="attachment_29967" align="alignright" width="233"]Mohammad Nurul Huda Mohammad Nurul Huda[/caption]


Mohammad Nurul Huda

Everywhere you see heads:

dark heads, golden heads, heads with

                       luxuriant hair.

You see only heads,

              progenitors of scenes,

              material world,

              world of ideas.

On the top you see hair or grass or a roof

                of leaves;

inside you find brain as you find fire

                                      or watery expanse

in the womb of the earth.

Heads of various kinds;

                         round heads, square heads,

all with steadfast goals.

In the field they remain steady,

they grow restless when they march

                                   in processions.

Classic heads move on river banks,

on the wide green fields,

on the white sands of the Sahara,

or in Greece or Ithaca

                                           or the equatorial zone.

In the sun the helmets glitter.

This ancient earth,

the favoured child of the universe,

turns on its axis in history or geography,

and these heads turn on two feet,

nude all over.

They run from one sunny spot to another,

seek a cool shaded path in the dark.

Disappointed, the entire scene throbs

                                          as they loudly shout.

In the forest the lion roars

while in the universe of the housewives

roar the carriers of sun-scathed heads.

(Translated by Kabir Chowdhury)

[Known as Jatisattar Kobi (poet of national identity), Mohammad Nurul Huda is a poet, novelist, critic, translator, folklorist with more than 100 books to his credit. He writes both in Bengali and English. He won the Bangla Academy Award in 1988 and the Ekushey Padak in 2015. His poetry collections include Shovajatra Dravidar Proti, Amra Tamate Jaati and Shukla Shakuntala]