Both are lovely, beautiful and loving.
Whom to choose, whom to leave—
whom should I touch with my longing palm?
On my left is a serene beauty. On my right a body of gold.
Should I reach out for the left hand?
Whom do I need more?
I can’t understand a thing. I can’t understand.
I touch the chin of the left—a shadow rises in the full moon light.
The dew drops of the night get touched by the heat of its light.
A right turn makes me doubtful
as I put my shivering index on the nipple of her breast.
I feel someone is scattering grapes to evoke desire.
Is this my desired woman?
Right left right left right left right—
where do you want me to lose my way?
Whom should I embrace—whom should I kiss on the lips?
I don’t understand a thing, I don’t understand.
I can feel them pulling the two ears of the donkey.
I stand between them out of my senses, without reasons.
Overcome and dancing with my lungi over my head.
They piss and sleep on the footpath
Darkness clings to their clothes
They’ll join processions if you pay them
In public rallies, they make up part of the public
They know who the godfathers are, and the flunkies too
Only their slogans change on command
Often they face police batons
Their butts are tough, so they offer those up
The prisons are rather hospitable,
Sometimes they’re taken there too
Shall we not give them a name?
If this was America, we would’ve called them homeless
Alas, our triumphant motherland
is worn out searching for the perfect Bangla name.
(From 'Selected Poems of Kamal Chowdhury.' Reprinted with permission. The poems are translated by fellows of Dhaka Translation Center, and published by Bengal Lights Books. The book was launched at the DLF 2017)