One of Bangladesh’s leading poets, Belal passed away on April 24
(Translated by M Harunur Rashid)
I am spread out in your shade and sunshine
In this grass and fragrance
By your side, like your shadow
All along your body.
In the gentle murmur of your rivers,
I am there, as you wish me to be –
In the rustling of leaves, in the
Whining of winds,
Day and night in your paddy fields
An indifferent Baul
A Bhatiali strain floats away into the distance
I am there like the rays of the setting sun,
Rolling at your feet
I am there in the ears of young paddy,
You girl in blue, I am there
On you like the diamond of your Nakchabi
Sparkling, always sparkling.
(Translated by Farhad Ahmed)
We met late in the day at the book fair
The book looks great; my, how nice,
What a fantastic cover – who drew it,
Qayyum Chowdhury, or somebody else?
And even though the title sounds offbeat,
It still looks to be a superhit.
Has this writer brought out a book before?
Don’t remember seeing one;
Though it’s possible I am the only one in the dark
About what other literature buffs already know.
I say, where have you been all this time?
Like the tia bird flushed out of a forest
Your book too at last has seen the light of the day –
Look how long it has been since we last met
And now today on this field at the book fair.
Held it in his hands and turned it over and over
Licked a forefinger
Leafed through the pages, caressing it with glances . . .
Quite bold; courageous, I have to admit;
Clasped it close to his breast in a tender embrace
As if to breathe in its fragrance
And drew in a lungful of crisp, fresh air.
Then, suddenly, with an abstract, remote air
Slammed the book down, and without a word
Strode off God knows where
Perplexing me that day, today, and ever . . .
(From Padma Meghna Jamuna: Modern Poetry from Bangladesh. Edited by Kaiser Haq and published by Foundation of SAARC Writers and Literature, 2010. Reprinted with permission from the editor)