• Sunday, Aug 01, 2021
  • Last Update : 07:47 pm

Patrimony: A poem

  • Published at 03:22 pm August 10th, 2019
Bigstock
Photo credit: BIGSTOCK

Shaheed Quaderi's poem 'Uttaradhikar' in Kaiser Haq's translation


Debouching from the maternal womb 

I shriveled up—as if the slimy golden cervix

had expelled me at the foot of an unlit street light 

in a terror-stricken city sunk in darkness, 

blindfolded by a black-out. 


Barbed wire around the park, tents, parading columns

of troops; only the somber glint of artillery 

in golden sunlight; startled by stamping feet at reveille 

trees and houses take on battlefield hues.


Fettered, huddled in the cold beneath an alien flag

I watched in silence as the glow faded from a lover’s face

and a boy returned, ashen-faced and alone at dusk,  

a sodomite sailor’s wild hilarity and obscene song


stuck like a blue feather behind an ear. 

In feeble lamplight a dignified old man with a Christ-like face

put up with the soldier’s gift of bread and cigarettes

and the involuntary shriek of a ravished teenage daughter.


A boyhood fraught with sudden murders, screams and carnage

taught me the death spell—how to erase that early lesson?

A radiant bride lay decomposing in a rose garden­­—

she fell for the wiles of people who were just pawns.  


Disguised faces are frothily festive again, 

soft-spoken as they sit chatting in evening breeze, 

their two-day-old love-strangling assassins’ faces 

surreptitiously rolled up into their sleeves, 


as if none had pursued a woman, like a bear in heat

down the cold shaft of a well leading to the underworld, 

as if a peasant relaxing at sunset hadn’t heard

a bomber’s sudden whistle—a nearby village going up in flames, 


as if none had stumbled stale-mouthed amidst alien corn,

lips to the rim of a coffee mug, clutching the photograph

of a hometown park. Beneath my gaze, beside an avenue, a boy 

let go his smooth balloon-string in unfamiliar, inscrutable terror 


while I, smiling wanly in idiotic lethargy

in mellow sunset mood, mouthed a dark message:

A sense of values and whatever counts as truth 

are handmaidens of despair, inducing suicidal urges—


and so it goes, blindman’s buff with life 

and I am left penniless, passive, nihilistic; 

silently, the horsemen of Apocalypse close in 

on the world, and I can only lie insomniac at midnight 

in my dark, lonely flat, eyes lit up 

like china rose-red danger signals, tremulous

                                   as the needle of a compass.  


(Excerpted from Shaheed Quaderi: Selected Poems, presented by Library of Bangladesh and published by Bengal Lights Books in 2018. Reprinted with permission.)  


Kaiser Haq is a renowned poet, essayist and translator. 

50
Facebook 50
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail