12:00 AM, July 23, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, July 23, 2016

LINES FROM EXILE

translated by MOHAMMAD SHAFIQUL ISLAM

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See, such a beautiful sparrow is

Chirping so poignantly today in American language at

This overcast

Endless noontime! O sparrow,

In appearance you're just like the Bengali sparrows

Does this pale, foreign language of the whites suit

In your tongue, dear?

 

Rather come to me, I teach you

O-A-Ka-Kha

O sparrow: speak, speak Bengali.

Bengali, I've found

All its beauty

In the sound of river water, in the bicker of stream

In the eyes of hilsha and trout, in the verses of Gitabitan

And in the black hair wafting in the air of an ever familiar woman,

​In her eyes and cheek.

 

O crow, the black crow! From where have you suddenly come

To this racist country? You know well, this land doesn't respect

The non-whites;

Then why here? Why in a foreign land?

Go, if you can, fly to the land of Bengal

Where your silky-smooth-black wings suit better.

 

No complaint at all if you go to Africa,

Asia's sibling indeed – our brother

But what you're doing at my cornice!

What sort of awkward and ugly style? Why these cha-cha,

Twist, hula-hoop dances?

Don't you know Kathak or Kathakali dance?

Then you're an American citizen? O crow, you too?

But you completely look and sound like a Bengali

As black as koi and catfish.

 

O clouds, the cumulus clouds! Will you also deceive,

You, the traveler to the unknown?

We can't trust anyone in this unfriendly foreign land.

Still I say: if you can,

O glorified clouds, come down

More dense and deep, you come down in a stream of compassion

With the incessant downpour of Shravan month, my dear, beat This endless exile.

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