• Parabaas
    Parabaas : পরবাস : বাংলা ভাষা, সাহিত্য ও সংস্কৃতি
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  • Water Bird -- Poem by Khaled Hossain [Parabaas Translation] : Khaled Hossain
    translated from Bengali to English by Shabnam Nadiya

    Water Bird
    (Oliullah tried his whole life to become a poet)


    Khaled Hossain

    Translated from Bangla by Shabnam Nadiya




    This poem of mine will be written in the coming Baishakhi full moon
    when the sounds of falling water shall tremble gently outside
    in the nishindhya bush.
    Fireflies shall float on waves of water
    like your unfamiliar childhood face and I will recall
    the upward-seeking rotation of the wheels of a black taxicab
    speeding its way to Bholta
    as if the spaceward journey after the end of earthly travels was
    natural. Because once you had desired to slip your head into the cloud-clusters
    and take it to the country of the stars. Meaning

    that you wanted to be a poet. So you removed yourself
    from the dreary and uncertain constrictions of
    everyday life You followed a jatra troupe
    through all the geography of summer and winter, across the roads and fields of the lowlands
    only so you could recognize love deeply
    with all its veins and arteries --
    as if you wanted to see a rainbow bridge beneath
    running waters, the domicile of a few clouds
    who had descended from the seventh heaven. When we were learning Kung Fu and
    Karate on sandy fields
    when we were blue like sudden silence
    in the sorrow of Debdas following the sorrow of Buro Angla,
    you were standing at the FDC gate absorbing
    the deeper life-lessons of dead soldiers.
    A flying distance in your eyes – the blue laughter of the moon

    You had told me about the secret blossoms of extinct trees that were
    Heavier with mystery than the saga of life. And the tender, complex tale of
    losing everything through one’s own stupidity.
    You said that when you visited remote southern villages
    you recovered the images and sensations of your aching childhood,
    in the haystacks, dog-fur, wooden benches and tin glasses
    you could touch the tender fingers of your true mother.
    So you rode the deep launches of the night to reach an uncertain destination
    and you felt as if your mother was stroking your head
    sending you into sleep as fine as moonlight. Now it seems
    as if in your eyelids and in the depths of your mind
    a vast thirst had hidden. So such an intimate sleep arrived suddenly
    in your eyes, in your heart as melancholy as sorrow.

    When I saw you I remembered the tales of the Bede tribe going
    Dahuk hunting in the rainy season, of your own free will
    you flowed your life into two opposite channels. I remember, last December
    you told me as you were swathed in a mantle of fog that
    you were writing uncounted poems each day
    with your inner blood or your tears. With all the wonder in my heart I have
    gazed at your stern face. In your eyes
    the light of distant stars were ablaze.

    I have heard that you returned to your ancestral home
    from the confused bed of the wrong hospital
    and the hesitant white cloth that shrouded you entirely
    the red alpana painted on it were continually spreading –
    even onto the grey earth. As if you were a child of the earth, child of dust

    It seems in the next Baishakhi full moon, your unwritten story
    will float like a firefly in the fields of moonlight.



    Published January 20, 2007



    The original poem [jaler paakhi*] is from a collection titled Shikar Jatrar Ayojon first published in 2005 by Sahitya Bikash, Bangladesh.


    Illustrated by Arindam Chakraborty. Arindam is based in Kolkata, India.
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