Asad's Shirt

Shamsur Rahman

translated from the original Bengali by

Bhismadev Chakrabarti

Like crimson poppies in the wind
Or perhaps like the blood red sunset clouds
Asad's shirt flutters in the spotless blue sky

The sister wove a few stars on it
         with delicate heartstring
The mother, ever-loving, put it out to dry
         in the golden backyard sun.

Beyond the gentle shades of the dalim
         and the cosy backyard sun
The shirt now flutters proud
         From city streets,
         From factories, chimneys, towers
         and echoing corners of central avenues
It flutters, flutters on
         To the sun-drenched heartlands
         To every march of our souls.

Our cowardice, our shame, our vice
Now covered by a single piece of human cloth
Asad's shirt is now the flag of our lives.

Published November, 2020

The original poem [Asad's Shirt (আসাদের শার্ট)] appeared in the collection of poems under the title Nijo Basbhumey(নিজ বাসভূমে), in 1970.

Translated by Bhismadev Chakrabarti

Illustrated by Nilanjana Basu. Nilanjana has been regularly illustrating for Parabaas. She is currently based in California.

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