From Paradise gazing, we saw green on your face
and we came to share growth and to kindness relate.
(In memory of Faraaz Hossain, Abinta Kabir, and Tarishi Jain)
“What's in a name?” some say.
They may well be right, but you
proved them otherwise, Faraaz,
living up to your name till the end.
When old Lucifer in a shemagh
descended on earth, unleashing
a hell-storm with bombs and
bullets in the Holey Artisan Bakery,
threatening Abinta and Tarishi for
failing to suit up like Bedouins,your
kindness for your friends overcame
your fear of his hatred, and you refused
to leave without them when you were
offered a chance to scoot. You stood
up to grim Lucifer, face to face. Alas!
God's angels were, for Satan, forlorn.
You had been kindness itself that we
wish to be, a true mitra in the darkest
hour, who has roused us all to stare
down Lucifer till he falls to his knees.
Then we can start lighting the candle
Of Faraaz in our hearts and, instead
of lusting for an Eden beyond, eating
cakes and pastries with our friends.
Standing on the highroad I watch
boatloads and ferryloads of riders
heading to who knows where
this late afternoon as the April sun
slides down the sky like a fireball
for a dive into the rough Padma
and the aroma of tangy dinner
from the village kitchens fills the air.
A crammed ferry pulls up to unload
A dozen bodies down the gangplank
and sputters back on its bumpy course
packing a few. I ask the teenage girl
in salwar-kameez walking with her
family, with a carry-all in her hand
and a child on her hip, where
they are from. “Karachi,” she says,
throwing a backward glance at me.
Refugees, I realize, just like me,
Who fled the metropolis with their folks
for shelter in a twice-removed relative's
tinshed, when a flock of geese
winging home seizes my attention, their
ardent calls beckoning me to be free
of those who have made me a refugee
in my own land, and the fresh sun
breaking over the Padma the next
morning blesses me.
The poet is Professor of English at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, USA.