elegy written in a redbrick house | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 05, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:12 AM, June 05, 2021

Poetry

elegy written in a redbrick house

to the memory of bashir bhai*

the postman plods his weary way

eternal bag slung over shoulder

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comes up to me at the unearthly hour

when evening azan brings dusk tumbling

down like playful children somersaulting

and i don't know what we're at –

if it's the end or beginning of something

 

no doubt stars are up there somewhere

too shy to twinkle in polluted air

and every now and then a super blood moon –

phrase redolent of nocturnal shoot-outs

in the wildest of wild west westerns –

appears on tv news and in astrology columns –

lucky for you to escape such sublunary concerns –

 

yours is the calm of contemplation and compassion

out of which you've sent us a beguiling parcel

the postman hands over ceremoniously –

the wrapping torn off flutters away like sparrows

and i am holding in my hand a shiny ceramic brick –

bemusement gives way to sudden illumination –

i ring your doorbell, call out names frantically –

 

baby rene partha chukku bachchi

and the friends i know are supposed to come too –

tipu all the way from chicago and kochi

and nausheen and ekram bhai from new york

already busy grilling katla fish –

i place the brick at the centre of the table –

at once your presence pervades our mindscape

 

now we know why the sight of redbrick houses

sent a pang every time we passed them by –

redbrick like signature or fingerprint is you –

at dessert i know exactly what to do –

smash the brick into numerous pieces

and pass them round one piece for each

to put in the mouth and suck –

 

earthy, sweetish or salty, smooth or deliciously rough –

fitting end to the meal you've graced –

we're no longer slaves to loss

now that you're in us

we and you are so to speak one

and real or imagined this oneness

is palpable in remembrance   

 

*Bashirul Haq (1942-2020), architect, planner, teacher.

               

Kaiser Haq is a poet, translator, essayist, critic, academic and freedom fighter. He is also Professor, Dept. of English & Humanities, ULAB.  

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