Poetry of Nirmalendu Goon | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 15, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:11 AM, August 15, 2020

Poetry

Poetry of Nirmalendu Goon

(Swadhinata, Ei Shobodota Kibhabe Amader Holo)

How Freedom Became Our Own Word

 

A poem is about to be written;

Millions of excited, rebellious, impatient listeners Waited for the happening

From dawn in the park's open field a sea of people has been wondering—

"When will the Poet show up?"

 

This Children's Park didn't exist that day

This garden beautified with flowers and trees didn't exist that day

This languid drab evening didn't exist that day

So how was that particular evening?

How were the Children's Park, benches, its trees, flowers and garden

In this park that is at the heart of Dhaka city that day?

 

I know dark hands strove to erase all memories of that day

Thus it is I can see in this adverse poet-less expanse today

A poet set up against a poet

A field set up against a field

An evening set up against an evening

A park set up against a park

A March set up against amarch….

 

"O child of the coming age", O poet of the future

Swaying on the Children's Park colorful swings

You'll come to know all one day

It's with you in mind I leave behind this tale of that greatest of evenings!

On that day this park looked completely different

It neither had this park nor this garden full of flowers—nothing of the kind!

Only, as a slice of an unbroken sky can be, the horizon was flooded that day

The vast grass-covered field wasthen lush green, so very lush green!

The lush green dear to our hearts and our beloved freedom had melded

With a vast grass-covered green field that day!

 

Wrapping foreheads and wrists in red-cotton cloth

To this field had come rushing workers from metal foundries

Ploughs and yokes on shouldershad come swarming bare-bodied farmers

With weapons snatched from policemen had come radiant youths!

With death in their fists and dreams in their eyes had come middle, lower middle-class people

Andsad-eyed clerks, women, old people, whores, vagrants as well

And children like you who had assembled to gather fallen leaves   

A poem was to be recited—people waited eagerly for him—

"When will the poet show up?" "When will he be here?"

 

"After centuries, centuries of struggles,

With the resolute gait of a Rabindranath

The poet came next and stood on the people's stage

In the twinkling of an eye and in sparkling light water buoyed a vessel

As the heart began to sway a sea of people felt a tide coming their way

All doors had opened; who could suppress that thunderous voice?

Making the sun-lit people's stage tremble, the poet read out his immortal poem—

"The struggle this timeis for our freedom

The struggle this time is for independence!"

 

From then on "freedom" became our own word!

 

Now that It's August Cry Out in Sorrow

 

Now that it's August, cry out in sorrow Bengalis!

 

I know you weren't allowed to mourn for a long, long time

I know, hapless Bengalis, you weren't able to cry at all

For twenty-one long years, but you can do so now!

Cry your hearts out now for the time to mourn has come

Clear the debt of sorrow you've piled up for over two decades

In tears that can flow completely freely now!

With the tears of pent-up passion released from your hearts

Let Bengal's delta be flooded and swept away.

Most people have no idea how striking shared tears

Can look on them. Let everyone know that truth now.

Like crickets chirping soulfully across earth

Let your clamorous cries pervade and overwhelm it.

Cry out soulfully, making earth quiver with your cries!

 

Citizens of an ill-fated country's horn of happiness

Cry out now like a hungry baby deprived of milk

Cry out now like a lonely sister grieving for a lost brother

Cry out now like a dear daughter wailing for her dead father

Cry out now like poor people who've lost all in ruinous floods

Cry out now like a mother who has just birthed a still-born child

Cry out now like a wailing old man who has just buried his own son,

Returned home, and is flailing helplessly on his courtyard floor.

You couldn't mourn when you wanted to but cry out now

And let go of your pent up and till now impotent anger and pain!

 

After twenty-one years the sun called Mujib has burst through

Clouds and now blazes in Bengal's skies again. Not in celebration

But with funeral cries greet him now. Cry, Bengalis, cry!

 

Like the immaculate juice oozing out of an uprooted baat tree

Let tears ooze out of your eyes and flow down your face

Like the warm juice of a date palm tree that has been tapped

Let the tears pent up in your bosom trickle down to its earthly urn.

 

Twenty-one years have gone by and August has come again

August is the cruelest month

August is the month of mourning, soaked in sin, harsh, cruel

Free it from its sins with overflowing tears!

 

Fakrul Alam is UGC Professor, Department of English, University of Dhaka.

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