I sing the song of equality –
Of a country where fresh joy blossoms in every heart
And new life springs in every face.
Friend, there is no king or subject here,
No differences of rich and poor.
Some do not feast on milk and cream here,
While others grovel for leftovers and broken grains.
No one bows before the feet of horses here,
Or before the wheels of motor cars.
Disgust does not arise in white men’s minds here
At the sight of black bodies.
Here, in this land of equality,
Black and white are not buried in separate graveyards;
Nor do black and white pray in separate rooms and churches.
In this land there are no footmen or guards,
No policemen to evoke fear.
There are no conflicting religions here,
No cacophony of conflicting scriptures.
The priest and the padre, the mullah and the monk
Drink water from the same glass here.
The Creator’s house of prayer
Is contained in the human body and mind here;
Here His throne of sorrow
Is formed by human suffering.
He responds readily here
To whatever name He might be called,
Just as a mother responds readily
To whatever name her child might call.
No one comes to blows here
Over the different apparel one wears –
Pyjama, trousers or dhoti.
Clad though in soiled or dusty garb,
All are happy here.
To the Poets of the Future
[Na-Asha-Diner Kabir Proti]
O poets of the future, may you arise
Like the morning sun,
Bright and red like hibiscus blossoms.
In the golden dawn for which we long
May you wake up like countless flocks of birds.
I sing in the hope that you will come
To soar in the blue sky that I create.
I leave behind the memory of my greetings to you:
Play on my veena the song of the new day.
Niaz Zaman is an academic, writer and translator