The Shame of Return | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 02, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:16 AM, July 02, 2016

The Shame of Return

To catch the last train, I've kind of run all the way to the station and glimpsed

the signal of blue light on. Suddenly like a frustration,

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the train is starting off with a loud whistle.

The anxious faces of those I was to go with to the city

are watching me from windows, consoling me by waving their hands.


Before coming here, Father rebuked me, Packing things off

will take your time away, you'll miss the train.

Mother said, You can stay up late reading books tonight

as you often do on many nights.

But I fell asleep. In a dreamless sleep

I lay like dead on my bed.


But Jahanara never misses the train. Forhad

always reaches the station half an hour before. Lailee

sends her servant with all her luggage to book a ticket. Nahar

never touches rice for her thrill before going somewhere.

And I'm their brother,

having walked seven miles and missed the late night train,

now shivering in the fog at an infamous station.


I'll go back home dangling the white curtain of fog.

My trousers will get soaked with dew. On my eyelids

drops of dew will gather, and suddenly like a shameless one

the red sun will rise. With the sunrays falling on my face, like one defeated,

I will see my familiar river in front. Scattered

houses, villages. Flocks of cranes flying towards the swamp. Then

like a terrific fear, our eight-layered roofed house will come into my view.

The tiny grove of plantains.


Long leaves will tremble saying, No, no. Father from the front room,

having seen me once, will set his eyes down and recite,

Fabi ayye aalai rabbikuma tukazziban …

Seeing me, Mother will start off smiling with stale plates in hands.

She will say, It's good to see you come back. In your absence

this whole house seems empty. Wash your hands and face

and come. I'll serve your breakfast.

And then I'll rub the shame of my return against Mother in my embrace

again and again,

and wipe it off.

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