Picture of my lass | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 16, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, December 16, 2017

Life's lyrics

Picture of my lass

‘Beloved’ is a very special word. In all the languages that I know, and some of them that my friends know (resulting in more than eight), I have found that poets have played with this word. In fact, they have played with the idea of the ‘beloved’ that exists in their imagination.

Momin (Urdu poet) says, “Jise aap kahte they Aashna, jise aap kahte they bawafa

Mein wohi hun Momine mubtela

Tumhe yaad ho ke na yaad ho”

(One whom you thought was beloved and one who had no loyalty, I am that Momin, perhaps you don't remember.)

In the same chain of thoughts the national poet of Bangladesh Kazi Nazrul Islam saw the face of his beloved in the mirror of the glass, one that serves the drink.

Dekh re kobi priyar chobi oi shara berar shite

Ambassador Mario Palma (Current Italian Ambassador to Bangladesh) brought the two countries together including Kazi Nazrul Islam's poem (in English) in his recently published book by Bengal Publications, titled ‘Tales of a Grape Lover’.

The book is about growing up in Southern Italy in a joint family where cultivation of wine and its consumption were both daily routines. The author starts his book with the initiation to drinking wine, at a very tender age, initiator being his father who marveled at the ruby red color of the wine and offered him a ‘finger’ of wine in his glass to drink. The association of aesthetics, the color of the wine, the slight dreamy world and horizontally measured one finger of wine, led young Mario later on to discover a world of wine, celebration, arts and culture throughout the world when he joined the diplomatic services of his country. He found that the grapes had a tale to offer, be it in China, Japan, Taiwan or USA.

His maternal uncle Peppino brewed a wine named ‘vinnocotto’, which he witnessed being made at home and a couple of bottles were always stored in the grandmother's cabinet. In later years, this cottage industry type ‘wine-making’ was replaced with mechanized farming which “was increasingly dominated by the interests of the powerful chemical industries,” writes Mario.

What I found interesting about the book was the marriage of Bangladesh to Italy in its publication, which as I mentioned begins with Poet Kazi Nazrul Islam's poem with a picture on the left side to match the last lines:


Oh Poet, see the image of your lass

In the folds of the coloured glass

She answers from there

The red glass is only a layer

Drink till you are bare!


In between pictures of Mario himself, sketched drinking wine, is a picture of his grandmother and a picture by Bangladeshi artist Kazi Ghyiasuddin takes a place, so does one (of an eye) by Nazia Andaleeb Preema and one from Monirul Islam's sketchbook. The book is a bird's eye view of a mini world. A fusion of the author's experiences all over the world with special mention to places where he lived and drank wine and then in this Bangladeshi version of his publication he brings in the national poet and the artists of Bangladesh. I had given him my book of translations (The return of Laili) and this is the sole poem which contained pertinent verses, well done Mario-cheers for your discerning eyes!

The author is an academician,

Nazrul exponent and translator.

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