Orchid Plaza, 2nd Floor, Shahid Bulbul Road
Sherpur District, Bangladesh
Date of Birth:
January19,1981 in Sherpur District, Bangladesh.
Done B.A.(Honours)and Masters in English Literature from the Department of English, University of Rajshahi,
Author of IMPASSE, a book of poems.
Working on another book, IN LOVE WITH A GORGON(Poetry),
Working on a long story ASHES OF THE CREMATED DEAD
A Double-born Kid's Tale(Non-fiction),
an autobiographical piece of my beginning to write in English,
Writing Essays on South Asian poetry & fiction in
English, and on Poetry in general.
FRAGMENTS FROM MY THOUGHTS ABOUT POETRY
As a poet writing in English, I have to tell my readers something about my poetry and myself. I have read so many conventional poems that now I get bored when I sit to read poems, which have no charm of diversity and have only the quality of stating things in a plain prosaic manner as one reads news of the world today. Before reading a poem of this kind, I can foresee what is going on in it, and how the particular bones and flesh of a concept are stuffed into it. I always need a sort of mystery that I have to find out while I go through the poem. Now in this post-colonial period some poets feel the urge to tell it a little differently. Here the motto 'Make It New' does its course in full swing, and I let it do whatever it likes to do. By using multiple flashbacks and often a flashback within a flashback, I have achieved a certain range of diversity in paying heed to the jumbled-up display of concepts, the display that truly reveals our trend to place things in disarray, especially at the subconscious lavel of our mind. I have to say about the language and infrastructure of my poems that the linguist and formalistic experimentation sometimes results in ambiguity. That can be resolved if one understands why a poet does it (to portray disillusionment or the co-existence of optimism and pessimism?) and then the experimentation of the poet becomes a rewarding experience for the reader. I cannot but express a feeling that one may feel as if one were on a voyage to discover things, which are regarded as forbidden.
I don't become 'involved or intimately involved' in my subject but hold it away from me as an artist should always do. An artist should always speak in symbols even when he speaks most passionately; otherwise his vision becomes ‘blurred’. Poetry should retain an exploration of the subconscious mind and be strongly imbued with some organic thoughts if possible, though in symbols. I believe that what cannot be described can be adumbrated through symbols and imagery. Indirectness in poetry intrigues me most evocatively; for I think the schozophrenic use of language as a mode of study in maturity has a certain value that brings wide-ranging implications. Sometimes I think D. J. Enright is right when he says - '...the art of poetry is/Not to say everything.' Poetry stuffed with a sublimity of grace even produced in the most uncongenial atmosphere must retain an enthusiastic individuality, an obvious joy in experimentation with words and an easy flowing rhythm. Poetry must stress sidelong glances at life, though rich with elements of toughness and humour, and at the light of imagery that illuminates in most unexpected places. As the transmutation of my personal feeling changes to an intelectual one, a sophistication of phrase and artistic intent occurs. Of course, it is not true that 'simple expression of emotion with a sprinkling of imagery exhausts the craftmanship.'
Writing is a way of 'speaking the truth in all its veiled complexities' and of 'living intensely, bringing together mamories, thoughts, dreams, sensations, a vividness at the heart'. Whenever I write, I write with the sense of universal complexity in my bones, the complexity that feeds my mind on creative impulses as seen brightly evocative in endorsing the distorted, ill-informed, patronizing accounts of an expatriate.
'A poem which does not arouse respect for the technical requirement of its own mechanics will be as empty as a man made of wax or straw...technique means everything' as William Carlos Williams says. With better technical mastery, I wish to show maturity as a poet using poetic techniques in new ways.
I believe that one is never entirely satisfied with one's own poems. Dom Moraes has written in his 'Foreword to Collected Poems 1957-87' - 'You can't be a poet except during the time when your mental and physical attention is concentrated on helping a poem to come to birth.' So here I need craftsmanship and I am still learning the craft of poetry. In fact, the poetry-making process is very mysterious.
#Take a Look at My Recent Poems
IN LOVE WITH A GORGON
At the time of the sun’s spitting saffron out in the sky,
my life turned into a dazzling Gorgon and smiled.
The Gorgon with her snaky hair and tempting eyes
that I didn’t know, turned a lot of things into stone.
Her smile drove me unwilling to suffer an eclipse,
frantic to climb the ladder of paramount ecstasy.
Prying into the tangles of love, I shrugged off
the unburdening of things we carry to the end.
Her smile seemed like music of pebbles in a stream.
I didn’t know only monsters thrive under her spell.
She stared me out of countenance and I am stone.
My moss-green figure only a twister can shatter.
Now regrets grow like shrubs in the rain forest;
I can't have them all eaten by the worms of Time.
THE HOUSE OF RUMOURS
(for Monira Qais)
I have slipped straight from my mother’s womb
into this house where rumours breed like spawn;
and the grown-ups grin as I stand like a torso;
my eyes blink at the dazzle of the carnival lights;
I wonder how lords of life avow me an insane;
like a trapped mouse, I stiffen with starlit fear.
Grappling with a lot of traumatic rumours at home,
I come of age and slump as columns in the quake.
In all my autumns when the sky falls dripping blue,
I don’t see ripples of rapture on pools ever spread,
suffer year after year a burn in the flames of fire,
long tortured by fabrications and lack of tears.
My life tells of the slow burn in the snaky flames;
and there’s my body fills with blisters of grief.
CONCORDIA DISCORS, CUI BONO?
Cedant arma togae, concedant laurea laudi.
– Marcus Tullius Cicero from De Officiis
1. THE REST NOWHERE
Let’s watch frecks turn up at every conference hall
to know what ‘war on terrorism’ brings in the offing
and crash as cars often do on the hilly passageways.
Confrères scream: “Eclipse first, the rest nowhere.
“Sob, heavy world: Roma locuta est; causa finita est.
Oh, our leaders are pimps whose love’s far to seek.
Forced to find the stench off hyenas pretty blamy,
and believe each day that has dawned is our last,
“yet we won’t cut our conscience to fit their rage,
right now more ready to not stop dead in our track
than see the whole lot of Pascal’s reeds in scare:
arsonist networks, threats, explosives, anthrax etc.”
Montroses come from the prison to the scaffold.
2. THE FINEST FARCE
Sir, I think the weather of diplomacy fines up!
invaders talk of liberty to be given to the invaded;
and this ceaseless talk smells sour, prove that I lie.
Yes, on the battlefields is this farce being staged.
Let me talk to a chap who’s still at the crossroads:
back home, first change into trousers and the vest,
splash your face with water and switch on your TV;
now tell me, dear fellow, if you see on the screen
anything but skeletons still crusty with burnt flesh
or buildings broken like sandcastles on the beach
or overcast skies rent by long cries in the gloom.
Is this gallant Mr. Perdition living with Miss Chief?
I just sympathize with those civilians who scream:
there is no neutral thing like blood, nor any trick as war;
yes, for the riches of some greedy countries we morons do suffer,
and for their leaders who wage wars as rewards for us,
the invaders can’t ever counteract our stark grief by grace;
when’ll we be brisk about the life cropping out of the ruins?
Tell why we are thrust into this world for the jaws of misery
which we can’t gratify with anything else but ourselves?
By Gothic Horror Harbour I sat down and wept:
I’d got nothing but photographs of the catastrophe
(the octopus from whose tentacles none escapes)
and of the lunatics wallowing on burning tyres.
Days glide swiftly on as dirty worms in a drain,
their swiftness none counteracts by glaring eyes.
Cry, my beloved heart: without tears you can’t have
grace more longed for than this dose of naivety.
The butchers have taken charge of the Sanatoria.
3. THE EMBALMERS’ ART
Centuries are nothing but chronicles of wreckage.
Asked by German soldiers in his Parisian studio
if he painted the bomb-shattered city in Spain,
Picasso replied, ‘No, you humble Germans did.
Now get ready to flee your city and never return:
somewhere in an art-gallery you’ll see pictures of it
and nightmares cropping out of the hoary ruins.
All artists feast on the remains of nightmares.ss
Things have changed since I burst out of infancy
to see nightmares bloom like flowers on the ruins.
Cluster bombs are no drizzle on the grassfield,
Rather chronicles of suffering and embalmers’ art.
Each negative value has its price in positive terms.
Strange that the fraudheads speak the nicest words,
vows with so much spirit, swears with so much grace.
I am glad of a triumph of all the embalmers’ art!
Last summer I heard whispers of further wreckage,
I can’t laugh away the whispers sharp as needles,
nor comfortably stay in my den where TV shows
how the whispers come true, piling on the agony.
Yes, everywhere I see the frenzy of nightmares.
Lamps go out, and generation to corruption turns;
Do you think of us as certified insane to agree
that the Strong shall thrive and the Weak perish?
You know why artists grope for solid nightmares;
what’s the good of nightmares if I ain’t with them?
I keep writing on the turmoil in our blaring bush,
hope that I will succeed by the sweat of my brow.
Is it Progress if I think art and war are inseparable?
COMÉDIE HUMAINE, N’EST – CE PAS?
Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt. – The Bible
Yeah, our life is fog that turns up for a little time
and fades away as the sun spits fireballs out in the sky.
Days pass swifter than a weaver’s shuttle.
We all pass days as filthy rags and fade as leaves in Fall
and watch no ladder set up on the earth to climb.
To what purpose is this seeking rest among thorns like Christ’s,
or that walking through graveyards full of dead men’s bones?
Miserable comforters are we all loosing
the bands of wickedness, gathering
the pearls cast before swine, trembling
like grasshoppers as giants spy out this heartland, restoring
the old dreams long ravaged in the hands of spoilers,
O generation of vipers!
Imagine blind leaders leading the blind into the ditch.
Imagine those swine wise as serpents will ran
down an escarpment into the sea, and perish in the waters.
Darkness thickens on the face of the waters and the earth;
a dread of colossal darkness lengthens upon us all.
I wish to break every yoke fastened over our necks.
Behold, we stand at the door of swine and knock
and bow at the names of swine eating the fat of the land.
Vengeance is theirs. Our end is bitter as wormwood. We jump
into the sea of glass mingled with fire and don’t die:
the gates of Death are shut for us poor screechers;
Death elusive as fortune never falls as towers of Babylon.
How long should the swine eat the fat of the land? Tell me, Brethren.
Come down at the bottom of the stairs, O Liberty; Come straightaway.
Christ being raised from the dead died no more;
death had no more dominion over him.
Rush to give light to those trapped in the shadow of death.
Liberty’s nearer than when we believed, minding
no high things in newness of life, casting
off the works of light with hands of darkness, putting
on in broad daylight the armour of darkness.
Rise, take up your bed, and walk; search your heart.
A little romance can work miracles; think like swifties.
We measured light of equal spread in every way,
and bridged our discrepancies with the salt of our sweat.
Like Sheba to Solomon she whispered into my ears,
‘Touch me not unless you put up your pistol into the holster.’
Like a bundle of myrrh I lied all night between her breasts.
I love to think of her twin roes that feed among the lilies.
‘Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.’
Things are never done decently and in order.
After setting my affection on paltry things on the earth,
I found myself musing on a jet in a green oasis;
and my dreaming being over,
I found all my fantasies scattered on the filthy plains
and no land flowing with milk and honey
and things disappeared as in the waste howling wilderness.
As a shield to stop all the fiery darts of the wicked,
I preach among the bespectacled scholars:
much study is a weariness of the flesh;
a time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing.
I myself tread woodland paths like a castaway, acquainted with griefs.
I have been in perils of the besieged cities that warred against evil.
Broken glasses are strewn on the carpet;
I have cast out of my sight purple blossoms instead!
and have sown the wind and reaped the whirlwind.
Who puts things of many colours in a bag with holes?
Who takes the bread of adversity and the waters of affliction?
Who has ever seen sorrow and sighing flee away?
The Scriptures disgorge truths:
the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
nor the ear filled with hearing…
and there is no new thing under the sun.
Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?
I have walked in darkness, in perils of the besieged cities
and seen shades of darkness, which must be felt by the unsighted.
Yeah, without shedding of tears is no remission hoped for.
ALL FROTH & NO BEER
(for Cyber Soulmates)
Clad in a quilt, I fill my ashtray with cigarette stubs
before the sun wipes gluey darkness off the sky.
As the time to jog around the Padma riverside walks comes,
I caper and watch fishermen fishing with nets in the river,
amateurs waiting with fishing rods, creels lying beside them.
I see them surely gratified unlike me,
and their euphoria relates to what’s found very spry
at the outskirts of the city where the river flows on course
ignoring bastards’ philanthropy and strange things
happening almost around every corner in the city.
Nasty rogues look on me as just sort of dead drunk,
(one chap says – Your life’s all froth and no beer!)
but what the hell do they think they are!
Yeats said things fall apart,
but I say they just sort of spin as in a whirlpool.
Grotty screechers make things spin around me.
Years back counting stars for hours on end,
I thought of myself
as one ‘out of place anywhere, at home nowhere’
and of the steps I should climb in the days to come.
I find meaninglessness mounting everywhere,
and it runs down my throat with every mouthfull like lead.
Yet never do I stop searching for meaning in the sea
of meaninglessness like a scuba-diver.
All that counts is to love and be loved in return. I am sad,
never insane to hate myself for loving life
or for not loving it much either.
Oh, fucking me! I scream –
‘Things ain’t gonna sort of stop dead in their track’
and never doubt of my status as your busy fool next door.
I rake coal-heated ashes to bring forth the ferocity of fire
to get myself burnt straight off to be pure as gold.
What shall I do with trials and tribulations of life?
How long shall I dig my heart like a wild fox?
I toss and turn on bed fighting nightmares.
A FRANKER’S JOURNAL
Through my half-open windows seasons come and go;
I feel like Pound at St. Elizabeth’s – certified insane.
Not to mince matters nor one’s talk about the dreams
that this world gives out of its sheer philanthropy,
I remember my heart never glittered like drops of water
even as I looked at golden corn swaying in the wind;
no birds’ twittering but only metallic clangs everywhere.
Oh! I envy those pigs wallowing together in the sty.
Somewhere at a long stretch of time I remember
driving down the street to stay in another city’s hotel,
I felt loneliness as in the dry barren fields of a desert.
Just to find solace, I have ransacked metaphysics
and then known flat denial of unrest ain’t worth the pain
that I suffer as loneliness pierces my ‘lukewarm’ heart
like icicles from arctic cliffs fall upon the North sea.
Nothing fights back the tough strains of it in the crowd.
Reading this journal means – you may have to retch:
my moments stink as corpses in the charnel house,
I’d have nullified the stench had I got Persian perfume.
I have seen nauseous serpents slip out of Time’s cunt.
As my palace of glass is broken by the hurling of stones,
I stand with the devil’s progeny rotting in the gutter,
nothing in this world of filth and horror so troubles my retina
as a lot of history’s ghosts pestering us to sing a lullaby.
Now that I have enough of grief and grace, I think
servitude to history stinks as damp clothes in the loft,
its need – a sack of cotton getting heavier in the wet.
The catalogue of horrors I have seen stretches to miles.
I pluck voices from the ether as if tropical mangoes
and just as before, listen to the filthy cunt-ticklers’ grin
that life should start in a whimper and end in a cry.
Regrets just as easily melt like strawberry cream ices.
All through the night when stars can’t light up the sky
I give in to dark impulses as worms feasting on a corpse;
I wonder why colours fade away into the dazzling dark
and darkness soaks gleams of light like a blotting paper.
My dreams are what lords of life treat as goddamn filthy,
and hopes scuttle away as from horror’s wolfish claws;
my nightmares honk as sirens to black out the night,
these never will start browning like dry leaves in fall.
I feel like Nostradamus closer to his language of truth,
the delicate astrologer with his vision of horrors in the attic,
the wounds that his visions here inscribed on white pages
leave on my psyche are all that crusty and never heal;
like Picasso painting miseries on the tightened canvas,
screaming in grief paints shades of black on the dead air;
like Aragon groaning to see the loss of lives everywhere,
the wish to master the art of conjuring with the dead.
Guns’ lullaby charms Plato’s republic, scoundrels think:
missiles are a kind of insecticide for Time’s wormy cunt,
smoke blooms like mushrooms against every city’s skyline,
rotting corpses make a philosophy of filth and horror.
Guns’ mouths are gaping at kids singing carols of love,
History breaks bridges, propagates fear; I remember
Michelle’s grandpa’s frowning – a baptized Jew’s still a Jew.
Puppets that we have become in the scoundrels’ hands!
Homo sapiens – a dish of delicacy to hungry gun-barrels.
We fools hesitate, the usual prey to Wisdom’s teeth,
and gape as apes whose ‘stoic lethargy’ is a stone knife,
useless in this age of monstrous machines. Vulnerable
the idea of grand speech seasoned with obstinate bliss;
measured the guns’ stuttering against the rising decibels
heating us into rage, not cleansed by the shower of sense,
then at best the perfection of life yields to that of art.
So calm once the pasture at Grandpa’s farmhouse; blood –
as I write about that old greenery – pours on this page.
I wonder why every poem becomes an elegy of mourning;
and why metaphors of grief breed as in a chain reaction.
Take a look at my translated version of a Bengali poem by a noted poet.
FIRST SONG BEFORE MY SECOUND DEATH
By Shamsur Rahman (b. 1929)
Is this the world whose soil gave away for so long
fruits like baxom boobs and blossoms of spring,
being so filled up with and cleft by her childern’s
labour, wisdom and love? Is this that Old World?
Once on the sea-beach I have seen in the twilight
a white horse galumphing friskily like dancer-flames
prancing in the air – I remember I have left behind
days bright like deerskins, the yearning of fresh trees.
Once he who loved rivers and the blue by heart
and built these friendly banks like a skilled artist,
never will I find him animated on my eyes nor will
the noisy jet be full of life in spring’s failed greeting.
The conscience that came back to my life, tearing
across the fog of nightmares wildly like blind fortune,
never did I want such light whose intent is to adore
inferno in an instant in a covetously thirsty chorus.
Who will put off the firepit setting things on fire
with clear silvery water? The heart that’s gone sunless
through many exiles, only sings in utter darkness
songs of ghosts – no brighter face to hang out.
Dark dread is spread in blood, no response at all
in my locality, even at birds’ frightened screeching
no wave trembles in the wind, dreadful silence on paths.
Stand over there – said someone I do remember,
where in silence a hundred lightless souls in a march
pick up insensate bloody yellow pus on to their mouths
in a delirious trance hit by terrifying nightmares in the dark.
With dreadful signs of myriad unforgettable memories
their haggard existence is put on thorns; stand over there –
then go straight away, alone, with nothing to care for.
Is it not death as a sense of this scene gets on one’s nerves,
not death at all, is there anything that death stands for?
It seems I were just that often heard-of Lazarus,
stayed three days in a grave, dead – with the loving
touch of resurrection have I come back into the sunshine.
Yet the dazzle of my dress can’t manage to hide at all
wounds on my deformed physique, frankincense
easily drowns in the stench of old corpses; at my blue
fingertips lies the merciless darkness of those three days.
Like unfinished statues of sculptors I stick around
at dazzling festivels in this cheerful city; but yet
I can’t mingle myself with the lustiness of pleasure,
in a weird awry heaven. Like lethal flowers many rapt
mysteries still flame up in these two eyes of mine.
In my soul I have carried an endlessly bizzare grief.
As flowers of dread blossom on the stalks of that grief,
none dares come close to me easily, all are afraid lest
the sad water of the Lethe should flow into their veins.
Where in which country have I lost beauty in animals’
furry darkness, having carried my life from heaven?
Here skulls of the corpses roll in dust everywhere,
helpless like pawns in chess, with no future at all.
Sometimes a giant black bird with iron-hard beaks
swoops down to tear my flesh – I can’t drive it away.
And I see the full moon blazing on skulls on this soil
like a sad memory, the voice of secound death floats.
Take a Look at a Poem from my Book IMPASSE -
(for Geoffrey Hill)
This is nothing but a change of skies.
How poor I am that I have come a long way
heading down the sandline
with eyes gazing out across the river
to know –
every little thing I longed to clench has gone with the wind.
I think remorse acts like an idle weapon.
How should I dig out my clumsiness with a spade?
No longer can I give up sipping the nectar from a sieve
nor do I wish to see the same again.
Things are just the same as they were.
Now I am sad and drop down as a meteor
more often than seeds in flight.
Ogling stars in the sky, poets stretch arms
out on the green verge of a grassland.
Their mutterings are gone with the slicing wind.
Grey leaves rustle, gay as confetti; they burn cigars
mingling ash with dew as if grief with gain.
Retooling dated machines in heads to usher in effectiveness,
they mutter again like startled apes,
pulling ropes of inspiration out of the dark well;
the pulled-out ropes bring pitchers of treasure
and the ropes turn into lines of poems.
Later on their endless toil starts
over the lines bereft of something else.
Now they think: satisfaction is death.
A heat-wave from between her legs neared me,
and my skin of lust wrinkled –
a clime of black grass was at enmity with me.
I would have been foolish without remorse
had I not heard the bulletin of the fire flaming up
nor visualised my future
caught in its labyrinth.
I thought how I could live by the folly of darkness.
So I jumped into the shining sea and sank.
I did not know it was burning too.
Still unknown is
what had leaked into the lush jungle of my brain
the way nightmares often do.
Having been borne across the world, we are translated men.
It is normally supposed that something always gets lost in translation;
I cling, obstinately, to the notion that something can also be gained.
– Salman Rushdie, Imaginary Homelands
Life’s a bore rallying fag-ends in an ashtray,
never paying debts but talking about tomorrows.
Rage and regret: all good things end in acrimony.
My life’s a dud in this merciless battlefield;
the crux of the matter is reported as irresolvable.
Led into all that counts in the abyss of hatred,
I haven’t got time to hold my view among others.
and I just mark this talked-about life as translatable.
We the brat pack think it out to a flat end
but in different ways of translation.
The furious mob wells up & says
that I won’t find a hard day’s night to rest in;
for I have gone off the track of grace.
My neighbour is, like most fishermen, an incurable optimist. I asked him one morning how the fishing was going. “Better,” he replied. “Last week I went out for four hours and didn’t catch a thing. Yesterday I had the same result in only three hours.”
– Contributed by Mike Cohen
Fishing means letting things come right on
through every tide of life.
Before dawn settles he goes out to a river,
thirteen miles away, to check how the fishing is going on.
Then enduring the slow tide wrap around his legs
each time he comes up here with an empty creel.
Just after things flow with ease again,
he becomes busy weeding out the shrubs growing on his optimism;
I think it is the way he keeps his wish
as strong as the Rock of Gibraltar.
But I do not wish to have any of my neighbours
asked to serve as witness
at the river growing thin as children in Africa.
NOTE: 'Disjecta Membra' – a Latin phrase taken from Horace, meaning ‘Scattered Fragments’
Now Read ASHES OF THE CREMATED DEAD: Part Three(Incomplete)
A Work in Progress
For a few days, I had been noticing that a kind of curiosity to teach more about Shimanta Chatterje the poet was nibbling at me. His death surprised me into turning out to be a frogman myself, untying all tangles of underwater shrubbery in search of pearls. It is ironically true that from my underwater enterprise in the deep blue sea of the human mind, I have almost nothing, simply unlocked sunken metalloid boxes full of various vexations like grief, an intolerable sense of guilt; no invaluable stones but deep-sea monsters of memories invoked by my diving into the deep. And I am to carry all these boxes on my shoulders forever, and certainly will have no chance to take them down to lie in relaxation. Besides, I heard a sound just like that made by an absentminded globe-trotter sauntering on a litter of crisply withered leaves in a forest in fall, mistaking that litter for a normal track. A bitterness coming out of this unfruitfulness covering me like clouds of smoke is all I have achieved up on the ground from my poking at ashes of the cremated dead.
After my visit to Rajshahi five years back, I almost forgot to read his book, and even could not remember where I had put it. Later as I had to busy myself with my readings from, and my publisher’s official ceremonies here and in some cities of America of my third novel A Flight through the Clouds, I could not manage time to open it, let alone read between the lines of his poems. All I had known about his book of verse by that time was right from the poet himself in his own city. So, to me he was not only a poet but an interpreter of his own poems. Just after his death two years back, I can speculate how I came to know that a book could be an enigma by itself. This speculation of mine took me to the ends of the earth to make me realise what morality necessarily is, and why that angry lady, now my wife, did seem to be arrogantly inviting to pressure me into a discussion about morality and the validity of it in the human mind. Someone said that animosities are mortal, but the humanities live forever.
I found myself browsing titles of books in general on some of the shelves of burnished wood in my study. Now I know I was searching for a particular book, and that is certainly a book of verse that the poet had given me on my first visit to Rajshahi. One day later, I found his book lying at the bottom of a book-shelf standing by the chest of drawers in our bedroom and dusted it off with a cotton rag. Then taking his book from my bedroom to my study, I spent some time trying to read but found it very difficult, for I have a very bad command of his mother tongue which historically is mine as well. As long as my parents lived, I heard it spoken between them and among others of their relatives who migrated to England like we did many years ago. Then I could speak it and read it, but could not write a single sentence but my name with a kind of notable hardship.
I was thrown into a real problem when I went to Rajshahi. Hardly did I utter correct sentences in Bengali and surprisingly did see Imtiaz’s friends holding green flags upon which WHAT A PITY was written in red, of course, in my wild imagination. During my three days’ visit there, I carefully observed how they spoke it, and expressed their everyday feelings in it to each other. I also heard the recitation of some of his Bengali poems by the poet himself, and I gladly remember that he taught me how to read poems in Bengali. The knowledge I had about Bengali from my parents and all of my relatives here in London, from Imti’s friends at the University and from my long-term friendship with Taufique might not be enough to read between the lines of his poems but could make the best use of it with some help from others if possible.
Then my hardship started. I was trying to be my own master as to gather confidence to overtop all hurdles on the way though I faltered almost at every step of learning it properly. I took his book and opened at page thirteen to read a poem of six lines. Yes, I fully understood that poem as copied below:
ONLY BLACK REMAINS
At twilight I cried in rapture
with colours of my mind thrust upon the sky;
an old wrinkled man came –
All the colours of rapture, young boy,
will turn into those of despair.
Colours fade, only black remains.
O sancta simplicitas! I thought I could decipher into an intelligible English code all of his enigmatic thoughts translated into his mother tongue. But as to other poems in the book, I could not go farther beyond ten to fifteen lines in each poem. And one cannot know a lot about a worthy dead just by reading his poems written in a language which seems to be too stingy to let one decipher interior patterns of enigmas into a code, though it is a language I was born into. So, I needed more materials about him to specifically locate his emotions and frustrations, I mean – some such human feelings which have nothing special about them but their increasing use in his world affairs could have imparted a kind of specialty to the acknowledged notions of his stature as a living legend in his local town.
I had to depend on his works to know the man that the poet was, as is often viewed as vital in matters concerning a dead writer’s life. But the language the dead had used to get off his feelings turned out to be much more difficult than was thought to be, what could an uninitiated person like me have done without any help from some others well acquainted with the coded coils of meaning? So, I decided I had better get Taufique on the telephone as soon as I could. I telephoned him,
“Hello, Tafi, you almost forgot me. How are you doing these days?”
“Fine as always, dear. We share the blame equally, don’t we?”
“Certainly, we did. What about you and your newly-wed wife?”
“She is quite fine. What prompts you to make a sudden call?”
“Almost nothing. Just curious to know if you are going on well. I am such a freak that I could not manage time to attend your marriage ceremony. You know I had to be on the run. Tell me about your wife; ‘sexy’ in your word? ”
“Yours is sexier,” said he, giggling like a precocious school boy,
“By the way, a few days back, I went to your wife’s firm with one of my clients cum friends, to have a few suggestions from her firm for the decoration of his new-built house in a suburb. I found her not so cordial as in the past, and she looked somewhat depressed. Anything went wrong with her these days?”
“No, she didn’t tell me anything about it. Depressed? Nothing of this sort,” said I erasing all doubt from how he might have found her at her firm. And then,
“By the way, I need your help. Could you please help me with some Bengali poems? I mean – I want you to read out lines of poetry by the poet I had met at Rajshahi University, and of course, with the meanings translated into English. I cannot do anything without your help, Tafi, please.”
“Okay, it’s already 9 p.m. Not tonight, tomorrow? In the afternoon, Okay?”
“Fine. Then see you tomorrow. Good-bye.”
As soon as I put down the receiver, I put on my spectacles with the promptness of an industrious student before any exam. I tried to read another poem,
I’m not going to be sent into any dirty war with life;
I have said this before, but she remains stubborn.
Yes, the best number for a dinner party is two –
myself and my life in a restaurant’s lonely corner.
Hear the cheerful clatter of her spoons and plates
as she orders appetising items of human kindness.
Dread remains. Yet, there is no need to hurry at all.
After long years, the dread doesn’t get any worse…
but could not go beyond eight lines of it, and certainly did I get furious. I did not know why I got furious when I could not win through. When things go wrong, everything seems to be unusually a source of torment as Roman instruments of torture put in use for the punishment of Pope-denounced heretics in the past. Certainly I was not such a fellow as said to be their compatriot nor was meant to be so that jealous people and hostile things are always up to some devilment or other to get me harrowed by the devious ways that are used for the purpose. But I know there are more things to say about the hierarchy of horrors flying their blood-stained flags when one is out of some creative frenzy.
The life and works of one we know from a little distance before his ultimate demise are like ashes of the cremated dead thrown into the slushy mud of a river; and it takes the form of hard toil to bring back dry ashes from the thick mud in the rains. Next to impossible as the task of bringing back the man from his works is, loons never refuse to soil their hands in such matters as if they were officers on probation, always in a hurry to get everything ready for the task overnight. Such was the case with me by the time I searched for clues to untie all the knots of puzzlement that was located in memories of the poet’s acquaintances – I mean – in ashes of the cremated dead. Anybody can say that the whole enterprise was the height of my human folly, even persons who stay in no man’s land in between sanity and insanity; and I am not ashamed of going so far as to say that I am one of them, even after the bitter crisis has eased off.
Then a strange feeling came over me. Serpentine thoughts about how to get on to the significant part of excavating the dead from memories noisily entered my head through many of its invisible holes. Everywhere there were faces with monsters’ penetrating blood-shot eyes feasting on my flesh. People say that certainly these might have been be incidents invented by my wild imagination and I was just kidding. Another strange thing happened at that time: people normally see dreams or nightmares when they are washed away by the tides of sleep, but in my case I saw nightmares even when I was wide awake like our Tommy barking at strange fellows passing by the gate.
I saw the incipient decline in my creative frenzy, yet well-disposed towards the imagined creatures of discomfort chatting away in an awkward corner of my dispirited mind. As I screamed in pain caused by fictitious poison’s inclusion in my head, Eleen right from the kitchen rushed in to my study like a rescuer.
“What has happened to you, Nafees? Did you scream? Anything wrong?”
“You heard me scream? No, I didn’t,” I lied because I always think that lies are worse than anything else and some of those a bit necessary to live in peace.
“What are you doing in the kitchen?” continued I immediately.
“Pie, apple pie for kids. For a few days, they’re pestering me with their persistent requests for apple pie.”
“Wonderful! Dad’s and kids’ wish is the same. What are they doing now?”
“As usual, they’re watching some cartoon. You know TV’s their life.”
“Would you please sit down for some minutes?” I requested her like my kids, with her hands in mine. But her mind was in the kitchen, certainly not here.
“Not now, darling. Okay, I’m coming after the cooking. Please, darling, wait for a few minutes, please.”
She ran away as soon as she finished her sentence, like the lightning against the sky in the rains. Then I lay on the divan, waiting much impatiently as in my childhood days safeguarded in my parents’ custody, for Eleen to finish the cooking of apple pie and to come over to my study. I remember I mistook the smooth sunlight coming through the windows on the east for her fingers gliding smoothly on my sleep-laden eyelids, and wondered how some ten hours were over in a flash.
Then my consciuosness returned home form a voyage like a sailor trembling with annoyance at his memories of the shipwreck near a far-off island whose habitates were preying birds in the trees and wild animals on the ground; it seemd my waking to reality was like the landing of Vikings at a rich harbour. But now I think of theis reality as something like a glimmer of light through the window curtains of my study as the sunlight ends the play of darkness on the stage. I lay still on the divan as no other business turned out to be worth pursuing right away. Then once again like a bolt from the blue, the telephone rang with the same buzzing sound as of Imti’s sudden call, with no intention to ever stop at all. And certainly with the same reluctance in my movement to answer the call, I took the receiver, loosely hanging it onto my ear.
It was Eleen from her firm. It was already morning and she had long gone to her firm after sending kids to school. And for the first time in our ten years’ living under the same roof of our well-decorated flat (it was Eleen’s contribution to the concept of putting things in their right places and I am graced with the arrival of an interior decoration designer into my life) in a sophisticated suburb, Eleen went to her firm without bringing me up to breakfast with our kids befor their school. I was surprised to have discovered it when I was supposed to discover some way or other to get to the heart of the mystery of enigmas coded into a several thousand words that could not crack like nuts. And obviously triffle things like the former discovery were nothing but a lapse from my giving largely to the latter discovery of enigmas.
“What on earth are you doing right now?” she demanded ferociously and seemed to be anxious. “Hello, are you sleeping? One hour ago, I ranged you but the telephone was ringing on and on with no response at all. Last night when I went to your study after the cooking of apple pie, I saw you fast asleep right on the divan like an animal when it thinks it finds peace in sleep. Got your animal peace in sleep?”
I was still at a loss to answer her. But unable to find the right answer, I said,
“Perhaps some at last. Now I am hungry.”
“Then go and eat something. Nobody finds anything on an empty stomach. Oh, I forgot to inform you of Tafi’s call. He said he had to go to Glassgow on some sudden business and could be detained for a week.”
This was, of course, a bad news for me, I wondered how I could do anything without his help in reading out lines from Mr. Chetterje’s poems with their meanings translated into English. And certailny I was in trouble and did not know when I would be pulled oiut of some dirty ditch and be washed clean. All of my friends know that it is my ideosyncracy to treat troubles as perfect substitutes for dirty ditches where spawn and swollen cats float. And this was no matter of dollery.
“Hello, honey, say something. Is anything wrong with the way things work now? I am worried about you. Tell me, honey, if anything is wrong.” Eleen was really worried for I took much time to answer her. And I was silent again for a while.
“Honey, don’t worry I’m coming home right after I have finished some designs for a client. I’m planning to take a week’s leave; I’m bored enough to get away from this goddamn monotony to kind of caper like lambs on some Elysian plains. Could you manage some time for us?”
“Yes, I can,” said I instantly, without thinking much about it though I saw some suspicion playing hide & seek like flocks of beach crabs at low tide.
Putting down the receiver, I found a page lying in a corner of my study; it must be one from my diary which I had written when I was still at the university. I wondered why I was to desire for all those memories in a tropical country. Was it because I was barren like a stone and was searching for a kind of recovery for my creative frenzy with the hepl of the cremated dead who was passionate about monsoon rain like Kalidasa or rather like Tagore, their cultural guru abou itt. He read a poem by Tagore about the rain in his childhood, nothing so extraordinary as to be considered great feeling in the historuy of mankind. Perhaps, my other self wanted to remind me of my origin in the east. This page from my old diary was nibbling at some truth long hidden under boulders fallen into some calm lake by the Himalayan heights.
I took it and started to read on…
“Yesterday when I was wide awake with my eyes closed to better see a kind of revealation at hand like a desert prophet in a cool cave, I found rain with a little gust of wind was drizzling against the windowpanes. It continued for some fifteen minutes and was then over just as memories in a flash. I wondered why rain here is so sudden and quickly over when citizens in this vast concrete jungle, busy as well, start to plan that they will go out in the rain and get their covered skins soaked with crystals of it.
Like them, I want to get soaked to the skin, and to let the rain drive away from my heart the long-preserved dryness more or less synonymous with the basic charecteristic of a desert contrasted woth a rain forest. What a wonderful feeling of rain smoothly dripping down my naked skin like loving hands of Judy! We wished to make love in the heavy rain, but our wish still remains unfullfilled.
I remember those days of my childhood spent in Dacca during the rains when rain poured down from a low sky as if someone turned upside-down over our withered heads millions of jars full of liquid crystals. And it continued for days on end. But here in this jungle, immensely civilised but devoid of the natural bliss of wildness out in the open, the London drizzle forces me to imagine that crystals spears of it are being hurled at us and then we are captivated by these spears, to be taken to suffer loneliness in a far-off island prison.”
But right now I cannot believe that I harboured such passion for the monsoon rains in the country of my parents and think this was certainly a rather strange thing about my former self which migrated from a tropical country like Bangladesh with some fond memories of it to remember at critical times like Wordsworth’s daffodils, the memories never to be swept away by the haevy blows of twisters. I remember when I went to Rajshahi, I did not feel any such emotions but now I feel something is breaking down like bridges blown away with gunpowder. I can hear them in my heart. Any body can hear the crashing sound of their falling down if he puts his ear on my heart.
Before Eleen return home, there was a pretty good time to knock off for a revulsion of my feeling against those aspirations for the life well-versed in much sophisticated European cultures. But to tell the truth frankly, I believed for better or for worse that I had become a person who ran like a thick-skinned rhino, never looking back to the path it had just passed in a dark-green jungle. So there was much doubt about this revulsion of my feeling for the past, and I knew that the illusion of a pretty good time would hover over me like a scavenger filthier than anything else on earth.
And for something slightly different, I thought that as a snake which cannot but slough off its old skin to get a more comfortable and brighter one fit for its physical need out in the world, man leaves off his worn self in a garbage can of wasted memories. But here the only difference between them is that a human being lets the human court of judicature adopt a Fabian strategy to thwart the tricks of his old self. However, there is a fine similiarity between a man and a snake indeed! And these thought about the past were incursions upon the good future of my present self. Anyway, what if I would loiter some of my invaluable hours away without thinking about anything at all? Was it an epicurean’s legislation in favour of banquets at some pompous festivals? But there was nothing spectacular about my present self which was decorated with glossy nightmares and the lack of my creative frenzy instilled into all the festivities that I could have joined a lot of concerted disgusts with impunity. Always it seemed as if I were attending the funeral of my creativity. I was on my way to diagnose my barrenness as something bearing symptons that could bring up nightmarish results in my life. Then I came home to the consciousness of my everyday life as the doorbell rang.
Eleen came home with a large packet clothed in a wrapping paper with some red love signs on it in her left hand and with a bunch of flowers in her right. She gave me flowers first and then the packet. I tried to guess what prompted her for all these but failed in the end.
“Oh, no; you have forgotten your birthday. You are in the habit of forgetting things these days.”
“Am I?” I asked her if it was true of me, hugely annoyed at the realisation of the lack of my legitimate equanimity.
“Yes, you are. But I didn’t think you could forget your own birthday.”
“Like you have said earlier, I have forgotten mine that bears no meaning at all now.” Then having seen a beautiful shirt for my birthday, I said again,
“But my greatest gift will be your kiss.” As soo as I finished my sentence, she jumped upon me like a tigress, and I fell on my back with her in my arms. While on top of me, she continued her wild kissing for some time, and my face became a painting with her lipstick marks on it. But at that time romance seemed to me an invaluable stone wrapped in a furry kerchief, the stone to be santched away right after I had a momentary glimpse of it. And in my mind a lot of miracles – I mean ‘negative and nightmarish’ ones in my ideosyncratic way – were taking place in succession. What would one have thought of fresh vegetables bought from a coster if he had found that they had turned into fresh nightmares to be cooked to satisfy his appetite? Certainly he would have retched for a long time. So my life seemed like an ‘expedition’ fraught with nightmares that trampled me down in the mud of danger as wild elephants had done the crops in a hillside locality, according to the news-reporters in my childhood days.
After Eleen’s departure from my study, I read a short poem by the poet about a romantic relationship with someone who had gone away from his life.
having been stifled by dust
& blinded by sunshine
on the river’s molten glass
i can still dream of you
beneath my blanket in winter
twining round me like hops
FRIENDS & FAMILY
All the friends my age are very interesting to pass the time with, but my senior ones are helpful and provide the reason to be universal in the true sense of the word, i. e. a means of communicating ourselves with the consciousness of the diffrent cultures that are embedded in our modern life.
I live with my parents and my younger sister; they are very sympathatic, and light up the flickering lamp in utter darkness. I thank my family members for giving me time to think about myself.
Interests: Watching Movies & Sports Programmes on TV Channels,
Travelling, Reading Books of All Kinds & Browsing the Internet, Indulging Myself in Literary Talks, Visiting Art Exihibitions...
Published writer: Yes