Friday 29 November 2019

বাংলায় - আমায় দাও

On the way to Queen Elizabeth National Park from Kampala.
Image credit : Valley Isle

এই ছবিটা  আমায়  দাও - খোলা আকাশ,  বিস্তীর্ণ  তৃণভূমি,
বাতাসের ছোঁয়ায় নোয়ানো এলোমেলো ঘাস,
পৃথিবীর কপালে কালো তিলকের মতো কাটা এক পথ;
বিষুবরেখা এফোঁড় ওফোঁড় করে চলমান শরীর থেকে বিচ্ছিন্ন  মন,
বাবুই পাখির বাসার মতো ঘন রাত,
তার বুনোটের ফাঁকে ফাঁকে অজস্র তারা,
অন্ধকারের ভাঁজে  হাতির অবয়ব, সিংহের গর্জন,
অতি ক্ষুদ্র পোকা মাকড়ের অনাবিল জীবন।
এই কবিতা আমায় দাও, এই প্রগাঢ় প্রকান্ড দিন,
লালমাটির মহাদেশে হঠাৎ দেখা
লালকমল নীলকমল সুয়োদুয়োরানীকথা,
কোনো অচেনা শিশুর চেঁচিয়ে নামতা পড়ায়
শৈশবের সাদা কালো ঘোলাটে গল্প আভা।
এই ছবিটা, এই কবিতা, এই আফ্রিকার
নিগূঢ় নির্মল সৌন্দর্য, আনন্দকণার  দীপ্তি,
আমাকে এক মুহূর্তের জন্য হলেও দাও।

Give me this image - open skies, expansive grasslands, 
haphazardly waving grass touched by the breeze, 
a road cut like a tilak across the forehead of the earth;
a mind detached from a moving body that pierces the Equator through and through,
a night woven as dense as the weaver bird's nest, 
innumerable stars caught in its warp and weft,
the shape of an elephant in the folds of darkness, the roar of a lion, 
the inexorable lives of the tiniest insects.
Give me this poem, this intense, immense day, 
fairy tale characters suddenly spotted 
in a continent of red earth, some unknown child's singsongy
repetitions of multiplication tables
dredging up the black & white, blurred glow of childhood stories. 
This image, this poem, this mystic, clean African beauty, 
sporadic beams from fragmented delight, 
give them to me, even if it is for a split second.


I know it's a bit strange coming back from Cal and writing about Africa :)  - Writing in Bengali because I was in Bengal, and Africa because it's Africa and has this overwhelming place in my life and affections. 

While I was in Cal, a nephew, a keen and excellent photographer from days prior to digital cameras, who's also visiting faculty at Iowa State Uni, travelled to Uganda with a group of his students for a study abroad programme. He posted some of his images online. So I asked him if he'd be so kind. So that's the explanation...


  1. Hari OM
    Just plain lovely!!! YAM xx

    1. Yeah, whichever direction ones takes in Africa..

  2. Oh my. Oh my, oh my, oh my.
    Huge thanks to you and to your nephew.

  3. Hi Nila - just lovely ... the photo - Africa always calls me too ... home and away ... but away and home. Wonderful poem - so evocative ... cheers Hilary

    1. PS when you mention Bangladesh ... I think of my grandmother and her 2nd husband (my grandfather had died in an accident) - who spent time in Calcutta ... completely different to your time: home v colonial ... but I'd love to know more - too late now. Cheers Hilary

    2. Bangladesh was once part of undivided India and was governed from Calcutta, probably during the time your grandmother spent there. Now it is a sovereign country...but the Bengal I come from and Bangladesh both share a common language and culture, and have a huge heritage together.

      Never too late to learn, Hilary! You mayn't find the specific stories of your family members but many others have similar tales to tell...good luck finding them!