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The border

  • Published at 12:13 pm September 10th, 2017
The border
Let us say you dream of a woman, and because she isn’t anywhere around, imagine her across the border. You travel hunched and twisted in a crowded bus, on a ferry through opaque night lacerated by searchlights, to this squalid frontier town: a one-legged rickshahwallah takes round to a six-by-eight room, the best in the best hotel. But instead of crossing over you lie dreaming of the woman, and the border: perfect knife that slices through the earth without the earth’s knowing, severs and joins at the same instant, runs inconspicuously through modest households, creating wry humour – whole families cat under one flag, shit under another, humming a different national tune. You lie down on the fateful line under a livid moon. You and your desire and the border are now one. You raise the universal flag of flaglessness. Amidst bird anthems dawn explodes in a lusty salute. [From Published in the Streets of Dhaka, published by University Press Limited. Reprinted with permission. An enlarged edition of the book will be launched at this year’s Dhaka Lit Fest.] Kaiser Haq is Bangladesh’s biggest English language poet. His poetry collections include Pariah and Other Poems (Bengal Lights Books 2013), Starting Lines (Dhaka 1978), A Little Ado (Dhaka 1978) and A Happy Farewell (Dhaka: UPL 1994). He has edited an anthology, Contemporary Indian Poetry (Ohio State University Press 1990) and his translations include a novel by Rabindranath Tagore, Quartet (Heinemann Asian Writers Series, 1993); a novel by Nasreen Jahan, The Woman Who Flew (Penguin India); the poetry collections: Published in the Streets of Dhaka: collected poems (UPL, Dhaka); Combien de Bouddhas, a bilingual poetry selection with French translators by Olivier Litvine (Editions Caracteres, Paris) and the retold Bengali epic: The Triumph of the Snake Goddess (Harvard University Press).
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