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  • Published at 09:49 pm February 4th, 2021
Syed Zakir Hossain
Photo: Syed Zakir Hossain

Poetry in translation

The quarrelling’s been going on, you couldn’t stay home

The price of onions too high so you didn’t get them

Flowers bloom in the grass of Curzon Hall

(Rabindranath, I’m in debt to you …) Yes, I know it’s February—

Seminars, the book fair, final proofs—I know you forgot it all,

Donned that ancient yellow panjabi and stalked out—

I know, Bazlu bhai’s on his last journey at the Shaheed Minar

And flowers bloom in glens. Yet insidiously I carry on the fight

Though life’s two-score years have long since gone by—

All right, okay, we shall meet the year round at the Ekushey fair

And flowers will bloom as Falgun falls

And maybe in a second life I’ll get some peace and quiet.


So clad in that yellow panjabi out you went

The day went by bickering, love sprouted among the flowers

On a squabble-and-moonlight-mixed spring night

I saw in a dream

You placed a tiara on my head, 

oh the agony the vision brought—the torment!

You searched and couldn’t find your heart

So you placed on high your anguish

In pain I staggered and understood

This was not gold but a drop of ambrosia.


(Translated by Khademul Islam. Reprinted with permission from On My Birthday and Other Poems in Translation by Khademul Islam, 2016. Published by Bengal Lights Books)