Like Shakespearan plays, there are many poems whose effect gets magnified several times over when they are recited.
Take Shukher Desh, a poem written by Golam Quddus, a Bangladeshi poet, for example…
It was selected in 2016 by Timarpur Durga Committee for their Abritti (Bangla poetry recitation) competition during Durga Puja Festival.
When my husband Sukhangshu read it out to me, a non-Bengali who understands Bangla but can’t read it, it affected me like no other poem ever did before. I found it extremely poignant. The protagonist reminded me of my Dad.
By the time Sukhangshu reached the end, my decision to participate in the competition was already made.
This poem is a telephonic monologue by an old man talking to his daughter living in US. He speaks in a calm and composed manner with a tone of indifference and subtle sarcasm. So, whoever recites this poem has to use the same tone without any theatrical modulations. This is, I think, its strongest point, as it doesn’t put too much pressure on the recitationist and sucks the listeners into its depths like a black hole.
Somewhere in the middle of the poem, the man casually mentions to his daughter that her Mom died last month. In the end, he laughs gently and says, “You are saying that from now onwards you will call regularly? Well, next time the phone may keep ringing and no one will respond!” That’s the punch line…
Given below is the poem written in Roman script along with its English translation. Enjoy!
(Land Of Peace)
Kake chai? (Whom do you want?)
He, Ami kotha bolchi. (Yes, it’s me.)
Ke? Panchali? (Who? Panchali?)
Eto din por baba ke mone porlo ma?
(Finally, after so many days, you remembered your Dad, my dear?)
Kotha theke phone korchish?
(From where are you calling?)
Na. Tobe? (No. Where then?)
O, tora New York eshechish? (Oh, so you are in New York now).
Besh. Amra kemon acchi? (Good. How are we?)
Bhalo e aachi. (We are fine).
Mar khobor chaichish? (You want news about Mom?)
Ma to goto mashe goto hoyechin…(Mom passed away last month)…
Chup kore geli keno ma? (Why have you become silent, my dear?)
Kanchish? (Are you crying?)
Kendhe ki hobe, ma? (Of what use is weeping, my dear?)
Kotha bol. (Keep talking.)
Ekta khobor di ni keno? (Why didn’t I inform you even once?)
Tor Ma amake maana kore chhilenje (Your Mom stopped me because)
Toder shukher beghat ghotate chahn ni (She didn’t want to disturb your peaceful life).
Shukher deshe tora shukhe thakle hi amader shukh (Our happiness lies in your living happily in a peaceful country).
Mar ekkhana photo? (Mom’ photo?)
Achha, padhiye debo. (Okay, I will send it).
Ki bolli? Er por noyomito Khoj khobor nibi? (What did you say? Now onwards, you will call regularly?)
Tui amaye hashali, Panchali! (You make me laugh, Panchali!)
Dekhbi, ring hoye jachhe, dhorar lok nei. (You will see, phone will keep ringing and no one will be around to pick it up.)
This poem is quite popular on the internet. I liked Alok Sikdar’s recitation the most. Click here and listen. (https://gaana.com/song/sukher-deshe-sukhe-thako-alok)
In June 2019, at a recent get-together of Sukhangshu’s school friends, I got the chance to recite the poem again. Here is a pic.