Tag Archives: Bangladesh

Shukher Desh, A poem By Golam Quddus

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!

Shukher Desh

(Land Of Peace)

Hello!

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?)

San Fransisco?

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)…

Hello, hello…

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.

Nahid Kaiser

Photo courtesy: Jasbir Chatterjee

Nahid Kaiser, looking bubbly and cheerful…

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I had the honor of meeting Nahid Kaiser, a young, talented writer from Bangladesh, on 1 March 2016 at my friend Shampa Das’s place in Dwarka, Delhi.

While she recited her poems from ‘Eve Unbound,’ her latest anthology launched this year in the SAARC poetry festival, we listened to her, spell-bound, completely mesmerized by her sincerity. I could easily identify with them; they were so similar to what I had written myself in the past.

But what impressed me most was her completely uninhibited style of reciting poems on subjects that most women don’t feel very comfortable talking about in public. When you consider the fact that she comes from a country of imperiled bloggers and a society where women have a long way to go in matters of social liberty, it is, I think, quite a commendable achievement. She managed to make it look very innocent and not for once did I detect any kind of vulgarity.

Beginning with her first period, she went on to talk about “Qabool, Qabool, Qabool” when she was dressed as a bride, then about her life as a wife, a mother, and ended with her thoughts on her grandma. Sometimes she laughed, sometimes she cried, and sometimes her voice quivered and trembled in keeping with the different moods in the poems.

Most poets are introverts and it takes them several years to learn to express themselves aloud as eloquently as they do in their poems. When I started out myself, it felt like getting my teeth pulled out from my gums…

As the evening progressed, the poetry and play readings graduated to a Rabindra Sangeet session. Somewhere in the middle, the group mentioned that they were going to sing “Sonar Bangla” in her honor. With her characteristic smile, Nahid stood up and said, “Eta amader jatiyo gaan,” meaning “This is our national anthem.” We took the hint and we also stood up, tall and erect.

Suddenly the room with its makeshift auditorium resounded with the melodious voice of the singers singing this beautiful song accompanied by soft music playing in the background. It was a lovely moment!

It served as a gentle reminder that freedom and free speech are not free and come with certain responsibilities which are mandatory for everyone.

Inspired by Nahid’s recitation and my subsequent interaction with her, I wrote a poem of my own the following day, ‘My Shadow and I.’ It kind of matched with a photo I clicked recently. The photo is given below.

I wish you all the best, Nahid, and of course, a long, happy, poetic life ahead!

My Shadow And I

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