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Volume 1 Issue 2 | December 2006


Original Forum Editorial
Month in Review: Bangladesh
Month in Review: International
The story of a withering tree-- Sharmeen Murshid
The root of all evil -- Taj Hashmi
Is there a Plan B? -- Farid Bakht
Justice, Bangladesh style -- Tasneem Khalil
Policy at the altar of "public opinion" -- Mahfuzur Rahman
Photo Feature
Skewing the history of rape in 1971 -- Nayanika Mookherjee
Bhutto and Mujib -- Kuldip Nayar
Jagannath Hall, 1971 -- MB Naqvi
Oh! These 60 Years -- MB Naqvi
India: The challenge of the future--Prem Shankar Jha
Muslims = Terrorists -- M Shahid Alam
The democracy question in Sri Lanka --Jayadeva Uyangoda
The story of People Power -- Syed Badrul Ahsan
Essence and existence -- Andaleeb Shahjahan
Taslima Nasrin: Woman in exile -- Rubaiyat Hossain


Forum Home



Helmsman Attention!
Kazi Nazrul Islam

Travelers, take care, in thick darkness you must traverse
Rugged mountains, dreary deserts, and turbulent oceans.
The boat rocks, the waves swell; the sails are torn apart,
The sailor veers off course, who'll take over, who has the guts?
Who has the gumption and can dare -- the future summons!
Through this storm, you must steer, and row your craft home!
The night is dark, sentinels of the motherland, be on guard!
The pent-up desires of countless years hurl you forward!
Stirred by pain the neglected heart must now play its part.
Bring all along, make them your own, and give everyone his start!
Hapless nations drown, ignorant of the art of survival,
Helmsman -- redeem this day your pledge to free the motherland!
Who dares call out: "Are you Hindus or Muslims?"
Helmsman -- claim the drowning as the same mother's offspring!
There is panic in the pass, travelers take fright, the sky quakes
The ones in the rear are full of fear and wary of what lies ahead.
Helmsman -- halfway down the path can you forsake them?
Let them squabble, you must carry on, and bear your burden!
Helmsman! Ahead of you lies the battlefield of Palashey,
Where Clive's sword crimsoned with the blood of Bangalis.
Nearby in the Ganges India's sun set, seemingly forever.
Surely that sun will rise soaked in blood once again.
Those who sang songs of life's victory even on the scaffold
Have come unnoticed to see us sacrifice ourselves in turn.
This day our nation must pass the test of redemption
Now is the time -- the boat rocks, the sea swells, helmsman attention!

Translation: Fakrul Alam

In Which Shore?
Kazi Nazrul Islam

In which shore has my boat moored today?
What golden village lies ahead?
Why does my boat, on a downstream-drift,
Yearn to move upstream again?

Making Sorrow my helmsman
I had set adrift my broken boat.
Who are you, nymph of my dreams,
Beckoning me on with your eyes?

Snuffing out my room's lamp
You called me out that stormy night.
Who could you be, my tune's companion,
Waiting at the gateway of my song?

Oh golden girl of a golden land
Will you be my boat's pilot?
Row my broken boat onwards
To the Promised Land!

Translation: Fakrul Alam

The Frenzy of Destruction
Kazi Nazrul Islam

Ring bells of victory!
Ring bells of victory!
Summer's storm flutters the flag of the New!
Ring bells of victory!
Ring bells of victory!

He who was to come is coming,
Dancing as if possessed and bent on destruction!
Crossing Oceans, storming the Main Gate, smashing portals,
Into the dark hole of death
In the guise of the eternal executioner --
Through smoldering smoke
Lighting the lamp of lightning
The Violent One comes,
Bursting with glee!
Ring bells of victory!
Ring bells of victory!

Locks swaying in the overcast sky, He makes the sky flare,
Forcing even the fiery all-consuming comet's tail to tremble.
In the very heart of the Creator of the universe
Like an unsheathed sword the blood sparkles
Roll and sway!
His loud laughter stuns the universe into silence --
Look how stunned the universe is!
Ring bells of victory!
Ring bells of victory!

A dozen suns's rays stream fiercely from His eyes
The sorrows of the world stick in His disheveled hair.
Every teardrop falling from His eyes
Makes the seven seas roll and swell
His cheeks flush and glow!
Hugging mother-earth in His huge arms,
He thunders: "Let destruction triumph!"
Ring bells of victory!
Ring bells of victory!

Take heart, take heart, cataclysms shake the universe,
The sluggish and shrunken, the dying and decrepit,
Hide and flee because of the coming catastrophe.
Cheerfully, compassionately,
The infant moon's beams will shine in the sky's unkempt locks.
Light will flood your home now!
Ring bells of victory!
Ring bells of victory!

The eternal charioteer comes, lashing his bloodied whip,
His horses neigh out; their cries resound in thunder and rain.
Their hooves spark off stars and scatter them across the blue sky
In the covered well of the dark dungeon
The gods are tied up in sacrificial stakes
And heaped up in cold stony pillars.
Time for Him and His chariot to shake the earth.
Ring bells of victory!
Ring bells of victory!

Why fear destruction? It's the gateway to creation!
The new will arise and rip through the unlovely.
Hair disheveled and dressed carelessly
Destruction makes its way gleefully.
Confident it can destroy and then build again!
Ring bells of victory!
Ring bells of victory!

Why fear since destruction and creation is part of the same game?
Ring bells of victory!
Wives, hold up your lamps of welcome!
The Beautiful comes in the guise of the Violent One

Ring bells of victory!

Translation: Fakrul Alam

Shamsur Rahman

Since you are to vote, silent butterflies fly,
Caressing your locks, touching your ears,
Like canvassers in the dead of afternoon.
Ballot boxes lie loosely draped in assorted-coloured dreams;
All kinds of flags flutter around them.
Golden voiced birds shout slogans,
Fairies dance around silent ballot boxes spiritedly.
"Vote for us, vote for us," the divine messenger says,
Dangling feet in a fake cornice some distance away.
Soon they distribute colourful booklets, manifestos.
I never read them. It seems to me it's best
To let these pieces of paper fly into the blue of the sky.
When they ascend to heaven they'll assume different shapes
Perhaps even partaking of a bit of the truth over there!
And thus I have often left the voting centre
To come closer to my own self,
Walking back to the solitary recesses of my heart,
Taking out a fresh cigarette from a brand new packet on the way,
Puffing away while thinking of someone or the other for a while,
Or thinking of how Homer's Ulysses had ceased roaming seas,
And so I return to my crumbling flat and its droning mosquitoes.
Sometimes I hold on to the chin of my dreams as I doze off in a chair,
And sometimes I walk back and forth in my room,
Suddenly possessed with the idea that justice must be done swiftly.
Sometimes dreams swiftly smell me out, like a rabbit sniffing creepers.
Nevertheless I'll go to the voting centre again and sit smilingly in the booth,
And like the self-satisfied magician, in an enclosure made out of new cloth
Suddenly unfurling a handkerchief or a dove.
I'll bend my head and scrutinize the ballot paper,
Voting for love itself,
And go home or to the park whistling all the while.

Photos: Star

Translation: Fakrul Alam


Why Provide Thorns?
Kazi Nazrul Islam

Why provide thorns as well as flowers?
Wouldn't lotuses bloom if thorns didn't prick?
Why must fluttering eyes become moist with tears?
Why provide hearts if hearts won't unite?
Why do cool wet clouds allure the swallow
Only to greet it with thunder and lightning?
Why allow buds to blossom if flowers wither?
Why stain the moon's brow with a frown?
Why must desire for beauty be mired in lust?
Won't faces look beautiful without the dark mole?
Poet, keep imaging bliss in this bower of thorns,
While restraining yourself within your moist eyes.

Translation: Fakrul Alam


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