Had I but an eternal life
(“Ananta Jibon Jodi Pai Ami”)
Had I but an eternal life — and returned to the earth alone,
I would amble along timelessly to see
How the green grass sprouted,
How the yellow grass withered,
How the sky whitened at dawn
Shaking off the red blood stains of Munia
How the lines scrawled the chest of the evening;
I would see the stars over and over;
I would see a strange woman depart loosening her hair bun
With no glow of dusk-drawn awe in her face.
Had I but an eternal life —
And returned to the earth alone to amble along timelessly,
I would see -
Buses and trams stained in dust,
Slums and street bazaars,
Alleys and broken utensils,
Fights, expletives, scorns, rotten shrimps-
And things that are not even wrought;
Yet, I would not see you in that life that runs eternally.
The Cat (“Beral”)
My daily errands bring me face to face with a cat all too often:
In the shades of a tree,
In the lights of the sun,
In the throngs of brown leaves;
In its feat over few pieces of fish bones
That lay on a skeleton ground.
I see it losing itself like a bee;
Yet a little later it’s seen scratching the bark of a krishnachura tree-
Drifting from the sun that
It has followed all day long:
Now you see it,
Now you don’t.
Its white paws toy with the soft saffron sun of an autumnal eve;
Before giving a short leap
To bring the darkness like a small ball in its grip,
And then to spread it all over the world.
Suranjana, please don’t go there,
Don’t speak to that young man,
Come back, Suranjana
In this night lit by the star’s silvery light.
Return to these fields, these waves,
Return to this heart of mine.
Don’t drift away, far away,
Further with that young man.
What is there to say to him? With him?
Skies layer skies
Turning you to earth:
His love sprouts like grass.
Your heart today has become grass—
In wind beyond winds,
At a sky beyond skies.
Once I leave this body of mine
Am I not going to return to this world?
Let me return one more time
In one wintry night
With the tragic flesh of a cold orange
By the bedside of a dying acquaintance.
We haven’t died yet, some snapshots appear still—
Under the Kartik moon, eat grass, the horses of Mohin;
From the Age of Stone,
The love of grass draws the horses
To graze earth, the weird dynamo;
The stable stench floats
To crowd the nightly wind;
The sad straws
Fall by the steel mill;
The drowsy kitten teacups,
Held vaguely by some nagging dogs,
Get cold —and move aside
To a restaurant cheap;
All lights out for the stable with
The lanterns of paraffin —
The blows of time
Bring calmness and stillness,
With a gentle touch of the Neolithic horses
That ride the full moon.
After the Harvest
(“Dhan Kata Hoye Gechhe”)
The paddy harvesting has been done some time back –
The field still has remnants of straws and twigs
And broken egg shells - snake skin sheds house coldness.
A stretched glance catches glimpse
Of some familiar ones sleeping in the field. How deep!
There’s one who is lying there now - I used to see her night and day,
My toying heart may have even caused her hurt;
It’s all peaceful now: deep green grass and grasshoppers
Are all over her thoughts and queries
Dipped in darkness.
Shamsad Mortuza is the Pro VC and the Head of the Department of English & Humanities at the University of Liberal Arts, Bangladesh (ULAB).