Rafiq Azad has worked as a journalist, a Bangla Academy official and administrator of a “Tribal Cultural Academy” while singlemindedly pursuing his poetic career. He was one of the leading lights of the so-called “Sad Generation” of writers, who made their debut in the 1960s.

Chunia, My Arcadia

A name so fragile,
seems it’ll burst on your lips
dispersing her natural charms –
Chunia is only a hamlet, tiny
yet inwardly robust enough
to resist a civilization
bristling with missiles.

Chunia is quiet at midnight
for she loves the serene full moon;
Chunia’s solitary green is truly
Buddhist in nature;
Chunia is a five mile stretch of aboriginal land.

Chunia has never seen any ferocity.
Does Chunia panic at the noise of guns?
Do all the leaves on trees cry out in protest
at the ferocity of human beasts?
Chunia loves mankind.

Chunia’s people live happily
in the company of trees.
Chunia is a presence still
in civilized minds in society.
A few still nurture
an intimate Chunia in their heart of hearts.

Chunia knows how to nurse,
Chunia can tie a bandage, Chunia is all solace –
Chunia, I know, never hurts anyone;
Chunia is a peaceful deep green – she loves peace,
and so she hurls intense hatred at the tree felling lumberjack.
Chunia dislikes screams,
Chunia does not like to hear gunshots.

Chunia is terribly innocent
in matters of bloodshed, thrones, et cetera;
Chunia is always counselling
that missiles invented by man
be dumped in the Mediterranean.
Chunia wants man to wash his bloody hands clean
in the water coveting three quarters of the earth
and then take lessons from her.
Chunia is always saying the world’s famous battlefields
should be planted with sweet smelling flowers.

Chunia has her pride.
She is partial to women and children;
she is averse to human civilization, having seen
the wholesale massacre of women and children.

Chunia is not pessimistic, she after all
keeps alight the lamp of hope night and day.
Chunia has faith:
that people will at last
become good neighbours,
forgetting rage and hate.

– Translated by Kaiser Haq