Hayat Mamud. Taught Bangla at Jahangirnagar University, on the outskirts of Dhaka, and distinguished himself as a scholar and critic while steadily publishing well crafted poems.
Portrait of My Native Land
As I turn the bend
I find that the familiar houses and the field
have turned into a strange foreign land.
The summer breeze raised a cloud of dust
on the road,
perhaps the ancient banyan tree
roared fiercely in the summer thunderstorm.
The boys still enjoyed
their festive picnic
on the old meadow, or perhaps water plants flourished
in the marshy plains.
The air was redolent with sweet smelling flowers.
That was the land of my parents, of my grand and great-grandparents too . . . Youth throbbing with joy, death in the smell of the earth, in loving goodwill.
Here no banyan tree offered any shade, no wild thorns ever stung the feet either. The dear girls, friends of one’s youth, were all gone
On the bank of the Rayel . . . in the shallow water trembled the picture
of a balustrade,
The strains of a flute, a song . . . Under the hood of the bullock-cart quivered the wealth of dusk. Here . . . here there was nothing.
No wild thorns pricked one’s feet, the dear girls were all gone . . . Sitting in this strange alien country, in my heart I saw
my native land,
The land of my parents,
of my grand and great-grandparents too . . .
–Translated by Kabir Chowdhury