Al Mahmud

(11 July 1936 - / Brahmanbaria / Bangladesh)

The Shame Of Return - Poem by Al Mahmud

To catch the last train I reached the station running.
I noticed the signal of blue light on.
The train, like Despair, suddenly left the station
playing on its cruel whistle.
They, with whom I was promised to go to city, got
anxious
and started staring at me through the windows.
They only consoled me by shaking their hands.

While coming from home, I was goaded by my
father
into hurrying off lest I should miss the train.
Mother said, 'Don't sleep tonight. Pass time
by reading books as you often do .'
But I fell asleep.
In a dreamless sleep I remained dead
on my bed.

But Jahanara never misses her train .
Forhad always reaches station
half an hour ago. Laily sends her servant
with all her luggage to book ticket.
Nahar never touches rice in excitement
before going anywhere.
But I'm one of their brothers, having walked seven
miles at a stretch,
trembling into fog at a dirty station at the late
night.

I have to go back home penetrating the white
curtain of fog.
My trouser will get wet with dews.
And suddenly the red sun,diminishing the winterdrops
gathered on my eyelids, will rise in the sky.
The sunrays will descend on my face and I, like a
defeated man,
will notice my ever known river in front of mine.
I will notice the scattered houses of my village.
The flock of cranes will fly away towards the bog.
Finally, like a horror, our old utchala will float
into my view ,
will float the small plantain garden .
Long leaves of the trees
will tremble saying, 'Come not! Come not!'

My father, having noticed me, will set his eyes at
the holy Quran
and will recite-- Fabi Aiyee Ala-ee-Rabbikuma Tukazziban.

Seeing me at the yard ,my mother will smile happily
having unwashed plates in hands .
She will say, 'It's fine you have come back.
In your absence the whole house seems very lonely.
Go to the pond and wash your face.
Your breakfast ready.'

I will then, embracing my mother, wipe off
the shame of my return, rubbing again and again,
from my whole face.

[Translated by Sayeed Abubakar]


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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, March 20, 2012



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