Mainstream, VOL LIII, No 10, February 28, 2015
Sunday 1 March 2015
Last week was observed the sixtythird anniversary of the immortal Language Movement of East Pakistan that found blood spilling on the streets of Dhaka on February 21, 1952. As a homage to the martyrs of that movement (who wanted their mother tongue, Bangla, be made the official language of East Pakistan), the UN has declared February 21 as the International Mother Tongue Day. Remembering the martyrs of that movement, we are reproducing here a noted poem by the National Poet of today’s Bangladesh, Begum Sufia Kamal. This was translated from the original Bengali by Pritish Nandy and published in Mainstream (May 8, 1971), It was also included in a booklet, Poems from Bangladesh (published by Perspective Publications in June 1971).
by Begum Sufia Kamal
The stars at night and the cotton silksuffer the anguish of pain.the tears of night on this blood-smeared trackcan never wipe outthe red streak of bloodwhich burns againon this Falgun daywhen flowers blossom in many forests.When a mother waits with anguishfor her prodigal son to return,unknown fears gather in her breast.The young bride lights a lamp and waits:anxiously, with longing eyes.But they shall not return. They answeredthe call of their mother and lost their livesin the hands of cruel tyrants:the spring air brings the blood-smeared heartsof these martyrs. Each breathbrings their fragrance, in each vein their blood flows,courage fills my heart and the new flowers of lifeblossom with faith each day:our fears and our doubts disappearas down the red track smeared with the blood of martyrsjourney the fighters for freedom in every agetrampling every resistance that comes in their way.