Home > Archives (2006 on) > 2015 > 8th Falgun

Mainstream, VOL LIII, No 10, February 28, 2015

8th Falgun

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 silk
suffer the anguish of pain.
the tears of night on this blood-smeared track
can never wipe out
the red streak of blood
which burns again
on this Falgun day
when flowers blossom in many forests.
When a mother waits with anguish
for 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 answered
the call of their mother and lost their lives
in the hands of cruel tyrants:
the spring air brings the blood-smeared hearts
of these martyrs. Each breath
brings their fragrance, in each vein their blood flows,
courage fills my heart and the new flowers of life
blossom with faith each day:
our fears and our doubts disappear
as down the red track smeared with the blood of martyrs
journey the fighters for freedom in every age
trampling every resistance that comes in their way.