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Mainstream, VOL LV No 10 New Delhi February 25, 2017

The Immortal 21st February

Monday 27 February 2017

February 21 is the International Mother Tongue Day as declared by the United Nations in recognition of the martyrs of the language movement who fell to the Pakistani police’s bullets on that day in 1952 in Dhaka while demanding that their mother tongue, Bangla, be made the official language of East Pakistan. Remembering the February 21 martyrs on the sixtyfifth anniversary of the language movement, we are publishing the following poem by a distinguished Bangladeshi poet. This was translated by Pritish Nandy and included in a booklet Poems from Bangladesh (published by Perspective Publications, New Delhi in June 1971).

Those whom we have lost
will never really disappear from within our hearts
for they have stolen all our peace.
These lost ones have opened our hearts,
they have scattered the sparks of their lives
in each corner of this land
though they themselves have been drowned
in the darkness of death.
O my mother living in the slums,
you can forget the death of many children
when you hold one living child to your heart.
In the same way, mother, we forgot
the loss of those fifty martyrs who were our own brothers
when we found you: because we realised,
O mother, what you desire.

Hasan Hafizur Rahman