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Mainstream, VOL LVII No 11 New Delhi March 2, 2019


Sunday 3 March 2019


[ 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 sixtyseventh anniversary of the language movement, we are publishing the following poem by a distinguished Bangladeshi personality. This was translated by Pritish Nandy and included in a booklet Poems from Bangladesh (published by Perspective Publications, New Delhi in June 1971). The month of Falgun in the Bengali calendar falls in the months of February and March. This year February 21 coincided with Falgun 8, while 2019 coincides with the years 1425 and 1426 in the Bengali calendar.]

In falgun they always return.

Not there:

amidst the flowers and the foliage,

in the splendour of many colours.


where hearts mingle

at the source of the river of life.

They return again and again.

With the arrogance of youth

and the passion for work, they loved life

and embraced the silence of death.

They sacrificed their lives:

and with each death

they freed countless lives.

They are always with us.

They are always with him:

that child whose small feet trample the dew

on soft green grass,

who holds high the blood rose in his hand

like a banner.

They are also with that blind old man

who finds the shadows of his ribs

on the iron railings near the monument.

And with that silent girl

who suddenly becomes a wave in this era

of countless people.

Every falgun they return.

Awake, they wake us to join them.

They give us words while they seek a language.


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