History by Masud Khan

Translated by Professor Fakrul Alam from the Bengali poem, Itihas (History)

Masud Khan
How then can an authentic history of the world be written? The one who writes— who is he and where is he writing from? When is he writing? From which vantage point is he writing and for what reason? All these factors will decide the truth of the history. And in any case the subject itself is bound by its own conventions and is inevitably subjective.

Is it then impossible to write an authentic history of the world?

No! In the light already reflected from the surface of the world till now is impressed the history of the world— chronologically! Which is to say, the history of the world is in the light dispersed from the world. And that must be authentic version of the history of the world since it’s being written naturally. Perhaps in kingdom after kingdom of the cosmos someone or the other is sighting that history through telescopes, unknown to us all.

But will such a history be absolutely authentic? What about the chapters of history that are dark and depressing? Of episodes that have been denuded of light and have become shrouded in darkness and decadence? Of episodes that have never exuded light and will never reflect any radiance anywhere? What about them?

And what about the history of people who are dark or tan-brown?

Perhaps their evolution has become blurred in the lenses of telescopes; perhaps their histories have become obscure in the telling— since they are dark and tan-brown; perhaps because they are able to transmit only a feeble light they are deemed to be totally incapable of reflecting any light at all!

Does this mean that the history of dark and tan-brown people will remain obscure forever in the history of mankind? And in nature? Bereft of light and therefore of history too?

Masud Khan (b. 1959) is a Bengali poet and writer. He has, authored nine volumes of poetry and three volumes of prose and fiction. His poems and fictions (in translation) have appeared in journals including Asiatic, Contemporary Literary Horizon, Six Seasons Review, Kaurab, 3c World Fiction,, Nebo: A literary Journal, Last Bench, Urhalpul, Tower Journal, Muse Poetry, Word Machine, and anthologies including Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia, and Beyond (W.W. Norton & Co., NY/London); Contemporary Literary Horizon Anthology, Bucharest; Intercontinental Anthology of Poetry on Universal Peace (Global Fraternity of Poets); and Padma Meghna Jamuna: Modern Poetry from Bangladesh (Foundation of SAARC Writers and Literature, New Delhi). Two volumes of his poems have been published as translations, Poems of Masud Khan (English), Antivirus Publications, UK, and Carnival Time and Other Poems (English and Spanish), Bibliotheca Universalis, Romania.  Born and brought up in Bangladesh, Masud Khan lives in Canada and teaches at a college in Toronto.

Fakrul Alam is an academic, translator and writer from Bangladesh. He has translated works of Jibonananda Das and Rabindranath Tagore into English and is the recipient of Bangla Academy Literary Award (2012) for translation and SAARC Literary Award (2012).


Click here to access the Borderless anthology, Monalisa No Longer Smiles

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