By Masud Khan: Translated from Bangla by Professor Fakrul Alam

Courtesy: Creative Commons
I’ve never been to Kurigram.

In the dead of night, sleeping Kurigram steadily detaches itself 
From the world that we know.
Ignores gravity completely 
Taking off with its tiny kingdom 
To some far-off galaxy.

We keep looking then at the deep blue of the sky 
While the tiny village becomes a speck up high.

For a long while Kurigram floats from one dome of heaven to another.
Till that star in the southern sky that pursued it so single-mindedly 
Settles by its side and claims it as its own.
Then from this new luminary
A mild red vaporous smell wafts across the sky.

In that realm, in Kurigram,
The Kingfisher and the Pankouri bird are stepbrothers. 
When all the rivers of Kurigram become calm
The two brothers make the river their home 
Squabbling with each other like families bickering!

When the river calms down again
The womenfolk, once bound by scriptural edicts, 
Throng to the riverbank.
Breaking all barriers,
They sparkle like large resplendent crystals.
Suddenly, a lonely babui bird, sans weaving skills, 
Perched on a battered old mast, starts swinging,
Finally settling down on the translucent steel-foiled river water. 
Kurigram, ah Kurigram!

Where Kurigram used to be
Is a dark and solitary space now.

Alas, I’ve never been to Kurigram
And I don’t think I ever will!

Kurigram—An innocuous town located in the northern region of Bangladesh
Paankouri—A species of bird, black in colour, found in marshes and rivers
Babui—A species of weaving bird
Kurigram is marked in red. Courtesy: Creative Commons

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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