Carnival Time

Poetry by Masud Khan, translated from the Bengali poem, ‘Aj Ullash Diba’ by Fakrul Alam

Courtesy: Creative Commons
It’s carnival time today.
Serfs and plebeians pour into streets.
Behold the giggling, decked up undertaker’s wife, 
That man over there, completely soused, is her spouse! 
He holds his pay tight in his fists and grins grotesquely, 
See the sweeper there, lips reddened by betel leaf!

There he is— the constable— sporting a shiny wristband. 
And look at that rotund young eunuch—
All merry, like dusky Abyssinians or Afghan revellers in the rain. 

Today it’s time to collect wages and bonuses and forget files. 
Today superiors have trade place with subordinates

And mandarins have transformed themselves into mere clerks.

The roly-poly slave and Kishorimohon Das
Sleep fitfully next to each other near the town reservoir, 
Stirred again and again by the mayor’s snores,

The hapless water bearer gets completely wet. 
The woman over there is a streetwalker,
Visiting town for the first time with her snotty-nosed brother. 
That man there trades in lead, and there is the perfume seller, 
He is the accountant, and he, the treasurer,
And next to him on this day of intermittent rain 
Is the petty thief’s no-good brother.
And there— leaning, bent by the weight of his imagination, 
As if in a trance, is the poet, the king of poets!

This day all have spilled out into the streets and stroll there 
Endlessly — intransitive
Wrapped in newly spun silk.

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).


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