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20th-Feb-2015       
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Orion at the Shaheed Minar
Shahabuddin Nagari

It was before zero hour when I stepped on to the pavement,
In a few moments the Shaheed Minar will be flooded by people,
Wet flower petals will cover the stairs of the altar,
Ekushey songs will float in the air like thin feathers,
Barefoot processions of mourners will take us all to
Fifty two, when the Bangla alphabet had stumbled
On the blood-soaked bodies of some valiant youths.

The streets seem gravely silent today ; no processions,
No songs, no sentries could even be seen.
Has the city of Dhaka forgotten the Ekushey February today ?
I looked up at the sky.
Found some stars twinkling in the ripples of fog.
The flutter of batwings shattered
The midnight, I hastened to the
Shahbagh crossing.

The florists' stalls were supposed to be crowded by hundreds of people
At this hour, (but) lowering their shutters are at large
The vendors, attempted to lick my foot
A stray dog, I shifted from the reach of his tongue,
Tried to inhale from air the fragrance of Ekushey,
Wanted to cross the leaf-padded street to reach the Shaheed Minar,
In a moment my wrist watch will show Ekushey February,
And I will offer wreaths on the altar of language.

Yet, what a surprise, the silent Shaheed Minar standing naked
In the darkness, has it lowered its head in exhaustion ? or in shame ?
At the touch of my hand trembled the pillars of the monument,
Astonished I was to see the glowing eyes of snakes all around,
The evil crow cawed, the whispers of men
And the laughter of bad women blowing away the fireflies,
The trees around collapsing in loud reports.
Alone, and confused, I stood still on the vast terrace
In unwavering boldness, treasured the endangered Minar
Against my bosom the whole night
Like the Orion. And under my feet,
by then, sprawled the long roots of fifty Your years.
Translation : Deen Mohammad

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