Umme Muslima
Leg-Irons for Foolishness

The one who used to water the saplings of my foolishness
Is no more here in this poor land:
-He fled to a rich country a long time ago.

He used to drop-in as he wished -like the off-season rain,
He used to say, “Why do you incubate bureaucratic work
                                 that runs on slow rhythm?
Rather look through the window- the sky is anxious,
-Fancy getting wet in the rain?”
Quickly lifting my sari up to the knee, I said,
           ’Need it
                      be mentioned?
Forget the cold cough, -fear of suffering from flu and walking
The streets in dread.”
Gregory Peck at Modhumita? Who stands in the way then?
Skiving off on an urgent meeting,
           Him and I
                      In Motijheel.

“Let’s elope together to that Motihaar”, he used to say,
-Having paan and gulping some of its juice at Kaajla roundabout.
In dry lake,
A whole noon.
Passed time quietly thinking of the tutor
Ataur Rahman, sir”.

Now as February arrives, while I go on dithering-
Book smells sneak out through walls of Bangla Academy.
On the first day of Aashar(d))
           Without you-
Even being forlorn like Jakkho of Kalidas, I indeed cook:
           Fried Ilish, doupiajee, moog-khichuri in genuine ghee.
The leg-iron of reality is getting to know me very well,
It is buying off all my foolishness while they are sapling.

Note: Modhumita- A cinema hall in Dhaka. Motijheel- Commercial district of Dhaka Motihaar- A place name. paan- an edible leaf for chewing with betel nut, an Indian past time. Kaajla- A place name. Aashar(d)-the 3rd month in Bengali calendar, in rainy season. Jakkho - an expatriate lover character of poet Kalidas. Kalidas- Epic poet of Ancient India. Ilish- Fish. doupiajee- onion sauce.. moog-khichuri- rice cooked with moog pulse -[All sorts of Bengalee seasonal delicacies]

Translated from Bengali by Quader Mahmud.