Rafiq Azad



                              Give me Bhaat, Bastard


I am terribly starving: in the stomach, around the body circle
Every split second—the feeling goes on—the ravenous hunger.
Like in the month of Choitra, drought burns the crops-fields—
Huge burning is the blaze of hunger, the body burns.

Given twice a day two fist-full meals,
                                                 demand comes for nothing else
Many people beg for a lot of things, they all want:
Houses, cars, money—coins—some do have greed for fame;
Trifle is my demand: the plain field in my stomach will get ablaze—
I want bhaat—cooked rice, it's a straight demand—hot or cold.
Fine or if it were very course like the rice from the (state) ration
No harm; I want bhaat on an earthen plate—shaanki—filled up.
For two fist-full meals two times a day,
                                                            I let go of all other demands.
I have no unreasonable greed, even, no sex demand.
I didn't want the sari worn beneath the navel, its owner;
Let those who want them take them away,
                                       offer it to whoever you wish
Just remember: I have no need for those.

If you can't meet this trifle demand from me,
Great sacrificial events will occur all over your realm.
There is nothing good or bad, law and order to the starving.
Whatever is up front, would get eaten effortlessly.
Nothing would be left over, all would get into
                                            the devouring wretched mouth
If, suddenly I get, for instance, you, face to face:
That would be tasty morsel to the ravenous hunger.
When the hunger for little bhaat is all-devouring
It brings perilous endings by invitation!
Gobbles the whole action from the scene to the seer.
I will at last eat one by one: trees, rivers
Villages-markets, footpaths, waterfalls in the drain,
Traveling pedestrians, buttocks-prime women,
The food minister flying flag included and the minister's car—
Nothing is today trivial to my hunger.

Give me bhaat, bastard, else I will munch the map!

                                            Bengali; trans. Quader Mahmud


Rafiq Azad, Bengali, trans. Quader Mahmud, 100 Poems from Bangladesh
(alternate translation by Kabir Chowdhury), Edition Delta, 2017.