What Do You Call It?

What do you call it
When yelling into a canyon,
My voice distant,
my own echo does not even call back?
What do you call it
When you witness that I’m fighting my own battle
And no one’s there to lend me a shoulder to cry on?
When no one’s there to wipe my tears?
What do you call it
When you realize I want to break away from my caged heart,
But my wings are held in place?
Am I sprouting too early?
What do you call it
When my shadow finds out
It has been following a stranger
All this time?
Have I run out of time for myself
Or have time itself just begun to tick?
What would you call it
When silence beckons me
To sit alongside her
And be consumed into the darkness?
Am I a broken mirror
Into which no one takes a second look?
Tell me,
Can I be mended?
……….
Will I ever get there,
That place where promises are meant to be kept?
Will I ever trust myself to be the person I was meant to be?
I hope so.

The Night Sky

I kick off my shoes
and plant my feet on the grass.
It feels gentle and soft
like a cool, feathered pillow.
I sit down and close my eyes
to feel the wind,
to let it touch my heart,
and pull at my heartstrings.
I want to let it sing me
a lullaby.
I lie down on my bed of grass
as they prick my ear.
I look up at the globe.
Shiny white dots fill up
the entire sky.
It’s breathtaking.
I stare up at the night sky
searching for shooting stars
and meteors
while I wish on the moon.
I stare until my eyes
close and drift off to sleep.

Dear Moon,
I hope all my wishes come true.

Losing The Helm

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[painting is called
De Windstoot (The Gust)
by Willem van de Velde the Younger]

I feel lost…
As I wander through the dark chasms
With a matchstick.
This emptiness in my chest…
From where does it come and why?
This feeling grows stronger and stronger
As the emptiness grows wider and wider.
My emptiness grows in me.
I know my purpose but I can’t reach it.
Or rather, I don’t know how to reach it.
It’s so dark in here that
My voice goes unheard,
my being unseen.
Am I lost
Or are people just pretending
To not see?

Wishing On A Dandelion

I wait for the wind
To come and take
My message.
I prepare myself
To be ready
When the wind comes
To carry away my wish.
I whisper in silence
To the dandelion
In my hand.
I tell him
All my secrets.
I tell him all I want.
I wish everyone to be safe,
So I wish that
He has a safe journey
To wherever he has to go,
Wherever he needs
To place himself
To plant my wishes
And make them grow.
I wish him a safe journey
As the wind comes
and I blow him away…
And we part.

Quote

The Reason for Writing

From things that have happened and from things as they exist and from all things that you know and from all things that you cannot know, you make something through your invention that is not a representation but a whole new thing truer than anything true and alive, and you make it alive, and if you make it well enough, you give it immortality. That is why you write and for no other reason that you know of. But what about all the reasons that no one knows?

– Ernest Hemingway

Ode To The Moon

Dear Moon,
You are more handsome than any I’ve ever seen.
Here I am writing to you
while the whole world resides in slumber.
You are humble
for the clouds, who like mountains,
pass by you
while you still hold your place.
You are the one whom I whisper all my secrets to
and I know well
that you will keep your promise.
For you listen and do not judge.
Your beauty can not be put into words;
it is translated into whispers
which no man can understand.
You are God-created
and so am I.
You watch me as I watch you,
unloading my sorrows onto you,
hoping for wishes to come true.
As I drift off to sleep,
basking in your moonbeams,
I take you with me into my dreams.

Sweep Me Away

Sweep me away…
sweep me back into eternal darkness.
Let me reside in my shadows.
Sweep me back
and let me be swept away.
Let me cry.
Let it fill my heart
till it overflows.
Let me empty it unto the ocean
as vast as my eyes can reach.
The clouds take me away again
and sweeps me across the sky.
Let it rain.
Let it rain.
Let it rain.

Ekushey February

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Shaheed Minar (Martyr’s Memorial), Dhaka, Bangladesh

Ekushey February (21st of February) is known as Language Martyrs’ Day and is celebrated by Bengalis all over the world. It is also known as International Mother Language Day which is celebrated worldwide. It is a day celebrating culture, diversity, and language. On this day, in the year 1952, the students of Dhaka University stood up against the Pakistani government in order to acquire the right to speak their native language, Bengali. Even though, their want was quickly hushed on that day; their deaths served as a missile for change and awoke the sleeping hearts of all Bangladeshis. Their resistance was not used as an excuse to be noticed; rather, it was a tool to signify their want of freedom: the freedom to live, the freedom to speak, the freedom to exercise their own will. They stood up to fight not just only for their present but for their future generations as well. This fight started here in 1952 and did not end until Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) gained independence from Pakistan at the end of the Liberation War in 1971. Bangladesh is the first country that has waged a war just on the basis of acquiring the right to speak their own language. So much blood has been shed just for our language. The song “Amar bhaiyer rakto rangano… Ekushey February… Ami ki bhulite pari” (“My brother’s blood has spattered everywhere… 21st of February… Can I ever forget it?”)was written by Abdul Gaffar Choudhury to mark the language movement. The song was then set to tune by Abdul Latif and then later recomposed to its current version by Altaf Mahmud. For this sole reason, Altaf Mahmud was deliberately killed two days before Bangladesh gained independence in December 1971 by the Pakistani government and their supporters, the rajakars (Bengali traitors). They knew that Bangladesh’s independence would lead to their defeat, so they performed one last cowardly act and killed Altaf Mahmud before he got to see his beloved Bangladesh as a free nation.

Even though many people have died, the song that marks this language movement has not. Even today, and especially during the month of February, this song not only resonates throughout the streets and alleys of Bangladesh, but in the hearts and minds of Bengalis all over the world. And with this song humming in their hearts, the people of Bangladesh pay homage to the graves of the martyrs in Azimpur and the Shaheed Minar (Martyr’s Memorial) to place flowers and pray for the martyrs: the students of Dhaka University, the freedom fighters during the 1971 war, the intelligent officials who lost their lives because it was thought that they could further the growth of the country, and the innocent families who became victims of the corrupt-minded Pakistani militia. Little did they know, the lives of these important people were enough to set fire to the heart of Bangladesh. And that fire kept on burning until war was at its end and independence was knocking at the door. What originally started as a fight for language had ended with the fight for freedom. Ultimately, breaking her shackles, a new country was born. Her language was free and so were her people.

As much as Ekushey is a day to pay respects to the people who sacrificed their lives for this country, it is as much of a celebration of the Bengali language, culture, and its rich heritage. For me, the most important thing that defines who I am is my language. I am my language and without my language, I am nothing. Despite growing up in the United States, I cannot forget my mother land. The place where I come from is my home. The language I speak is my identity. And how I embrace these two is my future.

I dedicate this poem to my language, Bangla, and to the students who started the resistance:

O’ Ma

Give me strength
o’ mother of mine,
give me the power to fight.
Give me courage to stand up,
give me power for this right.
Brothers and sisters
are mine,
I fight for them with my heart.
Give me strength, o’ ma,
so we shall never part.
Give me your tears,
your burden that you carry on your shoulders.
Let me carry it for you,
these hard, cruel boulders.
Forcing their way towards us,
forcing us to carry;
we’ll defeat them if you give me your kindness,
don’t you worry.
Give me your ear so I may listen.
Give me your sight so I can see.
Give me your words so I can speak
o’ mother language,
to crush the burden you carry.

Remembering Someone Distant

I had a neighbor living next to us as we were growing up. He was a nice man but just smoked a little bit too much. Other than that he was nice. He was a bachelor at that time and lived alone in his apartment. Anyways, after a long time, we heard about him again but with sad news. He had passed away in a house fire. This was three years ago. This was not the house he lived in previously where we used to be neighbors. Over the years, he had moved and so had we. We did not know him that well. He was just an acquaintance. Just someone who used to live next to us. Sometimes, he would invite my father over to play cards or invite him to dinner. He was not yet a family man so it would be inappropriate or even more so, awkward, if he invited us as a family. So whenever he invited us, my father went.

We were all saddened by the news of his death. We could not believe he died in such a way. I felt saddened the most in the manner that he died. And for some reason, who knows why, I wrote a poem about it. (Oh yeah, that’s a great way to remember someone.) I have gotten a lot of mixed reactions to this poem. Most of my fellow peers at a creative writing class got my message but others had read it in a complete different way. And after I read it their way myself, I was astonished that their reasoning actually made sense. Ultimately, I learned that you could read the poem in two different ways. The second way ( the cruel ending) was not how I wanted the poem to be read. But I also did not make any changes either. Poems are poems. And it’s up to the reader to decide how he/ she will read that particular piece. Unfortunately, I do not have a title for this piece. I just could not come up with anything. It has been three years and the title is still named “Untitled”. But I did not want to force a title onto this poem either. It just would not fit.

Today is the anniversary of his death. I did not know him that well. I do not have any pictures of him. The only thing that connects me to him is this poem that I wrote the day after his death. It’s not a poem about him as a person. Honestly, I would not be able to write such a thing as I did not know him at all. This poem is not an eulogy. I wouldn’t even know where to begin. This poem is just about his death. I know, it’s blunt, but it is basically about how he died. However he died, it was a misfortunate event. He was a nice man so I will always have him in my prayers.

Untitled

Known stranger,
Death called and you went,
Leaving all else unfinished.
You fought him,
You tried to escape,
But you lost.
You weren’t thinking,
Your mind dazed
To see the ember aglow
On your bedroom wall.
Death smiled
As he engulfed you
into his darkness.
It seemed like a nightmare.
But you didn’t wake up.
You scrambled up the steps
And you thudded on the door…
But no one came.
The raging fire laughed
As it smothered you
With its ghastly breath.
It’s hard to think,
That as you were breathing your last,
I peacefully dreamed.