Hassanal Abdullah

A poet, novelist, essayist, critic, translator and the editor of Shabdaguchha

Selected Poems of Shaheed Quaderi

Translated by Hassanal Abdullah


Improper Meeting

Wild pigs will find their favorite mud.
Kingfishers will get the desired fish.
Nights--deep dark--will be white in heavy rain.
Peacocks will dance in a dense forest.

Lovers will eventually make love with partners,
But they will never be happy, never, never, never...

Wanderers will get back home alone.
In an empty pot,
Rice will shine up like the stars, and
You will get the old, forgotten song back to your tongue.

Lovers will eventually make love with partners,
But they will never be happy, never, never, never ...

They will stop marching in army barracks.
Hungry tigers will grasp a blue deer,
The village breeze will bring
The gentle tune of women song--
And you will find a room to stay together.

Lovers will eventually make love with partners,
But they will never be happy, never, never, never...


With These Symbols

Now, I will write your name.
I will write your name.

I have borrowed the alphabets
From nature just to write your name--

Fire, rain, thunder ... and a knife
From civilization.
I am now writing your name with these symbols,
Your name:
You are cold in a fire-storm rain,
A golden knife, my love.


The Shining Prostitutes

In some secret corner of the city, the unhealthy roses
Of love-cool, black, and the aroma of dirt.
The sleepless, shaded eyed nymphs of
An untouched garden.
You, my dearest night-sun, are the sudden
Stimulation of ruthless men.
When every street is blocked, doors of relatives and
Restaurants are closed
Illuminating the horizon
You blow your flags--the only blouse.
The unusual attraction vibrates
As if it were a mysterious call.

In the gloomy, moist house of prayer,
You unfold your jainamaj,
The dry quilt, the bed, and the happiness of woolen warmth;
Bringing back the teenage-pleasure through hug and kisses.
People, retarded, distorted, less-fortunate and
Whoever lost parental love--
Fighting with their sickening existence
In muddy water and storm,
Are gently nursed by you and your dying breasts.

For moments, I am the kneel down king of this false paradise.
Nothing is worthy as such
Whatever you offer for a small change.
You, the shining bride of unhealthy time,
Spread the scent of life to the vagabonds.
To me, ethics is worthless except praising you by heart.


Elder's Reply

"No, Shaheed is not in. Nobody's seen him
At home in the evening. Nobody will ever.
He does not care about nature. If so, it would
Have been much better--the green leaves would
Cure his eye-disease!
In the middle of the night
His cruel, callous knocking at the door
Wakes me up, (as if I was truly expecting a bad news)
From the half dream to the dreamlessness.
Thereafter, like a broken hearted orphan, he cries:
"Brother, brother, brother."

I remember, once in Darjeeling the road was highly slippery--
A man, of whom I did not know, fell
Thousands of feet down with the same cry!

I open the door with fear.
This is how I see him at midnight.
I don't know
Where he goes
What he does, and
How he passes his time!
He does not even pay attention to his job, as if
He is always waving a flag of blood and sorrow
Instead of his head-full-of-hair.

No. No. Don't ask me anything about him.
Went out in the morning--Shaheed Quaderi--
He is not at home."


Cooking in Blue Water

You've thrown some thick red rice on my face,
"Go, make a line on the ration shop."

Sure, I will. I will come back
With my share that I am allowed to get for my card.
I have no other way to survive.
But, since my Identity Card has not yet been issued,
I don't even know
How many pounds of sugar--white foam of stars,
How many liters of sea water, and
How much air
Would I get for my share!

I have heard, the salemen in the ration shop
Distribute things differently to different people--
Some get pure and white rice, while
Some get only the red and thick--
I want that too,
On my palm the white rice will dry
As the pure white moon light.
I do not even like to eat poultry anymore.
My teeth, become salty seeking revenge,
I got used to seeing the healthy thigh
Of red eyed buffalo.

Sure, I will go to the ration shop.
And then a festival will emerge out in my kitchen.
I, too, will cook the red rice in blue water
Alarming my neighbors.



I thought I would send you
A gold star for your hair bun.

--That was only my notion,
misty and blue.
I could only buy a bottle of perfume--full of hopes--
With all my savings!

I dreamed of you in my nightly dream
Standing alone in the whim of prostitution.
A thousand faces looked similar to me,
Waiting for you in a line
As if they were in a procession.


A Mysterious Lie

As the dancer comes
Near the end of her presentation,
A million howls
remaind me that
I am not alone in this beautiful city.
Shaheed Quaderi's tone, alliteration, images and the use of simile made him a unique contributor of Bengali poetry of the 20th century. Born in West Bengal, India, on the 14th of August, 1942, Quaderi moved to Dhaka with his family in his boyhood. His brother Shaheed Quaderi became his gardian after the death of both of his parents in the early age. Quaderi was raised in an expremely rich literary inverionment with his brother who was an expart of the English literature and edited an English magazine for some time. Shaheed Quaderi started writing poetry when he was only a little boy, and was published in Kobita (Poetry) at the age of 14. Though he has been honored and regarded as the most important literary voice of the Bengali high modern period, his poetic contribution is presented through only three collections of verse. He has previously been translated and published in Dhaka, Kolkata, London and New York in different anthologies and magazines. His first book, Uttoradhikar, was published in 1967. He was awarded the Bangla Academy Purasker, immediately after the publication of the book. After the liberation of Bangladesh, Quaderi got a job with the Bangladesh Television and become a program editor. Along with poetry, he wrote articles on poetry and colmn for various daily news papers and magazines at that time. Though he wrote, "I will never catch a plane and go abroad," in his second book, Quaderi went to London in 1978 after the divorce from his first marriage. In 1985, he then moved to Boston and married his second wife, Dina, who had a Jwish origin. After her death in 2000, Quaderi got very sick both from the loss of the love one, and from illness. He lost both of his Kednies in 2002. Shaheed Quaderi, probabely the most important poet of Bengal after Jibonananda Das, is now living with his third wife in New York, where he is on Dialosis 3 times a week.

Your Feedback