Translated by S M Maniruzzaman
A poem was waiting to be written
An ocean of people was waiting for the poet
With pent-up furor
With the long deferred demonstration of anger
With keen ears to hear him
With patience the ocean was waiting.
When would he come?
There was no park here then
There was no garden here then
No procession of flowers blowing in furor
The sky was not so depressed in such a drowsy afternoon
Then how was that afternoon?
Then how was this enormous field, the very heart of the capital,
Now covered with gardens, parks, and benches?
I know the demon has raised its black hand again
To erase the mementos of that afternoon.
That’s why in this displeased field in her poet’s absence today we see
Poets against poets,
Fields against fields,
Afternoons against afternoon,
Gardens against gardens,
March against March…
O coming child, o future poet
O hark me, I am writing the story of that greatest afternoon
One day you may get to know the truth through this story
While swinging on those rocking cradles on the park
O hark, the field was not as she’s today
There was no park, no garden then— none of them
Like the deep blue open sky here was only a field
An enormous field covered with grass after grass
Green grass which became the greenest
When we gathered together here on that day
With the greenness of our freedom-loving heart
With blazing red letters of freedom on their foreheads, on their elbows
They joined the procession and came….
The laborers from the factories, the farmers from paddy fields
With their ploughs on their shoulders
With their half-naked body defying the discipline of the civilization
To demonstrate their demand of freedom
And they came, so the students grabbing the arms
From the hands of the men like those today in black on gourd to protect the power
And the middle-class with their ever-blooming dreams blazing on their eyes
So the lower-class, the sick clerks, the women, the homeless prostitutes
So the bohemian vagabonds like me and the flock of Tokais little like you
A poem would be declared
How diligently how passionately the ocean of people was awaiting the poet
To hear the poem of freedom!
After years of struggles, years of sufferings the poet came at last
And with Tagore’s resolute steps,
Threaded his way up the stage
And rose before the ocean of people like a sun.
Then in a blink, the ocean of people bloomed high
With the tidal surge of a prolonged rage,
With the dreams of golden days,
And with the tidal wave of a roaring cry
together devastated the demons’ sky.
Who could block them, dam them then?
Who could stop his thunderous voice then?
And he, the poet of freedom declared the poem
“The struggle this time is for emancipation!
The struggle this time is for independence!”
And then the boat of freedom
floated over the dams imposed by the demon damnable
And then the ocean of people with the tidal surge of courage
dared to wash away the dam of bondage,
the dump of sufferings and break free!
From that afternoon onward, the word “freedom” belongs to us too.
Previously published in The Daily Observer on 24 December 2016.