I recently submitted a poem to Robi, an online literary journal, by Bangladeshi Identity Project. As it says on its introduction page, this journal in intended for the Bengali diaspora by the Bengali diaspora. It’s for us Bengalis that belong there, in our native country, but call this place our home too. Despite speaking our foreign tongue, we keep our mother tongue close to our heart, interchanging words consistently, their meanings translucent. My poem was accepted and published. If you’d like to read the journal, please do. I chose to submit my poem, Immigrant.
I wanna go back 😭. I spent the first six years of my life here. This specific window led to my grandmother’s tiny garden. Every once in a while she would have it opened to tend to the plants. We both would stand on this side of the window watching the plants being watered or the guavas being picked from the guava tree. Thank you ammu for opening this gate for me that day. The rain, the atmosphere, and the vehicles on the street both heightened my emotions and brought back many beautiful memories. I am going to cherish this moment forever. And thank you for keeping dadi’s garden flourishing all throughout the years ❤️❤️, even though it has changed quite a bit…. the jackfruit tree has gotten smaller and the guava tree is no more. Even in dadi’s absence, I feel her presence every time I’m here 😌.
Bullets flew past me as I crawled through the paddy field. I saw many fall down in front of me but I could do nothing to help but go on. I reached the bank but wasn’t sure if I should cross it. Hearing men coming my way, I slunk back into the field and waited. I stopped breathing for a minute and nine seconds in fear that they might hear me, capture me, and kill me. Nothing was left and there was no where to go. The only thing you could do was go forward and pray that you stayed alive for one more day. A group of soldiers were on the road laughing and talking in their language. Their boisterous voices were full of filth and hate. Anger boiled inside of me. I wanted to take them down right then and there, but they were too many. They heard a noise from a little ways away and followed it while I took the chance to get out of there as fast as I could.
The only way to move about was at night. It seemed as if I had been walking for miles. I was tired and my feet were cracked and dirty. My stomach growled. The road was pitch black and the moonlight wasn’t helping me any. Eventually, I lost track of the road and landed back in the paddy field when I felt a great excruciating pain on my right toe. I screamed silently for fear of the Paki cops finding me as I blindly tried to remove the thorn. Unable to, I kept on walking as my foot bled. I had no choice but to go on. I don’t know how much longer I walked but after a while, even the pain seemed to go away. After what seemed like hours, I saw something off in the distance, like a light flickering, and then it was gone. A few minutes later, I saw it again and this time I figured it wasn’t just in my head. I headed towards it and found a small house. I limped my way to a tree and wondered if I should get closer. What if the soldiers were using it as a base? But what if they weren’t? What if it was just a normal house with normal people inside? I could get help. They could tell me if they saw my family.
Taking a chance, I limped across the yard to the front door. My heart, beating more times than I could count, stopped right there as I pushed the door open and ten thousand voices shrilled, resonating through my body and into the night.
^^This is a recount of my father during the Liberation War. It was about the time he became separated from his family when Pakistani soldiers stormed his village and they were forced to leave everything and flee for their lives.
I was raised by
wise and bold,
a book in one hand,
and a watering can in the other,
flowering her rooftop plants.
at the crack of dawn,
the sun stretching and yawning.
I am from Dhaka,
The heart of Bangladesh.
I am from the close-knit family
That always stood together under one shadow.
I am from my grandparent’s village,
Where the love of nature grew in my heart,
Just like it was there always.
I am from the grandparents
Who loved and raised me with care.
I am the love that loved them back
With all my heart.
I am from the birthdays and holidays
That we spent together.
I am from the respect where we used to go to the Shaheed Minar
To place flowers for the martyrs and freedom fighters
That sacrificed their lives
for our freedom.
I am from the blackouts,
Where we would gather around our uncle to hear stories,
From the peanuts
That we got from the peanut stand at the end of the street,
And when the lights came back on,
We would groan and turn them off again
To listen to the rest.
I am from my father,
From his childhood stories,
Some so funny that our stomachs hurt from laughing too much.
The Liberation War
Where he and his family were hiding from the Pakistani soldiers.
From the sadness
When my grandparents passed away.
I am from the empathy,
The feeling I feel for my father,
Who didn’t get a chance to see them
After we came to this foreign land.
I am from the memories,
Which I clutch to my heart every single day,
And never ever let go.