Sabina and Suhel, wearing dusty clothes,
drenched in a sudden downpour,
cringing in the cold,
seek a warm place this winter morning.
Their parents, in their shanty
beneath the skyscrapers,
father a rickshaw-puller, mother a maid,
are suffering from cancer.
Unfed, penniless and weary,
they walk the roads in search of food
they have no money to buy.
Under the city skies
they look for food-for-work.
Reaching a street restaurant
with plenty of paratas,
they beg to the owner for two,
and receive instead
two hard slaps on the face.
Aggrieved and famished,
they steal two paratas and flee,
only to be caught on the run
and be surrounded by a crowd.
People watch as if it’s a film,
then join in the beating, like heroes.
Two children fall, in the street.
Unconscious, unaided, their broken noses
spilling blood, they remain fallen
on the street. A few birds fly
to the two children groaning –
with teary eyes,
the birds only flap their wings.
About the Contributor
MOHAMMAD SHAFIQUL ISLAM – poet, translator and academic – is the author of three books: Wings of Winds (Poetry, 2015), Humayun Ahmed: Selected Short Stories (Translation, 2016) and Aphorisms of Humayun Azad (Translation, 2017). His areas of special interest include poetry, creative writing and translation from Bengali into English. He attended several workshops and conferences on creative writing and literary translation in Bangladesh, India, Italy and UK. Islam is a poet-in-residence at Anuvad Residency 2017, Silchar, India. His poetry, translation and literary essays appeared or are forthcoming in numerous publications including Journal of Postcolonial Writing, Critical Survey, SNReview, Reckoning, Right Hand Pointing, SLR, Arts & Letters, Bengal Lights, The Subterranean, Chaos, and elsewhere. His work is also anthologised in The Book of Dhaka: A City in Short Fiction (UK), Of the Nation Born (India), Poems from the SAARC Region (Sri Lanka), and Monsoon Letters: Collection of Poems (Bangladesh). A PhD candidate in the Department of English, Assam University, India, he teaches English at Shahjalal University of Science & Technology, Sylhet, Bangladesh.
SEAM - Tarfia Faizullah
I would like to nominate SEAM, an award-winning debut collection of poetry by Tarfia Faizullah, an American poet, for LossLit Canon. SEAM is a great collection that won Crab Orchard Award Series in Poetry in 2014. The book is about loss, about the loss of honour, and about rape and torture in which women are victims – tens of thousands of women had been raped, and then killed by Pakistani Army in the 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh. Both society and family members abandoned the surviving raped women after independence. The country became independent, but the women could not escape social stigma that people illogically branded them with. Faizullah questions, in this seminal collection, how these women could survive so many years bearing such horrible memories of rape and torture. The Pakistani Army had raped about two hundred thousand Bangladeshi women, and killed about three million people in the war.
More from Issue Eight:
- Calendar Girls by Max Wilkinson
- Mushroom Speed Boosts by Ben Reynolds
- Sestina by Imogen Russell Williams
- Under the Maple Roots by Joshua Bealson
- Snow, Sunday, Late February by James O’Neill
- Not Waving, but Washing by Tabitha Siklos
- Kites by Ben Gwalchmai
- A tribute to austerity by Sanmeet Kaur
- Something like the beginning of love by Olga Dermott-Bond
- Why is it Called a Thunderstorm, When it’s the Lightning That Kills You? by Katt Thompson
- My Greenland Halibut by Amanda Oosthuizen
- Say Hello, Wave Goodbye by Emma Venables