Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Poem of the Month (February, 2009): EKUSHEY (21st) FEBRUARY

The Ekushey (21st) February early morning scene at the Central Shaheed Minar (Language Martyrs' Memorial) in Dhaka in 1975. People with flowers, garlands and wreaths are coming to pay their homage to the fallen martyrs who gave their lives on this day in 1952 in defending the dignity and status of Bangla (Bengali), their mother language
Photo (Dhaka: February 21, 1975) © Jerome D'Costa

Ekushey (21st) February

The matrilingua, mother language, or mother tongue --
Whatever we call it, it is the language of our mother.
It is our language that we inherit from her since our birth.
It is so precious, so near and dear to us
That it's like an umbilical cord, a lifeline for us all.

It was in the late 40s and early 50s
When West Pakistani ruling coterie attempted to deprive the majority Bangalees
Of their legitmate right of using their mother language nationally.
Some so-called scholars, stooges of the ruling class,
Even proposed to introduce Arabic script to write Bangla!
How dare say!

There was no connection, no relation with the Urdu and Farsi,
The languages of the rulers.
They write theirs from the right, whereas Bangalees write from the left.
There's bound to be a clash -- a collision -- you know,
Which really happened on the 21st February, 1952!

Shots were fired on protesting students and folks,
Several persons lost their lives,
Among them Salam, Jabbar, Barkat, Rafiq, and Safiur.
The blood of the language martyrs was the seed of the independence of Bangladesh.

The Shaeed Minar in their memory and honour,
Symbolizes their struggle, their sacrifice, and their death.
It reminded us of the importance of our rights and freedom, and more struggles ahead.
Ultimately, yes ultimately in late 1971, we could earn our independence because of them.

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