O Mother!


Forefathers curved the road once-
I’m told and
Traditions walked,
From dancing figures
To established
Orthographic depths,
Of late.

It is a rough patch,
Paved with good intentions and
Interlude of freedom;
First a Guru, then a friend
finally a child-
Trivial or not,
Promising all the same.

Gave a name my mute emotions
Despair, love or
Concoction of
How all the hormones
Played my mind,
An ubuntu,
No less than we like to believe.

I keep my head high
I could have been lost
Unless those marks showed me the way,
Stained with my brother’s blood
I don’t regret, but
Wear the wounds proudly on my chest.

The road is calling me-
O Mother!
May be back to your womb, again
To a promise, unspoken;
The road, is not the end of the road.

Writing something unique about me and my language of home – tonight’s theme on dversepoets poetics. Here are some facts on my mother tongue – Bengali, to whom I dedicate this ode.

  • International Mother Language Day is an observance held annually on 21 February worldwide to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. It was first announced by UNESCO on 17 November 1999. On 21 February 1952, protesting students and activists were fired upon by military and police in the University of Dhaka and three young students and several other people were killed. In a separate event on 19 May 1961, police in Barak Valley in Assam killed eleven people who were demonstrating against legislation that mandated the use of the Assamese language.
  • Bengali presents a strong case of diglossia, with the literary and standard form differing greatly from the colloquial speech of the regions that identify with the language. Regional variation in spoken Bengali constitutes a dialect continuum.
  • The Bengali script is believed to have evolved from a modified Brahmic script around 1000 CE (or 10th – 11th century). Bengali has as many as 100,000 separate words, of which 50,000 are direct reborrowings from Sanskrit, 21,100 are native words with Sanskrit cognates, and the rest being foreign borrowings and Austroasiatic borrowings.

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52 thoughts on “O Mother!

    • Thanks Bjorn – it’s an incredible journey after all. I still try to write in both languages….but can’t do that more often….

  1. i could have been lost without my brothers blood showing me the way….what a powerful line that is…also like the inclusion of ubuntu…a great word…and concept….that last stanza as well…really well done…

    • Thanks Brian – that is why I kept the references as well and using the word ubuntu was an experiment that I believe has worked well. I am very happy that you like it.

  2. First of all, I enjoyed your explanation a lot below your poem. I like the idea of International Mother Language Day. And I like, in your poem the pride I feel you are expressing about your language & also the idea that the road is calling you & that it is not the end of the road.

    • Mary, thanks a lot. The last para was another way of saying, that if I am born again I’d be yours. The love for my mother tongue is so intense.

  3. Languages carry our national history and yours is very rich! I once read that several languages disappear every year, they just die with the last speaker. How sad when this happens.

    • Yes, unfortunately. There are some dialects in my mother tongue – that is lost, even though a lot many people speak the main language. That is an important aspect I could not bring out in my poem.

  4. Abhra, my first time here, thanks to dverse. You captured so much history along with your view of home, which is wide. I agree about lost dialects; here in the States, so many Tribal tongues are dying, but I know a group of Navahos who are young and dedicated, as well as a few other tribes. Thanks for the link and for a luscious post! Peace, Amy Barlow Liberatore

  5. Most of us are not linguistic, & just struggle to find those words in our own mother tongue that can express our poetic urges & explications–yet I’ve always envied persons fluent in more than one language, just enriches your life, your perceptions & horizons; an incredible poem this; great clarity & sharing.

  6. Wow! (and I save my wows – this is my second usage today, stuff is that good). I am bowled over by your poem, and so grateful for the notes that accompany it. How wonderfully you realized the challenge today with your precision of language – your enunciation of a journey–to me the journey world wide of my life time, the slow march from thinking all outside the tribe are inferior to the realization of that concept of ubuntu – yes you could have been lost, but now you’re found..you lead us. Thank you.

    • Yes, I thought that adding of notes will give the readers the needed perspective. I am glad that you like it – the concept of ubuntu was an experiment that seems to have worked well.

  7. ” could have been lost
    Unless those marks showed me the way,
    Stained with my brother’s blood
    I don’t regret, but
    Wear the wounds proudly on my chest”

    Powerful lines , impregnated with historical facts ( reminds me of 21st February) and personal emotions. Love the poem .

  8. What wonderful words Abhra and your pride in who you are and your heritage shines through – a pleasure to read.
    Anna :o]

  9. Not too many folks out here blog about/on/in their Mother Tongue..Probably because it might steal off their readers…This is an a wonderful post…I liked it especially because I am a bong myself 🙂

    • Well, I write a lot in Bengali – but not exactly in blogs but more as web magazines. I write stories for children and maintain two sites in Bengali too.

  10. Powerful! i Can connect…the growth, the history often leaving bloody trails..perhaps a way of evolving to sustain, grow, flourish embossed as culture.

  11. অভ্র কবিতাটা কোনও মন্তব্য ব্যতিরেকেই অসাধারান -১ম স্তবকটাই একটা আলাদা কবিতা —-suparb – nishith sir

    • স্যার, আপনি যে সময় করে এসে আমার কবিতাটি পড়েছেন এটাই ভাবতে খুব ভালো লাগছে। আপনার ভালো লেগেছে এই আশীর্বাদ সঙ্গে থাকবে।

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