Monday, March 05, 2007

Jessore Road



Samran pointed me to a video on YouTube of Bangla singer Moushumi Bhowmick’s song Jessore Road.

I first heard this at a concert of Moushumi’s in Calcutta two years ago, with her group Parapar. The song is inspired by Allen Ginsberg’s long poem September on Jessore Road.

Millions of babies watching the skies
Bellies swollen, with big round eyes
On Jessore Road - long bamboo huts
Noplace to shit but sand channel ruts

Millions of fathers in rain
Millions of mothers in pain
Millions of brothers in woe
Millions of sisters nowhere to go …


An audio recitation of the poem by Allen Ginsberg is accessible here.

The lyrics of Moushumi's song:

Shoto shoto chokh akashta daekhe
Shoto shoto shoto manusher dol
Joshor road-er du'dhaare boshot
Bansher chhauni, kadamaatijol

Kadamati makha manusher dol
Gadagadi hoye akashta daekhe
Akashe boshot maura ishwar
Naalish janabe ora bolo kaake?

Gharheen ora, ghum nei chokhe
Juddhe chhinno ghar-bari-desh
Mathar bhitore bomaaru bimaan
Ei kaalo raat kobe hobe shesh?

Shoto shoto mukhe haay ekattor
Joshor road je koto katha bole
Ato maura mukh, aadhmaura paaye
Purbo Bangla Kolkata chole

Shomoy cholechhe raajpath dhore
Joshor Roadete manush michhil
September, haay ekattor
Goru gari kada, rasta pichhil

Lokkho manush bhaat cheye moray
Lokkho manush shoke bhese jaay
Gharheen bhashe shoto shoto lok
Lokkho janani paagoler praay

Refugee ghare khide-paoa shishu
Petgulo shob phule phenpe othe
Eituku shishu ato boro chokh
Dishehara ma kaar kachhe chhote?

September, haay ekattor
Ato ato shudhu masher mukh
Juddho mrityu tobuo shopno
Phashaler maath phele asha shukh

Kaar kachhe boli bhaat-ruti katha
Kaake boli koro koro koro traan
Kaake boli ogo mrityu thamao
Moray jaoa buke ene dao praan

Kando kando tumi manusher dol
Tomar shorir khoto diye dhaka
Jananir kole aadhpeta shishu
E kemon bancha, benche moray thaka?

Chhoto chhoto tumi manusher dol
Tomar ghareo mrityur chhaya
Gulite chhinno deho-mon-maati
Ghar chhere chhoto maati michhe maya.

September, haay ekattor
Ghar bhenge gechhe juddher jhore
Joshor Road-er du'dhaare manush
Ato ato lok, shudhu keno moray?

The third and fourth stanzas of Moushumi’s version (the concluding lines in the video clip) in my poor translation:

They are homeless, their eyes sleepless,
Shelter-Home-Nation wiped out by war,
Bomber planes inside their heads.
When will this black night come to an end?

Hundreds and hundreds of faces, O ’71!
Jessore Road tells so many tales!
So many dead faces on half-dead feet,
East Bengal walks to Calcutta.


The tragedy of East Bengal in 1971, leading to the formation of Bangladesh – I was a 11-year old in Calcutta then. In the summer of 1971, my aunt Indu, a physician in London, had come as a volunteer doctor to work in the refugee camps near Calcutta. Such devastation nearby and such a sea of humanity converging in and around Calcutta. I will never forget, and that tragedy binds together the hearts of people of Bengal across the two sides of the border.

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3 comments:

clash said...

I am not very sure about the History of Bengal.

But i am happy and surprised to meet another humane blogger!!

Feroze said...

Thank you for this post. Of all the things my Mother told me about her career, she never spoke about the time she spent in the camps near Dum Dum - it was too traumatic for her to describe.

Yves said...

it is a moving lovely song which conveys plenty without me understanding a word.