This Valley of Death is not my Land, a translation of a Nabarun Bhattacharya poem এই মৃত্যু উপত্যকা আমার দেশ না

That father who fears identifying his child’s corpse

I despise him.

That brother who appears unashamedly normal

I despise him.

The teacher, the intellectual, the poet and the clerk

Who do not seek to revenge this daylight murder

I despise him.

Eight corpses,

Lie across the path of consciousness

I am losing my senses

Eight pairs of eyes wide open watching me in my sleep

I am screaming

They call me all the time to the gardens even when the hour is late

I will become mad

I will kill myself

I will do whatever I want.

Now is the time that we must write poetry

On billboards, on walls, in stencilled letters

With my own blood, bones and tears I make a collage.

It is the perfect time for poetry

The worst pain rips open my face

Face to face with terror – the blinding headlights of a van

Steadfast my gaze.

It is now that poetry could be thrown at

.38 calibres and everything else they have

Everything can be ignored for the sake of poetry.

In the stone cold cells of a lock-up

In the neon glow of a post mortem

In courts run by killers

In schools of falsehoods and ill education

Passed through the state machinery of fear and exploitation

In the civilian and military authorities

Let poetry ring out as protest

Let the poets of Bengal be ready like Lorca

To be stifled to death, to disappear

To be stitched up by bullets from sten guns

But it is still very important

To surround the cities of poetry with villages of poetry.

This valley of death is not my land

This horrendous celebration of the executioner’s art

This vast killing field

This blood soaked abattoir.

I will take my country back

I will draw over me the mist drenched grass of an autumn evening

Are these fireflies all over me or the jhum flames on every mountainside?

The boundless harvest of hearts that are fables, flowers, women and rivers

I will name a star for each sacrificed soul

I will pull close the tremble of wind over a sun dappled fish eye of a pond

Love – from which I have stayed light years away all my life

I will even embrace love on the day that we celebrate revolution.

‘This Valley of Death is not my Land’
by Nabarun Bhattacharya (23 June 1948 – 31 July 2014)

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