(10 June 1918 - 19 October 1974 / Magura / Bangladesh)

Punjeri (The Navigator)

When will the night end, punjeri?

Still your sky overcast with cloud?
Your star and crescent moon not yet up?
You on mast and, row blindfold;
Endless mist reigns the void now.

When will the night end, punjeri?

After this long night's weary voyage
What sea's dark horizon beckons us?
Is it the dim life's gate wailing
On the strife-torn dream of the painful heart?
Life's triumphant sound recedes and dies slowly.
You on mast and I row blindfold;
Endless mist exists before me.

When will the night end, punjeri?

Idle passengers count days in the port,
Perhaps they hear our ship's sound in the monsoon-wind,
Perhaps in the moonlight they see illusion of the sail in the mist.
Ah! those worried passengers keep them awake
On the sea-shore with unlucky destiny.

Where do we go roaming in this lost sea-track?
To what limitless distance?
The passengers are waiting on the shore.
You on mast and I row blindfold;
Lonely I see the night's confusion around.

When will the night end, punjeri?

Only our callousness and neglect
Brought this sea-deep error for us;
Travellers wait on shore for our mistake
And observe their star and moon sinking down.
Our callousness has brought on them
This night of bad luck.

We have spread panic among the merchants;
We hear wailing coming from every door.

Is the wind lamenting? Is that the groaning of the hungry?
Is that the roaring of the sea? Is that the anguish of the oppressed?
Is that the dying sound from the empty belly?
Rise up to see the strong demand for explanation in the port;
Rise up with the silent frowning of countless hungry mouths;
Rise up and see, how far the morning,
How long to wait! !

[Translated by Abdur Rashid Khan]

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