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Preface

Preface

 

I want to take birth from this birth,

I seek innumerable lives in this one life.

My writing creates another world

of a million incredulities-

as I unfold my leaves and branches towards literary flair.

 

Since I have to go - a few more moments only are left -

I sow an immortal yield in the fields of my heart.

From a timeless span an ascetic within me remains

with unquenched thirst for Ambrosia.

May everlasting poetry establish in me -

there is no loss in perishing afterwards.

 

As part of human society I am being powerfully driven by religious forces, whether I want it or not. Can I not live the single life I have with my own ideology being expressed? Should not world societies be more liberal and more tolerant? This book is an experiment to see just that. All the contents are translations of my Bengali poetry, many are written in context of Bangladesh. Alongside my personal views on God and religion i have tried in this book to raise my voice against religious fanatics and fanaticism and their associated anarchy and persecution. It is not my intention to try to separate people from their religion because i understand that religion still plays a significant role in human societies. Nevertheless, i also firmly believe that there are limits to when, where and how much religion should be involved in our socio-cultural and political activities.

 

Many argue God and religion to be two separate themes. Some want to keep God and religion spotless, hypothetically pure. Unfortunately I cannot agree. I do not know any other God than that which is described in a practising religion, do you? Each religion portrays Him quite differently. Then there are multi-theistic religions and atheistic religions. In not a single prominent world religion can I find a God who was able to keep Himself above the shortcomings of that religion. Moreover, a true God would neither have used threat and fear as a prime controlling tool nor lured us to gain something heavenly, which are being extensively done in every religion in the name of its God. Already we ourselves have learned not to do this to our children. Therefore, I think these many 'One Gods' are religion arisen and must share responsibility with their primordial co-religions for their ineffectiveness in society. And If some religious views keep going astray in the practical world or human mind, however divine they could truly be, we at least need to confine them, to secure them for the sake of greater Humanity.

 

Currently Bangladesh is on the verge of Muslim fundamentalism. Since the beginning of a secular Bangladesh, the country's policies were gradually made to accommodate extremist Islam. Subsequently Bangladesh transformed into an Islamic state. Millions of people from Hindu, Buddhist, Christian and tribal communities have fled Bangladesh over the years and ever increasingly continue to do so in the face of torture, abduction, confiscation, murder, rape and such brutality from radical Muslims. The policy of the Bangladesh government - once which very intentionally and very systematically rehabilitated radical Muslim groups, gave shelter to their leaders and created a market to recruit young fanatics for religious extremism at home and abroad, the same government policy has now brought radical pro-Pakistani Islamic groups into power. These extremists are using Islam the way they see fit and who is there to stop them! Bengali culture, morality and secular values are now ever threatened by the emergence of bizarre Sharia laws. Very systematically these fundamentalists are causing and threatening the lives of open-minded journalists, poets, writers, professors and people from minority communities because of their different view-points. Very systematically they are forcing minorities and those who possess a secular view to leave Bangladesh. I will not be surprised to see a Taliban-like government in Bangladesh within a decade.

 

As in Bangladesh, in many countries and societies throughout the world people are regularly being subjected to inhumane religious and racial oppression, harassment and discrimination. In most cases sufferers remain voiceless in fear of making the situation worse. This is a tiny effort to have all those hurt voices say in one accord - life is more important than anybodys faith, please dont play around with it. I personally think that it is time people identify and reject those parts of each religion which are subversive to coexistence and are obstacles for practicing secularism.

 

Therefore, before beginning to read this book the reader should visualise the atmosphere in which its poems subsist. Firstly, there is no One God that the writer finds as true and existing; Secondly, it is not religious beliefs but we ourselves who count; and finally, there is no better religion than humanity.

 

May we all become civilised !

 

I am greatly indebted to my editor, Ms. Cathy Perry, poet and critic and member of Writers Without borders, for her kind understanding, constructive criticism and suggestions, also for her immense help in publishing this book. I lower my head with gratitude to several other worthy poets, Mr. Martin Underwood, Mr. Milorad Krystanovich and Mr. Christopher Randall, for their kind support throughout the translation, editing and publishing process. I thank all other poets of Writers Without borders for their constructive criticism. Here I  ever-gratefully recall my two English teachers, Ms. Christine Turner and Ms. Monika Davis, who encouraged me profoundly and guided me to become published. Lastly, my many sincere thanks to Dr. Roy Ankhara Kwabena, Birmingham Poet Laureate - 2002, for vividly introducing me to a wider audience, moreover, bravely accepting me to publish.

 

- Sreeman Mishu Barua.