Poetry in Translation: Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s “Upon Returning From Dhaka”

by S. Abbas Raza

Faiz visited Bangladesh after it had seceded from Pakistan and become an independent country following a year of bloody civil war (with the Pakistan army responsible for horrific genocide in what was then still East Pakistan). Then he wrote this. The last line is almost certainly an allusion to the apology that was never offered to Bangladesh.

004.200Upon Returning From Dhaka

After so much cordiality we are once again strangers

After how many meetings will we again be friends?

When will we see the unsullied green of spring?

After how many monsoons will the stains of blood
be washed?

The time of the end of our love was so cruel

After nights of intimacy the mornings so unkind

My quickly defeated heart did not even allow me

After my entreaties, the chance to fret and fuss

What you had gone to say, Faiz, to swear upon your life

After everything was said, that still remained unsaid

And you can hear the Pakistani singer Nayyara Noor sing a version of the poem here: