Can’T I Have A Homeland To Call My Own? by Taslima Nasrin

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Am I so dangerous a criminal, so vicious an enemy of humanity,
Such a traitor to my country that I can’t have a homeland to call my own?
So that my land will snatch away from the rest of my life my homeland?
Blindly from the northern to the southern hemisphere,
Through mountains and oceans and rows and rows of trees,
Blindly in the heavens, in the moon, in the mists and in sunshine,
Blindly groping through grass and creepers and shrubs, earth and mankind, I have gone
Searching for my homeland.
Once I had exhausted the world, I touched the shores
Of my homeland to exhaust my span of life,
Only to have the sense of security of an utterly exhausted thirsty soul
Brutally uprooted, and you throw away the little water cupped in my hand,
And sentence me to death, what name can I have for you, land?
You stand on my chest like an enormous mountain,
You stamp on my throat with your legs in boots,
You have gouged out my eyes,
You have drawn my tongue out and snapped it into pieces,
You have lashed and bloodied my body, broken both my legs,
You have pulverized my toes, prized open my skull to squash my brain,
You have arrested me, so that I die,
Yet I call you my homeland, call you with infinite love.
I’ve uttered a few home truths, hence I am a traitor to my homeland.
I’m a traitor because you’ve chosen to walk shoulder to shoulder with liars in procession.
You’ve warned me with raised fingers to give a damn to humanity,
And whatever else I may have or not, I can’t have a homeland to call my own.
My land, you dug into my heart and hacked out of my life my own homeland.

[This poem was written while Taslima was forced to live in confinement in an undisclosed location in Delhi from 22 November 2007 to 19 March 2008. Samik Bandapadahya translated this poem from her book PRISONERS POEMS]

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