Illustration by Arpan Roy


Pang and Prayer of a Kafir-in-Exile

(An elegy dedicated to the heretic martyrs,

who defended our rights to speak)


The caravans were crossing the Bay of Bengal,

I frowned at them, “Caravans of cravens from Bangladesh!”

One writer stood out,

“Dear patriot! Let there be light at your heart

We treasured Bangladesh, as much as you loved your child­­­­

But as soon as we kissed the pen and grew wings,

The crowd called us Kafir

They beheaded us in the name of grandiose God!”


One woman was sobbing,

“Despite being a Hindu woman,

I had fallen in love with a Muslim man

They called me a witch,

I sang the songs of Solomon to them,

‘My love is a sachet of myrrh lying between my breasts’

The crowd trampled our dreams of togetherness

I had to choose between Bangladesh and my beloved

Exile was not a choice for us, rather an escape for love!”


One girl child was cringing,

“They raped us all, we do not know what our sins were

Being a Hindu, Christian or an Aboriginal girl?

Being a Muslim girl, who was on her way to own pairs of wings?

Being an object with breasts and a vagina?

Being the second sex in the territory of Hyenas?

They called us whores, because we were returning home at night

They teared our clothes, even Burqas

We do not know what our sins were!

Pilgrimage became the dream for us,

Because the crowd were waiting either to clap or kill!”


One man smiled,

“They killed me, because I loved a man

Despite being a man,

I desired to be with a man in sickness and in health

They called me pariah and slaughtered me,

As I was the living sign of the day of Qiamah indeed!”


I met thousands of them, heard them to scream and sob

Seeing the mirror of conscience, I asked myself,

“Was life in the Holy Book ever mine?”

My fingers metamorphosed into the fingers of God,

And I wrote the first verse for Bangladesh,

“Pilgrimage is a dream, but Hegira is a nightmare

Exodus to nowhere is an anathema

Though inferno awaits for the unfaithful,

I shall rather be the Kafir sailor in the ship of sinners,

Than a bloodthirsty believer!”


About the Poet

13346142_10207822155164273_6558010249149924227_oFarzana Sharmin Surovi is not a poet yet, nor a writer. But she dreams that words will dance to her tunes, and, will turn into enchanting verses. She is Bangladeshi, but currently is living in the United States for completing her Master Degree in Public Administration from the Missouri State University. Her forte is writing research papers on gender policies. She believes to walk thousand miles for a just society, and, writing is her magic broom to be a witch against misogynist society. She refutes the stigma associated with being a feminist in a Muslim majority male chauvinist society, and, is proud to call herself a feminist writer.