Remembering Shahzahan Bachchu

Rest in Peace

Maybe I’m No Human*

By Nirmalendu Goon, Translation by S M Maniruzzaman

 

Maybe I’m no human, humans are different;
They can walk, they can sit, and they can wander room to room
They are different; they are afraid of death, scared of snakes.
Maybe I’m no human. Then how can snakes raise no fear within me?
How can I go standing alone all day long like a tree?
How can I sing no song watching a movie?
How can I go without drinking wine with ice?
How can I pass a night without closing my eyes?
Indeed I feel strange when I think about
The way I go alive from morning to eve.,
From eve to night.
When I’m alive,
I feel strange.
When I write,
I feel strange.
When I paint,
I feel strange.

 

Maybe I’m no human;
If I were a human,
I’d have a pair of shoes of my own,
I’d have a home of my own,
I’d have a room of my own,
I’d get warmed in the embrace of my wife at night.
On the top of my belly my child would play,
my child would paint.

 

Maybe I’m no human;
Were I a human,
Why do I laugh
When I see the sky empty like my heart?

 

Maybe I’m no human
Humans are different;
They have hands, they have nose,
They have eyes like yours
Which can refract the reality
The way prisms refract light.

 

Were I a human,
I’d have scars of love on my thigh,
I’d have the sign of anger on my eye,
I’d have a mother,
I’d have a father,
I’d have a sister,
I’d have a wife who’d love me,
I’d have fear of accidents or a sudden death.

 

Maybe I’m no human; If I were a human,
I could not write poems to you,
I could not pass a night without you.
Humans are different; they are afraid of death,
They are afraid of snakes,
They flee away when they see snakes;
Whereas instead fleeing away, mistaking them as my friends
I approach them, embrace them.

 

 

Secular humanists and LGBT activists and publishers continue to be persecuted in Bangladesh for their free speech. On June 11th, 2018, Bengali poet and free thinker, Shahzahan Bachchu, was shot dead in Munshiganj district, at Kakaldi, near Dhaka. Shahzahan was a political activist, a former general secretary of the Munshiganj district unit of the Community party, an outspoken secularist, a published poet and a writer of books on humanism. He is also the founder of the Bishaka Prakashani (Star Publishers) publishing house, which specialises in poetry. Shahzahan was sitting at a tea stall in Kakaldi, his home village, when four men on motorcycles rushed at him. He was killed immediately. Shahzahan was previously at risk, living in hiding after receiving death threats from militants and fanatics, through phone calls and messages.

 

Since 2013, dozens of others, like Shahzahan, have been targeted and killed by Islamist extremists, for their secular non-Muslim views. The government has been slow to respond or condemn this violence. Since 2015, the reported murders and attacks for secular views have included the deaths of Avijit Roy, Washiqur Rahman, Ananto Bijoy Das, and Niloy Neel (friend of Shahzahan, who was murdered just days before him). Government officials, including the prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, blame these attacks on the victims themselves, for their criticism of religion. Secularists are held by the government under the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Act, which has recently been expanded upon – and allegedly has been misused – for the criminal prosecution of ‘blasphemous speech’ that ‘hurts religious sentiments,’ as well as for any criticisms that are made against governmental actions or policies.

 

Along with PEN AMERICA, we support this urging of the authorities to investigate and do justice; we support this urging for no more impunity by the government. Reporting from the IHEU Freedom of Thought Report (Bangladesh chapter), the IHEU President, Andrew Copson, said:

We are devastated that the spectre of violence has returned to the freethinking community in Bangladesh. Every humanist writer and secular activist and freethinking publisher who has been killed in recent years has been a defender of the rights of others, a lover of humanity and reason and justice. Their murders stand against all these universal values. We once again call on the government of Bangladesh to root out the Jihadi networks perpetrating these crimes, and on the international community to bring pressure to bear on Bangladesh to protect and defends its humanists and human rights defenders.

 

 

Cross-posting from:

https://iheu.org/freethinking-writer-politician-shot-dead-bangladesh/

https://pen.org/press-release/murder-of-secular-publisher-and-writer-shahzahan-bachchu-an-attack-on-free-expression-in-bangladesh/  

https://www.thedailystar.net/frontpage/bangladesh-ict-act-the-trap-section-of-57-1429336 

https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/maybe-i-m-no-human/

 

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