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(3)Prose>Ali Azgor Talukder - Al Mahmud Poetry: An Introduction (part-2)
Old age lures men to tell stories. Al Mahmud says, as a 
poet ‘my aim is to sow story within a story.’(3) His 
stories are of common daily activities where he plants 
new and uncommon suggestions. His ‘Kichhu Mone Nei’ 
(Nothing Can I recall) introduces us with a speaker who 
cannot recall his past. This is a poem about the 
forgotten past. The poet contrasts an old mother with her 
young child. The speaker and the mother are 
talking with each other in a traditional domestic Bengali 
atmosphere. The mother talks of the past of the 
speaker. But the speaker cannot remember anything of 
that past. Instead of listening to the history of his 
past, the speaker frequently tries to escape from the past 
with a plea of taking tea.

The poet has used the word ‘tea’ as a symbol in this 
poem. The word ‘tea’ has been used twice and the 
word ‘cup’ twice stands for ‘tea’ metonymically. The 
speaker uses the word ‘tea’ to hide his uneasiness with 
his mother because of his doubt of her being his mother. 
‘I said, mother, let’s take some tea.’ The mother 
carries on telling the past history of the speaker’s origin, 
his birth in the ‘thatch’ under ‘neem tree’. At 
the time of the speaker’s birth ‘[they] didn’t have a single 
drop of tea’ which is the second mention of the 
word ‘tea’. And this caused him ‘putting down the cup’. 
The speaker has forgotten his origin. His father was 
a ‘guard’ of ‘The rice growing in the sands’. And there she 
refers to ‘the voice of Haji Shariat’ who led a 
revolt against the British colonialists. This history caused 
his tea to turn ‘Cold as water’. So we might 
say that ‘tea’ here bears the history of colonial past. Now 
an allegorical reading of the poem reveals the 
following story: in the origin, the speaker was out of 
touch of the western (colonial) culture. Now the 
colonial influence has so engrossed him that he casts 
doubt about his birth. Colonialism has created a large 
gap between the mother and the son. He uses ‘a peculiar 
old lady’ for his mother:

A peculiar old lady. Once bore me. Perhaps.
Now it seems incredible.

The generation gap is also evident in the use of the full 
stops that gives the impression that they 
forcefully disrupt the continuation of the speech and this 
indicates that colonial suppression breaks 
relationships between generations.

The original spirit of the religious culture and tradition of 
the people of Bangladesh is also exposed in 
the line:  O naked, tell me to which mosque will you go? 
– And this is also rooted in ‘The old lady smiled 
and started to count rosary’. But the speaker has 
forgotten his own history and cultural heritage; ‘Nothing 
Can I recall.’ However, the poet gives a positive 
indication. In the first stanza the speaker proposed for 
tea and then in the course of listening to the history of 
his origin he put the cup down. And at last we see 
that tea has lost its character (cold as water) i.e. its 
strength (colonial influence) has been reduced by 
knowledge of his own history.  What Al Mahmud 
presents here, in fact, is a narrative of decolonization 
where 
we read the history of our original past. 

A common domestic event eyes the history of the 
independence of Bangladesh in ‘Ghatona’ (An Event) of 
Ruda - the first name in my heart. Rudaiina! The black 
braided hair of my heart - my cousin. In the evenings 
Ruda used to come to the reading table reciting sura nas. 
She’d only laugh, learn nothing. While learning 
the language of her father she’d laugh - I know Bangla 
words, I love you- I .......  .And hiding the face in 
the pillow she would fell about. 

But finally he can’t gain her. He was given hope but was 
disillusioned. This event points to the hope in the 
birth of Pakistan in 1947 and the later disillusionment 
that caused the liberation war in 1971. 

The fruit of my patience is hanging inedible all over 
Bangla. Look, from the map riven, blood streamed into 
history. Fearing to make ulu the boy who didn’t even 
kindle a light in the house in the evening, whipped the 
back of Halaku’s horse in seventy-one. At his victorious 
chanting the minaret of freedom has come out of the 
earth into the sky.

In the same way, ‘ridoypur’ (The Heart’s Village) 
symbolically portrays the deception, falsity, filth and 
ugliness of the society. With the little strokes of his pen 
the poet narrates the daily domestic experiences 
and activities, and the feelings about love, hate, 
happiness and sadness of daily life in ‘kobitar kota’ (A 
Tale of a Poem). In the symbol of a Moyna he reveals the 
inner self as the folktales do. 

I found that the girl was getting intelligent after getting 
married.
But I got surprised when I went to set Poem free.
Opening the cage as much I was telling the bird to fly 
away
Flapping so much in the cage the bird was saying, I love 
you.
Now I go to bed keeping the cage open. But Poem does 
not escape.
He only says, I love you.
What will I do with Poem, 
The slave of this cage?

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