“What’s your name?”


Prokriti means nature. Is her name really Prokriti! He can’t overcome the confusion, but her appearance and behavior say it’s appropriate.

She is young—which it says she was born after their eviction. Then she may be recognized by her father’s name.

“Your father’s name?”

 “Jibanananda Das.”

 “Ha! The name is in the name of our great poet! If you were the daughter of the poet Jibanananda... how interesting it would be!”

 “What? What are you saying! I...”

 “My favorite poet, you too must know, he is also our poet of nature, like Wordsworth, Shelley, Yeats… so to know about him what an infinite interest...”

 “Oh, I am Prokriti, the daughter of the poet Jibanananda Das!”

But as far as he knows one of the most significant poets of Bengali literature Jibanananda Das has only a daughter, named Manjushree. She must not be so young, and in the meanwhile, if she had not died, she must be an aged woman with wrinkled skin.

            Today such occurrences he is facing, as if he has been affected by a serious illusion or by a ghost! A little while ago, when he came to the bank of the river with the fatigue of a long journey, he saw an ugly witch, lying on the river’s wideness, after swallowing the lively current. Then he accepted the matter when he was forwarding himself to his village trampling the sand—thirty years apart, such a river’s death is not impossible. With such feelings, he reaches a metal road.

            Then while walking, this young woman of extraordinary beauty apprehends his eye at a stage. Was she following him!

            But Jibanananda Das! Is there really a local poet with the same name as the famous poet?

            In the meantime, he has walked a long way. By this time, he was supposed to reach his own village!

            Do you know the village Kestopur! He asks Prokriti.

I think I heard the name but… She is confused.

Not a single known tree has been seen so far! There are rows of acacia, eucalyptus etc. growing on both sides of the road under the care of the Forest and Environment Department. He saw a paralyzed old beggar in the shadow of the tree. I can ask him, as he is so senior, his range of knowledge may be wider.

            “Well, what is the name of this village?”

            “What have you said?” As soon as the man raised his blurred eyes, his youthfulness floated in Arup’s mind. He was a professional stick-fighter and also a folk singer, three decades ago when Arup was here.

            “I am searching my village Krishnapur.”

            “There is no village named Krishnapur here!”


“This is Islampur.”

            Islampur! However, it is not Krishnapur! But he has come too consciously! Moreover, there was no place called Islampur in this region. Sofiganj existed. Krishnapur was a village in Sofiganj union. Probably the political and communal miscreants have changed the name according to their intention and, by this time, it’s also erased from the man’s memory. On the way he saw many new mosques and also heard much azan but no temple, no bell of worship!

But this confusion—Jibanananda Das’s daughter! There was no man surname Das in Krishnapur.. Such as Varman, Shil, Chakravarti—all the houses of those castes, the inhabitants of the houses are bright in his memory. And the real situation doesn’t support that by this time such people as Jibanananda Das may immigrated here.

            A little while ago on the bank of the dead river, Arup was affected by nostalgia—

“Hey River, what are you talking through your waves? / You are that little girl of mine; As far as I go—you are following behind me by crawling...”

            As if that little girl is now young Prokriti!

            The matter might be that Prokriti engages herself in a joke when she finds a passerby who is indifferent and chaotic.

            She is walking beside him. High yielding paddy fields on both sides of the path are waving in the wind—as if two giant green scorpions are walking parallel to each other on both sides of them. Among the bitter feelings arising from this scene there’s awaken the intense thirst of natural Vaishali, Basmati, Pankhiraj paddy fields. There’s no smell of burf lower, screw pine flower, or any wild flower, even the ever-known paddy. Now the paddy growing month is on the calendar’s page, when the golden tender glow of all those paddies is supposed to be exposed up to the horizon!

            As walking Arup looks for bird—black drongo, wagtail, mavis, even an egret of white or gray wings. No, even nowhere does a gallinule, wild dove or a nightingale sings, in a familiar voice.

            “What are you looking for!”

The voice of Prokriti from behind startles him.

Arup looked back. Katkin, horseradish, nyctanthes flower’s amazing autumn, in screw pine, itchy tree, bablah forest’s darkness the fascinating dalliances of fireflies, the soft and dense rhythm of folk songs kirtan, jari, jatra, panchali etc, the glories of folk heroine behula, shankhamala, kankavati, chandramala—a great creator has created this young woman with the extracts of those features and beauties! Arup is looking at her! Overwhelmed or fascinated, he then wants to know even from her, “Am I looking for you!”

            The girl hasn’t understood him! There may be someone here who writes poems about nature. The local people affectionately call him Jibanananda Das. And this Das calls his daughter Prokriti, which means nature. But where is such a nature that any one may address his daughter so, to express his deep, endless love.

            That nature’s place is now only in the verses of Jibanananda Das. The beauties of nature are in his images being destroyed by the people for their own benefit. The dense bush-forest has perished, most of birds, wild animals are extinct. In this autumn, the fields are full of artificial species of paddy.

            As he is walking, it seems that she was not a woman who conceived him, once upon a time the nature had conceived him. Then, he was growing up by drinking the blue of the sky, the song of the birds, and the green of the endless field-forests. But one stage, a conspiracy ripped him from their placenta.

            Is Prakriti a kind of relief in such a situation!

            “Excuse me,” Prokriti again attracts the attention of the indifferent traveler, “who are you! Where are you from?”

            What an identity is his! In the last thirty years, he has realized that there’s no greater crisis than the identity crisis. Who am I? What answer can I give? He’s nothing more than a helpless cry. After, almost three decades, no one will be able to recognize him; with such a sense of security he has come here. Arup’s belief has not proved wrong. The folk singer did not recognize him.

            As he couldn’t recognize him so he answered his question then begged from him, and he let him be released. If he could recognize him, forgetting this exchange he would become nostalgic and dragged the lost days. But looking at his eyes and face, it seems that various problems including poverty have swallowed all his emotions and feelings.

However, he is really unknown to this young girl. But she didn’t ignore him, and even has not suppressed the emerging curiosity.

            Am I a Rohingya refugee?

            I am a Cuban refugee and also chased by the United States...

            These types of answers may apparently be acceptable. But then the consecutive answer-question-answer may arise.

            Realizing himself such a homeless people and feeling the pains of all the refugees in the world how much he has wept no one knows! But yet his suffering is his very own. Means his homeland—

—The most beautiful pity:

            There are green fields full of honeycombs grass

            There’re names of trees: jackfruit, banyan, /

           Sacred fig, crape myrtle, itchy tree;

             ... Whereat a yellow sari dress over the beauty’s body—

            Shonkomala is her name: in any river grass of the vast world

            You will find her no more as Bishalaxmi blessed

            So, Prokriti, here my disguising and hiding the real information to you is the same to self-deception! I don’t know why but I am hiding from you that, I am the person who after losing everything survived only with life from the omnivorous flame of selfishness. It was 1965. As soon as the Pakistan-India war started, the unscrupulous people spread communal hatred.

The first fire in the area was in fisher’s locality. Before the fire broke out that afternoon, my father had called fisher Kanai to fish in our pond.

After fishing Kanai stood in front of his father with a shoal fish in his hand, the old man was exhausted by the cold water, he begs, “I fish day and night but I can’t feed it to my family, would you please give it for them?”

The father knew that even if the man got the fish, he wouldn’t give it to eat his family members. He’ll sell it on the way and will add the sale money with the day’s earnings. Even then with the flour of low quality it’s impossible to solve the problem of the burning stomach of his whole family.

The British and aftermath even independent Pakistan couldn’t give even a single shoal to Kanai. That evening while Kanai is returning home, he sees all the fisher’s settlements are on fire. Among that the howl of fisher-women and their children cracked the sky. His father—atheist Abinash Dutt is an active supporter of the leftist peasant revolt of the forties, gazing at the fisher’s burning locality that night said in a helpless voice, who that can do such a thing to devour the ancestral abode of poor like Kanai, for him should must’ve a real doomsday and a hell like this cruel fire festival.

            Two days later, those Gauss Pardhani’s rioters set fire to their house also and, killed his parents. They also capture his young sister. He heard that somehow, she could escape. But so far, he hasn’t found any trace of her. When the fire of their homestead touches the sky, by this time Arup somehow reaches the last frontier of Kestopur with his brothers.

Then I Arup, with my brothers ran from one place to another, at last we were able to settle in Burdwan.

That place never seems to me my address, seems a refugee camp and I always feel I am in exile. In a refugee camp, in exile the fire of our homestead in which my mother’s ‘Nakshi Kantha’–classic hand embroidery, grandfather’s picture, basil tree was burning, it’s to me like a piece of hell, and I am always burning in it.

Further the regret—Aha, when I came, if I could bring a little soil-water-herb from my homestead, village! To adore, to float in tears! That absolute, rare wealth was no longer to be found in life. Then eyes fill with tears while he reads Jibanananda’s poems of nature. Finding solace in this thought, my sweet East Bengal, its river-field-bird-nature-habitat’s ownership has just changed, not destroyed. Nothing has become a rare fossil in the ruins. They still have survived, as it was—which never-fading.

But now I’ve realized, I’m that unfortunate one who lost his homeland not once but twice and in two ways. Within the two the second loss is beyond restoration like the lost of my father-mother, because in this phase it has been devastated by abnormal devolution.

            By then, for such indifference on his part, the young girl Prokriti must has become sure, the stranger is whimsical or suffering from insanity.

            “Does your father still write poems?” Arup wants to know if it is possible or not for her father Jibanananda to write poem in such an unusual environment.

            “They have cut down all the big trees.

            All these tall trees had nurtured my will;

            The smell of bloody wood inside my body;

            In my mind the emptiness like the city and the civilization;

            —Dad is writing this poem now.”

Arup assumed at one stage that there is a balladist or folk poet in this locality named Jibanananda Das. But now this line of the famous poet Jibanananda Das, who died in 1954, further condenses the created maze. Arup believes his mysterious accidental death is a suicide—because, in his cosmopolitan life at Kolkata he was suffering from nostalgia and depression for the nature of his East Bengal, which he had to left.

But now even it’s not possible that the discontent soul of the poet is wandering here in any form!

“Which is your home?” Arup asks Prokriti, “If I want to meet your father—”

“Home! My father lives there...”

Not a house, the target of the girl’s index finger penetrates under the horizon where there is brick chimney, saw mill, factory etc. However, a crowded slum is also seen.

            But where is the way to get there! What an odd place! Neither the city nor the village—what an unplanned, de-based situation!

            “Though it will be hard for you to find a way,” says Prokriti, “yet my request is that you go. Dad is very lonely now, how emotional he would be to have you, you won’t be able to imagine!”

            Arup is almost shocked, “But would you not go!”

            “I am assassinated. They not only assassinated me but also conceal my body. Do you know, they didn’t realize, they didn’t realize anything; my nothing is useless, not whimsical! All are parts of their existence.”

            Or is Prokriti his lost sister’s labyrinth!

“Do you know Pospa?” Arup asks Prokriti.

“No. But I heard, long long ago a young girl named Pospa was raped and had committed suicide.”

            Suddenly Arup realizes there’s no Prokriti—beside him, behind—nowhere. The irrepressible attraction that has dragged him so far it seems someone has cut its placenta. In a nightmare as he swept away in an indomitable stream of tears for the loss of his sister, parents, the soil-jungle-crops like unearthly riches and people of homeland, now he feels the same.

Nevertheless, he tirelessly searches for his village, birthplace and Pospa.

Like a murderer the darkness of the night becoming more and more critical.

The monstrous sound of the engine all around, the eardrum is unable to bear. It’s difficult to say whether here the cricket still drones or night’s singer bird can sing! Ignoring the rules of sustainable human development, a number of deep tube-wells as if are competing to absorb all of groundwater. Everything is inside the strong smell of fertilizer, burnt diesel, pesticides etc. and, as if all are waiting for death!

Searching through this he gets no hint of Pospa or Kestopur.

            At one stage he thinks, I’ve nothing to do here but meet Jibanananda.

            Arup takes the initiative to find the house of the poet. But he can’t identify it at all. Asks everybody whoever he gets in front of him, but failed.  

            He entered a crowded slum. Many are asked, no one here is familiar with the name of the poet Jibanananda Das.

            There's a strange man with cancer in that room. Finally, an old woman exhausted working in the factory said, Go and see, isn’t that the man!

            Arup knocks on the door and waits. A so-called black Bangalee with a simple smiling face wearing dhoti-punjabi will stand in front of him. As the poet is in his famous, familiar photo. But there’s no response. As soon as he pushes the door, the door opens widely. A middle-aged man is lying on the floor. Arup enters the room.

When the poet hears the sound of someone’s entering, through the keen sufferings of pain, aiming him he turns his body.

The light of the road post entering the room through the door is exposing brightly the ulcer over Jibanananda’s body. The poet who imposed human aesthetics to our fishes like silver flatfish, olive barb, pomfret by the image of folk and fairy tales, had he tried to absorb their unidentified ulcer of epidemic in his own body! Also, the burning of the brick kiln, mills… Of course, all the curses imposed in his beloved nature. Now with those curses the ruthless death is waiting for him in his cancer-ridden skin.

“I’m here to meet you,” says Arup.

“Who are you?”

“Once upon a time I was born and lived here.”

“Which village...” The poet talks in a very weak voice.

“My village Kestopur has been abolished not only from history but also from geography.” He thinks this answer but only replies, “I can’t recognize now.”

            “Same happened me too! But to whom did you hear about me!” What a moan, what a pitiful voice he wants to know!

            “From your daughter Prokriti.”

            “My daughter!” He sat up with great excitement. Then stand up and very seriously calls, “Prokriti... Manjushree...”

            To go out the disoriented man tries to run. “Where is she...?”

And he gets obstructed by the wall, not at the door. Yet he is desperate to go out, as if he is in a state of dumbness or sleep paralysis.

            What should he do in such a point! “Prokriti...” Arup Says, “She hasn’t come.”

            “Where is she!” He burst into tears, “I want to see my daughter once, once only.” Jibanananda strikes his head on the wall—consecutively.

            Arup Perplexed.

“Please be calm.” He grabbed him. “Settle down. He disappeared from the way we were coming!”

            “You are blessed, your youth got her. As a result, somehow you still see her today. No one nowadays gets her. Even me! I am so unfortunate that their cruel hand has uprooted my inner eyes too. I don’t even get her in my dreams.”

            Blood is dripping from the wounded forehead of the poet. Arup feels very helpless—all his pain mixes with the dripping blood.



Humayun Malik


Humayun Malik is a Bangladeshi fiction writer who writes both in Bengali and English. In his fiction he embodies the selfishness, inequality, instability, terror, etc. created by the giant of political, religious and economic power of his country and the world. In his self-created fiction device the dreams, soliloquy, grazing of the dead, sharp signs of supernatural event, metaphor, symbol, self-made myth, fantasy, magic or surrealism etc. in the stream of consciousness synthesize to create a fancy artistic mystery. He incarnates many significant anecdotes in a story but in an uninterrupted narrative. His specialty in comparative literary judgment is his global perspective―when he crafts a story about bird or butterfly extinction, sex, violence against women, ethnic or religious conflict, even rose, he considers it on the ground of fundamentalism, market economy, science, history and international politics. In pursuit of creating a multidimensional and unconventional story, he emphasizes not only the subject or style, but the both, the theme and the style according to the claim of his fiction.

Malik’s writing publishes in daily newspapers literary page, literary magazines and little magazines. He is author of 10 Novels and 11 short story books published by Bangladeshi publishers. Prize and Awards: Liver Brothers Limited Fair and lovely Prize—2001Daily News Paper Literary Award—2002Fiction Writer’s Center Award—2012.

Humayun Malik (1957) is a lawyer by profession. He started his career as a journalist, and then he joined as a government officer, apart from this profession he also worked as a part time teacher of different university and institutes.



  1. very informative.. Thank you sir

  2. Wow..You write so many good information.. Keep it up..

  3. Such a great way of showing our new generation that we SHOULD know our culture and how to become a better person. Thank you so much sir. We want MORE from you Sir.

  4. Such a good writing!
    Best wishes.

  5. To be honest, I generally don’t read. But, this article caught my attention.Such a great piece!

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