Image by Pixabay.

1980s

As I walk these familiar streets

I suddenly feel at peace

Truly because at my feet lie two indistinct parallels that will never meet

And that’s just a reminder of you and me

Children that we had grown, or I had grown

When we lost you all too prematurely

Two souls kept warm by each other’s company

In a foreign land far from what we had known where people were dancing playfully

Two foreign minds with the same thing in mind

What I want you to do is stay with us in this world, regardless of time

So maybe after you left I stopped seeing the beautiful little things

Maybe I stopped seeing the gift that life brings

Maybe I’m concentrating too hard on the cracks on the ground

Or maybe I just miss the familiar contours of your rough enveloping hands.

 

 

Mendhi

Mud stained red, or ruby roo

The intricate lines run through my palms, just as I drew

 

The smell of herbs lingers through the warm yellow air

As I’ve ground the leaves with sweat and care

 

I watch as they oxidise and change from green to brown

And the juice seeps and in my skin they do drown

 

Flowers, petals and everything intertwined

And just as it dries we see the patterns all so divine.

 

Lal Lhenga

 

She unlike the western bride wore red

Bejeweled in her gown covering her every inch, revealing, tracing her henna stained arms

Gold beckoned from around her neck and drew from the rest of the lhenga.

Stunning.

Breath taking.

Rich.

Rich in red, blood red, blood red flooding the floor and enveloping the room.

Gold, hesitant to be exposed yet far too arrogant to not to be seen.

Beautiful yellow Indian Gold.

Dramatic. And draped, layered deflecting an iridescent light around the room.

Heavy embroidered custom fit, there’s nowhere else to look but at her.

Her jasmine scented fragrance and fresh flowers roam her thick plaited black hair.

Every sequin assembled delicately and precisely to travel around the dress,

Interconnected and flowing seamlessly through the threshold of her attire.

South Asian bride.

In red.

Colourful and picturesque, like a doll.

Beautiful South Asian bride, in lal (red).

 

Beautiful Brown Skin Girl

 

Beautiful Beautiful Brown Skin Girl.

I know you live in a world of your own

As society has deemed you less beautiful.

But do you not see what I see?

Melanin,

Soft, caramel infused with honey, golden skin

Irresistible and alarming

Coated in the finest margins of gold

Oh, Beautiful Brown Skin Girl.

You see beauty – or what you think is beauty

And never tell yourself you’re beautiful.

You radiate the alms of the sun

Galore.

Your skin is a genetic makeup of all the beauty in this world,

And your skin?

It would be naïve to say it is just a colour,

So I shan’t.

You say you do not like yellow, for yellow drowns you

Burns your skin darker than the honey glazed goddess that you are.

Dark is beautiful, and so are you.

And one day the world will shower in your beauty

Only when you believe.

So tell me, why?

Why the world has made you believe that you are not good enough?

Or that the beauty standard is above the scale you have.

Why has it shrivelled you up and cocooned you,

Limited you,

Told you otherwise,

Put you last,

And seeped into your mind that your beauty is an allusion.

Your exterior is the complexity of generations,

Heightening

Your ancestors mixed and chose all the exotic spices and smells to divulge and find you,

Beautiful, Brown Skin Girl,

You are nothing less than that.

 

147, 570 km squared.

147, 570 km squared is the size of my home.

Every inch, I can say I love.

And every time I wander off within this life of mine

It is my home I yearn for.

I am a traveller,

Than nothing I see or experience will grow a deeper love within me,

But my home.

My home is a land of soil,

Farmers,

Labourers,

Slum dwellers,

Tailors,

My home is only developing.

One day it will flourish,

And still,

Very proudly,

My home will still be a land of soil,

A land of farmers,

Labourers,

And also slum dwellers.

This is what makes my home.

 

This is what makes Bangladesh.

 

 

Monsoon

I feel the pearl drops

Scatter across the tin house

Harmonious thuds

The air becomes warm

Humid, hard to fight the sweat

As it comes for you

Then suddenly it’s all gone

Clear yellow tinted

Air, moist and satisfying.

 

The Birth of my mother

 

Bangladesh gave birth to my mother

Its land carved out her existence

And showered her with the glorious beauty it beholds,

Bangladesh, you gave that to my mother.

You are rich, in fertile soil,

Friendly to the three major rivers that form the deltaic plain

The Ganges

Brahmaputra

And Meghna rivers

All journey their way from the Himalayas

To bring to you all the nutrients

So you can flourish and embrace your glorious exterior

And although you try to repel the water

It often overtakes you

Your land is flat and thin

Built on lava rock

Eroding.

So let the earth flood you with the tropical cyclones and tidal bores

You’ll still stand and be firm

Just as my mother is,

Because you gave that to her.

Tell your sisters around you,

India, Pakistan, Burma

That they are welcome

As they have also given birth to strong women just like my mother.

You’ve given my mother her beautiful brown golden complexion

From your tropical monsoonal weather

And raging heat

Harvested her favourite fruits

Coconut

Mango

Jack fruit

And much more.

You are generously green and organic, your fields run long and wide

And shade with your bamboo leaves and palm trees

You are exotic,

Just like my mother.

 

Mother tongue

 

Although god has given me my tongue and how I speak

My vernacular was crafted by my mother

And my mother tongue is what I seek.

 

It blazes my tongue and lives deep inside

Raging within me

Everything collides.

 

Amma, Abba, are the first words I learnt

In a country where the dialect and language was foreign to my parents

To me it was earned.

 

It was different and unravelling to envelope my tongue

Though some days I was embarrassed

But it was the beautiful songs my tongue sang

 

Amar nam Resna, is the most common thing I said

With a British accent

The roll of the tongue was infallibly dead.

 

As I grew I knew less of my tongue and had forgotten my roots

At age 17 is when I discovered my homeland

And nourished the shoots

 

It blossomed and was tender and I grew much more

Speaking and hollering with my tongue

I was bathing in my Bengali culture, galore.

 

My mother tongue is not just my tongue

Nor a language

Or spoken word

 

My mother tongue is innate

Is it the dimension of me which is always growing and exploring.

 

Foreign land

As I walk through this foreign land

I find myself contemplating

To where I do belong?

Do I belong here in the concrete jungle of London?

Or is my heart set on the streets of Bangladesh?

Where the sun does not shy away to grace your body

Or timidly supresses itslef behind the the clouds so glum.

My heart belongs within the scurried slum city of Bangladesh

Where fresh gulabjam is being fried and the smell lingers on past the civilian breath

Or does my heart really belong to short rain walks beside the canal in Victoria Park

Where the boats are all so different from Bangladesh.

Do I belong here, amongst the diversity of London?

And its array of multi-culture

And although I am surrounded by the multi culture

I am, still lost.

So where do I belong?

Maybe I belong with my ancestors who were farm dwellers and labourers,

I belong in the rural landscape of mud houses and tin rooftops

Where cattle run freely and the animals live among you

Where clothes are washed in ponds and hung out to dry

And the smell of fresh herbs and spices runs wild with the wind and captures you

Latching on to your fragile skin

And making you their own.

Where do I belong?

London?

With the cold?

The sky scrapers and glass buildings, reflecting the city

As London’s eye watches upon you, upon us all

Where people are in monochrome grey suits and walk in lines

Or do I belong in the crowd where not so much structure takes place

And women and babies are huddled together strung by a piece of cloth

Where the traditions live through time and forever

Where I could wear a saree and be floral and colourful

Do I really belong there?

Or do I just inhabit the space between

And live in limbo

With two worlds who both pull at my arms

Asking me to come closer.

Where do I really belong?

 

Balagoinje

 

Balagoinje is my town, my neighbourhood.

It overlooks a magnanimous lake to the far end of the other side of another neighbourhood.

My father grew up here and now it is my home,

As my mum left hers to be here too,

That’s how it works.

We marry and leave our home to be with our husbands.

Some would say it’s unfair for women to have to give up their life for their husband,

But that’s my culture,

That’s my culture’s love.

For it is not giving up, nor is it a sacrifice,

Its just love for the tradition

And what the tradition holds.

One day I will leave Balagoinje

To be in a new neighbourhood.

And that’s my tradition.

 

Reflection

 

Big nose

Black hair

Mark prone skin

Despair

Thin legs

Thin arms

Thin waist

Thin

Everywhere

Dark knuckles

Dark under eyes

Hyperpigmentation

Thick thighs

Too short

Too dark.

Too much of everything.

 

Love for the nation

 

I hold dear to me the love of my country,

More so than others.

The reason being,

Well,

My parents are from there and migrated here for a better life

A better life for their children.

But to leave a home you love,

Family you love,

In the hope of a better brighter future,

Is rare.

I love where my parents are from,

So much so that I feel I am from there too,

It is my home,

The love for the nation transcends generations,

And I too will teach my children of sacrifice, hardship, and love above all.

The nation, is not about the people,

But the culture, traditions, festivals, clothes

It is everything combined to give me my nation.

I love for the nation because I know of the hurt that went through fighting for independence,

I acknowledge the struggle of the poor living in a third world country where democracy still lacks,

I know that development is stationary and that the people are still hopeful.

I see the poor, and less fortunate and believe one day the nation will be great,

But shall never forget its shortcomings and trials.

That the people will still live on to cherish the very foundation of the lava country that is under water.

That the people will remain happy given the circumstances,

And to think my parents would have been amongst this If they had not left.

I will love the nation with both hands and full heart,

As I see my parents love,

And the joy of when we ‘go back home’

Because going back home isn’t really going, its coming.

We never left we just drifted and we always come back to what we know.

Home is in the heart and my heart belongs to the nation as long as the nation belongs to my parents.

My parents are my home and home is their happiness.

So when I speak of the nation, I speak as a whole,

I remember the times I visited and fell in love with the culture so different from London,

And the weather

The weather so beautiful and calm, everything is so calm

Tranquil and at peace.

Children play with the limited things they have and dance in joy just at being in each other company.

And the overall happiness of Bangladesh.

These are the things that I hold dearly to my heart

And this is what I love the most about where I am from.

Not to be ashamed of a Third World country but to embrace everything it still offers and the smile it emits along with hope.

Hope is for the future and so is my nation.

Bangladesh is everything to me and it will serve to make me feel whole again on the days I wander off in to this wide world.

Bangladesh is beauty.

 

Bangladesh

 

Red and green

You fly through the air

So proud

So majestic

Bold and strong

You are important.

 

 

 

Resna Begum

Resna Begum

Resna was born and bred in the heart of East London. Being surrounded by a bustling multi-cultural and ever changing environment inspired her passion for creative writing, particularly poetry. In contrast to her surroundings, her enthusiasm for writing was influenced by Emily Bronte and the gothic romanticism of her writing. Additionally, she is a keen visitor of London’s rich tapestry of museums and enjoys rambling with her DSLR camera, capturing inspiring images that often influence her writing. She is pursuing her ambition to be a teacher and hopes to be able to use her work to inspire a new generation of writers in her students.