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Safuran Ara

Bengali poet and social activist, Safuran was born in Comilla in Bangladesh. She came to the UK in 1975 and worked for Sheffield Libraries, retiring as Senior Information Officer in 2003. She is a founder-member of Bengali Women's Support Group in South Yorkshire and was for many years its Chairperson. The Group conferred honorary life membership in 2003. She also co-founded the Bilingual Book Project (now Sahitya Press) in 1989 and served as its Assistant Editor until 2003. She now lives in Dhaka, Bangladesh, but periodically visits Sheffield.

Safuran Ara's first poetry collection, Songs in Exile, was published by Sheffield Libraries in 1999 as a bilingual book with English translations by Debjani Chatterjee. Safuran has co-edited two books of Bengali women's poetry: Kavitanjali (jointly with Dolly Mondal, published by BWSG Book Project, 1994) and a bilingual anthology, My Birth Was Not in Vain: Selected Poems by Seven Bengali Women (jointly with Debjani Chatterjee, published by Sheffield Libraries, 2001). Always interested in oral history, Safuran has also co-edited two oral history books: an Urdu-English book Just for Five Years? (jointly with Mohammed Iqbal & Rachel Van Reil, published by Sheffield Libraries, 1990) and a Bengali-English book Home to Home: Reminiscences of Bangladeshi Women (jointly with Debjani Chatterjee, published by Sheffield Libraries, 1995).

 

© Translated from Bengali by Debjani Chatterjee

 

A Bengali Woman in Britain

A Bengali woman in Britain earns her bread,

her life is not confined by narrow limits.

Hard looks can hold no threat for her,

she is no homeless beggar or victim.

 

A Bengali woman in Britain does not easily surrender.

She is no still and silent statue.

Nothing startles her, no sudden noise;

she is no golden deer caught in a veil of illusion.

 

Though far from home, she is no straw adrift on the tide.

The scent of lemon, moonlight dancing on tamarind leaves,

music in the drizzling of Monsoon nights, grip her in nostalgia.

Even today such sweet memories have not dimmed.

 

A Bengali woman in Britain

has yearns unfulfilled but her head is unbowed.

She is no wretch to crawl in anyone's dust.

Do not view her with pity, she is no beggar.

 

A Bengali woman in Britain

arose one dawn and flew, she soared wild on wings.

She is not insignificant, she needs no looks of sympathy,

she is no angelic being, nor some drunkard's slut.

She is no mysterious goddess, she wants no worship.