Rashida Islam, Bengali poet and song-writer, was born in Pabna District in Bangladesh and grew up in Dhaka. A scientist by training, she has always been interested in literature and music. Her poems appeared in college publications and a scientific article won her a cash award. She came to the UK in 1969 and worked at the Macaulay Institute for Soil Research, Aberdeen. After an MPhil from the University of London, she taught in Coventry, Sheffield and Scunthorpe. Settled in Doncaster since 1976, she is a member of Bengali Women's Support Group. In 2004 she succeeded Safuran Ara as Assistant Editor of Sahitya Press.
Rashida Islam wrote and illustrated a bilingual book for children, Grandma's Treasure Trove (BWSG Book Project, 2000). She co-edited two bilingual anthologies for Sahitya Press under its BWSG Book Project imprint: Barbed Lines (jointly with Debjani Chatterjee, 1990), which won the first Raymond Williams Community Publishing Prize, and Sweet and Sour (jointly with Debjani Chatterjee, Rehana Chaudhury & Karabi Ghose, 1993).
No moon, no stars in the deep dense dark,
what mysterious reflection wakes in me?
I am a stranger, waiting for my eyes to open,
absorbed and anxious, I have counted lonely hours
alone in my mother's womb – my own waiting room –
waiting for a zodiac sign to tell me my life's moves.
As the sunflower lifts its head for the sun to shine,
so my heart longs to see my mother's face.
Flooded by the earth's radiant light
I will see my mother – a vision of beauty!
A growing cord of joy draws me into this world.
Within myself, I light the lamp of arrival.
Translated by Debjani Chatterjee