Bangladesh: Writings on 1971, Across Borders
Rakhshanda Jalil and Debjani Sengupta
140 x 216 mm
Year of Publishing
Territorial Rights
Orient BlackSwan

1971 was a decisive moment in the history of the subcontinent, one that had profound social, historical and cultural reverberations throughout the region. The birth of Bangladesh, once a part of Pakistan, in many ways overturned the lessons of 1947 and laid bare the ironies and contradictions of history.

Like any violent historical moment, the euphoria, nightmares and memories of 1971 have also spawned contested accounts. Tracing the journey of a nation that has celebrated fifty years of its birth, the stories, poems and ‘memory texts’ collected here, from Bangla, Urdu and English, are varied in their understandings of and responses to 1971. This anthology probes the intersection of literature and history through the eyes of writers and poets on both sides of the borders who attempt to capture and recount those turbulent months of euphoria and trauma. It is also an homage to all those who fought and lived through the aftermath, trying to shape modes of reconciliation and peace.

Bringing together the most compelling voices from Bangladesh, Pakistan and India, many translated into English for the first time, this unique volume will appeal to readers and scholars of Partition and South Asian history, as much as to keen lovers of literature.

Rakhshanda Jalil is an acclaimed writer, critic, literary historian, and translator from Urdu and Hindi.

Debjani Sengupta teaches English Literature at Indraprastha College for Women, New Delhi.

Publishers’ Acknowledgements

Introduction I
Debjani Sengupta

Introduction II

Rakhshanda Jalil

1. With the Hamzapur Tigers
Kaiser Haq

2. The Unputdownable 70s: Memory Matters
Manas Ray

3. Between Remembering and Forgetting: 1971 and an Inheritance of Loss
Meher Ali

4. The Raincoat  
Akhtaruzzaman Elias
Translated from the Bangla short story Raincoat by Debjani Sengupta
5. Sleep
Intizar Husain
Translated from the Urdu short story Neend by Rakhshanda Jalil

6. The Story of Amina and Madina
Selina Hossain
Translated from the Bangla short story Amina O Madinar Golpo by Ali Ahmad

7. A Long Conversation between Cain and Abel
Rasheed Amjad
Translated from the Urdu short story Habeel aur Qabeel ke Darmiyan Ek Taweel Makaalma
by Tabinda J. BurneyandAlvira Burney

8. Durba Grass, Tin Roof and Alakananda
Papree Rahman
Translated from the Bangla short story Durba Ghash, Tiner Gher, O Alakananda by Shehreen Ataur Khan

9. Versions of Truth
Masood Ashar
Translated from the Urdu short story Apni Apni Sachaiyan by Khalid Hasan

10.She Knew the Use of Powdered Red Chillies
Shaheen Akhtar
Translated from the Bangla short story Gura Morich by Shabnam Nadiya

11. The Dagger’s Tongue
Agha Sohail
Translated from the Urdu short story Zabaan-e Khanjar by Rakhshanda Jalil

12. The Odd Bird of the Cage
Wasi Ahmed
Translated from the Bangla short story Khancha O Acheen Pakhi by Afsan Chowdhury

13. Betel Leaf
Sameena Nazeer
Translated from the Urdu short story Paan ka Beeda byHaider Shahbaz

14. The Green Card
Trishna Basak
Translated from the Bangla short story Shobuj Card by Kalyani Dutta

15. Bingo
Tariq Rahman

16. The Woman with the Matted Locks
Jhumur Panday
Translated from the Bangla short story Jotawali by Debjani Sengupta

17. The Beginning of the End
Raihana Hasan
Extract from the English novel Sips from a Broken Teacup

18. Breaking Links
Razia Fasih Ahmad
Extract from the English novel Breaking Links, translated from the Urdu Sadiyon Ki Zanjeer
by Razia Fasih Ahmad

19. Noor
Sorayya Khan
Extract from the English novel Noor

20. Beyond Question
Alokeranjan Dasgupta
Translated from the Bangla Proshnateet by Subhoranjan Dasgupta

21. Mohenjodaro
Naushad Noori
Translated from the Urdu Mohenjodaro by Rakhshanda Jalil

22. Joshor Road
Moushumi Bhowmik
Translated from the Bangla Joshor Road by Rimi B. Chatterjee

23. Upon Returning from Dhaka
Faiz Ahmad Faiz
Translated from the Urdu Dhaka Se Wapsi Par by Rakhshanda Jalil

24. The Hero of Our Nation
Jharna Rahman
Translated from the Bangla Maanchitrer Pranpurush by Kamrul Hassan

25. We Should Forget
Afzal Ahmad Syed
Translated from the Urdu Humey Bhool Jaana Chahiye by Rakhshanda Jalil

26. What Answer Can I Give, Poetry?
Minar Monsur
Translated from the Bangla Kobita Ki Jobab Debo by Mainul Hasan Chowdhury

27. Send Mercies upon Us, O Prophet Ji
Zehra Nigah
Translated from the Urdu Bhejo Nabi ji Rehmatein by Rakhshanda Jalil

28. The Poetry of 1971
Bimal Guha
Translated from the Bangla Ekattorer Kobita by Debjani Sengupta

29. He was a Fellow-Traveller But He and I were Never Compatible
Naseer Turabi
Translated from the Urdu Woh Hum-safar Thha Magar Uss Se Hum-navaii Na Thhii by Rakhshanda Jalil

30. The Bangla Victory
Jan Nisar Akhtar
Translated from the Urdu Fateh Bangla by Rakhshanda Jalil

Notes on Contributors

1. Bangladesh at fifty: An anthology for scholars and readers alike |, 3 March, 2022.
2. ‘Bangladesh: Writings on 1971, Across Borders’: From a land that saw three partitions |, 20 February 2022.
3. From a land that saw 3 partitions | The Tribune, New Delhi, 20 February 2022.
4. Bangladesh 1971: A Complex Portrait of A Slaughter | The Sunday Guardian, New Delhi, 20 February 2022.
5. Review has been published in The Hindu, Chennai, 6 February 2022.
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