‘As I journey back and forth / From your spiritual hearth / To the bracing north’
For the Bangladeshi community
You were their mother hen,
Protective and compassionate
Holding them under your generous wing.
For your friends who knew you
You were their full moon
Your broad smile their welcome
That made their hearts sing.
For your own loving family
You were their pole star
Reliable and constant
Who watched everything.
For your colleagues who valued you
You were their corner stone
Your presence an essence
Like a fresh mountain spring.
For your two cherished countries
Of Scotland and Bangladesh
You were a torchbearer
Of eternal wellbeing.
A presence in absence
It was warm Ma, when I left Kolkata
It was 4º the night I arrived in Edinburgh
I left Baba with moist eyes and a longing, lingering look
I met Neil with his delighted smile and sense of relief
In every room in Kolkata, you looked down on me
At every door in Edinburgh, I felt your absence
I tasted your sophisticated artistry in every meal there
I missed the intimacy of affectionate offering at my table here
The gardens had the green sheen of your magic touch there
While here our grass is sheeted under the silence of snowy fingers
Kolkata was troubled with the pressure of its millions
While Edinburgh streets were muffled and deserted
But this time Ma, the Boi Mela1 saw a confluence
As the Scottish Pavilion took centre stage
And Scots made the headlines and mingled with the city
The ghosts in the Scots Cemetery woke up and waltzed
In the corner that is forever Scotland
For the tropical grass has been cut back
To give them a dance floor as they celebrate life on the Hugli
The restoration of their gravestones in a renewal
Of a shared history, which flows like a tide
Between a tale of two cities unfolding
As I journey back and forth
From your spiritual hearth
To the bracing north
Carrying your presence in my very breath
1 Book Fair – a reference to the Kolkata Book Fair in 2009 when Scotland was the Theme Country.