Poetry: Good Life, Empty Village and His Life by Ronny Noor


Ronny Noor

Born in Dhaka, Bangladesh and educated in Germany and the United States, Ronny Noor is now an English professor at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, U.S.A. His poems, stories, and essays have appeared in The Toronto Review, Palo Alto Review, South Asian Review, Short Story, Taj Mahal Review, FreeXpresSion, The Weekend Independent, The Ghazal Page, The Daily Star, Kokako, and Contemporary Literary Review India. He is also the author of Snake Dance in Berlin (a novel), Slice of Heaven and Other Essays (a collection), and Where Heaven Spreads Wide & Other Stories (a collection). 

Good Life 

(In memory of Avijit Roy)

From time immemorial

scrambling over hills and rushing

down valleys marauders with

swords and arrows chopped heads

and burned villages to lay undue

claims on people and possessions.

 

They invented gods to their

own liking to strengthen their

grip and cement their hold,

branding Socrates an atheist,

forcing poison down his throat

for keeping to his own course.

 

That was more civilised when we

think of the knives raining down

on Avijit in broad daylight on our

own street, a rag doll folding

in the dust. Such ghastly villainy

in God’s holy name for seeking

knowledge on his own will not

rein in the human brain just as

 

the burning of Giordano Bruno

upside down at the stake for his

cosmological beliefs did not stop

Neil from touring the moon, for

those who follow others with

blind obedience find nothing,

as a good life, to a noble mind,

is steered by virtuous deeds

inspired by love for our mates.

 

 

Empty Village

They arrived in jeeps one July afternoon

As we were kicking a football

In the schoolyard, half a dozen army

Vehicles silencing us on the spot.

 

We held our breath till they said

They would protect us from “bandits,”

Beginning to set up a camp in the school,

Closed since the start of the war.

 

Parents told us kids not to play

Near the troops; so we watched

Curiously from our courtyards as they

Strode in pairs in their creased khakis

 

Up and down the rugged village roads,

Guns slung from their sturdy shoulders,

Till one night when a teenage girl vanished,

Throwing the village farmers into panic.

 

They searched high and low for a day

Before her bruised body floated up,

Naked, in the pond. Her feet had slipped,

We were told amidst sobs and tears,

 

And she didn’t know how to swim.

But the adults were worried sick

About their wives and daughters, and

Led us out of the village, one by one.

 

His Lament

Gray-haired after three decades

of wandering in Europe

and the far-flung Americas,

I have returned to my lane.

 

The old streets seem narrower

between new skyscrapers,

chocked with cars and rickshaws

loaded with strange characters.

 

A skeletal man nods his shaved head,

his hand frozen in a sling;

when I fail to greet him,

he reminds me of our cricket team.

 

Now stricken with cancer he flies to India

every two months for chemo, he rues –

a heavy sigh amidst azaans’ chants –

muezzins abound but not a  doctor.

 

 

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