Ink On My Face, Ink On My Hands

Oh mother of mine,
There's ink on my hands, ink on my face.
The neighbors laugh.

My education amounts to nothing -
I see "ShyaMa" in the letter M
And Kali in the letter K,
I dance and clap my hands.

Only my tears multiply
when my eyes light
on the rows of black marks
in multiplication tables.

I couldn't care less for
the alphabet's shades of sound
since your dark, lovely shade
isn't among them.

But Mother, I can read
all that you write
on leaves in the forest,
on the waters of the sea,
and in the ledger of the sky.

Let them call me illiterate.

Kazi Nazrul Islam