Joydeb Basu

Apni ki adrsha markin nagarik hote chan (Do you want to be an ideal American Citizen?) is one of the most famous poems by distinguished Bengali poet Joydeb Basu. Read it in translation, and feel free to share your comments.

Do you want to be an ideal American Citizen? | Joydeb Basu
(translation © Kiriti Sengupta 2020)

They eat hamburgers,
have dwellings mortgaged.
They party as a pastime
on Saturdays and Sundays.

They loiter in the Disney
and blow up fascinations.
They love brute animals
but loathe black humans.

They use insurance
for health and education.
They find it necessary
for coffin or cremation.

With utmost dedication
they vote for both parties
who post armed forces in
Diego Garcia and Saudi.

Bush, Reagan, Bill,
or Madeleine Albright,
who led germ warfare
held weapons all to fight.

They drink insane:
coke or bourbon.
They swipe cards for pleasure.
On weekends, mow the lawn.

They are oblivious
to job security;
stick to the republic,
except for other countries.

They are steady taxpayers,
travel greyhound lines.
They hate even now
a war in domicile.

With utmost dedication
they vote for both parties:
who nurture carbides,
who claim the neem trees.

Who murder ruthlessly
in Bagdad, Libia, and Chile.
Who carry on with blockades,
and make children unhappy.

They pursue voting
in full cognizance.
They also join the Mass
every Sunday.

They go to the church, oh Holy!
What a terrible vainglory!