Literary Yard

Search for meaning

By: Mayumi Yamamoto

Mahmudul Haque (1945-2022). His early oil painting, 1981

Dear Mahmud,

I have no idea where you have gone
after you passed away.

You are a Muslim, and
you had never been religious before.

Then, as you aged,
you visited the mosque regularly again.

you insisted that
it was not because you became religious, but
it was because you could stay healthy
by kneeling and bowing to the ground as Muslims pray, and
that was “something like a physical exercise,”
you said when you were around 65. (And I am now around 65.)

However, you didn’t stop drinking.
You loved drinking, though you were a Muslim.
You used to appear in Dhaka Club for a drink with friends.

When you came to Japan as an international student,
you were in your late 30’s.

You were very ambitious.
You were struggling in your career as a painter.

One day,
you planned to bring your wife to stay with you.
You wanted to prepare something special for her, but for that
you faced financial problems.
I could no longer remember exactly how our conversations went, but
somehow I made it for you.
You in return made an oil painting of a rooster in semi-abstract style.

This was the year of the Chinese Zodiac Rooster, i.e., 1981.

Since then,
we somehow kept in touch, not regularly but occasionally.
Mostly, out of a whim.
We met sometimes in Japan, sometimes in Bangladesh.

You were always ambitious and energetic.

So, the news of your passing away was a surprise to me.
But I don’t feel sad, because
I’m sure you have fulfilled everything you desired, and
your paintings are always with me.

By the way,
where shall we meet when I pass to the other side?

I believe we could meet,
irrespective of each religion.

With love,


Mayumi Yamamoto is a writer and academic based in Kyoto, Japan. Her works have appeared in Literary Yard, and Indian Periodical. She authored several published books in the Japanese language.

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