Bangladeshi worker Mohd Mukul Hossine shares his poetry at Cana

Mr Mohd Mukul Hossine reading his poems at Cana the Catholic Centre while Singapore poet Anne Lee read them in English. Mr Timothy Wong (extreme left) facilitated the session.Mr Mohd Mukul Hossine reading his poems at Cana the Catholic Centre while Singapore poet Anne Lee read them in English. Mr Timothy Wong (extreme left) facilitated the session.

Migrant worker Mohd Mukul Hossine, who writes poetry as a means of dealing with the challenges he faces in Singapore, shared his literary gift and experiences at Cana the Catholic Centre recently.

Mr Mukul, a 25-year-old Bangladeshi construction worker, has been featured in the local press. He is the first foreign worker to have a poetry collection brought out by local publisher Ethos Books, according to media reports.

During the June 24 session, part of Cana’s Talk of the Town series, the 60-strong crowd waited to break the Ramadan fast with him.

Mr Mukul expressed gratitude to God for his gift of poetry and also for being able to share it with others. He read four poems in Bengali – Loneliness, I Stand at the Red Light, Eid Abroad and Me Migrant – while Singapore poet Anne Lee read them in English.

Many in the audience were clearly moved by the haunting melodic recitation of the poems in Bengali, which were resonant with his loneliness and his missing of his home and family, especially his mother.

When he read the poem Eid Abroad, recalling the Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebrations at home with his family, his voice broke, and many in the room were seen reaching for their tissues.

One fellow Bengali-speaker in the audience, Mr Alan D’nacio, noted that the poems, which were transcreated into English, captured the essence, meaning, and emotion of the original Bengali versions.

Mr Mukul also shared, with good-humoured candour and a ready smile, some of his unpleasant experiences as a labourer and how many like him miss their families acutely. On the whole, however, he felt he had been treated well and many Singaporeans had been kind to him.

He also shared that many of his fellow migrants indulged in other diversions during their leisure to forget their troubles, but he chose to turn to poetry instead.

Cenacle Sr Mel Benedictos, who works with the Archdiocesan Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People (ACMI), commented to CatholicNews that this was a healthy, positive outlet for him to cope with stress. Echoing this was Ms Margaret Leong, who said that Mr Mukul had a positive outlook.

Dr Anne Lee, a Singapore Cultural Medallion winner, said Mr Mukul had a genuine creative gift. His need to write took priority over, and was felt to be a way to address, other pressing needs, she said.

By Luenne Choa

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