Me Migrant by Md Mukul Hossine

A harrowing look at the life a migrant worker in Singapore will open the readers hearts and minds to sympathy, empathy and most importantly kindness. Me Migrant, a book of poems from migrant worker Mohamed Mukul Hossine. The first migrant worker in Singapore to have his collection of poetry to be published by Ethos Books. The poems by Md Mukul was written in Bengali, which had been refined by poet Cyril Wong and translated into English by a university lecturer back in Bangladesh. Through Md Mukul’s poems, we get a glimpse of the thoughts and feelings of person, a human being, away from his comfort zone, away from family, friends and living in a foreign land. However the author is a graduate in Social Sciences back in his home country.

It is all very dark and grey

Loneliness, longing, helplessness, lost and sorrow are the common themes of Mukul Hossine’s poems. Md Mukul explores these themes continuously and always referring to images of home back in Bangladesh. The poems are the doorway to author’s mind, thoughts, hopes and feelings about his strange and foreign life. Besides his own personal struggles, Md Mukul hopes that his work brings light to the plight of foreign workers working in Singapore.

Anyone who understands Singapore’s social construct and economic landscape, knows that workers from countries such as India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, China are hired into construction firms that build the country’s public housing and infrastructure. These workers are constantly marginalised due to their blue collar status and their background. Most Singaporeans would assume that these people are lowly educated and thus are being treated differently. This discrimination is a cause of pain for the workers but residents are blinded as they continue to live in their own bubble.

There can be hope

While the poems are filled with voices of sadness and loneliness, there is still a sense of hope. In the beginning, there is so much unhappiness and sorrow, where Md Mukul mentions “Life abroad, Is really a jail”, where migrant workers do not have the freedom to live and work in Singapore unlike other residents of Singapore. He learns to be wary of the people of the country he is working in as well. Upon coming to work in Singapore, he carries it in himself “sighs and a cry” but he could not find love, compassion or kindness from the people around him because no one hears nor cares. Therefore he has to “Live outdoors Outside from you”, where he understands that no one cares for them and they are not welcome here.

“I want to stay alive
Happy for the poor day labourers on this side of sorrow
I want to stay inside helpless people’s minds
The light of hope”

Towards the end of the book, Md Mukul Hossine provides hope for the weak, the marginalised and the helpless. Though he will never be a modern day superhero, he will be a source of inspiration to many, both his working counterparts and to those who care. The harsh truth is that this book may not reach out to majority of the public in Singapore and it may not spur instant change but it is a start. It can be a testament that literature, arts and culture can be a tool to break down barriers.