Thinking of the Alienated, from the Other Side
Remembering the exiled lady and her feisty fulmination at the backdrop of the latest Bangladesh uprising...
People's protest at Shahbagh against war crimes during the 1971's liberation movement recalls her name to my mind.... time and again...
The east part of Bengal is witnessing a surge of secular and democratic spirit of solidarity among its citizens calling for justice against indiscriminate rapes and murders during the tumultuous period ..
Belonging to the west part of Bengal I recollect the bits and pieces of the brave woman, rising and falling with her deepest sensibilities, furies, emotions, passions and desperation...
She received Simone de Beauvoir Award for championing Women’s Cause but was banned and banished from both Bangladesh and Kolkata (India), her homelands disowning the feminist foray...
Her crime? Speaking out her heart from personal experiences:
Am I so dangerous a criminal, so vicious an enemy of humanity,
Such a traitor to my country that I can't have a homeland to call my own?
Brutally uprooted, and you throw away the little water cupped in my hand,
And sentence me to death, what name can I have for you, land?
You stand on my chest like an enormous mountain,
You stamp on my throat with your legs in boots,
You have gouged out my eyes,
You have drawn my tongue out and snapped it into pieces,
You have lashed and bloodied my body, broken both my legs,
You have pulverized my toes, prized open my skull to squash my brain,
You have arrested me, so that I die,
Yet I call you my homeland, call you with infinite love.
I've uttered a few home truths, hence I am a traitor to my homeland.
('Can't I Have A Homeland To Call My Own?' by Taslima Nasrin. Samik Bandyopadhyay translated this poem from her book Prisoner's Poems)
But pen is mightier than the sword and the sharpness of truth cannot be hidden under the velvety veil of false morality.
She screams vociferously in poetic pangs and prosaic pathos dreaming about the freedom of expression and women's emancipation while her red lettered words take shape in black ink, lending voice to the 'third world' women submerged in silence:
Women are oppressed in the east, in the west, in the south, in the north. Women are oppressed inside, outside home, a woman is oppressed in religion, she is oppressed outside religion.
And she weeps with the womanhood to be relieved from the shared burden:
I. from the east,
and she, from the west,
had pains that were equally deep.
I was dark, she a rosy white,
But our sorrows were equally blue.
Before we wept we did not have to
Hear about each others experiences.
We knew them too well.
('Girl From Switzerland')
But the dire somberness and melancholia in her notes cannot rip the melodies off their implicit optimism and a promise for tomorrow:
There's nothing ahead but a river,
and I know how to swim.
Why shouldn't I go?
('Border' by Taslima Narin)