KOLKATA: Exiled from her native
Bangladesh for over a decade, Taslima Nasreen has now attracted the
wrath of the ‘progressive’ West Bengal government across the border. The
third volume of her autobiography, Dwikhandito , was recently banned
by the Buddhadeb government for its alleged anti-Islamic bias.
Taslima, who is currently a research fellow at the Harvard University, talks
about her latest novel.
What is your reaction to the ban
on Dwikhandito ?
I am greatly surprised by what has
happened in West Bengal. Religious fundamentalists in Bangladesh have always
argued for a ban on my books. But when some of the progressive, free-thinking
writers of West Bengal appealed to the government to proscribe the book, I
was taken aback. The first two parts of my autobiography did not face any
trouble in the state.
However, this controversy is not of
my own making. Many have accused me of having deliberately chosen a subject
that is provocative. But this, remember, was an autobiography. I have merely
narrated my vision and my blindness, my despairs and hopes, my anger and my
tears. In short, all the beautiful and ugly events and experiences which have
helped me grow and evolve into the person that I am.
There has been controversy from the
very beginning of my writing career in Bangladesh and this is because my
views are not acceptable to the religious conservatives there. But it seems
to me that even the West Bengal government is now falling into the same
trap... When I write I don’t allow the fear of consequences to interfere with
the writing process. I have in the past paid for my commitment to the truth
and the way I live my life. I am prepared to pay more if I have to.
What explains the hostility in
traditional societies to women’s writing on sexuality?
In traditional societies, we have a
long legacy of men controlling the body and mind of women. Such societies
have valorised motherhood and fabricated concepts like chastity. Women have
been the victims of these notions for thousands of years. A man can have
multiple relationships and affairs and talk about them. But if a woman ever
writes about her love and sexuality, she is immediately described as defiled,
treacherous, and abominable.
In human history, whenever a woman
has stood up against patriarchy and spoken of her own liberty, she has been
condemned and abused as a fallen woman. Quite some time back, in my
introduction to another book of mine, I wrote that I love to call myself
‘fallen’ in the eyes of society. To me, the primary condition for a woman to
be pure is to be a so-called fallen angel. Among all the ‘awards’ that I have
hitherto collected, I consider the title of ‘patita’ or fallen woman to be
the highest. This is an achievement of my long-struggling life as a writer
and as a woman.
(Times Of India)