Sunday, June 10, 2007


by Taslima Nasreen

Taslima Nasreen was born in August 1962 in a Muslim family in Mymensingh, East Pakistan. Because the area became independent in 1971, her city of birth is now in the country called Bangladesh.

Islamic fundamentalists launched a campaign against her in 1990, staging street demonstrations and processions. They broke into newspaper offices that she used to regularly write from, sued her editors and publishers, and put her life in danger, a danger that only increased over time. She was publicly assaulted several times by fundamentalist mobs. No longer was she welcomed to any public places, not even to book fairs that she loved to visit. In 1993, a fundamentalist organization called Soldiers of Islam issued a fatwa against her, a price was set on her head because of her criticism of Islam due to release of LAJJA, and she was confined to her house.

The government, instead of taking action against the fundamentalists, turned against her. A case was filed charging that she hurt people's religious feelings, and a non-bail-able arrest warrant was issued. Deeming prison to be an extremely unsafe place, Taslima went into hiding. In the meantime two more fatwas were issued by Islamic extremists, two more prices were set on her head, and hundreds of thousands of fundamentalists took to the streets, demanding her death.After long miserable days in hiding, she was finally granted bail but was also forced to leave her country.

Taslima now lives in Kolkata.

Lajja (Bengali: লজ্জা Lôjja) is a novel in Bengali by Taslima Nasrin, a writer of Bangladesh. The word lajja/lôjja means "shame" in Bengali and many other Indic languages. The book was first published in 1993 in the Bengali language, and was subsequently banned in Bangladesh, and a few states of India. Taslima Nasrin, the writer of the book, has dedicated the book "to the people of the Indian subcontinent", and has announced the beginning of the book with these words: "let another name for religion be humanism." The novel is preceded by a preface and a chronology of events.

Lajja is a response of Taslima Nasrin to anti-Hindu riots which erupted in parts of Bangladesh, soon after the demolition of Babri Masjid in India on 6th December 1992. The book subtly indicates that communal feelings were on the rise, the Hindu minority of Bangladesh was not fairly treated, and secularism was under shadow.

The story revolves gives us insights about the culture, racism and politics of Bangladesh. It is narrated by means of one Hindu family living in post independent Bangladesh. Once prosperous and rich in culture nation, had majority of Hindus and Muslims. They together shared sorrows and happiness. Together, they fought the war of Independence, with the slogan “Joi Bangla!!”. But soon after independence the attitude of Muslims become different towards Hindus. Discrimination against them starts and reaches the peak. They are denied government jobs, right to practice the profession like doctor, right to property in certain places. Following this, there is exodus of Hindus from Bangladesh to India, mostly by illegal means. But the left out Hindus now become pure minority. And the story is about them.

In the plot, it has been described that how the demolition of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, India further worsens the condition of Hindu Minority in Bangladesh. It vividly depicts the scenes of plundering of temples, burning of Hindu houses, raping of Hindu women. At this point of time, most of the Hindus left in Bangladesh are in dilemma whether to leave the country and move to Bangladesh or should die on their motherland.

It is one of the only three novels, after reading which I cried like a baby. While reading, I felt as if somebody is pushing dagger down my throat. What can be worst thing possible for any human being? I think being looted, raped, murdered…… in his own house.

So, I recommend this book to everybody who wants to understand the brutalities of Islamic Fundamentalists, the history of Bangladesh, the effect of riots on any human being. But, I will warn that the people with the weak heart should not read this.


Anonymous said...

It seems to be really touching book. I agree Taslima Nasreen is indeed a very bold lady.

Paras Gandhi said...

Indeed its a very good book. I didn't read the book but I heard its review. But the other facet of babri masjid demolition is totally against Hindu. So dont go biased with this book. (please)

Prabal Aggarwal said...

But Paras, fact is fact. I still remember how Hindu's demolished the Babri Masjid just to rebuild Ram Mandir. Their slogan was " Pran Jaye Per Vachan Na Jaye". And i m not getting biased. I do understand that there are bad elements in all the religions. And this book shows the chain reaction occured due to demolition of Babri Masjid. :)

Funda-mentor said...

Boss if its not for the weak hearted... Its for me!

Ankur said...

Hey Prabsi..nice review...

I guess it is better that I stay away from this book. Probably it is only for brave hearts like u :)

pragya said...

the review is very gud and touching... i feel compelled to read it.
I firmly believe that fanaticism is one of the biggest causes of stunted growth in our nation.