Aurat Ke Haq Mein

Favouring righteousness, questioning the social norms and demanding one’s rights have always been matters of a continuous struggle, huge problems, utter chaos and pains for everyone, but when it comes to someone like Taslima Nasrin, it becomes a matter of swinging somewhere between life and death.

Taslima Nasrin was born on August 25, 1962 in the Mymensingh town of Bangladesh. She belongs to a well-educated Bengali Muslim family of Bangladesh. An ex-physician by profession, she is an intelligent, rational, skeptical and sensible woman of thoughts. Her most renowned book, “Lajja”, turned her life from being a modest literary figure to a globally famous radical by the end of the twentieth century. But at the same time, it proved to be the major cause for her being sent to exile from her country, Bangladesh.

She has always boldly presented her views by unveiling the secrets of the hypocrites existing in the society, even if they were in the forms of prominent political figures, cherished religious clerics or commoners. Most importantly, she does not feel guilty or ashamed even while criticizing and vehemently opposing the much-practiced religious norms of the society.

Traits like existentialism, fighting for one’s rights, liberty, individualism, humanism, feminism and equality clearly demarcate almost all her writings. Besides “Lajja”, some of her works which also portray her as an undefeated sufferer through and through are “Mere Bachpan Ke Din” (autobiographical), “Dukhiyari Ladki” (autobiographical), “French Lover”, etc.

“Aurat Ke Haq Mein” is a Hindi translation of her Bengali novel, “Nirbashita”, which lays emphasis on the continuous resistance and fight that a woman has to wage against the institutions, taboos, traditions, trends, norms, practices, customs and conditions of the society. A bohemian by nature, Taslima Nasrin rejects all the hierarchical standards of the society that do not give an equal impetus and a respectable position to women in comparison to men and according to her, which are, many times, targeted against women only to subdue and eventually, crush them. This trait of hers is clearly reflected in her writing through this book.

The story of the novel opens with an incident that innocent Taslima faces in her teen years in her life. She recalls it since it gave her her a mark of shame on her right arm when it was brutally and thoughtlessly burnt by an eve-teaser with a cigarette outside some cinema hall. She does not thinks of it as an incident of some personal harm or injury but takes it down to a much deeper level of conscience where it seems to be a problem of all the women in general who step out of their houses or cross their thresholds at some point of time in their lives.

The narration of the incidents of her past and their discussion on a much wider-level in the present, cause her to constantly break the linearity of time, place and action while writing. There seems to be a lot of rebuilding of her old memories where the incidents seemed to have become blurred as she recalls them. At the same time, she does not fail to quote hundreds of examples from her own life to give a substantial basis to her beliefs. She pin-points the flaws of the religious-literature, both Hindu and Islamic, and rejects their validity not only in today’s scenario but also, during the time they were conceived and implemented.
The problems of hapless women like molestation, all types of abuses, eve-teasing, dowry, polygamy, rape, etc have been discussed at length in this book. There are also references to the historical incidents that took place during the formation of Bangladesh after its separation from Pakistan which significantly left a personal impact on Taslima’s life.

Her works have been translated into more than fourteen languages of the world. This book has much in store for those who really want to open their eyes to the sufferings of women that they have been facing since times immemorial and those who want to feel the spark brightly glowing in the heart of this controversial feminist writer.

Aditi Swami

[Image courtesy:]