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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Exile by Taslima Nasreen: An Excerpt


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what i had thought to be my city had never been mine. rather, it belongs to the wily politicians, the dishonest businessmen, the smugglers of women, the pimps, the scoundrels. it belongs to the rapists. it's a city that belongs to people who will not bat an eyelid when someone is murdered, raped or tortured; people who live behind masks, who can casually walk by starving people, who can cross over dead beggars on the pavement, who run at the slightest whiff of danger despite living in houses built of lies. it's a city of people drunk on fantasies of this world and the next, a city of astrologers, con artists and opportunists.

this can never be my city, this city of thugs, liars, cheats and narrow-minded, selfish zealots. in their city, there are only a few of us left who think, who are rational, who protest; a few decent, honest people living in perpetual fear.

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i am stranded amidst soldiers with guns. they don't know me, and they keep staring at the unarmed woman from time to time. they cannot fathom the reason for me being here. i may not have the dirt and the grime, the tattered clothes, the wild, unkempt hair, but they can still sense the shackles on my feet, the ones that keep me at bay. i can see this terrible awareness in their eyes, an awareness that their guns and boots inspire fear. it hurts them that i am not afraid, and i have no right to hurt them i suppose. perhaps they will send word to their masters - that i am not afraid, that i am trying to break teh chains. surely the authorities will hang me. they will fix the date and throw me a feast of fish and prawns.

 what if i tell them i don't want to eat! what if i don't sigh even once at the gallows! what if i can be fearless even after they tighten the noose around my neck!

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each one of you must try to find out what is wrong with me. go on, tell me what it is. you have to, or something horrible will happen to you! tell me why you have banished me! have i caused an epidemic somwhere? have children died, or women been raped, or have there been mass executions? there must have been strong reasons for sending me into exile! unless you can find that perfect reason, unless you can show the world the true face of the monster, will you be able to forgive yourself? perhaps even i would be able to breathe easy knowing what i have done. perhaps then i would be able to come to terms with my exile. i want to know what i have done; i want to embrace you again, knowing you were only ever looking out for me.

 tell me why you have cast me out of society. tell me about my crime, so that it can absolve yours. find the perfect reason for having brought back the Dark Ages or would you rather have history frown at you in disapproval? and if you cannot tell me what my crime was, if not for my sake then at least for yours, let me go.

Taslima Nasrin

- Debolina Raja