Mother’s Story – Taslima Nasrin

My mother’s eyes became yellowish, egg-yoke like. 

Her belly swelled out rapidly like an overly full water tank 

ready to burst at any moment. 
No longer able to stand up, or sit down, or even move her fingers, she just lay there. 

At the end of her days, she did not look like Mother any more. 
Relatives appeared each morning, every evening, 

telling Mother to be prepared, 

telling her to be ready to die on the holy day, Friday, 

uttering la ilaha illallah, Allah Is One! 
They warned her not to disappoint the two angels– 
Munkar and Nakir. 
The relatives wanted to make certain that the room 
and yard would be clean 

that the perfume surma and the blue eye shadow atar 
would be present when Death would finally arrive. 
The disease had nearly devoured her entire body; 

it had stolen her last remaining strength; 

it had made her eyes bulge from their sockets, 

it had dried her tongue, 

it had sucked the air from her lungs. 
As she struggled to breathe, 

her forehead and eyebrows wretched with pain. 
The whole house demanded– shouting– 

that she should send her greatest respects and reverence 
to the Prophet. 

Not one doubted that she would go to Jannatul Ferdous, 
the highest level of heaven. 
Not one doubted that she would soon walk hand-in-hand 
with Muhammed, on a lovely afternoon, 
in the Garden of Paradise… 
No one doubted that the two would lunch together 
on pheasant and wine. 
Mother thus dreamed her lifelong dream: 

She would walk with Muhammed 
in the Garden of Paradise. 
But now, at the very time that she was about to depart from this Earth, what a surprise! 
She hesitated. 
Instead of stepping outside, and entering that Garden, 

she wished to stay and boil Birui rice for me. 

She wished to cook fish curry and to fry a whole hilsa. 

She wished to make me a spicy sauce with red potatoes. 
She wished to pick a young coconut for me 

from the south corner of her garden. 

She wished to fan me with a silken hand-fan, 

and to remove a few straggly hairs from my forehead. 
She wished to put a new bed sheet upon my bed, 

and to sew a frock with colorful embroidery– 
just for me. 
Yes, she wished to walk barefoot in the courtyard, 

and to prop up a young guava plant with a bamboo stick. 
She wished to sing sitting in the garden of hasnuhena, 
‘Never before, had such a bright moon shone down, 

never before, was night so beautiful.. .’ 
My mother wanted so desperately to live. 

There is, I know, no reincarnation, 

no last judgment day: 
Heaven, pheasant, wine, pink virgins — 

these are nothing but traps 
set by true believers. 
There is no heaven for mother to go. 

She will not walk in any garden with anybody whatsoever. 
Cunning foxes will instead enter her grave; 
they will eat her flesh; 

her white bones will be spread by the winds… 
Nevertheless, I do want to believe in Heaven 

over the seventh sky, or somewhere– 

a fabulous, magnificent heaven– 

somewhere where my mother would reach 
after crossing the bridge, 
the Pulsirat– which seems so impossible to cross. 
And there, once she has passed that bridge 
with the greatest ease, 
a very handsome man, the Prophet Muhammed, 

will welcome her, embrace her. 
He will feel her melt upon his broad chest. 
She will wish to take a shower in the fountain; 

she will wish to dance, to jump with joy; 

she will be able to do all the things 
that she has never done before. 
A pheasant will arrive on a golden tray. 

My mother will eat to her heart’s content. 

Allah Himself will come by foot into the garden to meet her; 

he will put a red flower into her hair, 
kiss her passionately. 
She will sleep on a soft feather bed; 

she will be fanned by seven hundred Hur, the virgins 

and be served cool water in silver pitcher 
by beautiful gelban, the young angels. 
She will laugh, 
her whole body will stir with enormous happiness. 
She will forget her miserable life on Earth… 
An atheist, 
How good I feel 

just to imagine 

somewhere there is a heaven

Mosque, Temple – Taslima Nasrin

Let the pavilions of religion 

be ground to bits, 

let the bricks of temples, mosques, guruduaras, churches 

be burned in blind fire, 

and upon those heaps of destruction 

let lovely flower gardens grow, spreading their fragrance. 

let children’s schools and study halls grow. 
For the welfare of humanity, now let prayer halls 

be turned into hospitals, orphanages, universities, 

Now let prayer halls become academies of art, fine art centers, 

scientific research institutes. 

Now let prayer halls be turned to golden rice fields 

in the radiant dawn, 

Open fields, rivers, restless seas. 
From now on, let religion’s other name be humanity.

So Let Them Rule The World – Taslima Nasrin

Just let them be free to do as they please… 
Let all the doors of the world’s arsenals swing open for them… 

Let them wield their swords and hang rifles from their waists… 

Let them clutch grenades in their fists… 
And with the grand inspiration of Dar-ul-Islam in their minds 

Let them go out onto the streets and behead the infidel… 
Let them torture women until death, 

after wrapping their obedient heads with veils, 

and confining them to their rooms… 
Let the rapists go berserk door to door 

to copulate in their erect hysteria, 

so that they can beget male babies to overcrowd the world. 
Let all the men become Talibans overnight… 

Let them seize the entire planet 

from Argentina to Iceland, from Maldives to Morocco, 

from the Bahamas to Bangladesh… 
May the whole universe become their citadel… 
Let the leaders of the world bow down 

upon the sacred land of Islam… 

And let them crown the heads of these terrorists, one by one. 
Yes, let the world’s leaders apologize with folded hands

for their own cruel misdeeds… 

Let them together imbibe the holy water— 

the filthy liquids of these true believers— 

so as to be blessed by their grace.

The Safe House – Taslima Nasrin

I’m compelled to live in such a house 

Where I’m forbidden to say ‘I like it not’ 

Though I feel aghast to live in here. 
Such a safe house I live in 

Where I’m destined to live and suffer 

But cannot weep. 

I must avoid eye contact with others 

Lest I should expose my pains inconclusive. 

In this house everyday at dawn 

My longings are slaying and before evening descends 

The pallid corpses are buried on its courtyard. 
My deep sighs break the silence of the safe house 

All other sounds are inconspicuous within and without the house. 

Every night I go to bed trepidation, 

And with the same feelings I wake up, 

While awake, I subject my own shadow to a monologue. 
I’m caught unawares by the invasion of a venomous snake, 

Hurtling wrath and loathing, squirms all over my body 

And hiss: Be off transcending boundaries 

Hush-hush escape to a far off quaint land 

Towards the impassable mountains. 

While creeping around the shadow, the serpent demands: 

Get lost forever. 
Friends, do pray for me 

For my safe exit, from the safe house, 

Pray for my lucky sojourn, 

Once in safety in an unsafe house. 
[This poem was written while Taslima was forced to live in confinement in an undisclosed location in Delhi from 22 November 2007 to 19 March 2008. Sujal Bhattacharya translated this poem from her book PRISONERS POEMS]

Poem – The Female – Taslima Nasrin

In the instinct of no-creature-of-Nature 

the birth of a female is considered undesirable. 

Only humans consider it strange. 

Since she has been born, 

let her stay in an obscure corner of her home 

and learn to survive. 

Keep your hair in a tight knot. 

Don’t let your eyes wander here and there. 

Hide carefully your swelling breasts. 

Women, we know, need to be kept in chains. 

At best they can be allowed 

to move about in the precincts of the home, that’s all. 

Men look for fresh virgins 

so they can maul and tear them, 

some on the plea of love, 

some of marriage. 

The tight smooth skin is full of wrinkles. 

The menstruation pain is gone forever. 

The thread of the tale told again has snapped. 

We are well rid of nuisance. 

In the instinct of no-creature-of-Nature 

is the death of a female so desirable.

Poem – The Game In Reverse – Taslima Nasrin 

The other day in Ramna park I saw a boy buying a girl. 
I‘d really like to buy a boy for five or ten taka, 

a clean-shaven boy, with a fresh shirt, combed and parted hair, 

a boy on the park bench, or standing on the main road 

In a curvaceous pose. 
I’d like to grab the boy by his collar 

and pull him up into a rickshaw – 

tickling his neck and belly, I ‘d make him giggle; 

bringing him home, I’d give him a sound thrashing 

with high-heeled shoes, then throw him out – 

‘’Get lost, bastard! ‘ 
Sticking bandages on his forehead, 

he would doze on the sidewalks at dawn, 

scratching scabies. 

Mangy dogs would lick at the yellow pus 

oozing out of the ulcers in his groin. 

Seeing them, the girls would laugh with their tingling sound 

of glass bangles breaking. 
I really want to buy me a boy, 

a fresh, nubile boy with a hairy chest – 

I’ll buy a boy and rough him up all over. 

Kicking him hard on his shriveled balls, 

I’ll shout, ‘Get lost, bastard! ‘

Poem – India – Taslima Nasrin

(to Sumit Chakrabarty) India is not just India, even from before I was born, 

India has been my history. 

My history, carved into two by daggers of animosity and hatred, running breathlessly towards uncertain possibilities, 

with the terrible crack at the core, 

History bloodstained, history turned death. 

It is this India that has given me language, 

Has enriched me with culture 

And powerful dreams. 

This India can, if it so desires, snatch 

My history away from my life, 

My homeland from my dream. 

But why should I let it drain me dry only because it so desires? 

Hasn’t India brought forth those noble souls, 

Who place their hands today on my tired shoulders, 

On the abandoned shoulders of this helpless, orphaned soul? 

These hands, longer than the land, stretched beyond space and time, 

Gives me warmly cherished security against all worldly cruelties. 

Madanjeet Singh, Mahasweta Devi, Muchukund Dube—they are my homeland today, 

Their hearts my true country. 
[This poem was written while Taslima was forced to live in confinement in an undisclosed location in Delhi from 22 November 2007 to 19 March 2008. Samik Bandapadahya translated this poem from her book PRISONERS POEMS]