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]

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]

Poem – For Some Years Now – Taslima Nasrin

Taslima Nasrin  25 Aug 1962 - Till Date Mymensingh, Bangladesh

Taslima Nasrin
25 Aug 1962 – Till Date Mymensingh, Bangladesh


For some years now, I have been standing quite close to death, almost face to face, 

Standing dumb before my mother, my father, some dear people, 

For some years now. 

For some years now I do not know exactly whether I’m dead or alive, 

For some years now the distinction between living and death 

Has gone on reducing till it’s a thread now 

Waving in emptiness. 

For some years now the being that inhabits me within and without 

Has been a horrible, dumb creature, 

The last leaf long gone from its tree, 

Spring gone forever from its life. 

If I die tonight, don’t speak a word, 

Only bury an epitaph under a shiuli tree somewhere, 

An epitaph I’ve written over some years now, 

An epitaph neatly written in white on a white sheet