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]