Poetry in the city.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The Delhi Walla arranged to meet Bengali poet Taslima Nasreen on the lane that runs behind the Regal Cinema building in the colonial-era Connaught Place.
An exiled Bangladeshi citizen, Ms Nasreen lives in Europe. She is in India without a visa. In 2008, she was forced to leave this country following protests by Islamic extremists.
On a secret visit to the capital, Ms Nasrin requests not to be photographed. Instead, she asks me to focus the lens on a young woman in yellow who is walking alone on the road. “I dedicate my poem to her,” she says before sharing it with us.
You’re a girl
and you’d better not forget
that when you step over the threshold of your house
men will look askance at you.
When you keep on walking down the lane,
men will follow you and whistle.
When you cross the lane and step onto the main road
men will revile you and call you a loose woman.
If you’ve got no character
you’ll turn back,
And if not
you’ll keep on going,
as you’re going now.
[Translated from the Bengali by Carolyne Wright and Farida Sarkar.]
As part of the series Delhi’s Bandaged Moments, The Delhi Walla is searching for poets in the city. If you are one, please contact me at email@example.com.
Poet Taslima Nasreen’s dedication