Home Sweet Home – Writer Taslima Nasrin’s Study, Somewhere in Delhi
A whole world.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
“Stop bitching. Start a revolution.”
“Religion stops a thinking mind.”
“Proud to be a feminist.”
“Keep your laws off my body.”
These stickers grace the room where she is writing short stories these days. One afternoon The Delhi Walla meets Taslima Nasrin in her study. The Bangladesh-born writer has been living in exile in Delhi for over five years. I will not disclose her neighbourhood for security reasons, but I can gladly tell you that it overlooks a lovely garden, and that her beautiful balcony is hidden behind with half a dozen wildish trees.
The study, however, appears to have nothing to link it to Delhi. We could as well be in Dhaka, Paris, Stockholm, Berlin, Munich, New York or Calcutta. These are the cities in which Ms Nasrin built a succession of temporary homes after she had to leave her country in 1994.
Her room’s character, however, emerges gradually. Almost all books are in Bengali. All the bookshelves, we learn, were custom-made in Calcutta, West Bengal. The walls are decked with honorific certificates that Ms Nasrin received from across the world, including a trophy for being a ‘Freethought Heroine’ given to her by the Freedom from Religion Foundation in 2002.
The oil painting of a nude woman stands beside the door. The painter is Ms Nasrin herself.
Sitting on the chair with her laptop, Ms Nasrin says, “I feel good about this study, but it is not the kind of study I dream of… Thousands of my books are in Sweden. Some are in New York. The problem is that I don’t have enough space to keep all of them in one room. This study is mine but it feels like it belongs to a random passing traveller… To somebody who doesn’t have a home…”
A writer in exile