Monday, October 07, 2013

Review: Lajja (Shame) by Taslima Nasrin

How I came to Know About the Book: I heard about Taslima Nasrin and her books (especially this one) a long time ago, but I wasn't allowed to read those back then since I was said that 'these books are not suitable for your age'! But a couple of months ago I read this borrowing it from a friend.

Format of the Book: Hardcover

Genre: Cultural, Religion.

Length of the Book: 216 pages.

A Short Synopsis: The Duttas - Sudhamoy, Kironmoyee, and their two children, Suranjan and Maya - have lived in Bangladesh all their lives. Despite being part of the country's small Hindu community, that is terrorized at every opportunity by Muslim fundamentalists, they refuse to leave their country, as most of their friends and relatives have done. Sudhamoy, an atheist, believes with a naive mix of optimism and idealism that his motherland will not let him down... 
And then, on 6 December 1992, the Babri Masjid at Ayodhya in India is demolished by a mob of Hindu fundamentalists. The world condemns the incident but its fallout is felt most acutely in Bangladesh, where Muslim mobs begin to seek out and attack the Hindus... The nightmare inevitably arrives at the Duttas' doorstep - and their world begins to fall apart.

My Review: 
"Let another name for religion be humanism."

The book presents story of a hindu family living in Bangladesh/East Pakistan in 1992 when Babri Masjid riots were going on in India. The book tells the story of Dutta family which loves Bangladesh, even though they see clear discrimination, violence and hatred for Hindus. The nation of Bangladesh was created for people who called themselves as 'Bangla', but slowly a movement started which converted Bangladesh to an Islamic country. The vision of the nation was to be a secular country, but it ended up as an Islamic country. The story revolves around the lives of a family consisting Sudhmoy(husband, doctor), Kiranmoyee(Wife) and their two kids Suranjan and Maya. The book shows in the beginning Suranjan is patriotic and wants to bring social justice in his country Bangladesh. His father is as patriotic as he is and ridicules Hindus who are leaving Bangladesh during the troubled times. However, after the Babri riots happen, all hell breaks loose and the family faces really hard times. Slowly Suranjan starts identifying himself as Hindu and not Bangla anymore. The story ends with the family giving up their hopes and aspirations to be knows as citizens of Bangladesh.

The tale is very touching and shows how a nation betrays its citizens, even when the only emotion they have for their country is patriotism. The nation of Bangladesh has failed to live upto the dreams and aspirations of its Hindu citizens which helped in its creation.

However, there are certain aspects of writing which make the book less appealing. There are real life facts/events which have been directly copy pasted in the middle of the text. It becomes very boring to read them after a few pages. The characters seem to have a flawless memory of all these events as they remember and narrate them without any problems at all. All this happens way too often and it becomes annoying. The patriotism seems to be impractical, even when your daughter is being kidnapped and raped, its impractical to imagine that you will still praise your nation without any complains!

I can certainly understand or rather feel the reason behind writing the book, but I didn't like the way it was written.


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