Posts Tagged ‘Taslima Nasreen’

I really wonder if M.F. Hussain can really get the sort of freedom for expression in Qatar, a Muslim country. Why is everybody so worried if he accepts Qatari citizenship? Have people forgotten that he’s the same person who had painted Indian gods in nude? Creative expression is good and no one should forget that no other country has been as liberal as India. It’s true that India is a democratic country and there is freedom for expression. But that freedom should not insult and hurt others. When a person expresses himself through the medium of art, it reflexes his/her mind.

In one of the paintings of Mahatma Gandhi, Karl Marx, Albert Einstein and Hitler, Hussain had painted only Hitler nude and had said his way of humiliating a person is to paint him nude. So according to him, is it his way of humiliating Hindu Goddesses by painting them nude?

Why paint only Hindu Gods and Goddesses in nude? Paint some Islamic heroes also in nude and see the reaction. Why can’t he paint a woman in nude and give her a Islamic name instead of Hindu name and see the reaction of the world?

A mere writing of a book landed Salman Rushdie and Taslima Nasreen in the soup. And what will happen to Hussain if he paints Islamic persons in nude? If he paints someone in nude there, will he be able to retain Qatari citizenship?

There should be freedom of expression, but one should know the limits of his freedom. We can’t paint our mother or sisters in nude, for we respect them. We respect woman and we will never ever want to humiliate her.

Did people keep quiet when Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks published a cartoon of Prophet Mohammed’s head on the body of a dog in a 2007 Swedish newspaper editorial on freedom of expression? As many as seven people, nationals from Algeria, Libya, the Palestinian territories, Croatia and the US, have been arrested so far for trying to kill the cartoonist. Not just that, in 2007, a group linked to al-Qaeda in Iraq offered a $100,000 (£66,000) reward for killing Vilks, and a 50% bonus if he was slaughtered like a lamb by having his throat cut.

When the world saw the anger of Muslims across the world for painting the prophet in the cartoon, why can’t they digest the anger of Hindus over Hussain painting Goddesses in nude? What kind of secularism is this? What kind of justice and freedom of expression is this? Why criticize only Lars Vilks and praise M.F. Hussain?

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I was shocked when one of my colleagues told me that Kamala Das passed away in Pune today afternoon. I had worked under her younger son for over one year.

kamaladas2She was one writers whom we all admired during our college days for her non-conservative voice. The respect towards her increased manifold while reading her poetry in my PG classes. I read her autobiography My Story and had wondered about her frankness. She had not only created controversy with her unorthodox views, but also with her frank and explicit expression on matters of sexuality, which even our teachers felt embarassed to explain. She focused on love, betrayal and the resultant agony in her writings that unsettled not only the orthodox readers. She had sought to expose the hypocrisies of a society living in an illusory world of pseudo morality, oblivious of the stark realities around. She never compromised with the aesthetics of medium, always succeeding in portraying characters and situations in a touching, lucid and charming style with great economy of words. Her major English works include Summer in Calcutta, Alphabet of Lust, Descendants and Collected poems, many of which stand out for their originality of theme and symbolism. The most sensational her work in English was her memoirs My story, which was a tell-all personal reminiscences of the 1970s.

kamala dasKamala Das hit the headlines when, though born in a conservative Hindu Nair family in Kerala with a royal lineage, embraced Islam in 1999 at the age of 65, assuming the name Kamala Suraiya. The conversion, just as the themes of her stories, generated much heat and dust in social and literary circles. Whereas Kamala Das saw Lord Krishna in Allah and converted to Islam, she reportedly regretted for converting to Islam, which was told by none other than controversial exiled Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen who met Kamal at her Kochi residence in August 2002.
The feminist author of Bengali book Lajja is in Kerala in connection with the release of the Malayalam translation of four of her books that were released in Thrissur on August 24.

“I don’t go to the streets, instead I write and that is my way of protest. I was born in a Muslim family and Muslim women suffer under Islam. No one told me to fight against oppression. It was inside me. Women are treated as slaves, sexual objects and childbearing machines,” Nasreen had said.

Contrast to that Kamala had said in an interview: “The purdah (Islamic face veil) that I wear protects me. I like the purdah which Muslim women wear. I like the lifestyle of Muslim women. Purdah is a wonderful dress. No man ever makes a pass at a woman in purdah. It provides her with a sense of security.”

According to Nasreen, Kamala Surayya, who was Kamala Das before she converted to Islam, had now realised that she had made a mistake in converting to Islam. She had met Surayya. “When I asked her if she regrets becoming a Muslim, she said ‘yes’. She has realised that Islam does not give equality,” said Nasreen.

Kamala Das had been admitted to a private hospital in Pune on April 18 following a complaint of respiratory distress. She had settled down in Pune a few years ago, leading a secluded life.

The writer who loved to tread the unorthodox path, had also made a foray into politics and floated ‘Lok Seva Party’, aiming at social and humanitarian work, providing asylum to orphaned mothers and to promote secularism. She unsuccessfully contested a Lok Sabha election in 1984.

Critics often place her Malayalam short stories, penned under the pseudonym Madhavikutty, much higher than her English writings by dint of their choice of themes, style and stunning impact.