Unfortunately Lajja opens at this juncture when there was an immense amount of crisis in the lives of the Hindu families living in Bangladesh. During the Bangladeshi War of liberation, the people of Bangladesh, irrespective of the Hindus and the Muslims fought together against the oppressive rule of Pakistan. Independence was the fruit of their united efforts and the view of a new society was an egalitarian one, where narrow non-secular outlook would not be encouraged. The novel opens with a helpless Hindu family comprising of four members. The father is a doctor Sudhamoy Dutta, who has a patient and strong willed wife Kironmoyee, an educated but unemployed son Suranjan, a bright diligent girl Maya.
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II, No. Edited by Dr. Therefore, women are expected to fit themselves in this frame, where in every sense they are inferior to men and lose their personal identity. Thus, women remain as mere object or property to men. Taslima Nasrin, on account of her personal experience of childhood sexual abuse and the deteriorating status of women in Bangladesh, contributes considerably to the feminist thought.
In most of her writings, Nasrin gives evidences of her feminist leanings as she delineates situations pertaining to subjugation and marginalization of women by men who have patriarchal mindset. The female characters in Lajja: Kironmoyee, Maya, and Shammima Begum are all compelled to behave as per the patriarchal norms, wherein Nasrin aims at highlighting the situation of women belonging to minority community of Hindus in Bangladesh, who had to go through a tough phase during the demolition of Babri Masjid in India.
The double marginalization of women on religious grounds on the one hand and their gender identity on the other is another crucial aspect in the novel. Taslima Nasrin exemplifies the woman who breaches the patriarchal code, and is thus maltreated.
Lajja deals with several feminist issues. In fact, Nasrin demonstrates the ways how patriarchal mindset challenges individuality and self-respect of women. One of the most important feminist issues that has been dealt with in the novel is the treatment of women at the hands of various patriarchal institutions like family, society and state, headed by a patriarch who either looks down upon women or marginalizes them.
Kironmoyee as a mother is expected to be gentle, polite and understanding. Her desire to move to India to her relatives at the perilous hour on account of the aftermath of Babri Masjid demolition remained unattended. All she could do was secretly shed tears and behave submissively, which is refrential of the patriarchal setup, where the family is led by a male member, who is supposed to be all powerful and centralized.
Will I get so much of love and care once I am well? By and large, it is at the cost of the family that a woman is conditioned to subdue her desires and fit into the socio- cultural framework. She also submits to the demands made upon her by the communal atmosphere in Bangladesh as she quietly accepts a new identity with an assumed Muslim name San. At this juncture, it is important to note that both, family and society connive to marginalize women.
Kironmoyee invests all her resources, monetary and mental, in keeping her family together. Her second act of assertion manifests in her refusal to accept the financial help offered by her son after her husband has a paralytic attack, which apparently depicts her as a victim of patriarchy. Furthermore, in Lajja, Nasrin shows how women are doubly jeopardized—on the basis of sex and on the basis of nationality which is identical with religion.
In Bangladesh, only Islam is synonymous with humaneness as only Muslims are considered as human beings. They are free to pray in the mosque, do what they want for their religion, wear Burkha, have a beard, wear a skull cap on their head, and to follow the rituals of their religion.
Hindus are like their slaves and have to hide their identity more often than not. They cannot observe any religious rituals of their own and cannot practice anything signifying their religion. As an instance, Sudhamoy asked his wife to hide their identity as Hindu because they are scared of Muslims. At every step, Kironmoyee had to sacrifice and behave according to the imposed authority of the ruling class in Bangladesh.
It highlights male version of the female world which is based on marginalization of women. The demolition of Babri Masjid in India led to the brutality and torture of Hindu families in Bangladesh, and particularly the women who were not only demeaned but also inhumanly brutalized, tortured and raped.
A feminist writer denounces treatment of women as objects of lust, physical and psychological violence. Nasrin does the same with tremendous vehemence as she depicts in Lajja how women are sexually harassed, abducted and subjected to varied kinds of torture that may even result in their deaths. The novelist demonstrates how the abduction of Hindu girls has been common in Bangladesh and how the hooligans do not have any kind of fear. Whenever they wished, they would abduct a woman and rape her brutally.
That was the reason that most of the Hindus sent their daughters to India for their education and security. A case was registered the next day at the Laksam police station by her distraught family. There is no trace of Manju Rani. Her abductors threatened Premanand Seal and his family but the police took no action when informed. Hindu families in the area are now terrified of sending their daughters to school. They took the terrified little girl to garden nearby and raped her…a case was filed…no one was arrested.
Lajja, depicts certain men ravishing young Hindu girls for their pleasure and vilifying concerned Hindu families. The abduction of Maya as a child of six illustrates the same. This incident terribly traumatizes the girl and has such a negative effect on the psyche of the girl child that she is not able to behave normally for two months. She would sleep fitfully and would wake up abruptly in the middle of the night. The family is never safe thereafter as they keep receiving threatening through anonymous extortion letters that aimed at kidnapping Maya again.
However, when Maya grew up as a young girl of 19, the ominous day of 11th December came. A group of seven hooligans entered the house of Sudhamoy who had recently suffered paralysis, and began to break the goods of the house.
They were all about twenty-one years old. Two of them wore caps, pajamas and Kurtas. Sudhamoy and Kiranmoye tried their best but they could do nothing against seven hooligans who very quickly took Maya away. Maya was crying for help but nobody came forward to help her because she was a Hindu girl and the abductors were Muslims. Being communists, the family did not believe in any religion whether Hindu or Muslim and humanity was the only religion for them.
As a result of it, they decide to leave for India. Despite his best efforts, Suranjan could not find Maya. He felt helpless as he could not find any assistance to locate his sister. The legal system also turned a blind eye on the family as they were Hindus. The wails and shrieks of the young girl Maya went in vain as there was none who could come forward and help the family in finding her and taking action against the male predators who abducted her.
In fact, Nasrin too, as a feminist writer condemns violence against women. Out of sheer pain of helplessness, misery and frustration, Suranjan began to drink wine and abuse Muslims.
Time and again he was haunted by the pain of losing his innocent sister, Maya. Certain questions like what the abductors must be doing with Maya; whether they may have tied up her legs and then raped her one by one; how she must be tolerating the pain; whether she would be living or dead etc. He felt a strong desire to avenge the honor of his sister and was filled with anger and hatred for the Muslims. He, like the hooligans, wanted to kill the Muslims and abduct their daughters for taking revenge.
It was the eleventh day of riot in Bangladesh, i. Suranjan kept abusing the system and his own incapability to retaliate. He even thought of committing suicide but thought that it would be so cowardly an act.
He eventually came up with a remedy as he thought something else. He took a rickshaw and went to Bar council where he met a whore named Shamima, the daughter of Abdul Jalil. For Suranjan, however, Shamima was not a whore but a girl belonging to majority community. He only longed to rape one of the Muslim women out of sheer revenge for what they had done to his sister.
He threw the girl on the floor and stripped her of all her clothes. He bit her breasts, one part of his mind understanding that what he was doing was certainly not love. Relentlessly he pulled her hair; bit her on the cheek, neck and breasts.
He scratched her waist, her stomach, her buttocks and her thighs with his sharp nails. I am dying of pain. When societal institutions like religion, state, family and society that should provide conducive and safe environment for people in general and women in particular irrespective of their religious backgrounds turn against them, the situation becomes rather abysmal.
Viewing woman as good or bad is another instance of patriarchal mindset. At every step in the novel, she is portrayed as an ideal wife who serves the family and makes all possible sacrifices to keep the family going.
She is, in fact, viewed as a bad or fallen girl. Islam mandates purity and virginity as virtues. Numerous tales of heroic women killing themselves rather than succumbing to sexual assault are very much a part of Bangladeshi folk culture. The society depicted in Lajja, is deeply patriarchal. There are innumerable examples of gender discrimination in the novel. They can kill anyone in the name of God. They want to kill me, they demand my death only for the reason that I am alone, I am afraid, so I must be afraid of them and stop my writing.
If I stop my writing, women will lose conscience because the fundamentalists like to oppress women to show their power. So they are not used to seeing that women can protest and are surprised if they do.
They want to keep them down. So I think for women, protesting is more dangerous. At one point in time, even Taslima Nasrin was proud of her beautiful country Bangladesh and felt privileged on account of its rich heritage and culture.
Towards the end of the novel, however, Maya is killed and the Hindu Dutta family eventually decides to moves to India—a decision that has the narrative of pain, humiliation, insecurity, fear, and mindless killings embedded in it. Through the foregoing discussion, an attempt has been made to analyze marginalization of women along with that of the religious minority as depicted in Lajja.
Nevertheless, the novel also exhibits immense potential to be studied from a feminist perspective. The feminist thrust of Nasrin in view of the issues pertaining to women, the problems faced by the marginalized Hindus in Bangladesh, and the notions of nation and religion have been intricately woven together in Lajja.
As nation is a geo-political entity, so is the body of the woman which is marauded, tortured and abused simply because the narrow nationalistic and fanatic mindset views it as an extension of the former thereby causing what has been discussed above as double marginalization of the women. Further, the boundaries of feminism are not limited to the cause of women as they can be extended to the cause of underprivileged ones.
Thus, the anti-fundamentalism stance of the novel also envelops anti-patriarchal resistance wherein gender identity is privileged over religion particularly when Nasrin delineates atrocities against women in the same way as religion Islam supersedes nationalism when it comes to the abuse of the religious minority Hindus. Thus, the gender extremism and religious fundamentalism go hand in hand throughout the text subjecting the female characters like Maya to inhuman torture until she dies.
Works Cited Alam, Shansul S.
लज्जा – तस्लीमा नसरीन मुफ्त हिंदी पीडीऍफ़ पुस्तक | Lajja by Taslima Nasrin Free Hindi Book |
A Fatwa was issued against her, which she claims was because it became very apparent how the state failed in protecting its citizens under the garb of religion in the book. This book is important for me because it was banned in Bangladesh and remains a very critical text, decades later. Of late, a lot of political narratives involve religious ideologies and religion-based atrocities. On the one hand, there are all kinds of accounts around social issues of oppression and human rights violation. One of the important points of discussion has also been the interference of the state with religion to run a democracy.
Lajja: Shame | Taslima Nasrin | Book Review
Start your review of Lajja: Shame Write a review Shelves: questioning-norms , asia , woman-authors , myth-religion , banned-challenged A state with a national religion can easily become a religious state. This book has been given by Bangladesh government the highest honor that any government can ever give to any book a ban. The book follows the story of one Sudhamay and his children Suranjan and Maya. The father and son have both been involved in nationalistic movements of Bangladesh and believe in their country.