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Kamala Surayya and Taslima Nasrin: The Tale Of Two Women

One a convert to Islam, the other a rabid critic of women’s position in the religion. It was the language of feminism that effused when two of the world’s most outspoken women writers met. When Kamala Surayya and exiled Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasrin sat alone at the former’s residence at Kochi on Monday, their conversation was punctuated by eloquent silence. Talsima Nasrin told me, I met Kamala Surayya. We talked. I asked her why she converted to Islam. She was silent. She said she is afraid now and disturbed whether people will do anything to her children and grandchildren. I told her if she did not like to remain in this condition she should leave. I asked her: Why don’t you live freely as a human being?

Taslima Nasrin expatiated on the pain she felt for Kamala Surayya. “Kamala is a fine poet. I feel sorry for her. It is impossible for women to get salvation from any religion. She is suffocating. She should have the freedom to come out of the cage. She made that cage. If she wants to, she can break it too. She is threatened and she feels that people will not give her any peace to live her life. This may be the reason why she is hesitating. I told her to break the cage and come out and breathe.’’

Nasrin felt it was painful to live this way. “She has become a spokesperson for a religion. She should be out of dogmas and systems. Women are the victims of the patriarchal system. She is the victim of a patriarchal system, so why does she want to be a victim of a religious system too. Now she is suffering twice over.’’

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