Lajja by Taslima Narsin

A nation with a national religion became a religious Nation and all from other religions became second class citizens. This book is one of my toughest read of this year, and to be honest I thought I might non finish it, let alone writing a review but here we are. I might have never read it TBH if it wasn’t for Mridula’s book club, do check out her content her Blog – I would plug her blog here

I would highly suggest reading this book not just as a piece of literature but as a reminder of why democracy and equality are so important,why no one person or community should have more than other, because humans are known to prey on everyone they feel are in a more vulnerable state. *But as a fair warning, it has too many incidences of violence of all kinds, in graphic details, paired by real life data of such crimes so it can be really heavy at times, pick the book knowing so.

The book covers the aftermath of the Babri mosque demolition in a Hindu minority Bangladesh. Mostly revolving around the Duttas, a Hindu family who remain loyal to their land even after being let down again & again,they refuse to flee their land.

Sudhamoy the patriarch of the family, is a doctor who comes from a very wealthy household but leaves all it behind to move to the city from his home village leaving behind all his luxuries to settle in to a small rental house after his six year old daughter is kidnapped ( later released )

He is honest and truly the most patriotic character & he does everything to prove this & refuses to leave his country at all costs and his fate is truly heartbreaking. To see him break slowly and slowly both physically and mentally throughout the book to the point where he reaches by the end of the book was haunting for me.

Sudhamoy was ashamed to say it, his voice trembled, yet he spoke of going away because the strong mountain that he had built inside him had gradually begun to crumble

Kironmoyee his wife and the mother of his children is the perfect partner to all his faiths and practices. From giving up her sindur and shell bangles and dreams to live with her side of the family across the border to selling her jewellery to keep the food in family’s belly and a roof over their heads. Her character is reminiscent of all the mothers who silently keep on compromising their own needs and wishes for those of their families.

Suronjon,the son on the other hand I found very annoying, he is 33 year old jobless son, who used to be kind of a responsible guy in the past, but now he just lounge around all day and food and tea is served to him. An annoying male chauvinist who takes his frustration out on a Muslim prostitute after his sister is taken away and he is unable to find her.

His patriotism, atheism and values also feel kind of a defence mechanism of sorts to me contrasting with his father’s deep rooted and honest one. He do score some compassion as he shows his more vulnerable side with the evolution of story.

Maya who was once abducted as a kid, is now a hardworking individual, she has the strongest will to live and love, to be financially independent and is the responsible child in contrast to Suronjon but her fate is honestly the most tearing one.

Suronjon stayed in his room all day—lying in bed. He did not feel like going out anywhere. He did not even feel like talking to pass the time of day. Should he go and look under the bridge for Maya’s rotting, bloated body? No, he was not going anywhere today.

Plot summary

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.

This is quite a controversial book, A nation with a national religion became a religious state and all who were from other religions became second class citizens.

The humiliation of Hindus and the attacks on their temples did not begin with the attack on the Babri Masjid in October 1990. Suronjon remembered that on 21 April 1979 a man called Ayub Ali broke the image of Kali in the historic Kali temple in Saheb Bazar in Rajshahi. And after that he also destroyed shops owned by Hindus.

It is a very important book thought,first of all to understand why do counties need democracy and equality, and I would definitely recommend reading it to you but when you are in the state of mind to handle all the graphic and gory details.

The book was so difficult to read because of the barbaric things that were done in religiously charged Bangladesh. There were far too many incidence of temples being burned and demolished and literally urinated upon mentioned in here but even more hurtful was the never ending nightmare the people went through, the rapes,the bloodshed, the despair of a father when his daughter is taken in front of his eyes and to see him with that guilt, despite of everything he did to protect her and the rest of his family.

From mob lynchings, burnings and looting houses and shops, abduction and brutal rapes and murder of the women to not letting the minorities in higher positions even wth proper qualifications or not letting them to have even jobs in the first place this book is full of the  demonic side of humanity and heartbreaks.

It felt like everyone was waiting for a terrible death. Now their hearts were no longer trembling with apprehension about Maya but about their own futures. They were all alone and when the people they knew, Muslim friends and neighbours, came to visit, the visitors did not say: ‘All of you will certainly be alive like us. Don’t be hesitant. Don’t retreat into yourselves. Walk bravely, work without trouble, laugh heartily and sleep peacefully.’

Published by drficticity

A twenty something girl who loves to read and talk about books & Stories and ideas

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