17 April, 2021

An Outsider Everywhere

Taslima Nasreen is embittered in exile and and traumatised by the prospect of oblivion

An Outsider Everywhere

WOULD she show up or wouldn't she? Her media-savvy reputation suggested she would, but her tenor over the phone had been uncertain. Would she come by car, taxi or metro? Would she be surrounded by German body-guards who would frisk you for concealed weapons in full public view? These questions posed themselves as the clock ticked way past 11 am, the appointed hour for a rendezvous with Taslima Nasreen at the Block House cafe in West Berlin.

Finally, at 11.30, on an unusually sunny February morning, a short South Asian woman appeared at the pedestrian crossing at the other side of the road. It was the fugitive Bangladeshi writer sporting a long overcoat and short hair, accompanied by a lone, very Bengali looking male escort. There were no burly, goggle-sporting bodyguards in sight and in all probability she had either come by bus or walked from her undisclosed residence not far away.

"I'm Taslima and he is my brother Kobir," she said smiling a weak, half-suspicious smile, upon entering the cafe. The customary shedding of the overcoat revealed a pair of...

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