Will she, won't she? Uncertainty reigns in the mind of Taslima Nasreen, firebrand Bangladeshi writer, as she anxiously awaits a resident permit from the Indian government.
Taslima wants permanent residence in India
Nasreen has been residing in Kolkata for the past few months on a tourist visa and has been appealing to the Centre to grant her permanent stay there.
In an exclusive interview to Indrani Roy Mitra, the writer speaks her mind, declares her love for the 'other Bengal' and expresses her helplessness at complicated politics nations play.
How optimistic are you about getting a resident permit?
I am a creative person. Optimism has goaded me to knock at the door of a country which bears strong resemblance to my own. West Bengal has been kind enough to me so far. It has given me permission to stay here on a tourist visa. Therefore, I do hope, eventually I will get permission to stay here for good.
What has been the progress so far? Has there been any intimation from the government?
The media has been my main source of information. I have kept a close eye on reports on the issue and am gauging my status on their basis.
Are you aware of the fact that the Indian government has been bargaining with the Bangladeshi government to release the United Liberation Front of Asom leader Anup Chetiah vis-à-vis your resident permit? (According to reports published on March 30, however, the Indian government had given up hope of a positive response from Bangladesh).
I have nothing to do with politics. I am not aware of any 'trade' between India and Bangladesh. All I know is that I have appealed for a resident permit as per Clause VI of the Citizenship Act, which states that a practitioner of any form of art can apply for a resident permit of a country other than his or her own.
I will write to Sonia Gandhi: Taslima
You have traveled widely, almost across the globe. Why are you choosing Kolkata instead of any other place in the West?
The soil of this place smells like that of Bangladesh. People here speak the same language and owe allegiance to the same culture. Every time I visit this city, it feels like I am visiting home. I am overwhelmed by the love and affection people have showered on me. Staying in this place is the best form of solace my battered mind can ask for.
But your book Dwikhandito has been banned in West Bengal.
The state has nothing to do with a handful of fundamentalists who felt my book crossed the limit of propriety. Being the third part of my autobiography, the book dealt with my intimate relationships with a few celebrities of two Bengals.
My aim was to depict the truth as it is. I can't help it if some people took a personal stand on it. All I know is that if some people were shouting slogans against me, there were others patting my back and lending a helping hand.
What if you get a resident permit?
I want to rebuild my second home here in Kolkata. I want to travel across the globe, never forgetting the cosy corner of my house in this city.
Photograph: India Abroad archive; Design: Uday Kuckian