Border by Taslima Nasrin: the Struggle of Oppressed Women

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Taslima Nasrin was born into a wealthy family in Bangladesh. He father was a doctor, and she followed in his footsteps, and practiced medicine, working in the fields of anesthesiology and gynecology. Nasrin, had always been an outspoken supporter of the rights of women, even if those rights went against the religious beliefs of the conservative majority of her home country.

A novel she had written was banned by the government of her home country for highlighting social tensions between the muslim and the hindu religions. She had angered the conservative populous with her progressive ideas, and therefore a bounty had been put on her, people offered monetary rewards for her death. Ultimately Nasrin had no choice but to leave her home country of Bangladesh, and she ended up moving to Sweden, where she has received rewards for her bravery and free thinking. Given the amount of people holding her back and oppressing her for her entire life, it is not hard to see why she would be motivated to write poems that highlight social issues, injustices, and provide hope for those oppressed. The aforementioned is especially noticeable in the poem “border”.

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The title “border” seems to be a reference to all the things blocking the women of bangladesh from freedom. The author maintains a determined, and hopeful tone throughout the story, which helps further its impact. The poem follows the story of some nameless first person narrator, in an oppressive society, but is determined to find freedom, and to be able to live her life. The speaker begins with saying that she is determined to go ahead, to seek freedom, to live her life, but her family, her child, her husband, all prevent her from going. She states that, “her child is pulling at her sari end, her husband stands blocking the door, but she will go” This is her border, it is not a border of stone or brick, but it is a border of societal pressures, of family pressures, and of physical impedance. She states that her child is physically holding on to her clothes, and her husband is physically blocking the doorway, but also states that she will not let this stop her from going.

She states all of the things she wants to do, even stating how though some of them may not appear to be very significant she is determined to do them some day anyway. She says “There’s nothing ahead but a river I will cross” this metaphor acts as a sort of self reassurance, she says how much she longs to be alone, in her own thought, allowed to make her own decisions. She states “for years I haven’t cried with my head in the lap of solitude” she longs so much for independence, and ultimately concludes with self assurance, and declaring her determination to go forward, and to go out into the world.

This whole poem is a beacon of hope for all oppressed women who read it. Its motif highlights the internal struggle of being a square peg in a round hole. Wanting to be independent in a society that demands complete compliance. The author doesn’t specifically state who the narrator of this poem is, but it seems to be all oppressed women. It seems to be representative of all women who find themselves being held back, be it physically, mentally, or emotionally from being able to move forward in life. It was by going against societal norms, that the author of this poem was able to achieve her freedom, so she sets out to inspire others to achieve the same. The author endured a difficult life, and even received death threats, and therefore, by highlighting social issues she hopes to bring change to society, and encourage many women to pursue their freedom from oppression.

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