From captivity to freedom
Reviewed by Kanwalpreet

The Woman Who Flew
By Nasreen Jahan, 
Penguin. Pages 360. Rs 399.

Nasreen Jahan, winner of the Philips Literary Award in Bangladesh writes a poignant story of a young girl, Nina who is a small town girl brought up with many siblings amidst poverty. She moves to Dhaka after getting married to Rezaul.Tragedy strikes when she loses her newborn. Fate has further tests stored for her when she divorces her husband, Rezaul and tries to move on in life. Her struggle, as she pushes ahead in life intrigues the reader. 

Her bitter-sweet relationship with Shanu in whose house she is living as a sub-tenant is an eye-opener to a society seen, lived and experienced by these two ladies. The twist in the tale comes when Nina is drawn towards her mother's handsome ex- lover who is old but wiser by years. 

He encourages Nina to come out of her miserable life by encouraging her to paint which is her passion. Her drawings, her dialogues all reflect the tough life that she has undergone. There is pain but a desire to live life to the full. Circumstances bog her down yet Nina manages to fly.The office gossip is typical the degrading of women, criticism of the existing regime, discussion of international as well as national affairs. Remember, the plot is set in the 1990s. 

What is shocking is the depiction of poverty that prevails in the villages, small towns or in the back lanes of big cities of Bangladesh. The plot is good but somewhere the essence seems to be lost to some extent in the translation. Originally written in Bengali titled Urukkoo (The Woman who flew)it discusses the society with all its contradictions.