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Bad hair days, short of colour
- Taslima misses beauty regime and machher jhol in ‘house arrest’

New Delhi, Dec. 8: If Taslima Nasreen’s hair has begun showing streaks of grey, it may not be because the past few weeks have aged her.

The one thing the security agencies have failed to provide her with is a coat of hair dye.

“Apparently, she gets her hair coloured, and is now complaining that the dye is wearing off. So she needs a fresh coat,” a senior home ministry official said.

“But that is one thing we cannot arrange because we will also have to arrange for somebody to apply it for her, since she claims she cannot do it herself. We cannot take that chance, considering her security. And unfortunately, our men are not trained to apply hair colour,” he added, tongue firmly in cheek.

Taslima continues to pine for Calcutta, the city she calls her “bari” (home). Sources in the intelligence and security agencies say the author is quite temperamental and is becoming impatient with continued “house arrest”.

The author misses books and Bengali food, especially fish. She misses socialising and her beauty regime. She cannot go out for a walk, so she keeps walking up and down restlessly in her room.

“Taslima yearns for company and keeps talking on the phone. She wants books to read but does not have any,” the official said.

“She keeps reading newspapers and watching television. Since the television is a little old, she does not have access to all the channels. She wants to watch Bengali news channels.”

The minders of her safety have tried to meet her demand for Bengali newspapers by arranging copies from the Central News Agency, the capital’s oldest bookshop that is generally stocked with newspapers and magazines published in different languages.

“Somebody was sent to pick up some papers. Although she did not get the latest, she was somewhat happy to see the language newspapers. It is not possible for the security agencies to arrange for the Bengali papers on a daily basis but they do make an effort to get some off and on,” the official said.

As for food, the security agencies try to arrange for fish sometimes but Taslima wants it cooked the Bengali way.

“She sometimes gets grilled or fried fish, or even fish tikkas, but she wants the jhol,” said an official.

Taslima had expected to win her return ticket to Calcutta after expressing regret and deleting the offending portions from her book. But the Union home ministry is still looking after her at a safe house in Delhi while continuing to talk to the Bengal government.

“There is just too much happening in Bengal and the state administration is reluctant to take any more chances right now. They say the state is not up to handling another crisis,” the official said.

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