The Latest: 23.1 | Bangladesh

Shanon Shah tries to unravel the paradox of Bangladesh; A Qayyum Khan thinks Bangladeshi politics is trapped in a fraudulent circle; Anato Chowdhury laments the murder of gay activists; Sadaf Saaz comes to terms with home; poems by Lalon Shah, the great Baul saint and mystic of Bengal; Maria Chaudhuri longs for home in other places; and Tamim Sadikali reads a brilliant anthology of British Muslim writers.

I contemplated the bold red cover and turned over the pages. At that moment the words of Sabrina Mahfouz jumped out at me. ‘It never fails to surprise me how much representation can empower and how much non- or mis-representation can disempower.’ I was propelled back to a memory that continues to unsettle. ‘Daddy, what colour am I?’

There was a time in my life when the question ‘where is home?’ would have been an absurd one.

For a twenty-something Bangladeshi who moved to Britain a few years ago, not much has changed back home. Over the last few years, however, it seems that an increasing number of Bangladeshis are speaking about sexual diversity and their own sexuality.

Bangladesh emerged as an independent state on 16 December 1971 with an empty treasury, a destroyed infrastructure and a traumatised population who had suffered inhuman tragedy at the hands of the Pakistan Army. While the predictions of collapse have proved wrong, the country has had a turbulent history.

On a trip to London I was treated to ‘a typically British meal’ – chicken tikka masala. Later, I learnt that the origins of this dish are contested – did it originate in Punjab or was it ‘invented’ in Glasgow? I also learnt that up to ninety per cent of Indian eateries in the UK were actually run by Bangladeshis.

Dhaka had just suffered the country’s worst terrorist attack. The cold-blooded clinical way it was carried out jolted me, and the entire country, as nothing ever had before.