Kolkata, Sep 6 IANS | 2 years ago

Slain Indian author Sushmita Banerjee went back to Afghanistan to pen her next novel targeted at a Durga Puja release, her publisher said Friday.

"She had come to my office in January (2013) shortly before she left for Afghanistan. That time she said that she will hand over the manuscript of her next book before the Durga Puja (in October)," Swapan Biswas of publishing house Bhasa O Sahitya told IANS here.

"She told me she would write about the current scenario of Afghan women...she was extremely optimistic about it and had planned everything out. That was the last I saw of didi (older sister in Bengali)," said Biswas.

Banerjee, 49, was dragged out of her home after other members of her family were tied up, and shot dead by suspected Taliban gunmen in Sharan city of Afghanistan's Paktika province Wednesday night.

Banerjee defied her family to marry Afghan businessman Jaanbaz Khan, and stayed for years with him in Afghanistan.

She later came back to India, and in 1998 wrote the bestselling memoir "Kabuliwalar Bangali Bou" (A Kabuliwala's Bengali Wife), offering a vivid description of the suffering of women under the Taliban.

She also described her daring escape from the clutches of militants.

The book published by Bhasa O Sahitya made her a household name in Bengal and was a best-seller right away after its release in January 1998.

"It did not need any publicity. More than 120 copies were sold off in its first hour of release. It still continues to be a popular book as it is very well written," said Biswas, adding that her next book would have been well-researched.

Biswas said Banerjee had initially named the book "Aami Kabuliwalar Bangali Bou" (I, A Kabuliwala's Bengali Wife).

"I told her to drop the I and christen it 'A Kabuliwala's Bengali Wife'," added Biswas.

Banerjee loved to visit the Kolkata Book Fair every year. However, due to a knee problem, she had to miss it this year.

"She was extremely fond of visiting the book fair but her knee issues kept her away this year. She regretted that," said Biswas.

Biswas was familiar with Banerjee's husband Jaanbaz Khan.

"Her husband drove up to our shop March 30 and asked for the books that Sushmita didi had pre-ordered. Khan addressed Banerjee as Sayeda Kamala..that's the name she had taken there," said Biswas.

(Posted on 06-09-2013)