About FOOTPRINTS IN THE BAJRA (Cedar Books, New Delhi); By Nabina Das

"Fittingly for a poet, Nabina’s novel also has a strong lyrical core. 'Footprints in the Bajra' takes the homely image of the millet field as its central metaphor. ... But the novel is less a thriller about guerrilla action than a subtly colored character study of a fascinating group of individuals who intersect at various points in their lives ..." -- DEBRA CASTILLO, author, editor and distinguished professor (Cornell University, April 17, 2010).

Footprints in the Bajra is a serious book that moves at a smart uncontrived pace. It voices deep concerns about how and why the deprived and the marginalized in certain parts of our country join the Maoist ranks; how they adopt desperate and often terrible measures to wrench justice and to make their voices heard... a confident debut novel, a good read, which will leave you with plenty to mull over. -- PRITI AISOLA, author (See Paris for Me, Penguin-India, 2009) in DANSE MACABRE XXXIV.

In her debut novel, Nabina Das writes about an India where social divides stand taller than multistoried shopping malls. Footprints in the Bajra, inspired by what she saw while touring the interiors of Bihar as part of a travelling theatre group, inquires into why the Maoists have an influence over a large section of Indian society. Das talked to Uttara Choudhury in New York about her book, and its protagonist Muskaan -- DAILY NEWS AND ANALYSIS, Mumbai, March 28, 2010.


"The interspersion of references from both the West and India do not clash. Shakespeare and Lazarus as reference points are brought in with ease, as also Valmiki and Goddess Chhinnamasta, and nothing jars ... The language is poetic and creates visual images of beauty and ugliness side by side." -- ABHA IYENGAR, poet (Yearnings: Serene Woods, 2010) and fiction writer in MUSE INDIA, May-Jun 2010

Shwetank Dubey says Nabina Das ably recreates the milieu of Maoist-infested regions of India -- Nabina Das has chosen the first person account of narrating a story from the main characters of the novel, Nora the sheherwali (urban dweller), Muskaan the rebel, Suryakant Sahay the crafty clandestine planner and Avadhut the frontrunner of all the operations... the book deals with something that no urban resident is bound to know on his own — the life and times of people living in Maoist infested areas and why do they give in to the temptation provided by the Red Brigade. -- PIONEER newspaper, April 25, 2010.
'"If you misrepresent them, they'll abduct and kill you," says Muskaan, our hostess'... goes the first line with which Nabina Das settles everything about her novel -- style, subject and pace... Excellent plotline. Wonderful detail. A beautifully crafted book. -- Karunamay Sinha; THE STATESMAN, Sunday supplement "8th Day", May 16, 2010.

"This is bitter-sweet, if a rather longish tale of a modern-day Maoist revolution and the seeds of destruction and betrayal that lie embedded in it." -- Business World, May 17, 2010

Monday, January 14, 2008

Whispers in the Attic


Start with your name please.
I come from unclean hilltops, those that are outside the maps you teach.

How do you spell your name?
I hold my head in my hands when it gets too warm for you to endure the carbon spew.

Kindly state your destination.
Feel free to bounce with me and rise above the sham, you'll see more from there.

Give us a reason for your visit.
I noticed the border patrol guy flip out a gun and shoot the rabbit because it protested too much.

This country is free and open.
I love the magnificent landfills incinerators dirty lakes and deep shit strewn everywhere.

Show us your papers.
Sucking my thumb is what I do when I am struck with anxiety, not fear.

Have you a family?
They ask me if I have talons as weapons in my hands or burp in my spleens.

Who else might be accompanying you?
Look at my face, I have no eyes or nose or mouth so I don’t feel gazes that go through.

We don’t think you’ve been in here before.
Your winding highways give me nausea and their endlessness hypnotizes me so very much.

Do you intend to take up work?
Please let me know when you need to be kidnapped, I am good for such petty ugly things.

Do not trespass what is barred to you.
Right, probably I am fine with sleeping with the monkfish in your frozen ply boxes.

Kindly look at the camera and be prepared to be photographed.
I know someone who lent me his intestine that looked like his mouth, oh how quaint!

Place your index finger right here.
If only I had the idea you love toenails better as garnish on toast.

You may sign here. Welcome dear alien!
Ah! Don’t worry I won’t pitchfork your neck and duck under your seat

Won’t eat your breadcrumbs and will hiccup only when I am asleep;

Save your roadkills for me 'cause I like the angry maggots the best

Before I fry your head and toss it away in to the crevice from where

I want to climb the fence you built and show why I prefer getting killed.

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