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

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Of cyber-writers, my slowness and Nirmalprabha Bordoloi

Since I have been writing quite a bit these days (nonjournalistic), and reading people's blogs and websites, suddenly I am overwhelmed. When I worked as a fulltime journalist in India and the US, very few of us blogged (The Ithaca Journal launched blogging on their site just the other day). I mean even writers and poets I met up in the last five years, always made it a point to express their low-level preference for blogging or similar such cyber-presentation of their writing activities. Now, most creative writers I have been meeting in the last two years all have facebook pages, blogs or websites. Even journalists. What they publish or plan to publish, gets posted on their personal blogs. This reminds me of the huge stack of print-out sheets I accumulated in our Delhi and Guwahati homes, trying to stuff them inside cardboard boxes for posterity. My articles, reports, commentaries. Even some poetry. Was there fiction? Can't remember. But poetry in Assamese, Bengali and English. If I wrote all that today, I'd have a humongous blog! And everything at the click of a mouse. No cardboard boxes needed and no worries about mice (the real ones) making a mincemeat of my published work. But then, I have to do what I do now. Maybe if time permits, transcribe each of those printed works to file in my blog (maybe have a blanket headline like 'words from the past' or whatever). Well, that'll be an adventure of sorts. Especially because my Tehelka.com writings have most of their web links now inactivated (that was the old Tehelka, not the new one). Right now my slowness taunts me.
And now that I'm talking about the past, and my writing, somehow my mind (always a spinning wheel) is bringing up a quaint memory. Then I wrote poems everyday, like a mad person. and I had sent out some poems to be published, recommended by my father's colleague and poet Shibaprasad Barua, for an Assamese journal that's probably defunct now. Barua uncle loved my work and he insisted I send stuff out. He returned a few weeks later with the journal containing my poems in print.
"Do you know who edited your poems?" He asked me.
"No." I was a little apprehensive.
"It's Nirmalprabha Bordoloi, our baideu!"
Wow! Nirmalprabha was the prima donna of Assamese poetry. That was an honor. Barua uncle told me how baideu (older sister) praised my work saying "for her age, she has handled very complex imageries..." or something like that. I wasn't too young, perhaps sixteen, seventeen. Still!
Now that I remember this, I feel how badly I have ignored my work. Perhaps that journal is not to be found anymore, I don't even remember its name. Perhaps I never kept a copy/photocopy of my work, that work and several other work. Moreover, it's sad how I never took this opportunity of working more, writing better and seeking the guidance of the likes of Nirmalprabha Bordoloi, who, despite her excellence, was a down-to-earth and approachable person.
Well, one thing for sure, if I find that journal and my poems that bear the editing of baideu, I'll certainly have them up on my blog.
Meanwhile, the memory of baideu's kind words (she is no more) should propel me to do some real work, now!

1 comment:

mutu said...

hi nabina,

wonderful blog - im glad i found it and you;re right about blogs being the best places to store things.

By the way, I am still thinking about that fresh squash and zucchini and wonderful aloo gobi you had cooked up for that dinner. Soooo delicious. Thank you so much for that. I have been updating my blog regularly too. Check it out: travelwithmutuandrahul.blogspot.com