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, September 15, 2008

Will the Real Sarah Palin Stand Up Please!

Sarah Palin appeared like a new star on the American political firmament, bright and sweeping, sweeping away all coverage of the old jaded Biden (pardon, no ageism here, he really is) from print, radio, TV, and the Internet. Even Obama's rock-star status seemed to wince a little from the enthusiasm she generated and the jibes she made with her 'pit bull wearing lipstick' half-liner (some power talk, huh?).

What an entry.

But the more I watched her speak (no hard news interviews to anyone yet. She just talks family stuff to soft mags and the only newsy bytes that came from her were apparently that she knows God -- my gawd -- supports Iraq war and Alaska pipeline. Also, probably hockey...) ad nauseum about her family, five kids, husband Todd, how she is so gung-ho about managing government and family together, the more suspicious I became.

First, I cannot imagine a mom shoving her minor daughter up on the pedestal, declaring to the world she is five-months pregnant -- they didn't do abstinence classes in Alaska, perhaps it was too cold, that's why; and we know Palin is against contraception, sex education and all that evil stuff -- and then whining that the press made a mincemeat of this juicy information. Just how calculating and cold-hearted can one be?

Second, to display little Trig as her trophy to be slung back on the face of the Democrats, was absolutely out of line. And this, after she had kept her pregnancy under wraps as she became the governor and disclosing it only towards the very end.

I totally fail to understand, why the business of running a government is made out to be a 'very special' job especially if you are a woman with five kids (one of them anyway decided to not remain a kid anymore and have her own kid)? Is "governance" supposed to be a measurement whereby gender angles now get defined? If you, a woman, had one kid and been in governance, you were not special at all. If you produced five or more kids -- one of them while you took up governance -- you are called "strong". As Palin has been.

What is so "strong" about having multiple kids and doing other work together? Instead of being a reaffirmation of feminism, this stinks of being a huge rotten piece of the anti-feminist agenda. Women not only have babies, but also work. Haven't we heard that always? And oh yeah, they have been working in fields, farms, large joint households feeding scores of mouths, walking miles to fetch water, firewood, fodder for cattle and ferrying food for their toiling male counterparts.

This has happened for thousands of years, it happens all over those underdeveloped or developing nations of the world even today. I am from the South Asian Subcontinent. Ask me, how the sacred duties of homemaking are hailed with greater reverence when the woman, a "good woman", does more work outside her four walls. Things like invading so-called male bastions like governance and policymaking and become false goddesses. But hey, while she does that, let her not forget babymaking and breadmaking.

While my respect for women who have been in aforementioned situations much due to patriarchal pressure than owing to their free will is unlimited, I don't figure out why such things should be considered a norm in today's world. Governance is an area where I'd want my representative to carry out her duties as a clear-headed person, married or unmarried, straight or gay, man or woman, with or without family and kids, equally effectively. And I won't listen to anyone telling me I cannot be a good journalist/writer/manager/banker/artist/professor/prime minister/leader because I have or don't have a huge family to look after.

Besides, to have or NOT have babies is a choice, clearly something Sarah Palin doesn't believe in.

Why else should anyone choose her? Not at least because of her moose-hunting, salmon-fishing skills (is it because these activities sound 'oh-so-manly'?). We've already had the outgoing Veep Dick Cheney proving that his quail-hunting skills were pretty similar to his governance skills. Don't need another!

Matt Damon's quip about Palin that it all seems a really bad Disney movie finds a zesty ring here with me. The Alaska governor reminds me of the pompous, raucous, flamboyant Fairy Godmother of Shrek the movie. She is really hoping to find that magic potion for her admirers. Well, I'm afraid she'll give them and several other unsuspecting ones a poison without an antidote.

Also please don't vote her for her rimless glasses, for I see little vision in her. Besides those glasses cost a packet -- elitist may I say? And although I cannot vote in the US, I think it's a good idea not to fall for polar bear burgers (I'm afraid that's truly why she wants those bears around, for hunting) on our table.

No, Palin is not a star and not someone who cares about policies for people's good. As much as Palin has energized the Republican campaign (she looks better than McCain, there's no denying), she hasn't made any detailed comment on issues like the economic trend, the debt, the tremor in stock markets, taxes. So, who is she? We definitely need to see the real Sarah Palin behind those rimless fixated eyes, bright lipstick, the plastic smile, the rankling voice, the Shrek Fairy Godmother braggadocio. Will the real Palin -- on real issues -- stand up please? Enough about what she thinks American life should be.

It's time to know what America deserves.

P.S. ---- If Sarah Palin wins, it'll be perpetual Halloween (interpreted as Hallelujah by Republicans...) for USA! There, my two cents. Also, I just read Katha Pollitt's "Lipstick on a Wing Nut" (http://www.thenation.com/doc/20080929/pollitt) on The Nation's website which I recommend for her intelligent language and irreverent style (I had briefly attended one of her classes in Wesleyan Writers' Conference where I went as a Jakobson fiction scholar).


Anonymous said...

Interesting writeup here. This is how reactionary forces work, unfortunately, trying to fool people with lies and subverted agendas. But how long?

fleuve-souterrain said...

anonymous, so true... but I'll keep an open mind and hear out everybody, hence the title of this post

Mukti said...

yes thats so true - she does remind me exactly of the fairy godmother in shrek! You have hit it on the head.

fleuve-souterrain said...

Mukti, good to see you here again... read Katha Pollitt's article. Hardhitting. Talk soon!

Old Man River said...

and this halloween parade while the US stocks and markets crash... will try a post myself on this soon. Nice post here.

fleuve-souterrain said...

Old Man, YOU are getting read... saw your last blog post. Yes, write something, take your time although sadly, public memory, especially american, I feel is very short!