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, October 13, 2008


The atavistic life of ancient
Turks or for that matter, Romans, before that Scythians
and who knows who else, is a testimony to the fact that human beings have, time and again, perfected the art of lying,
deception and inflicting misery on others who they (or is it we)
'others'. This is so much like a road
taken again and again
and very much like what I read in Kay Ryan's poem last night,
that a road NOT taken is a road closed to all, to paraphrase Ryan.
The road is here, there,
everywhere. To me it looms
like blue elephants, slow and majestic.
Or it also becomes dry flowers that usually fall in concentric
rings from trees that hardly care.
My pets, my books, my dear ones, are all strewn
along this road dusted with my little deceptions, obsessions and disharmony.
What is atavistic?
What does it mean?
I can't even remember because I don't have my dictionary
or my thesaurus with me. See, how I deceive myself too?
I'm always taking the aid of these tools,
and to a large extent, my computer -- the Internet.
I war
on my senses, my own
memory. I keep them gagged.
And we as humans have been doing this over
and over again until some roads -- especially those that are NOT
taken and those that WANT
to be taken by so many -- are forever closed.
War, deception, memory
linger on like sticky cheese on fingers, making
me sad. Sad because I wish it were different.
But to tell a secret, it also makes me happy, immensely, to note that rigor
is a name applied to anything and everything.
So, there's a chance!


Joy Leftow said...

This is very political and has a lot to say ~ it shifts between pure poetic metaphor and academic imparting of knowledge. I like the ending of hope.

darknight said...

Hello, after a long time.

Like this poem a lot because of its ruminative nature. Share the concern about deception, lying and other "evil" things in crosscurrents with memory. Somehow memory to me is a highway of all things decadent in human civilization. Oh, well, that's my percetion! Read the Badri Raina poem on Dalit issues, seems to me you are into a lot of things these days -- identity issues, Dalit topics, US politics and apples too, huh?
Where is that anthology? Not out yet?

fleuve-souterrain said...

Dear darknight
welcome back! The title of this poem is Free Writing.... indeed free writing and I hope to etch out my thoughts better in memory and deception... I write only what moves me, makes me angry sad or happy. So these emotions are very basic and uncomplicated, easy to handle may i say? A poem, an outburst, a rant-- and it works well. People do take notice of all that luckily.
Anthology editor says it's taking a bit of time... but sooooon!

fleuve-souterrain said...

Hi Joy
I'm so delighted you visited my blog! I think I sound academic because of the 'atavisms' of my university-journalism-activism life when blogs did not exist or were not popular... But thanks for your kind words. I am political surely, even a rose is a subject of my political outlook!

I'll strive to improve this poem from a free write to something more solid. Come back again!

tanuj solanki said...

the dictionary, the computer, and the internet had me worried for a while...

but you came back to roads... and the rigor in the first step


fleuve-souterrain said...

why worried! I thought although it all sounded so prosaic and mundane, we cannot rule out the dictionary, computer and the Internet from our lives especially when we are unknowingly creating alternative worlds, identities and priorities for ourselves -- sometimes knowlingly! But hey, I'm glad you liked the poem. Come back more, Tanuj.

fleuve-souterrain said...

I mean we are creating alternative worlds, identities and priorities for ourselves through dictionaries, computers, Internet ...

tanuj solanki said...

they are one blue elephant for sure...correct!

Rhett said...

That's a well written poem. Very political and intelligent. I think exactly as you. I think mankind has shut out without reason (or with reason?) many a road.
And yes, we have all collectively gagged our senses which has made us insensitive; the tools that help us escape ourselves are of course the dictionary, internet, language, etc...

PS Would appreciate if you'd read me.

Anonymous said...

we close many a doors and shut our eyes to many a things ..thats how it has been for many centuries for many of us .I loved the free display of your concern in poetic form ..A very different kind of verse .learned many a things today ..thoughtful .