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

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Let's HAIKU!

I am going to be a copycat for some time and try write a reflecting haiku in English for each of these masterly compositions below but without the traditional trappings and the mandatory seasonal reference. My samples will be quite contradictory to the lilting idea of a haiku.

Possibly the best known Japanese haiku is Bashō's "old pond" haiku.

Roughly translated:

"old pond
a frog jumps
the sound of water "

My sample:

murky snow
million footprints
searching paths

Another example by Matsuo Bashō:

"the wind of Mt. Fuji
I've brought on my fan!
a gift from Edo"

My sample:

the cry for freedom

scattered morsels
whither justice?


And yet another Bashō classic:

"the first cold shower
even the monkey seems to want
a little coat of straw"

My sample:

the last chance
a woman's voice
silence is death

Now, perhaps my compositions are really not haikus. But hopefully some of my readers will write a few for me to show me how to practise this beautiful craft.


Mys Lyke Meeh said...

Hey---u created it like it's simple for u as I read ur sample--- I'm not really into Haiku yah? Yet, when i read it---the meanings are somewhat too deep if only the readers should try to read between the lines.

Take care!

Rhett said...

Those were marvellous attempts. I neva tried but let's see...

Winds wail high and low
It rains like no tomorrow
Nature puts such a show!
he he


Ritu said...

Yeah she's in love with me
Now she is, Now she is'nt
Adolescent Romance!!!!

Anonymous said...

I thought your touch would
transform me but it made
me realize who I am.
I loved the moment I read this ..yours are just too good keep sharing normally it is of three lines 17syllables,5 in the 1st and last lines 7 in the middle but this is fun too ;)...here is mine ..
crows they fly in the sky
like pieces of black charred paper
drifting from a fire

fleuve-souterrain said...

Voila! Ritu and Rhett, what lovely ones you've written! Both are pretty classic in terms of the sentiment expressed -- nature's vagaries and a woman's vagaries! Cool.

This is fun. I'll put up more haiku (or low-ku, ha ha!) in my next post...

welcome to my blog, I'm so delighted you're here!

You are 100 per cent right that the meaning of haiku is supposed to be deeper than what one reads. Basho's examples are far more introspective than just a frog or rain or wind from Mt. Fuji... Everu haiku depics not just a sentiment or a season, but a certain crystallised idea to encompass a larger picture. You are so right!
Write you own, at least one, here for me, Please! And come back again.

Anonymous said...

wrote one comment before but it didnt show :(so once again .
crows fly in the sky
like pieces of charred paper
drifting from a fire

loved your Haikus ..there is one I liked

I thought your touch would
tranform me but
it made me realise
who I am

fleuve-souterrain said...

crows like "pieces of charred paper drifting from a fire"? Wow, what an imagery! And gosh, it just makes me think of this sky where so many crows are floating around darkening the ambience. How solemn and threatening it seems. Almost an omen. Or something looming ahead... Like Hitchcock's famous "The Birds"!! Nice one :-)

Too much to lose said...

I liked the first and the third haikus which you wrote.

A try..

The spring came,
Colors so bright.
A mortal's end.

tanuj solanki said...

the whole western fascination with haiku is appalling... the best haiku writers in Japan were never prolific... and now a thousand haiku's are written everywhere...

but heck...

Hot and humid weather
makes you sweat and me sweat
And a picture melts

fleuve-souterrain said...

in its simplicity, your haiku is beautiful. "A mortal's end" is precisely what deepens our reflection on this poem. Thanks!

fleuve-souterrain said...

Dear Tanuj
Westerners are obsessed with haikus, tankas, senryus, rengas.... the list is long. Anything exotic or 'oriental' probably fascinates them no end... Yeah, appalling. On the other hand, why not? what would they do sit write only sonnets and villanelle... let them learn the sanskrit anushtup, the japanese haiku, the persian ruba'i or the originally malay pantoum. Go learn!

Personall, am glad I managed to stay away from the 'appalling' obsession this long. Never entered a haiku writing contest or project or blah blah... although have been reading haikus since I was a child, never felt the need to replicate them but then either I don;t care now or am just being playful :-)

Besides anyway, I'm never following the haiku rules!

Am so glad you wrote this. In the first two line I decipher a picture of beautiful eroticism, don't whether you intended it or not. The last line is breathtaking. Maybe I can write a separate para about it. Lovely concept, poet-man!

Mys Lyke Meeh said...

Hey--let me try:

red petals fallen

and the wind whistle.

It landed in my garden.

Well....? hehehe! Just trying! Take care---

fleuve-souterrain said...

Dear Mys (what a lovely name... mys-tery, mys-tique!)
fabulous! Something about the red petals is so luscious -- as if they are youthful pretty women -- and the wind whistling like a man catcalling!!! My imagination of course but therein lies the power of a poet like you to conjure up images in readers' minds. And the last line, to continue this tantalizing tale, one petal landed in your garden. You too, my friend are mesmerized in your innocent poetic voyeurism. I learned so much from all the haikus above...

anu said...

I like playing with words, sometimes, most times am shy to call it anything..... but cannot resist joining the fun you all seem to be having. Nabina, you guess this and I'll treat you to a dosa :-)

trickling words
gnawing at worlds
morning birdsong
for all or just me

fleuve-souterrain said...

Anu, this riddle will get me I think... but let's try: coffee!!??
(if I win, I want a mysore masala dosa!!)

Anonymous said...


I was delighted to receive your request for haiku. I think a started working with the form out of a wry desire to use it as a filter with which to distill my own sardonic angst into little pools of pure, shimmering bile! Albeit drinkable bile ...

Rather than fall into the appalling Western tendency to caricature the form (see above; and I agree) I wanted to capture moments, people and ideas which were ordinary, yet sublime -- and sometimes really rather jarring -- and which had nothing to do with leaves or ducks or lily ponds. The 5-7-5 pattern required me to work in a controlled fashion which prohibited my charateristic verbosity, to which you are right now being subjected!

That said, here are a few untitled selections from recent months:

"Seated down the train:
Proud sister, your poise and grace
Somehow make me smile."

That ode was to an unidentified woman on a Philadelphia elevated train, whom I gazed upon bleary-eyed the morning after a particularly nasty row with my best friend. April 14, 2008. Happily we've moved on... But also from that day:

"E-mail is evil.
For it never quite conveys,
What you meant to say."

Unrelated from the next day, after I had my income taxes done:

"Well, that was painless!
Sometimes it's worth it to pay
Someone else to think."

Haiku about income taxes! How very bourgeois --not a lotus flower in sight!

Then there was this, written privately to a family member in July:

"All the little lies
Told so we can smooth the way ...
Deals with the Devil."

Such is life.
-- R.

fleuve-souterrain said...

Wow Roger, this is soooo good. I won't comment at all now because I am flabbergasted!

One thing, I don't want to point at the so called "Western" obsession too much. Obsessions are not restricted to westerners alone, it's common for every country, community and people. And personally, I too am implicated in all obsessions, and happily! I believe, after all, the arts especially, wherever they originate from, are always for give and take. So here's to your haikus!

tanuj solanki said...

It seems that my comment sparked a tiny debate... but hey it is good!

I think I will post my haiku on my blog too... wat say Nabina?