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

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Roger's Haikus

My esteemed former colleague from The Ithaca Journal, Roger DuPuis II, now an editor working from Scranton, has a beautiful way with Haikus. His comment was so arresting that I decided to put it up as a separate post. He blogs at arespectablesecond. Read on:


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.


Ritu said...

Nabina, these are wonderful. I think I could grow to like this art form

fleuve-souterrain said...

Dear Ritu
I learn a lot from Roger. He's a really wacky mind in a nice refreshing way. From your haiku it looks you can surely start writing more and make them absolutely creative. Perhaps you can try some "Indian" haikus...?

Rhett said...

Those are wonderful ones and encourage someone like me who doesn't know how to include lilies and frogs in poems. Thanks!

Abhinav said...

Hey Nabina, I didn't know you too were into haiku! That's often some of the most concentrated poetry I come across... And I can't do the 5-7-5 thing so much, so I just stick to including lilies and frogs in my haiku. ;-)

fleuve-souterrain said...

me too... pavement, crowd, rush hour and ineptitude constitute what I mostly write. WHy not haikus, right?

you are a winning Haiku writer... so please write more and share them for our benefit. I git into haikus just by fluke, can't say I've written much at all! Hey, lilies and frogs are fine with me and I think your published haikus are very very good!:-)