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

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I finally, admit it. But don't hate me for thinking this way, please! I have been slow in putting up poems on my blog because I didn't feel very comfortable about it always. Perhaps because I am technically a new blogger. It's not just random people picking up my random thoughts and lines that I am scared of, but it's also something to do with my allegiance to the paper form of my writing, an old habit nurtured too long. Anyway, I'll try to be more forthcoming as time passes. Now, I wrote this poem up realizing I sorely miss the warm and humid weather of India -- the years I spent in Delhi, and before that my hometown Guwahati. Both the places I'll see soon. Ithaca has summers like Delhi autumns and winters like the North Pole...!! Hence this musing about the weather!

It’s musty in my town --
Not frosty
It’s a bit hasty
Like here it is gusty
It tweaks open buds early morning
Makes my shingled heart tremble
With it’s rippled caress every dawn.
It can be dry as rolled oats
With sand flowing under the nails
After rivers go for a sleep-full rest
Never to come back again

Like lost pets.
It’s musty
And not frosty
It rains as if the sky had forgotten
Something stirred its tears
Kicking up spiral mud where
Our ankles twist and slip playfully
And our guard drops like water
That wipes our dusty faces
Tired from running life’s errands –
Same jokes, same wasted tests.
It’s musty
Not frosty at all
Although winter can hoodwink
You into bundling up in
Hats socks and scarves entwining
As though we were trapped inside
Thermal rainbows, fuzzy and bright
Watching the mist roll up its
Car windows, slowly passing by –
A short-term guest.
It certainly is musty
Never frosty there
A bit lusty with bodies shining
In sweat and warm diurnal light
Gliding through the sun and moon’s
Humid corridors to where
The town heaves everyday
Without repose or rest.


Moonflower said...

Oh how lovely Fleuve! I know this town, it's like mine!!
Feel so sad to read this---
"rivers go for a sleep-full rest
Never to come back again

Like lost pets"

"Watching the mist roll up its
Car windows, slowly passing by –

A short-term guest"

Sweetheart, you are good.

Too much to lose said...

I tried to feel what I was reading and I experienced the summer,the winter and the rains all in a minute.

"Tired from running life’s errands –
Same jokes, same wasted tests."
A very realistic sentence....something very true and that which we try to avoid....

tanuj solanki said...

well put!

very nice read...

Ritu said...

Your poetry is lyrical .... I like your economy with words

fleuve-souterrain said...

sometimes bea little critical girl! No, i agree those lines are my favs too...

rings so true right? I am amazed I could say that i a poem, usually it'd seem mundane to say "same jokes, same wasted tests"!

Poet-man (now that is copyrighted!)
thanks for peeking in.

Ritu Lalit
I hope I can call you just Ritu? Thanks for the compliment. But you know, I really wish I was economical with words. You haven;t seen my verbose long poems, you'll be shocked! btw, I did enjoy a lot of things on your blog. Humour is something I envy and prize.

Rinkly Rimes said...

You have a lovely way with words and the playfulness of all the .musty. rhymes was very arresting. The photo is great too.

fleuve-souterrain said...

Dear Rimes
I did have fun with these rhyming pattern. apart from the 'musty', also with the last word of each stanze -- pets/tests/guest/rest...

The photograph is of the major river in my hometown -- the mighty Brahmaputra. The longest river in India and a majestic one at that! This is sunset on the river seen from the city's river bank... love it!