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

Friday, February 6, 2009

Indian Love Story poems 3,5,6

These are poems no. 3, 5 and 6 under my INDIAN LOVE STORY poems series:

(Okay, I repeat, I've never celebrated Valentine's Day, never really figured out what's there in succumbing to the commercial pressures of buying and receiving flowers, dinners, gifts... unless of course we want to stimulate the flagging economy in these trying times. I don't even have money for that! But the month of February, for very special reasons that are personal, makes me think about love and romance. Also, I start sniffing Spring already):

3. Around The Champaka Tree
(dancing around the tree being pretty much a Bollywood staple!)

Oh this was her arm, smooth as silk
Not a pashmina branch of wild fragrance
So I came to her hovering
Over the blossoms and fallen
Fallen on her cheeks left and right
Making her hair nightly bright
With Aguru
From old movie frames
Where lovely black-and-white heroines
Like her
Smile with ivory finesse
While we go around
The Champaka tree
In our dance of love
In a trance, half-true
Take me my love, take me!

5. Smoking Hearts

Was it Amrita Pritam
Who had reached out for the still-live
cigarette butt-end
Left on the expectant ashtray,
the smitten one,

By that Urdu poet of lilting
lines and starry fantasies?
She was a heart of feathers and
I am too, fluttering as
Your half half-smoked cigarette
Calls me with its coiling capers

I too can pick it up, touch it to my lips
And inhale your breath, phlegm, desire
In and out
Before someone’s footfalls
come running
In scrutiny
Of what’s smoking

Between hearts and long days
of wildfire imagination
But I can I can!

6. Jhumkas
(Written after an Urdu poem, remembered vaguely)

Because he had said they’re his teardrops
Taken them out of his coat pocket
He had said
They’re my unruly locks over your cheeks

My arms happy and lax
When they embrace too much
Wear them my beloved
Jhumkas for your bamboo-silk earlobes

Jhum jhum, they tinkle
Bloom by my cheeks
With dreams they mingle
Jhumkas I forget in the bathroom
To scurry, fetch and drop

Hide in my dupatta folds and wear
Only when I stop and step
Out of home
To hear them sing

Tingly like teardrops on the neck
Tangled in my locks
Because these are jhumkas that spin and dance,
At last weary running amok --
Because he never came back.

(I don't exactly remember the Urdu shayari here, it went something like this "jhumke naa pehno jaan jhumke/jhumke chum lenge jhumke"... lovely play on the words as you notice)


tanuj solanki said...

When I read words like Champak Tree, Amrita Pritam and Jhumkas at my first glance I thought I would not be the right person to comment on it as I somehow dont relate to any of these words or ideas...

But I read them and really enjoyed... My favorite is the first one... it is truly 'cinematic'

The second one is lovable just by the sheer use of the 'expectant ashtray'...

'Jhumkas' for me worked in bits... i missed some parts of it though to be honest.

Rhett said...

I liked the 1st one.
The 2n one took my breath-a-way. Was very nice, indeed.
The third worked for me in parts... like TS said.

fleuve-souterrain said...

TS, yup, the second one is close to my heart. As a teenager, I used to be very captivated by that story about Amrita Pritam. Besides, she is a very favorite writer...! "Expectant ashtray" did get a lot of "attaboys"! thx man.

Rhett, thank you so much. Champaka Tree is a bit trashy, well like I guess the movie loves I wanted to portray... not too bad I hope.

No one's liking Jhumkas... awww :-) Of course it's not as good as that urdu couplet I have in my mind...

Anonymous said...

champa tree very spontaneous and simply beautiful
Amrita pritam brought a warm smile in my eyes which traveled to my soul.lovely
jhumka ..your fav subject .. ;) well i think it again was not your style different and I don't know will read again ..something is amiss there .

fleuve-souterrain said...

Tiku! thanks...
Jhumkas was tough to write as well... hoping will evoove with revisions. Champaka is pretty frivolous like our movies! I love Amrita Pritam, her life and works. :-)

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fleuve-souterrain said...

Yikes! Mr. Urdu, so sorry I shd have mentioned I cannot read/write Urdu. I read most of it in Devnagari script (hindi) or translated, you see... thanks nonetheless!



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