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

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Moonlore From the East

What if the man's face in the moon wasn't a man
At all but a woman? A friend asked me.

I said it was always a woman to me, the moon
For she charted our lives from inside and outside
In cycles
That’s how we looked at the moon from towns
By swollen rivers
And eastern monsoon winds.

My first pets were rabbits etched on the moon
Seen from my bedroom window
When storytelling was a rite and people sifted truth from lies.
I wasn’t yet called a moon-faced siren then
Until it became a new moon.

If you’re a hunter, fisherman,
Farmer, gardener,
You know what the moon does to you, your
Forests, noisy crickets and dreamy skies
She’s a jealous rival or a benevolent ladylove.

Earlier the fishermen of my coasts cast lines
Measuring phases of the moon;

If they found her moody and sad
Like their wives or doting like a mother

They stopped wars in honor of the woman-moon
Even when she marched on through her waning
Left-handed gibbous.

They’ve forgotten that pride.

(First published in The Toronto Quarterly, Jan 09. Order copies on lulu.com. Photograph from my porch -- 2008 full lunar eclipse in progress.)
NOTES: The Moon, as is the Sun, often in Indian lore, is male. "Chandamama" is literally "moon uncle", whereas in some other parts of the subcontinent, the moon is a woman, elderly and loving. A female's progression from girlhood to womanhood is quite commonly compared to the moon's growing phases. As in other parts of the world, the moon in this region is also a source of myth for emotions, upheavals, changes.


Rhett said...

"My first pets were rabbits etched on the moon
Seen from my bedroom window"
O wow. Very well written. Enjoyed.

fleuve-souterrain said...

Hey Rhett! That is so true for me! Thank you!!

Anonymous said...

Nabina I am absolutely in love with this one. I love the various shades of moon and you have written so beautifully. woman moon ..wow ..

fleuve-souterrain said...

Thank you Tiku! Themoon is for us a very mysterious object, a purveyor of huge changes in life and politics too...

Anonymous said...

Like this poem a lot... I think it is a woman in the moon as well.

Chris Brooks