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, April 2, 2009

DAY 1: "The Origin of Labels"

April may be the cruelest month. It is also "National Poetry Month". Poetic Asides with Robert Lee Brewer got started at April PAD Challenge: Day 1 on April 1. I quote the prompt: "For today's prompt, I want you to write an origin poem. It can be the origin of a word, person, plant, idea, etc. Have fun with it."

Will you write a poem every day this month? Blogger friend Tikuli is writing.

This was my contribution to the first day of poetry.

DAY 1: "The Origin of Labels"

My parents came from a
Place where people drank
Tea poured on saucers, slurped
Really loudly, spat paan
Also said, “coming” while going away
They were from a soil that slept
Intently at the feet of lotus leaves
Bloated with certain delusions
About belonging to histories

Not exactly the vision
Anyone would like, much less my parents

When I was born,
Temple bells tolled and
Cymbals clanged
As usual, not for me,
Matched with nimble steps
That fell in the city
Of the Eastern Star
Where I was born, when the sun
Went very far westwards
Along the path traced by blue
Mountains of elephant-
Hue and shade

Years later I stood under a sheathed sky
Bequeathed with heat, dust and spent romance
Went further into its deep belly of roadside hustle
The bustle and sale of smiles, tears for ten bucks a piece
Not known to dolphins and ducks, only rude
Men who stood tall, really tall and gaunt, bluish cheeks
Crazy-faced, yet they offered me 'ladies' seats in crowded buses

Now I haven’t stopped plucking flowers of yesteryears
Where no one's seen jackfruits or mangoes
Also what I’ve been wearing is a peeling skin
Jackfruit-hard or mango-soft, craving to stick upon
Tongues wafting in a generous gait
In another Ithaca of new myths
Reciting from our birth charts and rooting for stars

Who we are
And such things.
Image from the Internet; Tintorretto's "The Origin of The Milky Way"


tanuj solanki said...

It is funny but I think this is really one of your best ever...

fleuve-souterrain said...

Thanks TS! Do participate in PAD... haven't done reading on your site for a while. Tomorrow surely!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Nabina for making me a part of it. Lovely verse here. Waiting for more magic from your pen. March on.

gulnaz said...

wow :) u really write very well.

gulnaz said...

wow you write so well!!

fleuve-souterrain said...

Tiku, my pleasure!
Gul, you are sooo kind!