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

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Day 12: "So We Decided To Tell A Story, Almost Forgotten"

Here was the prompt for Day 12:

"For today's prompt, I want you to take the phrase "So we decided to (blank)" and fill in the blank. Make that your title and write a poem. Some possibilities include "So we decided to plant a tree" or "So we decided to burn a hole in the sky." Read more at: April PAD Challenge: Day 12

"So We Decided To Tell A Story, Almost Forgotten"

So we decided to pack our duffel bags for that long trip
Not missing the favorite music on stations that sang us
Wisdom lullabies on birthdays and paydays, and decided
Not to forget hugging dear momma, a father, once fathers
Were gone for quite some time to imagined battle fields

So she too decided it was the only way she’d pay for college
So she whistled like she was off on her first date, was wise
To leave her brother the new camcorder burying their silly
Feuds, saving happy memories before a whistling bullet got her

So he too decided, the homesick private, to blow kisses over the
Shrapnel on a Valentine’s video, called the friendly desert back-
Drop a sunset point where he hoped, sigh, this day would not
Present him another bouquet of limbs, the evening would not
Spray him with the bitter champagne of sweaty blood and bile

Before the goats and sheep came home with the boy who
Mistook cannon for merry fireworks announcing good tidings
Of Ashura, before the girl who sold lime juice to beat the
Fahrenheit saved her green merchandise in her soiled apron

Before faraway villagers met dusty soldiers combing fields for
Strange harvests: Have you seen any enemy combatants? Yes!
Pat came the reply: Like you, you mean? Or perhaps, like them
So, we decided to tell this story before most of you forgot our names.

Image from the Internet: "Noah's Pudding"; The Ashura celebration is a common practice among Muslims and Christians in the Middle East.


priti aisola said...

Stanza 3 - Last two lines - jolting, sad and powerful! And the boy mistaking 'cannon for merry fireworks' - very telling and jolting again!
Really well done!

Anonymous said...

Nabina this is brilliant poetry. I wonder if I should say great poem or sad poem or well done.. why is it that human tragedies bring out best writings.. be it prose or poetry?
read with moist eyes.

fleuve-souterrain said...

Thank you Priti, somewhere my work has transcended the mere journalistic interest in this issue...! WHo knows may be that's good.

Tiku, you always are such a force with your kind words. Sad or bad things do act to create powerful commentary,for we remain in denial abt them quite often... thanks girl.