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

Monday, April 13, 2009

Day 13: "His Kitchen Garden"

Here's the Day 13 prompt: "For today's prompt, I want you to write a poem that incorporates a hobby (either yours or someone else's). That's right: Now is the perfect opportunity to write about your comic collection or your scrapbooking activities. And for the purposes of this challenge, I also think activities such as fishing, running, bowling, photography, birding, and gardening count as hobbies." More at: April PAD Challenge: Day 13

"His Kitchen Garden"

Come summer, he spends nights in exhilarating anxiety
Would the shoots show up or not, he dreams aloud
Several times; on waking tells me of his Dream Garden
Happy and laden with every possible food and fruit

When it begins, he spends hours hoeing the dry soil
Smoothing out lumps and bumps, chucking off bits
Of pebbles surprisingly found as if they belonged to
Ancient monuments bulldozed at someone’s whims

He courted squashes, zucchinis, cucumbers, spinach
Pesky peppers winking at the sullied sun of a cloudy sky
When they showed their eager faces, tiny pale shoots
Creating a ruckus among weeds and the fungi to rule

He quickly made space for young rowdy pop-ups push-
ing taller each day, stubborn green delights! Then embark-
ed on gathering twigs for a lattice frame, to hold hasty
Green climbers: wriggly blue bean vines, clamoring cukes

He worked all dewy summer mornings, in musky dusks
Watering the blossoming patch, his lovable food court
At nightfall went home after inspecting the merry rows
Pleased at swaying tendrils singing from the lattice roof

Oftentimes I know he just stared and smiled quietly on
At the doggone yellow squashes that kept pushing out, at
Pontificating pumpkins or ruby red radishes cool and coy
Spoke softly. Humored the jealousy the fruits bore to greens

I know he mostly loved the green peppers that grew sans
Care, dangled and never at all wrangled unless a raccoon
Came to chew on them and ran away quick scared of their
Fire-filled bellies, stunned absolutely by the seeds of wrath!

He worked real hard to keep off a bugging bunny though it
Often shook its brown storybook ears in sheer delight when
We didn’t watch; then romped and promptly chomped off all
Henceforth, a rabbit fence blocked the flap-eared terminator

Alas, more hard work was there! A handsome deer made
A joyful feast out of sunny pumpkin blossoms between
Constant tending, joining hooves with reticent weeds as
Our constant gardener worked like an angry earthworm

One sultry evening, while the animals still reaped our
Food, he resolved. “Forget bites claw rips muzzle licks,
Let’s join the harvest in our kitchen garden!” He tossed,
A juggler, tomatoes to be nibbled by incisor-happy friends

So, fresh salads, crispy veggies, peppered gravies for us
Squash buds for the deer, crunchy seeds and more for the
Rest that hopped or crawled. True, the patch was a boom for
Deer, raccoon, rabbit, human, coveting summer’s wealthy bloom.

Image from the Internet


Anonymous said...

hmmmm long yet kept my interest till the end. Nice one.

priti aisola said...

I am tired. Read through it rather hastily but this is a poem that needs to be savoured at a different moment. It's a visual and tactile delight.

Rhett said...

actually I am not exactly equipped to comment on this one since I have never written such descriptive not read such since I painfully lack in that area... so if at all I say something it will be wow, wow and more wow.
that said, i liked it a lot coz it was filled with stories with loads'a imagery. It was great!

I would like to know what yu think of your poem. Honestly! As though you were a passer-by commentator.