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

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Day 20: “Made Flesh Again”

Here was the Day 20 prompt: "For today's prompt, I want you to write a poem of rebirth. There are many different types of rebirth available, including the changing of the seasons, the beginning of the day, religious or spiritual rebirth, a reconfirmation of good in people, re-learning how to love, etc. So think on it a bit, and create a stellar rebirth poem." Read more at: April PAD Challenge: Day 20

“Made Flesh Again”
(Dedicated to those thousand hands I would always touch and hold)

Her visit made everyone run
Fetch her special seat, water glass
A special plate, later scoured
Separate, after her after-work snack

We kids ran in a tumult to see if
Her teeth were different in numbers
Than the last time, slurpy betel
Juice soaked, scary monster red

Mother made chitchat, served her
Coconut candies in summer
Black sesame ones in winter
With jaggery or handmade bread

Aunts poured her water slowly
Careful not to spill, not to mop
Once she cleaned the outhouse
A relic from an unknown rural life

Once she cut the shrubs, weeded, threw
The dead skunk in a ditch and cleaned
Up, we kids asked her to pick a name that
She’d like to be in her dreams so she
Could be allowed to play with us
Make us clay dolls of earthly shapes

Her dark forehead gleamed, no sindoor
Her sari-end bunched at her sagging breasts
Don’t know how to call that luminous one by her name,
She said, but I’d like to be made flesh. Touchable, human, again.

Image from the Internet: "Not a Pretty Picture" by Sudharak Olwe. Olwe is an award winning photojournalist, based in Mumbai. See and read at http://www.opendemocracy.net/globalization-photography/article_1742.jsp


priti aisola said...

This one is superb and the picture created with a dispassionate sureness that breathes deep compassion.

Absolutely loved it!

Anonymous said...

Nabina I loved the simple flow of your poem. This is different from the previous ones and one I could associate with it. deeply moved by the end. keep rocking..

fleuve-souterrain said...

Thanks Tiku, Priti
it is a simple one no doubt, the ismple thoguht occupying mind for this long. I am glad you folks followed the story here :)