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 28, 2009

Day 28: "A Vacation" - A Sestina

Here was the Day 28 prompt: "For today's prompt, I want you to write a sestina. (Click here to find out the rules for sestinas.) So start figuring out your 6 end words and get writing. But wait! Today is Tuesday, so you have one other option. You can write a poem about the sestina (your love, hate, frustration with, etc.). Whether you decide to write a sestina or write about sestinas, remember to have fun. We're almost done!" Read more at: April PAD Challenge: Day 28

(My first Sestina!)

“A Vacation”
We were at Kasauli’s old market place
Colors sashayed from myriad stands
We met friendly vendors, bought crafts
Baskets, shawls, dolls, wooden frames
Eager faces called us more, hands waved
Knowing we tourists can usually spend.
We wanted to trek out, not spend
Too much time at the market place
Although voices pleaded in waves
Hands tugged at our wallet strands
The evening sky looked it was framed
So we ran, to see that fairyland’s craft.
It seemed we walked on a swift raft
Saying thanks and no, all words spent
For these beautiful people with eyes like gems
Who called out from their shopping space
The market street an oasis in the sand
We hurriedly left with quick hand waves.
The mountain path outside Kasauli braved
Climbing atop misty peaks rising in tufts
We lost its sight as the hills ran errands
‘Ah, forget shopping, look at the lovely bends’
We said, standing where time stays
Still, watching nature’s photo frames.
In the sunset valley below, we saw flames
Heady smell of wood fire someone saved
For a chilly evening. We peered at her face
A shadowy figure the dusk had crafted
An old scavenger whose days were spent
Beneath tattered old tarps and stumpy stands.
There she was lighting a fire and standing
By her lonely shanty home of fragile frames
Of twigs, scraps and the time she spent
Her resort that saved her from tidal waves
Of time, furies of nature, all forces drafted
By vagaries of this eternally peaceful place.
‘You new to the place?’ Her voice rose to where we stood.
‘Don’t miss the craft crash site, right here. My home was rammed,
A military exercise they said.’ Waves of silence. Our breaths spent.

Image from the Internet: Kasauli market place; panoramic view of Kasauli, Himachal Pradesh


priti aisola said...

I can see the whole thing so beautifully before me. And the surprising touching conclusion. Wow! You have a very fresh way of saying things, looking at things.

fleuve-souterrain said...

thanks Priti
Kasauli was a small but deep oasis of discovery back then when we visited. The locals have tons of stories to tell, and not just things to vend, and I miss that time...

Anonymous said...

beautiful poem... loved it .. I have been to Kasuli a lot many times and the place came alive with your poem... garmi mein thandi ka ehsas .. a breather ..

fleuve-souterrain said...

thanks Tiku! Kasauli is a special place no doubt...