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

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Day 8: "Everyday Road"

This was the prompt for Day 8:

"For today's prompt, I want you to write a poem about either a specific routine or routines in general. Maybe something related to taking out the trash each week or washing the dishes every night--or something more bizarre (yet still a routine)." Read more at: April PAD Challenge: Day 8

"Everyday Road"

I know him and I know her, I know
the lopsided post-thaw twigs on the
trees lining this road, know when
they might fall on the sidewalk, I
know the gentle old men with eager
dogs, strawheaded middle-aged women
in arrogant walking shoes, unstoppable
all-weather joggers, weary undergrads
with backpacks, young mothers with
kids back from school, even solemn
drivers of cars and buses that always
take this road: rumble, tumble, juggle
The road goes where I go, strolls in
the morning, scurries like a chipmunk
to the library, returns home with heavy
trudges in evening, strides to a concert,
a café or a late meeting. I know, I know.

The young man wearing a mint-hued
coat that never waves, talks or smiles
knows I have long dark hair, sparkling
eyes and a knack for floral shirts. He sees
me trudging, walking, strolling, hurrying
his brown cheeks tanned, khaki trousers
frayed at the bottom, his fawn shoes
darker in tone day by day. He notices I
notice and becomes awkward. Glances,
wasted chances, mothballs, smell of mint
freshly picked. And there’s a schoolgirl
at the bend over the spring. I know she’s
three inches taller in the past three months
Her cheeks getting plumper she’s now
careful to look well-dressed, has choices
in color and clothes, at times red, at times
green and sometimes a wild Aragula mix
She’s unpredictable. I can predict she’ll
wear a new outfit the next day at the bend
She knows I notice her. She frowns, I smile.

One day he’ll be gone, get a job, get
new clothes, shoes and invite someone out
One day she’ll be gone, for college, change
boyfriends every semester, still sulk and frown
The road will lose me too, one day. Maybe I’ll
be gone to a new town, by a new spring, walk
a new road lined by other patient trees, still
count the pebbles, the sand grains, and know
the turns, know the bends by heart, and know
other passers-by. I’ll stroll, stride and run, I’ll
sprint down on my toes, catch a breeze, I’ll
write another piece for that everyday road.

Image from the Internet: "Road with Cypress and Star"; Artist: Vincent Van Gogh


priti aisola said...

These images so crisp and clear! Wonderful. Really really enjoyed it.

anu said...

ah! me knows the exact same roads :-) nice. so much to catch up, will be back soon.

Anonymous said...

we all have taken this road sometime or the other. Wonderful visual poetry. touched my heart. keep sharing.

fleuve-souterrain said...

thanks Priti, Anu, tiku... we are all sworn roadies...!!!

Rhett said...

This Is Sensational.

A-1 quality. My heart beat wildly when I just read the first line and I saw that I was right when I finished.

I also liked the fact that you didn't end it with some profound sounding confusing rigmarole. But then you ain't plebeian, you are special.