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 6, 2009

Open Space-HarperCollins-India Poetry Contest 08- 2nd Place for my "Narrative Limits"

I stumbled upon this the other day, having forgotten all about it:

"Announcing the winners of the Open Space–HarperCollins-India Poetry Contest 2008 (On the theme of ‘Borders’): http://openspaceindia.org/OS_HCPI_poetry_contest.html"

Roxanne Hoffman, editor of Poets Wear Prada press and the blog Flor del Concreto has been very kind to post this on Flor: "Nabina Das has won 2nd place in an all-India poetry contest organized by HarperCollins-India and Open Space-India in November 2008 on the theme of BORDERS. Among the judges were veteran poet Keki Daruwalla, HarperCollins India editor VK Karthika and writer Priya Surukkai Chhabria. Read Das's winning entry "Narrative Limits" at Open Space"

So go there and read ...

Well, I am also pasting the poem below if laziness is your virtue!


He was holding baby-food cartons rotten eggs ill gotten perhaps and soggy scraps
Running from a plum-dark night into what seemed starkly bright starlight or searchlight
Flying with the power of bullets in his back horse powered from menacing police guns.
He surely said truthfully he had a starving child, but he looked like an enemy, he did.

She was scared plumbed with interrogation, the tongue numb from an untranslatable fear
Skin shallow like swamps she jumped. Rising vapour or human crumb her hair or breasts.
Take away my hemp clothes, she pleaded, my sentimental nesting flowers but don’t
Take away my books my looks no different from you in your cities of rapturous life.

They (drove trucks, laboured, choked on dust, drank spit, came trudging here humanlike
With cherries and berries of sweat to sweeten the world, also in anger or merriment cried,
Crossed creeks, counted reluctant tax money much like you or me and with care wiped
Mud from germinal faces and hands) were sent back across the nettled fence, embattled.

They held curdled milk beans dying seeds torn clothes our discarded marginal materials
Their faces like myth raked up from the bottom of our narrative limits of scatter and filth
Nametag dog-leash passport license branded on skin sizzling with fried-fish tan or tear
Standing at the razor lines that distance them because of the way they walk the streets.

Image from the Internet


gulnaz said...

bravo!!! hits you hard!! excellent! first prize stuff!

fleuve-souterrain said...

Thank you! I'm sure I wrote it after I listened to a rightwing rant... First prize? Yeah, I wish...! Nah, something else nice will always happen :)

Anonymous said...

Like this.. very rich imagery.

christina brooks

Anonymous said...

Left me speechless for some time and numb. something I would have loved to write. I feel blessed that I have friends who have sensitive souls and an eye to see beyond what usually is. lovely stuff. strange that our best creations come out from the human miseries, saddest thoughts and pains of everyday struggle to live one more. love you.

fleuve-souterrain said...

Chris, thank you!

Tiku, your comments help and encourage me. I know you are a very good writer too and that's why you can see what I am digging away with words here :) And yes, best creations are from miseries, pain, death and dirt... because we tend to live in denial about them!

sudeep said...

liked you choice of diction and way you sustained the central image.

Tim Buck said...

Amazing how inspiration creates its form. This would not have worked nearly so well had it been presented in a less-fractured shape. Here, we have a brutal kaleidoscope, twisting from brittle scene to brittle scene. Human beings become brutes when they lord it over the desperate. Borders are a material manifestation of coiled, entitled evil.

shreya said...

amazing poem... How old r u? I do wanna become like u one day..