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

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Summer Shock, Prize Money, Poem in Pirene's Fountain Journal

Suddenly it is summer, at least in India where I am. Not much happened except for a nasty burglary at my parents' home in Guwahati, Assam, where I arrived to spend a month of my Indian vacation. Before the mangoes and jackfruits came tumbling sickeningly sweet on our palate, before the monsoon sprinkles cooled our cheeks, and before I started wearing my blue eye shadow to reflect the hills bordering Japorigog, someone or some people made away with things that I considered to be more in worth than they might be.

Anyway, my cash award for a 2nd prize awarded by the Open Space-HarperCollins-India Poetry Contest 2008 arrived. Some silver lining. Or is it?


Pirene's Fountain - A Journal of Poetry has published my work in their summer edition. You can read the journal online at Current Issue. My poem is titled "A Soothsayer's Dilemma" and can be read at Nabina Das. My favorites Mark Doty, Linda Pastan, Pume Perl among others are published in PF.

Here's the poem in case you just can't visit the strikingly beautiful website (http://pirenesfountain.com/current_issue/das_nabina.html):

A Soothsayer’s Dilemma

When she said prophecies make the sky spin like a roulette table, she meant while taking chances, they reach the end of palpability, each courting a few unexplored desires

She said prophecies would let their winding hands circle my fleshy roots, digging amply inside Apollo’s oracles, welcoming a change in spring’s sparkled honeyed light

I asked if future is a scene, a fête where men and women bestow abhaya; laugh. Because they’re shown grand, animated, in prints of red and Sepia tones in books of prophecies

She said because we can’t read future we melt inside our tacky floors hopelessly shelled with sleep’s call, but they still come the prophecies, like soft footfalls and infantile taps

My mother’s disbelief, when I said prophecies invade my bark before turning it into the ark when new rivers depths unknown are created, seemed like a verse. Prophetic overtures.

PF reproduced Gustave Klimt's MEDICINE with my poem, much to my surprise and liking. I copy it here.


anu said...

Loss and gain balanced -more than a silver lining i'd say :) its still raining of and on here -what i'll not give for a return to monsoon, mangoes, jackfruit and blue hills!

Misiula said...

Congratulations on the prize! Hooray!

I hope they catch the nasty burglars.

Lots of love

fleuve-souterrain said...

life moves on I guess... :) Come for the fruits surely!

hope u had success at Buffalo. Thanks for the nice words... I hope those theives go sad one day:)

Tim Buck said...

What an intriguing theme, Nabina! And as always, a deft handling of image, rhythm, and evocation. What a mesmerizing image: "spring’s sparkled honeyed light"

I keep coming back to the first two lines, which I think form the heart of the poem...the following ones grow out of them like arterial branches. I could never in a million years come up with a phrase like this:

"they reach the end of palpability, each courting a few unexplored desires"

This is so subtle as to be almost a subconscious fume become words. I am marveling at this. Riddling over how you not only "saw" the concept, but then were able to render it so well. Some poetry, I do believe, has the residue of real magic on it.