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

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Liberated Muse Vol I: How I Freed My Soul is out. Edited by Khadijah Ali-Coleman. Of my three poems "Chakra Walking", "Purifying Rites by Water" and "A Migrant's Tune" that appear with the work of several artists and writers in the collection, here is:

Chakra Walking

This has a wood-scented flower-center bright like a
Peeping bird's eyes, awake

Also watery

From floating gas fumes of the bus
Invading a space of always, ever, where like pure water
The mother goddess’
Pupils flow with a meadow-rust


And split the day like egg-shells -- A grass-bride giving off stillness to my
Moldy brown hands
That keep tracing
A path, again and again
Stuck like a Greek mythical hero gone to slay

The Minotaur

When I tell this story to my friends
Disbelief and
Awkwardness take over
Because we know we walk chakras at homes, jobs and road stops
Just as we inhale unheroic opposition

Of fate, weather
Wood-scented flicker of other eyes to emerge from shackles.


See http://outskirtspress.com/webpage.php?ISBN=978-1-4327-2415-3 for more info on the book. The blurb says:

Contributing writers include: Tichaona Chinyelu, Nabina Das, Venus Jones, Farah Lawal, Omar Akbar, Anthony Spires, Amy Blondell, DJ Gaskin, Summayah Talibah, Maureen Mulima, Randy Gross, Margaux Delotte-Bennett, Serena Wills, and other notables. Visual art work by Turtel Onli, Marshetta Davis, Shan'ta Monroe and more.

Foreword by author Ananda Leeke.

Cover Art by Sharon Burton.

1 comment:

Tim Buck said...

If I were a responsible commenter, I would first inform myself about chakras and their cultural significance. But I think I prefer just letting vague, alien-seeming associations drift from my tongue. Maybe that would be akin to a strange arcing and merging of sensibilities. I don't know.

Besides the beautiful, connotative word-pictures you've written, I am taken by the sense of centering our protagonist experiences. An intense state of being, not ordinary, thus isolating her from everydayness and "sleeping" people. Between breaths, she discerns scents of spiritualized time. She is not taken out of herself, as transcending anything; rather, she is cohering deeply INTO herself and is breathing in shocked, fragrant moments of realness.

And in this condition of being, she partakes of something like the Jungian archetypes; she grasps a-hold of the ancient cultural chain, connecting her and anchoring her to Woman...to the organic layers behind her in other time.

Or maybe I just need to lie down with an ice pack on my head until this blathering fit of mine passes over. :)