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, July 23, 2009

When Langston Hughes Visited My Home

Time for posting the second poem from the Guntur National Poetry Festival Anthology. It arrived in mail just this afternoon. They call it "A Posy of Poesy". Well, I don't dig the title, but it's a decently produced anthology, nicely printed on good paper and accommodates several poets from all corners of India. Nagasuseela and Gopichand, the organizers of the fest, are also the editors and they've done a good job.

I was invited to come down to Guntur and read my work with several other poets from different corners of India, but couldn't do that owing to a lot mixed up things going on in my world right then. Would have been so exciting. But I am excited to learn from the editors and newspaper coverage that the festival was a success.

I'm still flipping through the collection and am yet to sample some engaging writing. Meanwhile, I post my second poem from that collection. You remember reading my other poem in the book here: "Finding Foremothers". Now this is:

"When Langston Hughes Visited My Home"

The name was strange and the book
Was shiny dark
Thin, freckled jacket, like my angry
Pre-teen face
On the table

The title kept calling in a
Jingle-jangle Assamese refrain
I kept saying it out loud:
“Hey Xurjo Uthi Aha”!

Why it exhorted the sun to rise
Accept the challenge of a new
Dream that flamed
Brighter and purer
And why the smaller typeface said:
Poems by a dark-limbed poet, a collection,
I had no idea then

Dark limbs were not seen
On our book covers
Only limbs were, but then
Krishna is just not a word
For a god, it dawned on me
But skins and cheeks and
Strong arms of poetic force
On my table

Also the end of crowing nights
When a poet came home
Inside the covers of a book, smiling:
"That day is past!"

Postscript: This poem generated an interesting discussion among my friends. My friend and editor of Mnemosyne poetry blog Jen Pezzo-Kerowyn Rose made a very pertinent observation. Read "Discussion Generated on My Poem 'Langston...': Writing about Skin Color". Tell me what your thoughts are!

Image from the Internet: Langston Hughes


Tim Buck said...

What a wonderful memory-made-art, Nabina! An early moment when things got settled, when inspiration spirited into the room and into consciousness...when the deal got done...when you came home to you. Vision enhanced by seeing into another's clear, sensitive, ethical eyes.

Of course, sometimes my readings go off on their own, perhaps zig-zagging far away from a poem's reality; what can I say?...that's just me, and I'm too old for synapse re-wiring. :)

Runechris said...

Wow.. I've ben away from your blog to long Nabina... every time I do venture over here I am blown away..

How beautiful...

Kerowyn Rose said...

Hi Nabina,

I love this poem. It is such a contrast to the way many american's view skin color, even today.

The title is perfect. My favorite stanza is the first one. I like the imagery. What an artfully crafted piece of work. :-)

priti aisola said...

I really enjoyed the first stanza. You have a singular way of breathing new life into certain life moments. Continue to surprise us with your work.

Violetwrites said...

hmm viva la difference

love color
no buts about it...

Michael and/or Rachel said...

This is great!

Rhett said...

I liked it. I liked the 1st stanza. For the rest I think that the poem struggled to break free and say something it could and just settled in its own prison. (Perhaps rhythm would have given it flight.

Rhett said...

I liked it. I liked the 1st stanza. For the rest I think that the poem struggled to break free and say something it could and just settled in its own prison. (erhaps rhythm would have given it flight.