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

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Two Poems in Mascara Literary Review

Australian journal Mascara Literary Review has published two of my poems in its latest edition in a section titled NEW WORLDS. You can read the poems ALEPH and LIVING ROOM HOMILY here: Nabina Das

NEW WORLDS is a new section to showcase writers from the "neo-antipodes and diasporas".

Editor Michelle Cahill writes in one e-mail:

"We are really delighted to be publishing your fine work in Mascara Literary Review. It will be as part of a section titled "New Worlds", featuring work from the states/northern hemisphere."

and in the other:

"Your poems are wonderful. Do keep in contact. You may wish to consider writing a review in future."

In the main Poetry section, there is my favorite Indian poet Keki N Daruwalla's poems and Sukrita Paul Kumar's work as well. Really feels good to be in Keki's company! My friend on Facebook, Anuradha Vijayakrishnan's excellent poetry is also there.

I love ALEPH and so let me reproduce it here too:


The first sound uttered is always forgotten
Possibly it is never even a word. Just
An interjection that derives from faraway
Fears or an anxious rhythm of speech.
The first sound can be heard quite clear
When groans and grunts are taken care
Of with mighty sweep of authorized
Hands that also stifle songs and smiles.
If you were a baby or a doddering pair
Of legs, your first word would be despair
Not a calligrapher’s delight in dusky ink
Blinking away in the heliotrope night.

In one little fable the first letter was
Meant to be the first word of wonder
But no one wrote it down and so later
The ocean took it with fish and dead matter.


priti aisola said...

Truly marvelous! I have two little questions here which I will post on facebook.


fleuve-souterrain said...

I am gonna put down what Tim and Priti wrote on FB for the poems in Mascara. Thanks you both! I will write personally to you in discussion of these poems...

PRITI: Really good. Really marvel at your range of themes and your confident ability to weave different allusions into a piece. Every time i read you and other poets I think of the interminably long distance i have to cover. And then i tell myself - enjoy what is given to you; don't get embroiled in self-doubt.

Two curious questions:
Why would 'a baby's first word be despair'?
What is 'the little fable' you are referring to?

TIM: "Aleph" -- makes you think; makes you feel something about early weirdness...and about the mystery of language. I wonder what Noam Chomsky would think about this poem? I wonder what George Steiner would think? Our first word, an eruption of raw essence: a precious sound lost in moving time and the opiate of experience unstoppable. And all the larger dull apes fail to register and enter the sacral moment...the passage of wonder into first word.

This is a beautifully written poem.
"Living Room Homily" -- I can't penetrate this one. The fault is surely mine as a dull reader. I could not piece together what this might be urging as a whole. I could not connect the "action" from one stanza to another. I do want to know what it's about. It seems like it's about something significant.

Rhett said...

I love that sound of mystery tip-toing behind the curtain of some poems.
Well the ocean spits out pearls and that is the beginning of things and the writing of later poems, isn't it?

Runechris said...

Very nice one.... Brings to mind a biblical phrase.. " in the beginning was the Word..." I guess the first sound is that.. it reverberates throughout creation... whether written or other wise.

Thanks Nabina... and congratulations on the publication.

Rhett said...

I also had the same impression as Runechris... "In the beginning..."

Anyway I read this poem again and found to my delight it had grown on me - just loved it all the more.