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

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Two Poems in MANORBORN collection--"Shuddhi" and "lotuses"

Recently I had 2 poems published in Manorborn 09 Collection (Harford Poetry Society) on the theme of "Water". "Shuddhi From Every Living Thing" and "and I saw lotuses out of season" were my contributions.

"Shuddhi From Every Living Thing"

My faith gave me shuddhi
My ritual of being awash
In ideas that cowered on
Some porches scared to be told
Don’t touch that, don’t sit there
Be a shadow of no one ever

My faith gave me shuddhi from
Thermal springs sprung from myths
Full moon dips in ammonia streams
Avoidance from our liquid beliefs
Of impurity and the five elements

I won’t drown like Ophelia for sure
For my faith poured clear shuddhi
The water from every living thing
As they lay dying in heavens’ corners
Wishing for a stream of reasons to
Reverse course, enter them unsullied.

"and I saw lotuses out of season"

with the rain that collected like eyes
over city roads of many vigils and wrangles
with long lines of handholding kids and adults
the line punctuated with buckets, pots, jerry cans
with monsoon’s bloom of festering holes that deceived
a splash or a sip and diluted rivers of freshness to flow clogged

I saw lotuses out of season ready to take on the clouds.
Manorborn is an annual print journal published by the Harford Poetry and Literary Society (MD). The anthology features poetry, fiction, memoir, essay, and black and white art and photography. See the table of contents (theirs is print-only journal) here and you can order the copy here. Nice thing that my work appears in the same book with poems by former Tompkins County (where Ithaca, NY, is) Poet Laureate Katharyn Howd Machan! What a feeling :).

Image: Manorborn 09 cover


Violetwrites said...

being awash in ideas and lotuses out of season ready to take on the clouds
that's life for you, eh?

Anuradha said...

Liked these poems, Nabina...especially because I could feel the seamless cadence of flowing water in most of the lines.

As they lie dying in heavens corners...we are all, aren't we? Lovely line.

Shudhi is such an exquisite word to pick!


Tim Buck said...

Nabina, I've read these two poems many times. On one level -- that of prosodic flow and rich image -- the impact is immediate. It's a pleasure to read them over for that reason. There's another level that also causes me to read the first one over and over: trying to understand the inner meaning.

I'm pretty sure this has to do with IQ. If mine were higher, I think the meanings would be apparent. But being me, I need some help to break things down.

In "Shuddhi From Every Living Thing", the first stanza tells me of a fierce independence either instilled or innate.

The second stanza tells me of an ethos etched with the acid of fiery myths, myths of paradox and double-meanings. Symbolism conveying hard truths about reality. But I need help with these two lines:

Avoidance from our liquid beliefs
Of impurity and the five elements

In context, I read "Avoidance" as a worthy thing, inherited from "liquid beliefs." But also in the overall context, I'm not sure what a fearless, independent person would be avoiding. Are you ironically avoiding purity, because you (or the poet) has been steeped in, thus sensitive to, the senseless avoidance of impurity? Or should the word be "of" instead of "from"?

And I assume you won't drown like Ophelia because you are awash in the will of life to push ahead into the mystery, no matter the misery?

Well, at least I spend quality time with poems, even if I'm not the most astute reader. :)

"and I saw lotuses out of season"

This is a little masterpiece! And I do hope I'm reading it right. As a image of the beauty of perseverance...as a paean to the ordinary, to the basic real, to its dappling the world with a stubborn, beautiful life force...even as the clouds of higher castes blithely course through their insipid days.

priti aisola said...

Packed with social comment and observation,the first one is a very challenging poem to read. When you say 'my faith', is it a very personal faith which is free from any reference and attachment to any dogma, doctrine or institutionalized religion? Your faith frees you from ritual 'purity and danger', from ritual impurity and cleansing?

The way you divert and shape your water imagery to convey meaning and commentary and express your confidence and freedom of spirit is interesting and clever.

The last part of the poem is moving and memorable.

The second poem is so much more accessible for me and a great piece.

Your poetic eye has transformed a typical post- rain city scene into something joltingly interesting.

'...with monsoon's bloom of festering holes...'- what a startling juxtaposition of contraries.

anu said...

Ah! i like short poems and out of season dares.

Anonymous said...

It feels so good to be back and reading some of the finest verses ... Love you for writing such fine challenging poetry. Shuddhi .. the word says it all. and the second poem is a gem to treasure.

abha said...

I loved the imagery of your second poem,
"I saw lotuses out of season ready to take on the clouds." And lotuses do bloom in muck.Beutifully rendered.
The first poem is deep. The use of the word 'shuddi'is so strong, a word that is so traditional and in your poem it is used as a word to denote your faith in yourself and a freedom from all that is ritual.I like this poem a lot, though one has to read it more often to fathom its depth.