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

Friday, March 26, 2010

Luit On Our Tongues -- One River-Story Poem in Print

Four poems are out in the latest issue of INDIAN LITERATURE, the flagship journal of Sahitya Akademi (the national academy of letters in India). You have seen some of these poems workshopped here and there...

My river-stories are not always pastoral. Having grown up in an Assam that has seen much strife and struggle, the Luit (Brahmaputra) is my man-river in different roles -- a friend, a cradling solace, or an injured mad god (how could a god be injured you may ask, but I bring my poetic entities to live my life, ergo, a human life...).

Read this river-story:

Luit On Our Tongues

We were five or six, men and children

in a tempo, that rackety raucous vehicle

With three capricious wheels heading

towards Sonitpur, our vacation, where

Mangoes had ripened summer’s belly with

the monsoon’s heavy showering grace

The usual route was flooded, abandoned

Luit had licked it wet, fungal, even after

The water receded; this was our Old Luit

father kept telling me how the Red River

Has its liquid name from the colour red

after a battleaxe washed itself, lots of blood

Now there are bridges that drown currents

hurrying us in buses and cars in a riverine flow

The Bodo teacher sitting just next to us said

the river does actually speak the curious hue

In gurgles by his village sweeping in a chant:

Bhullum-buthur. He smiled. Bhullum-buthur

Bubbles in the head, the mad water’s dance

the Brahmaputra in news and TV he knew

It still gurgles day and night, another man said

like human voices when slashed, when spent

Gasps bhullum-buthur in river tongue, the dead

so did our Luit, took stories along and lives

Between conversations from the diverted route

we saw the faraway river gone red-eyed with mud

The blood all faded, perhaps the colour of the red-

ness entrenched like the leftover evening sun.

The other titles published in IL are: "No Country, No Names"; "Gandhari's Eyes", and "A She-Ghost can only call Names".

Image from my computer: Setting sun on the Luit (Brahmaputra), Assam.


Anonymous said...

I am sorry for being away from your blog Nabs. This is a beautiful poem and one of your best. Rivers are fascinating and hold a special place in my life so could visualize it clearly
best wishes

fleuve-souterrain said...

these words make me feel wonderful... yes rivers are fascinating like life, like death...
thanks for reading :)