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, April 29, 2010

My Father Tells a Story -- poem in "Indian Literature" (Sahitya Akademi)

"MY FATHER TELLS A STORY" is another poem from the four recently published in "Indian Literature" from Sahitya Akademi, the national academy of letters in India. I thought of putting this up on my blog especially because the question of roots, origins, and nationality always interest me a great deal, and a recent rendezvous with Edouard Glissant's talk and a documentary film about his Poétique de la Relation. (Poétique III; Paris: Gallimard, 1990) fanned some more introspection in this regard. For the strategization of language and identity to be either a linear entity or a parallel to a certain historical/atavistic notion is something all of us tend to seek. But stories are different as you inadvertently have to peel the layers, often subconsciously. For a 'colonial to a post-colonial' identity, a poem such as this cannot be seen as an exercise in a uni-dimensional "root" adherence. The "story" -- told many times over through someone to my father to me and to others who have experienced similarly in diverse histories, not just the Subcontinent -- lends itself to further re-telling, an enhancement in terms of linguistics and historicity.


The young girl in a sari

Was walking to the library

She naturally didn’t see

The truck creep up behind her

Stuffed with soldiers wearing

Leafy helmets, false implants in

The heart of that shell-shocked

Macadamized Bengal town


Her face a sorry storybook

Quite a few pages torn

When they found her by

A garbage dump, stared at

By the ancient panhandler

The poor bastard refused arrest

Shouted abuses, got suitably

Thrashed by the police


The young man whispered

Show me your palm your

Red henna peacock from

Last night’s festivities

Then she read him a poem

About crocodiles in snare

Until they fell asleep in

Each other’s arms, dreaming


There was a river, grass and

Flowers shrouding its banks

Its depth unknown, but easy

For the rebels to swim

The same night Yahya Khan

Made quick plans to strike

Universities where students

Danced to songs of Tagore


That was a night when nervous

Sirens screamed on, his

Would-be bride was picked up

And thrown. Folding up

Maps that fooled, didn’t show

A country of hearts, he left

A peacock mourned for her

And him. No country yet for them.


Image from the Internet: Jamini Roy, Untitled; gouache on paper.


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fleuve-souterrain said...

Thanks all!

LaVone said...

Wow this was great, I see I have a long way to go before I can say I understand poetry! Great post.


Rhett said...

Really nice poem or story - whichever - 'no country yet for them' is again your signature - lurved it - but can only say how much when I learn it thru writing like this -