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, April 9, 2010

"Wood-Story Before the Millennium and Now": New Poem in DM 34

Brand new poem on DANSE MACABRE XXXIV's all-poetry April issue "Belles-Lettres".

This is from a series I am writing under my Sarai-CSDS fellowship "The Migrant City". You can read it here or below:

Wood-Story Before the Millennium and Now

This is a table where we used to keep a glass vase in the nineties

the sun a syruping gooseberry often tumbling out of it reckless

a wooden table, smooth-plank body of a tree dressed for our

weekend dinners. Some clutter as it happens with faces clustered

coats of varnish and heavy-lashed lacquerware, dead-white ceramic

this will still be the same surface where we will spill the gravy

push the sparkling tea across, lick any fallen crumbs with thumbs


Keep the fast, it gives long life

to your husband, those elderly

women will implore and

let the table carry ornate

plates of offerings you won’t easily touch

only after the moon does first

its shadow on the water on your silver tray.

And then the table can sing like a cricket

all that crockery clattering

we will eat everything before

the moon-shadow devours the mind

ignoring what the women say.

In fact, you will know, I only cared

about just crickets because they

love the blackness of soul just as I do.


When I close my eyes I see my aunt lissome and dark with her braid

long like those thick twines for hauling country boats to shore

she smiles and shows a tooth we were told is of the elephant, rare.

I see her on her back on the bed tossing a red plastic ball over her chest

lob and drop and lob and show the gajadanta smile while my uncle

sits two feet away on a table, the one they never dined on, used as a shelf

for things, littered for the most time. He dangling his black-shoed feet as

if he is a kid watching the unbelievable enchantress woman’s trick

of lobbing a red-desire ball high up; the head of the old-fashioned bed

preventing him to leap forward, also because I zip into the room

looking for my cousin as uncle shifts, legs undangle, the table creaks.


The life story of woods

when they come from

forests of greenness

tells of more lines and stars

than found on our palms.


I don’t remember when Habib Tanveer or Gangubai the siren throat died

when was it bringing home wads of cash that quick dirty jobs paid was cool

money for home, food, electronics, but no song or lines; but I do remember

rehearsing one afternoon with Habib for a play we would perform in a street

where racketeers and launderers ran their shops; they watched, we stood

on the dust as if on breadcrumb crusts strewn on a table top, hewn uneven

because no one cleaned; a china cup stayed back, the old tea leaves telling

a tale of the millennium as they should, like all things emancipated and sweetly old.

This work is supported by Sarai-CSDS, New Delhi.

Image from Danse Macabre literary journal


Anonymous said...

i visited your site n was good enough then othere site that i visited last month

work and study

fleuve-souterrain said...

is this comment about my site and the poem Kon?
Well, do take some time to read in your next visit :)