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, October 7, 2010

"Redness" wins a prize

It was nice to know I was awarded the 1st prize for my entry "REDNESS" by the UNISUN-Reliance poetry contest. That poem is special to me.

Here's the text:


The summer storm bloomed on an eastern sky

the west looked red

roses of anger heaped on a bush stuck in its thorns

smarting faces, hatred.


You were watching Caché in the living room TV

blood squirting from slashed up necks

headless chickens scattered in an ungainly race

backwards, forward, again back.


My finger touched a tomato skin shedding light

of a red ink, darklike –

wasn’t this what my father’s revolutionary friends

brought in, a newspaper wrapped tight


So not everyone would know how words tumble

red and angry on our roads?

I thought I saw a word flutter open again, a hue,

not a name or mundane things like odes.


You thought we’d lost our tongues, our attitude

piled under the redness of shame

peripheral to storms, deaths, news of constant ruse

and I realized, a color doesn’t need a name.

(By the way, someone asked with chagrin why I enter contests and I said, "To pay my bills". That is partly true. I want to break even one day and take a cruise somewhere. Is that bad? At least I don't want my poetry to be just read in tiny groups that'll only say "awww". I want poetry to sit in the bazaar and yell and gesture at passers-by... Ah, okay.)

Image from Internet: pop art


Anonymous said...

Beautiful, evocative poetry. Looking forward to reading Footprints soon.

Rhett said...

I will write like this after many a forever - I will -
"I thought I saw a word flutter open again, a hue,
not a name or mundane things like odes"
wow! The correspondences across stanzas are well built - hue - red - tomato - etc.
I feel exactly like a kindergarten student -