About FOOTPRINTS IN THE BAJRA (Cedar Books, New Delhi); By Nabina Das
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Friday, March 26, 2010
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.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Monday, March 8, 2010
The Migrant City, my writing project supported by an Associate Fellowship from Sarai-CSDS (Centre for the Study of Developing Societies) is a collection of essays and poetry.
Most recently, the essay "The Limbo" is published on TROUBADOUR 21...
Under the series titled DILLIGAF (I know, I know!), it is set in Delhi -- the city of djinns and jagged edges ...!
Here's a teaser:
"The Ferris wheel sways up and down in a maverick fashion. Faces bob and bait me. Men in kurtas, humid tees and even unwashed shirt collars. Women a multitude of colourful heads – pink, red, ochre – covered with sari pallavs or transparent salwar-kameez veils. Kids walk between adult knees. Flower petals fall down crushed in fervent hands and the invisible vermillion powder in the hot air suffocates me. The auto sputters, barely moves.
“I need a smoke,” says my driver. “But someone might be offended.”I contemplate walking down but remember what happened once. Devotees pushing; someone’s hand in my pocket quickly scrounging for material items; another hand even on my butt, pressing and persuasive. But all this should be Maya. Or magic. You can’t see who does it and how."
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
March, one morning. Spring festival on my university campus. Holi. Colors -- powder, water balloons, water guns, even buckets of colored water...! Friends finish a quick breakfast and rush out to meet on the Jhelum Lawns. On the open stage teams are assembling to sing and parody -- it's the "Chaat Sammelan" (sorry, no translation!). We've already had the traditional bhaang drink from the kitchen staff who'd soon take the day off, and we're getting high with the riding sun forcing open flower buds. Someone's got sweets from home. We eat. We throw colors on friends and even a few strangers. We sing. Loud, boisterous. Clap and dance too. The lawn becomes a pink-red-yellow-green cloud. We float on it. It's spring, so some loves are sworn. Some are spurned too. Later, our group flocks to professors' quarters to wish them. We get more colors and some more snack to nibble on! By late afternoon, we want to shower and sleep. One lone guy, still high on the cannabis, sits under a tree and beats a drum.
Even I can't stop humming : Chalat musafir moh liyo re // pinjrewali muniyaa // udd udd baithi panwadiya dukaniyaa // beedey ka sara ras le liyo re pinjrewali muniyaa //...!!
A song about the 'muniya' bird enticing travelers, pecking off on sweets and coloring its beak with the taint of 'paan' -- double entendre all the way!