On Authors readers and translations

cover picture of Dheerga Monteim, the Konkani rendering of Shashi Deshpande's
cover picture of Dheerga Maun teim the Konkani rendering of Shashi Deshpande’s “That long silence”

The book the reader and the writer

The linguistic fraternity of the Goa University guided Dr.Kiran Bhutkuley has come up with a beautiful program on translating. And the four day seminar began with the discussion of the Konkani translation of Shashi Deshpande’s book “That long silence” by Prashanti Talpankar as Dheerga Maun Teim.

The compare of the day Akshata Bhat was pleasure to listen to. The voice was very soothing and the flow of language was elegant and so was the girl herself. The translator, or the re-creator of the novel Prashanti is so also so vital and alive she is kind of the perfect contradiction to the original author who is quite vapid and well lets put it that my half an hour interaction with her during the GALF was not really stimulating.

there was a panel discussion with authors discussing the merit and demerit of translation, the author’s point of view and the works.

  1. Most of the texts were warped in time.
  2. The efficacy of translation depends on the reader more than the writer.
  3. There are many contemporary Indian writers who think in English so their language would more natural than someone of a generation ago whose thought process was in vernacular.
  4. Feminist is the point of view of the reader and May not necessary being the point of view of the author.

There seem to a deliberate choice in picking up books that are rather morbid when it comes to choosing textbooks. The oppressed Indian woman seems an all time favourite. But there are woman achievers in each generation who have achieved despite of being women and in the structure of the society and they have been accepted. The percentage of woman achievers is just as much or as little as the men achievers. But we refuse to count them.

Rural women are more empowered than their educated urban counterparts, for somewhere the Victorian segregation seem to seep into the turn of the Raj period and the first generation that grew up in independent India had different challenges as compared to the people of today.

let’s look at the simple quote from the book that one of the panellists thought was a challenge to translate, “Cultured damn!damn!” well to me, as reader translating it to vernacular, would not be difficult at all, but experiencing the emotion just reading the book, would not be possible, not because I am challenged with English, because to me the sentence only manifests a mild irritation or contemplation, I would probably use “Cultured my foot” or “cultured, I’be damned” some of the younger generation may opt for something else.

The Buddhist philosopher nagarjuna has an interesting observation to make, that reading book is a new experience each time so the rasa experienced varies after all the between the first reading and the second the readers anubhava would have changed. The impact or the drama of a telegram arriving is something that the younger generation would just not be able to perceive. It simply does not exist in their radar. When we talk of joint families well the joint family might have vanished but there was this extended community families that exist in the buildings that we inhabit. But off late that is fading away too.

There are wonderful Indian writers who have told the stories of women, who do not fall into the box. Like Mitra Venkatraj’s White Sari or Warped in Time, the book deals with lesbianism, depression and simple things the women are strong and articulate but definitely not morbid. The language she uses is informal and probably the thinking vocabulary of many of her readers. There is Anupama Sharma’s Railonama, Indu Sundaresan’s Taj trilogy,  Unreal mama’s Unreal Elections, Durgadas Sampat’s Mrs.Farmer and Mr.Consultant which are wonderful works with elegant but vibrant language. Simply because these people think bi-lingual.

If Prashanti Talpankar has got the flavour through it is her skill, and ablility to read, experience and laterally translate the novel, from Colonial  English but to contemporary Konkani that is a feat in itself. But Prashanti Bai, enough is enough now get your original story into print, and hopefully when we read we can hear your animated voice narrating the events that unfold through the story.


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