Talking With Him/ Her

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I have the habit of talking with my favourite God:) It is akin to having a conversation with one’s best friend. (You can substitute the name of your beloved spiritual guide in the place of Hanumanji ) Here is the argumentative devotee trying to make sense of her journey:

Devotee: Lord, sometimes life doesn’t make any sense. I feel so lost in the melange… of the pot pourri of nonsense called this world! How do I traverse this seemingly intimidating ocean of unsurety?

Hanumanji: Stop using big words. Keep things simple. Thoreau caught it wisely- Simplify, simplify… Focus on those that need your attention. Ignore the irrelevant. Do not try for perfectionism. Accept that you control nothing- not even your actions. Offer everything at His feet: your thoughts, deeds, words…Then see if the worldly ocean scares you to bits!

D: I find myself overwhelmed by the glossiness and show around me. The glamour and the magic of make believe makes my eyes blink. I cannot see the path ahead.

Hanumanji: Glamour is magik. Trace the root- it comes from occult. Enchantment of the senses through allure and make believe. People trying to increase their aura and energy fields by various charms and colours…It is their choice. Why not grin and accept that the world has as many paths to happiness as there are grains of sand? Why not shrug your shoulders and wish those who enjoy that path the very best? And look confidently- without blinking in confusion- at your own rather simple stretch of sand path? Perhaps your way follows another magic?

D: Stress! Stress! So many expectations! So many commitments! Such little time! People who seem to be doing it all with utter coolness! Where am I in the midst of all this?

Hanumanji: (Laughs) What is stress but the showcasing of your ego? When you feel you control the action and the result, you feel the nervous palpitations of stress. What if I fail? What if someone mocks me? What if…what if?

What if you accept that even your action is beyond your total control? That the only thing you can do is to take the Lord’s Name and attempt whatever it is that you want to do? And that He/ She stands guard lovingly by your side at all times? That for the Lord, every flower of your offering – your attempt- is equally beloved. He does not differentiate between worldly success and failure.

And as for people who seems to be doing it all with utter coolness- may be, they have mastered that knowledge!

D: Where does one draw a balance? Thousands of demands scream for attention every passing moment? Meanwhile one reads about by-stander indifference. People who are so immune to sensitivity that they would rather make video recording of a crime or accident than reach out to help! How does one remain human in this world of ours?

Hanumanji: Remain your own authentic self. What you value will show up in your thoughts and priorities. Focus on those. Be the first who will reach out to help. The others will follow suit. The way to break the by stander indifference is to be the change maker. Be unafraid!

D: Which brings me to the main issue: Fear! There is paralysis everywhere due to fear. The fear of consequences, the fear of tomorrow,  the fear of what others would say, the fear of denied approval, the fear…

Hanumanji: You are more powerful than you think. When the Lord stands  by your side, what can make you afraid? And it is interesting to note that once you are unafraid, the enemy in your mind loses his/ her capability to frighten you! The enemy can be an examination, a potential diagnosis of a disease, a hateful personality, anything…The battle is in your head actually. Follow me?

Devotee: I follow you.

***

All these snippets are products of my overactive and febrile imagination. However, at the end of such conversations, I see light!  And with that little flame of hope, I trudge on my journey.

Until another wind blows and  my lamp gets snuffed. Then I start speaking with my beloved God again.

HE lights another lamp for me. Always. With utter patience. With infinite love and compassion. And then holding my shivering hand, walks by my side with His confident steps.

Then I become fearless.

***

 

 

 

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A View From Within

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It started with a birthday gift. A book of poetry in my mother tongue. Today, I am part of another journey because of it.An anthology – a collection of selected writings that have been translated into English- is now taking form. I hope it gives joy and serenity to the readers when published.

Another wonderful translation project of a novel is taking off. The title and blurb are being discussed. The excitement of another intellectual adventure is giving me wings! The edits will begin soon. The searching for words : which will capture nuances, accommodate different reading sensibilities, transcend language barriers, convey scalpel sharp emotions, and yet remain unique!

Answering the intelligent questions of multiple editors, defending the choice of phrase or giving way gracefully, listening to the concerns of the author as her beloved child enters into a different world( Will she stumble? Will she float? Will she walk and run at ease into the readers’ heart?)….these are the challenges known only to a translator. Sometimes I reflect that being mother to two daughters- strong, self willed, opposite as chalk and cheese- has prepared me for this role. You should have no ego when it comes to this assignment. You just let the words flow through you, with a silent prayer.

My friends often ask me about how I find time to do my  translation assignments.  My answer is simple. It gives me joy, so I find the time. It energises me, so I often run to it. It is incredibly fulfilling, so it is worth the effort.

Actually, if you sit before a 200 paged novel and dream of translating it at one go, it will never happen. But if you decide to take one paragraph at a time, and one page at a time….then the mind becomes confident. It is all about our perception after all.

‘So, why don’t you write your own books?’  I grin and say that I translate better than I write! Believe me, I have tried both. The  reviews and the award long/shortlists came faster with the former!

Besides, have you ever tried to get inside another’s head? It is akin to a Psychologist’s job! And so, I translate! 😀

***

Without Genre: Poems (By Prof Veeran Kutty, Translated From Malayalam)

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1. Easy Cooking

One can observe

From your eyes:

Passionate love

Burning;

Intense yet controlled.

Yes, that is evident

Even in your wary smile.

Consequently one can conclude

That your life

Would be getting perfectly

Cooked.

Agree?

**

2.  Hope

The earth, which

We have damaged,

Is being steadily repaired:

The flowers  by their fragrance

The tender leaves by their colours,

The fruits by their sweetness.

The rain washes and

The wind wipes clean.

Have you ever seen the sunshine

Rest awhile?

Always in a hurry to

Dry and store

For the morrow.

**

3. Exchange

You extended your hand

Towards me,

While

Standing deep in the night.

I was entrenched in the day

Then.

It was reminiscent of the episode-

When you offered your kiss

Standing on a mountain top,

And I received it

By a sea- shore.

**

4. You and Me

I bloomed forth

Ecstatically,

On hearing your words

Which was spoken in my dream.

What of it, anyway?

I shrivelled up

With

One word

Which you left unpsoken

When we met.

Didn’t I ?

**

5. The Search

‘Where are you?’

Even as I asked,

The Tree

Pointed to all four directions

And cast me into utter puzzlement.

Perhaps

On knowing that

I was searching for you,

The guiding stars ahead,

Resignedly let go of

Their responsibility

And trailed behind me.

The wind twirled me into bewilderment.

And finally,

When I reached the edge

Of the ocean

With a rising scream on my lips,

It snarled back:

The thousand tongues,

Asking me all at once,

Where you had gone?

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And Miles To Go…

http://www.livemint.com/Leisure/9dyR9hntWhTRqu7AgqDipK/So-what-if-they-didnt-win-the-Booker.html

‘So what if they didn’t win the Booker?’ Article in Livemint on some of the best books out there.

Yayyyyy! K. R Meera’s ‘The Poison of Love’ is featured in that list.

DSC South Asian Literature longlist, Bangalore Lit Fest- Atta Galatta short list…

Yours Truly celebrates as the translator.

God works in miraculous ways!

**

 

Twisted Tales; Unvarnished Truths…

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The short stories written by Daphne Du Maurier when she was in her twenties – apparently rejected by the editors then – are now available for the reader.

‘Stunning’, is too feeble a word for her percipient writing! One can see the origins of  her eponymous heroine ‘Rebecca’  in a story ‘ The Doll.’ Now, that is a  truly breath taking story: apt material for any literature student who wants to research on gender, power play, and openly subversive writing.

Also, it is worth to explore the similarities of character in the two Rebeccas. The play of emotions, the hatred, the loathing, the desire, the love, the mystery and the jealousy. The heroine asks whether one can love someone to such an extent that it becomes pleasurable to hurt that person! The hero wonders whether he could strangle her to her death. The ending is….unspeakable! Ah,  definitely the twisted tale of Manderlay,  first stirred to life in that story…I  could only hum ‘ Yeh nayan dare dare…’

It was not that song which I hummed when I read  the story, ‘And his letters grew colder.’ How perfectly  the young Daphne Du Maurier analysed the mind of the player! The hunting, the chasing and the cold hearted abandonment. The callousness of the casual trickster has been dissected with needle sharp cynicism and ruthlessness by a master writer!

Any day, any century, any era, a woman can benefit by reading that story! Poor Mrs.B, or A : how you fell for the hunter at large! It is a tale which will hold true in the age of tinder and instant messaging; and probably save a few lives from unwarranted suicides too.  Apparently,  from reading reviews of that story , a lot of women across the world agree on that particular chronology of Daphne’s surreptitiously sly narrative.

The perfect song to hum is Kelly Clarkson’s of course.. ‘Baby you don’t know me..what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…’

 

**

http://lereis.blogspot.in/2007/05/and-his-letters-grew-colder.html

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2011/apr/30/the-doll-daphne-du-maurier

P.S. For all who love Conan Doyle. He could write some real creepy stuff too! Check out ‘ The case of Lady Sannox.’  Now that is another story which can fit in this particular genre. Du Maurier would have applauded.

http://etc.usf.edu/lit2go/19/tales-of-terror-and-mystery/75/the-case-of-lady-sannox/

 

 

And He Said, Speaking Low and Nervously…

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So I told my daughter, ‘Read M.R.James. You will be surprised and delighted with that horror genre! Besides, you can enjoy the BBC versions of every story!’

As a beautiful eyebrow was raised-the owner contemplating on the utility of reading a Cambridge  don exposit on the supernatural and the impalpable in exquisite English -I rushed in: ‘ Start with ‘The treasure of Abbot Thomas’! Bet it can enchant you as much as the twistor theory..’.

This time, she laughed indulgently. She knows me well. It is better to humour me , when I am on a pulpit preaching the virtues of reading classics.

‘ What of it?’ She asks, with a smile.

‘ There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy…’

‘ Ha!’

‘ Ciphers! Zacchariea 3:9  Super latinum unum occuli sunt!’

‘ Eh? Latin?’

‘ Upon one stone are seven eyes…’ And that is from Zachariah! More from Job and  Johannes…!’

‘ Eeeks!’

And a warning. In French! Gare a qui la touché!’

‘ What?’

‘ Beware, whoever touches it!’

‘ Ugho!’

‘ Yup! There was a Guardian! Depositum Custodi! Keep that which is committed to Thee!’

‘ And you want me to read it before going to bed, Amma?’

I laugh in a theatrical manner!

‘Do tell me if you enjoy the imagination of a brilliant Cambridge don!  He was a genius. Your generation probably has not appreciated him enough. He used to read  out his horror stories by candle light in the Cambridge Chit Chat Club!’

‘ What an ideal life!’

This time we laugh together.

My teenager promises that she will meander from her safe Physics turf into some intriguing classic horror genre.

I grin happily. I know that once she starts with the wicked Abbot’s tale,  ‘The Ash Tree’ and ‘ Casting the Runes’ will be  consumed soon enough. After all, no one can stop with eating just one chocolate, can they?

And as for me, The Tractate Middoth awaits! And the warm afternoon sun is so delightful in accompaniment!

**

 

 

 

 

Painting Once Again…

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In a way poetry and painting are kindred souls. What some accomplish by a few words strung like beads together, others strive by mixing dots of paint. There is an inevitable catharsis- the hoarded up emotions furiously burst- and all is well again.  Some kind acquaintance might exclaim over your lines or appreciate your painting. Added bonus.

Why do we stop doing those things which we love, when we grow up?Because, we get into the business of living. And when life becomes regimented with multifarious responsibilities, happiness inducing hobbies take a backseat. It is only after a bad crash or two on life’s highway that the  Master Guardian-intuition- whispers again: ‘maybe time to trust the silent spectators sitting behind you offering help.’

So you pick up that dusty paper again. The paint is half dried up and the brush is so stiff that no amount of softening it with a water treatment works! You hesitate between a sketch pen and a black crayon. Then you start…And like a poem, beauty reveals itself, very sweetly.

And one remembers the sentence about the soul being on its knees….praying.

**