Reading With New Eyes


There is now a definite change in the way one approaches words. I have always been fascinated by words; but there is a subtle difference in the way I view them. It happened after I metamorphosed into a translator. (One wing at a time) Every adjective and adverb tantalize me… The four hundred page tome that I am blessed to work with (a dream project)  is scribbled all over : both with Biblical references  and words that have sprung  unexpected surprises on me.

The paragraph with the reference marked Sirach 24: 14 , also has on its fringes ‘affliction, persecution and Jeremiads.’

John 13: 21 is  written on another page and it shares humble space with  ‘fleer, capricious and surly’.

Lamentations 1:1 is  scribbled at one place with the edges of the page rimmed with ’embroiled, otiose quivers and duplicitous.’

Note: The divine references have no relations with the eagerly scribed words. Those are inspirations  from books,  the kindle, newspapers, even from the mouth of babes (literally from my little girl..)Words  which intrigued me- for they were exactly what I had been searching for at some juncture of the project. Speak about the teacher appearing when the student is ready!

I have started observing the common comma, the humble hyphen, the innocuous period all rather alertly and with appropriate awe.  Phrases such as  ‘to be seized by foreboding’ and ‘words which carried after her retreating figure’, have halted me in my tracks like a country girl in a city party gaping at the pomp and glory. From Gothic novels to newspaper editorials and Coleman Barks with his ecstatic rendering of Rumi’s poetry, I am being constantly tempted by the delectable pleasures- thankfully not forbidden- of words and metaphors.

‘ I was a thorn rushing to be with a rose,

vinegar blending with honey, a pot of

poison turning to healing salve, pasty

wine dregs thrown in the millrace. I was

a diseased eye reaching for Jesus’ robe…’

(Ahhhhh! Rumi!)

‘Nightingale, iris, parrot, jasmine. I speak those

languages, along with the idiom

of my longing for Shams-i Tabriz.’


I am also adding cloisonne door knobs, fleur-de-lis pattern, carved cinnabar bowl,fine parquetry, rosettes, rattling and soughing branches,  aquamarine streaks of beauty…in my fast growing notes.

A reader lives a thousand lives in just one lifetime. A translator, my dears, a translator lives a dual existence. In one,  she is the reader with the thousand odd lives. In the other, a ghost who walks, a phantom of delight, who gets to dive into the deep blue sea waters of one language and emerge on a gorgeous cove of another language…What divine grace is that indeed… May the Lord keep filling my coffers with more of His works.

Wolf Song


Woman, Wolf

Whatever name you go by

In the world of ours,

Watch and abide,

Listen and stay sharp.

For when the foe stirs

Aim for the jugular first.


Carry the howl within,

The thirst and the anger.

Ignore the brambles

The bleeding scars awhile.

It is time to fight

And so arm yourself nail and tooth.


Bare your fangs

That sparkle in  the moonlight

Let no enemy sleep tight

When the wolf stalks its prey.

And when they gaze at you

With revulsion and fear

Flip your luxurious mane

And walk gracefully away.


The wise ones know

That the  she-wolf within you

Is loath to forgive

Is wary of sweetness

Is proud and brave

And excels in survival.

But even they are unaware

That the flame within

Is a raging fire.

Touch once, it singes,

Mess with it twice, it will burn

Trouble it thrice, hell breaks loose

Wolf and inferno shall remain.











A Hymn Of Gratitude


How do you feel after climbing a hill? Stand at the pinnacle of a mountain top?

Gratitude fills my heart.

There is deep satisfaction, at the culmination of an eventful journey -where words were my constant companions. A path which was profusely lush with hymns from the Holy Bible and the various Upanishads. Where Hanuman mantras merged seamlessly with propiatory shlokas praising the Goddess!

The first draft of a major translation project stands completed! Almost three hundred pages of sheer delight as a translator!

I am inspired by the humility, the brilliance and wisdom of the unassuming writer, who  gave me  full freedom and heartfelt  encouragement  at every stage! Thank you, thank you for the great opportunity!

On Navami,  when the splendour of the Goddess of Learning is casting its mesmerising magic all around, I bow before her graciousness in making me the chosen instrument of her wishes.

Guide us towards light…Mother! To work harder, to spread the beauty of learning, to quietly do our bit in this magnifIcent world, without getting sidetracked into what you may deem worthless in your divine wisdom.

‘But when they measured it with an omer, those who gathered much had nothing over, and those who gathered little had no shortage…!’

Thank You Again!


വിവർത്തനം നൽകുന്ന പാഠങ്ങൾ


പട പേടിച്ചു പന്തളത്തെത്തുമ്പോൾ??
പന്തം കൊളുത്തി പട. ( ശരണം അയ്യപ്പാ!)

FLAMBEAU എന്ന വാക്കാണ്  അർത്ഥബോധത്തിൽ  ‘പന്തം’ എന്ന വാക്കിൻറെ ശരിയായ മൊഴിമാറ്റം. ചെസ്റ്റർട്ടണിന്റെ ഫാദർ ബ്രൗൺ കഥകൾ വായിച്ചിട്ടുള്ളവർ ആ കഥാപാത്രത്തെയും, ആ വാക്കിന്റെ ഉപയുക്‌തതയും രസത്തോടെ ഓർക്കും . പക്ഷെ ‘ദി ബ്ലൂ ക്രോസ്സ്’ വായിക്കാത്തവരും ഉണ്ടല്ലോ ദുനിയാവിൽ!

പറഞ്ഞു വന്നത്, പന്തത്തിന്റെ ‘അനുവാദം’ (ഹിന്ദിയിൽ ഒരു ചിരിക്കു വക നൽകി കൊണ്ട്, ഭാഷാന്തരത്തിനു ‘അനുവാദ്’ എന്നാണ് പറയുക.) തേടി ഞാൻ ഒടുവിൽ ഫ്ളയ്മിങ് ടോർച്ചിൽ എത്തി ചേർന്ന്‌ സായൂജ്യമടഞ്ഞു. ആ യാത്രയിൽ, ഇഷ്ടപ്പെട്ട ഒരു പുസ്‌തകത്തിന്റെ ഓർമ്മ പുതുക്കാനായി.

2. പര്യായവാചി എന്ന ഗൂഗിൾ മഹിമ

‘നിർവികാരം’ എന്ന വാക്കെടുക്കുക,…അതിപ്പോൾ പല സ്ഥലത്തും ഒരേ വാക്ക് ഉപയോഗിച്ചാൽ,  പരിഭാഷയിൽ കല്ല് കടിക്കും.
synonyms എന്ന ഗൂഗിൾ മന്ത്രജാലം കാരണം  പര്യായങ്ങൾ റെഡി! indifference , listlessness, lethargy…ഏതു വേണമെങ്കിലും എടുക്കാം.
THESAURUS വായിക്കാതെ ഒരു കുറുക്കു വഴി…

മേഘമോ താമരയോ ?

പണ്ട് സിസ്റ്റർ വിമല കണിശത്തോടെ പഠിപ്പിച്ച പല പാഠങ്ങളും ഉപയോഗം വരുന്നുണ്ട്.
നീരദം / നീരജം

കൊടുക്കുന്നത് ‘ദം’..അത് കൊണ്ട് നീര് കൊടുക്കുന്ന മേഘം നീരദം
ജനിക്കുന്നത് ‘ജം’…അതിനാൽ നീരിൽ ജനിക്കുന്നത് താമര.

പല വാക്കുകളുടെയും ശരിക്കുള്ള സത്തു മനസ്സിലാക്കാനായി കൂടുതൽ വായിക്കുമ്പോൾ, ഒരു AHA ഫീലിംഗ്! വിവർത്തനത്തിൽ മേഘത്തെ താമരയായി കാണാൻ ആവില്ലല്ലോ !

കൈതേ, കൈതേരിമാക്കം…!

കൈതേരിമാക്കം കൈതപ്പൂ മുടിയിൽ ചൂടാൻ ‘കൈയുയർത്തും ദശായാം’…. ആ ഭാവനയിൽ വിരിഞ്ഞ ശൃംഗാരവും, വാക്ചാതുരിയും! പിന്നെ അന്തം വിട്ടിരിക്കുന്ന കുറേ പ്രീഡിഗ്രി പെൺപിള്ളേരും!

എന്തായാലും കൈത പൂവിന്റെ  തർജ്ജമയായി,  ‘ screw-pine flower’ എന്ന് ടൈപ്പ് ചെയ്തിട്ട് ദീർഘ നിശ്വാസം ( deep sigh ?) നടത്തി നമ്മൾ കൗമാരത്തോട്ടു പോയി.

ദശാബ്ദങ്ങൾക്കു പിന്നിൽ നിന്നും വെണ്മണി കുടുംബവും മറ്റും ഓർമ്മയിൽ ഓടിയെത്തുന്നു. അതൊക്കെ ഒരിക്കൽ കൂടി ഒന്ന് വായിക്കാൻ പറ്റിയെങ്കിൽ എന്നൊരു ആഗ്രഹം…

പക്ഷെ ചിന്തിച്ചിരിക്കാൻ സമയമില്ല.

ദൈവമേ, പൂവരശിന്റെ ഇംഗ്ലീഷ്…! അതോ, പൂവരശ് എന്ന് തന്നെ എഴുതിയാലോ?
വിവർത്തകയുടെ വിവരക്കേട് കാരണം മരം മാറി പോകരുതല്ലോ!!
അങ്ങനെയങ്ങനെ…പാഠങ്ങൾ ഇനിയും ഒത്തിരി പഠിക്കാൻ ബാക്കി…
എഴുത്തുകാർക്ക് നന്ദി – നിങ്ങളുടെ ബുദ്ധിശക്‌തി കാരണം, എന്റെ വിവരമില്ലായ്മ എനിക്ക് വ്യക്തമാവുന്നു!


The Cascade Effect


Gargi checks the whatsapp message again: “Your silken curls, cascading like a river, are giving me sleepless nights! When do I get to bury my face in that garden of fragrance?”
She rubs her eyes and looks again at her greying old phone. The beep had woken her up from a rather deep sleep.
The message reads the same.
She checks the sender information.
There is no display picture. No pompous one liner or any other detail. Just an unknown number sending her this romantic stuff at one in the night.
‘Well, well,” she mutters to herself, “if it is any of my old admirers, I would like to shake him up for not sending this to me fifty years before! Could have given the Urdu poetry quoting Colonel a run for his money!”
She does not reply.
But when she goes to bed again, she cannot help smiling to herself. There is a song in her heart.
“Keshav should get that river side plot. He is struggling in his business now… This plot might help.” She thinks fondly of her younger son. He reminded her most of her late husband, the Colonel.
She caresses her long, thick, white curls, as she drifts off to a happy sleep.

Lakshmy giggles as she reads the message. Trust Krishnan to send her this syrupy sweet nothing at one in the night. Did he get drunk by any chance after doing all that Maths?
How did he get her number?
She caresses her silken black hair, cascading like a river, and imagines him hiding his face in that garden of fragrance.
Trust him to look all serious, the quintessential Maths teacher, and trying poetry to charm her at night! And except for looking deeply into her eyes in the staff room, he has till now never dared to express any emotion.
Was this his number? Ever since he had joined their school last month, she had been desperately trying to get it. Sheena , her friend, had mercilessly teased her about her crush!
Well, she will not respond now! But tomorrow, during the tea break, she will ask him whether he liked rivers and gardens!
She dreamily stares at the moon outside and is filled with inexplicable joy.
If only tomorrow arrived now!
Dr. Alice reads the message and wipes away the sudden tears.
When was the last time her husband sent something so nice?
And especially after a big fight? When she has almost decided to call it quits.
But this was not his normal number.
When he stomped out at ten in the night, she had thought it had ended.
Memories came flooding back: their college romance, their youthful days when George tried to create his business, the birth of their daughter…the recent fights over his drinking bouts, the extravagance…
‘ We will pull through… will go for a vacation together…a place somewhere far away, with rivers and gardens…He still praises my long hair! Lord, how I remember his courtship in college, quoting his favourite poets!’
Alice dials her husband’s number.
He picks up. A disappointed, frustrated man.
‘ Honey, come home. You know I love you,’ she says. Her sincerity makes her voice wobble.
There is a gasp from the other end. As if someone could not believe his ears.
‘ Alice, is that you for real? What..I mean…I love you too darling… I am reaching in ten minutes time!’
The man, nursing his drink and contemplating various ways of ending it all, feels as if the Lord has given him a wake up call.
He shakes his head and laughs at none in particular.
‘ You forwarded it to three numbers unknowingly? What do you mean, you idiot? The first thing you do in my brand new phone is to whatsapp lines of my new song to our grandmother, the family doctor and my English teacher? Arrghhhhhh….’

‘Shut up children! It is night one o’ clock. Get into bed!’ An extremely irritated mother calls from her bedroom.
A fifteen year old’s attempt to create a song for impressing his girl friend, fades off slowly, to the tunes of a screaming younger brother who is getting his ears mercilessly boxed.
Of course, the mysterious cascading effect of his creativity was slowly rippling through the neighbourhood even then.




Various Uses of Chutney

“Did you watch Tisca Chopra’s Chutney?”, asks Mrs.Kapoor.
“No, I did not. Is it good?” queries Mrs. Das.
“Just too good! The way the wife teaches the girl a lesson!! Weaving that never ending tale of how anyone – animal or human-close to her husband, gets murdered eventually….very yummy!” Mrs.Kapoor happily sips her tea. It has ginger and cardamom in it.

On the tea-poi there are plates of crisp potatoe chips and a bowl of spicy chutney.
Mrs Das , who wears a sleeveless, pink flowery top, is aghast. “What, murdered?  Surely, that is a bit too much!  What is it? Some sort of fantasy tale? Did the girl believe it?”
“I think so… unless she wants to become a chilly plant herself, she will keep her earrings off his hands now!” Mrs Kapoor cackles delightedly.

Mrs Das thoughtfully sips her tea. The cardamom makes the tea too sweet for her. She grimaces. Her long white earrings catch the sunlight peeping in through the window.

“So how are things otherwise?” Mrs Das asks, after a pause.”How is your back pain?”
“Oh, how did you get to hear of that? It is very bad on full moon nights. You know, poor Ravi has to spend the whole night massaging pain balm on my back. Do you think, there is some connection between moonlight and back pain?” Mrs Kapoor’s kohled eyes open wide, as she stares ingenuously at her visitor.
“May be you should check with a doctor,” says Mrs Das and then realising her stupidity, “oh, fool that I am, your husband being a doctor… of course, he must have done everything needed…”
“Actually, Ravi asked me to just relax. He says I am doing too much yoga, and over strain is causing my back pain. I am trying to lose weight. Men likes slim women, and I love my parathas!” Mrs Kapoor shakes her head slowly, and sighs loudly. “You have nothing to worry, do you? You are so fit, dear!”
“How is Mr.Das doing nowadays? Such a charming man. Always reading all these thick, thick books! So much he reads and writes, I must say! Must be wonderful – all that peace and quiet in the house, eh?” Mrs Kapoor takes a potato crispie and dips it into chutney. “And since you have no children yet, you will have all the time you need for your hobbies, right?”
Mrs Das speaks very slowly: “I need to go now.”

At the door, Mrs.Das turns. “Who told you about this movie, Chutney?”
Mrs Kapoor scratches her head for a thoughtful second.
“Mrs Nair, I believe. Met her at an office party the other day. She said a lot of stories in short films are actually based on real life episodes. And she particularly suggested that I watch it.”

Mrs Das smiles tightly, ” Did Mrs.Nair give you any more suggestions?”
Mrs.Kapoor laughs happily, “Oh yes, she said that I should get new spectacles. Apparently she did not believe I was seeing properly! Ravi was annoyed! She was just trying to be helpful. Instead of buying new glasses, why get  angry, eh?”

When Mrs Das walks to her car, she is just not sure whether her ears  were cheating her or not.
“Bloody Bitch!” A loud hiss…

But when she turns, she sees only Mrs Kapoor, still waving cheerfully from the portico.






Shivering At Words…

The power of words! Especially the thrill of unknown words!

Celerity and preceptory

Incarnadined and groynes

Ferae nature and Exporto crede

Bourdon and repining

Cleek and objurgation

Surplice and Unwontedly

Recrudescence and Ashlar

Catarrhs and Agues


And then the phrases….straggling ray of moonlight, the dim and murmuring sea, the pale ribbon of sands, the black, wooden groynes, an oblong eminence, the fierce sigh of the storm, the flash of the forked-lightning, the phantoms of the sheeted-dead….

Oh Lord, how much there is to learn and wonder (shiver!)at….meanwhile, let me google the meaning of  impalpable!

Ah, the joy of classic horror tales! Everything from 18 th and 19th century.

Great Masters All!

M.R.James, Conan Doyle, A. And C.Askew, W.F.Harvey, Bram Stoker et al…1149 pages of absolute erudition and blissful shivering!!!

I am grinning happily, thinking of my editor blinking at a description that I  might translate as, ‘ culpably curious!’



Answers – A Conundrum

“Then”, said the Teacher,  “Listen carefully. Words conceal more than what they reveal. Try making sentences from the words within a word to decipher the root word. ”

The student,  who was brooding on the ANSWERS, looked up curiously.

Let me try, she said, to decipher some meaning from this conundrum of life.

She started playing with the word ANSWERS. And made up a story .

swan/ sewn/ sear/ raw/ wan /near /saw/ sea/ awe /sans/ wear/ wean/  news/ new/ swear/ war/  warn/  ran/are …

Swan it was in reality! It could not quack easily.It was ridiculed often for it.

The dress was sewn for the traditional role. It did not fit into it. The wings burst out of it.They were laid aside.

The pain of compromise was searing. The wounds  festered raw.

The face was always wan.

One day, near by, it saw the sea . It was filled with awe!

Sans any compunctions, it decided to wear the wings back.

It took a time to wean off old habits of diffidence. It took a time, fluttering rusty wings.

The news was that it was beautiful! It was all a new world! It soared real high.

Swear on  Truth, it declared War!

Warn them !!! Are you ready?

Not interested in being an also-ran.

The Teacher said, ” Keep at it every day. The ANSWERS will come.”