A View From Within


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! 😀


Bitter Gourd

Picture 237

In childhood, I hated bitter gourd

Its green cloth, the white pods

The pungent smell, as it boiled.

I  twisted my face out of shape

When mother insisted that

It was good for my health.

Certain things,

She said, seem bitter at first

But taste better with

The oil of experience.

And with a frown she warned,

Some stuff you like, that look good

Can rot your insides too.

In the afternoon garden

Of my life

I have grown to relish bitter gourds.

Their sweet, unexpected

Tenderness, green undulating

Tough cover,

The serendipitous joys of a

Fine discovery, perfect for

My temperament and taste.

The outer shells disregarded

Prejudices kept aside

Unexpected discoveries

In character,

In companionship;

Like bitter gourd,

They reveal to me

The true joys of

Nourishment and growth,

Body and Soul.