Words of Cheer and Hope…

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https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/books/photo-stories/the-best-translated-books-of-2018/photostory/67038811.cms

https://www.huffingtonpost.in/entry/the-12-best-translated-books-of-2018_in_5c1b7c77e4b08aaf7a856fd7

15 Books By Indian Women Writers That You Loved In 2018

Two books open themselves to my New Year plans. One is ready and smiling already. The other is being knitted together with laughter, tears and gratitude.

Two fantastic authors, whom I met in my life journey, who have reposed faith in me to bring their words to light in another language: they make my New Year great!

It is so truly said that dreams are not what you see when you sleep, but those which keep you from sleeping!

Looking forward to another fantastic year where I get to play with words in my beautiful and fabulous mother tongue!

May the Lord guide us all into more and more learning and creativity.

**

The rain speaks a million tongues…

Another book is born…Gratitude to Prof.Veerankutty for allowing me to translate some of his wonderful poems.

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http://www.deshabhimani.com/special/news-23-09-2018/752842

 

This Wonderful Grace…

 

 

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When I was in school, we were taught an enchanting story in my mother tongue. I must have been eight or nine then.

I still remember the awe and wonder in me, as the teacher described in her melodious way, the cabbage soup that Martin the cobbler offered to an impoverished mother and baby. You see, Martin had been waiting for God to come to him that day. Instead of serving the Lord any food, he ended up giving whatever he had to three visitors. And then  in the end of the tale, he understands when he sees a vision, that the Lord himself had visited him…I can still feel the goosebumps of that absolutely marvellous story..

It was serendipity which ushered the story back to my life. Fascinated with Matthew 25:40,  I had requested the dear sisters to give me a photograph of the Lord. They gave me not one but two lovely framed ones.

(One, I keep at my working place and another in my living room. When life feels burdensome, all I have to do is to look up at Him. Grace flows so abundantly and kisses me with new life and vision whenever I lift my eyes to Him.)

And that very day, I happened to pick up  from the library, a collection of Tolstoy’s stories. I opened at one page randomly  which had a story : ‘Where Love is, God is..’

The first two lines made my memory buzz like a honey bee. Hey! What was this? My eight year old self screamed in joy…Martin! It is Martin and his cabbage soup! In an ecstatic five minutes, I re-read the wonderful classic, realising that it was Tolstoy’s magical story telling skills that had  been embedded in my memory all the while!

And at the end, when Martin waiting for Christ throughout the day in vain, understands that the Lord had been at his home in reality….he opens his Bible,  and he reads where it opened….

Matthew 25:40

‘In as much as ye did it unto one of these my brethren, even these least, ye did it unto me.’

It was written by Tolstoy in 1885.

It was a translation that we studied in Malayalam! The power of  the story- translated into a language  in a small land, so far away from Russia- was so enchanting that almost four decades later, I still remembered every nuance.

He watches and smiles….and does a  lovely magic at times, to show us the way! I can only bow in reverence before such wonderful grace!

 

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Linking One By One…

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When I was growing up, one of the writers I had read with trepidation was Mohanachandran- the one who wrote the terrifying Kalika and Kakkakulade Rathri. These, if I remember right, were serialised in Kumkumam magazine. That magazine arrived erratically, whenever Amma brought it home from her office library. With the uncontrollable temptation that urges a child  to stare into a deep, deadly well, I would guiltily read Mohanachandran’s words. A cold hand would catch hold of my throat and I would sit quietly and shiver. Yet, I would read.

Much later, when I read the books, I still ensured that they was bright sunlight outside. Such is the power of the writing: these can easily compete with the Cambridge don  M.R.James’ best horror stories.  Tantra, Devi Pooja, ancient death and life rites, brilliant characters, their mutual attractions, innocent children and great danger…It was an incredible cocktail which could throw the most sober among us into a tizzy.

Why did I remember Mohanachandran suddenly? A seemingly simple story with underlying threads of deep insight. ‘ Chitrasutram’ by V.J.James.

Beautifully, it links learning, painting, a mysterious death and a talented child.  The pictures the boy draws point to unassailable truths. The description of those pictures, brought the creeping dread of Mohanachandran’s books to my memory again.

Wrought with deep compassion, the story  seemed serendipitous because it had a discussion on why a picture comes to life when the eyes are drawn last of all! Maybe because the translation project , which I am currently engaged in,  is based on the same theme; and also has a precocious child who can ‘see’ deeply inspite of handicaps, I felt very awed.  Perhaps, I was meant to pick up this book and read this story. Another quiet miracle.

What do the books say? When you are blessed, speak about it.

**

 

 

Stepping Stones

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One: Love

When someone mocks at you,

Grip on that stone firmly

With your toes-

Stepping stone it is,

To raise you to the next level

Of amused detachment.

Where, when he mocks again,

Nefariously,

Slyly,

Evilly,

Spittle dripping down fangs of hatred,

Instead of thinking,

Why or what or which or when,

You take hold of the  reins of the fifth

Horse:

‘How’

And wonder aloud,

“How on earth,

(On heaven, On God himself,)

How on earth did I ever fall into that bloody pit?”

 

Two: Beauty

Beauty was  the stone which

Twisted my ankle.

I was hardly five years old,

And I was put down firmly

In my place by that stone side.

“You are not pretty.”

My stepping stone first tripped me down

I cried in hurt, touching nose, cheeks,

And glared at beauty-

That invisible foe.

Later,

Others took advantage of that

Weak ankle,

Achilles’ heel, ( haha!)

And seeing that I still bled

From that angle,

Thrust rapiers of destruction

Into it.

It took a while before beauty

Stood up and stretched herself-

Saying, this stone is mighty handy

For the self to spring anew

Into bluer skies!

Aeans later, I sometimes revisit that

Stepping Tombstone.

On it is thrice engraved:

‘One day she woke, and opened her eyes.’

 

Three: Words

Words can  destroy, emasculate

Can degrade, frighten, terrify,

Can  also

Free, and  let you fly

Can fight for you, can defend you

Can empower, can show truth

Can prove , can laugh,

Can make love, can kill

Can create barriers to protect

And electrify the walls.

Better befriend them,

They  can be stepping stones-

To everything wonderful

In this life.

****

Treasure Island

“It was the time of year, the time of day, for a small insistent sadness to pass into the texture of things. Dusk, silence, iron chill. Something lonely in the bone.”
― Don DeLillo, White Noise

***

Louise Gluck,  The White Lilies,

‘…the evening turns
cold with their terror: it
could all end, it is capable
of devastation. All, all
can be lost, through scented air
the narrow columns
uselessly rising, and beyond,
a churning sea of poppies–‘

***

Virginia Woolf, To the Light House

“…the problem of space remained, she thought, taking up her brush again. It glared at her. The whole mass of the picture was poised upon that weight. Beautiful and bright it should be on the surface, feathery and evanescent, one colour melting into another like the colours on a butterfly’s wing; but beneath the fabric must be clamped together with bolts of iron.”

*****

The authors above were part of the list that Michael Cunningham wanted to take with him, in case he was ever marooned on a desert island.

I remember his brilliant book, “The Hours,” and that stunning movie inspired by that book. I had watched the movie first and then gone back to the book.

***

Paint Stains

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The brooding face

Hard to capture,

Black crayon strokes

Mask the inner being.

Yellow soothes the pain-

I know, do I not, it whispers

The agony of being?

(On seeing a picture of Satyajit Ray)

2.

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Rain touched moments,

An old poem about

Night rain and  a mad woman.

Let the hand rest awhile

On tired knees, having walked

A long, long way

To her own self.

And that,

Is the sanest moment

In this rain.

3.

She laughs,

A beautiful rose flower.

Is there any sight prettier

Than a child reading a book?

It is life seeing life –

Word by word,

Symbol by symbol.

Entering a world of beauty,

A secret world, whose password

I pray,

She will remember forever in her life.

And bequeath as a Gift,

When the time arrives,

Being the mistress

Of her own dreams,

To the next eager starry eyed one.