By ARUN PRATAP SINGH
Dehradun, 17 Nov: Well known author of stories related to the partition, and translator, Alok Bhalla said today that he did not agree with those who thought that it was not possible to bring out the essence of the original writing in translations. He was speaking on the occasion of a discussion on two books translated into English from Urdu and Tamil, respectively. The occasion was the last day of the three day Valley of Words International Literature & Arts Festival hosted at Hotel Madhuban. The translators Alok Bhalla and Prabha Sridevan were in discussion with Dr Jaiwanti Dimri.
Bhalla, whose translation of Urdu author Intizar Husain’s famous book, Din Aur Dastan, was discussed, today, said that, if the translations were not there, much of Indian civilisation would have remained unknown. Right from the Vedas to Bhagwat Gita, it was through translation that they had been read by most Indians. India was a country that had, perhaps, the oldest translating tradition – a civilisation which could not have acquired its richness and its enviable cosmopolitanism unless each and every text produced here had not been translated. Bringing out the true essence of original writing could be stated to be difficult but not impossible, he asserted. Asked how he could translate from Urdu when he could not read the script, Bhalla said that it would be wrong to say that he did not understand Urdu, though he did not understand the script. He also said that he would be categorical in claiming that Husain was the best writer in the sub-continent in his judgement apart from being the finest human being he had met. Intizar Husain’s novella, Din Aur Dastan, has been titled Day and Dastan in English. They have ben co-translated by Alok Bhalla and Nishat Zaidi.
Bhalla also read out a few sentences from the book. The story is of two children who had moved out from a place in UP, and living in a Haveli, to a bigger town.
The other book discussed in the session was the English translation of a Tamil collection of stories written by leading Tamil author R Chudamani. The translation is titled “Echoes of the Veena”. The stories have been translated by Prabha Sridevan. Sridevan is a retired judge and this is her second translation which has been published. The first book, titled Seeing in the Dark, was also a translation of R Chudamani’s book. Speaking about the book, Sridevan said that she never thought about the technique when translating. To her, Chudamani was a bold writer who wrote effortlessly about all kinds of characters, mostly women without being judgemental. Though Chudamani had died much before, Sridevan felt that Chudamani communicated with her in spirit. She also said that she had now decided to translate the work of Tamil writer Thoppil Mohammed Meeran, who was a writer of a different genre.
At the Valley of Words festival this year, Sridevan’s translation Echoes of Veena was chosen as the best English translation.