A s a translator of my own work from Hindi to English, I feel that a translated work acquires an added power if done with creative fervour. When I translate my own work, the new language is not a medium for transfer of words but a vehicle for accommodating a fresh bout of creativity. Being the author I can take liberties someone else might hesitate to take and the changes I make often add subtlety or luminosity to the original.
My best known Hindi novel Chittacobra opens with the words, ''Mere humsafar'', which mean ''my fellow traveler.'' In my English translation I changed them to, “You, who want to travel with me in time and space, hear me out.” A change was necessary because the corresponding English term lacked the resonance of the idiomatic Hindi. But the words came so spontaneously in English that I recognised their poetic dimension only after I had written them.
Something similar happened recently in the translation of a story, “Seven Little Rooms.” In English, the story ended with the lines: “Clammy with fright, I gasped, ‘Is that so?'”
All I got for an answer was a receding laugh in the dense darkness as he disappeared from view. The car crawled back to Mandu.
A literal rendering of the original in Hindi would have read: “Clammy with fright I gasped, ‘Is that so?'”
“Gotcha!” he laughed, grabbed the money I held out and disappeared from view into the dense darkness.
The car crawled back to Mandu.
The English version was definitely more open-ended and subtle.
Mridula Garg is well-known Hindi novelist.