Books

Foray into English

Gouri Dash.  

Dhiruben Patel

She shot to fame with her very first novel, Vadvanaal, written in the early 1950s, and has since then been a beacon in Gujarati writing. Modelling major decisions in life around the belief that she would be a writer, Dhiruben Patel, today 85, has to her credit a number of novels, short stories, literature for children and young adults, scripts for radio and television shows and plays.

Her Sahitya Akademi Award-winning novel Agantuk tells the story of a sadhu returning home in Bombay. It has been translated into English by Raj Supe, and the translated work marks her entry into the English language. Speaking about translations and how much is lost and gained in the process, the author feels that it is easier to translate works in one Indian language into another, because the cultural settings are similar. Achieving the same in a translation into English, she says, would be a challenge that can be faced well if the translator is versatile in both languages.

Children and young adults being her main readers, she thinks that the present generation, armed with the internet, has more information than a book can ever hope to provide. “But children will still remain children and if an author is able to win their hearts and splash some new color into their thoughts, they will take to reading,” she says.

Dhiruben Patel is the recipient of several awards and has served as the President of the Gujrati Sahitya Parishad.

Gouri Dash

At 85 year, Gouri Dash has behind her a literary career spanning over 30 years in Bengali and Oriya. Her works, aimed at the young reader, has been included in the curriculum of several state boards in the country. Her foray into English writing is with the series titled, Stories from Piplivan. The first story, Kuna Kuni Take Flight, is about how twin parrots Kuna and Kuni manage to escape from a cowherd who has captured them in Piplivan. Bright and colourful illustrations depict the different characters with Indian elements – like the red bindi on the forehead of Tuni, the mother parrot – packed in. .

Having had no formal education in English, Gouri Dash picked up English while bringing up her children and now her grandchildren. Though she is not yet comfortable in the language and her vocabulary is basic, the author is confident that with the help of her editors she will be able to continue writing for the series.

Talking about practical problems she faced while writing in English, she says, “The primary issue is to get as close to the original story, without losing the essence.” There is a huge list of stories that have rhymes in Oriya, which have been impossible to translate into English. “So, I had to leave out a few of my favourite stories in the Piplivan stories,” she adds.

Gouri, when she is not writing, enjoys cooking and narrating stories to her grandchildren.

Ambika Sirkar

Though fluent in English, Ambika Sirkar has thus far been content with translating writings in other languages into Marathi. Some of her translations include The Reader by Bernard Schlink, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, and The Bodhisatva Ideal and other works by Sangharakshita. In her own words, the author's two novels and two short story collections in Marathi have been acknowledged by the Maharashtra state government as the best work in the respective years of their publication. Her latest book, No Crystal Stair, was originally written in Marathi and called Eka Schwasache Antar, and has been translated by her into English. Ask her if it was difficult or easy to translate her own work into English, she says that every language has its idioms and to translate well, one has to have a good knowledge of idioms in both languages. “Proverbs from Indian languages are often impossible to translate into English. Finding similar sayings is difficult,” she adds. The novel received the Marathi Sahitya Parishad and was translated into Hindi as well.

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Printable version | May 7, 2021 8:24:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/books/foray-into-english/article2023774.ece

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