A passion for translation

Malathi Chendur.

Malathi Chendur.   | Photo Credit: Photo: R. Shivaji Rao

"I act as a bridge between Telugu and Tamil literature"

In a literary career spanning beyond five decades, she has introduced books in other languages to Telugu readers. Sahitya Akademi award winner Malathi Chendur has translated six novels of Tamil writers and a volume of short stories into Telugu in the last two decades. She discusses her passion for translation with K. Lakshmi.

"I learnt Tamil to understand films that I watched as a member of Central Censor Board in the early 70s," said Ms. Chendur. Even then, she had earned a reputation as a novelist and columnist on women's issues and won several honours.

Besides publishing 25 Telugu women-oriented novels, Ms. Chendur has translated 300 books of English writers, from classic Jane Austen to contemporary Arundhati Roy, into Telugu. These translations that appeared in `Swati', a monthly magazine, provided innumerable Telugu readers a window to world of literature.

Within two years of her learning Tamil, she was offered the translation work of litterateur Jayakanthan's `Sila Nerangalil Sila Manidargal' by National Book Trust. "Even my encouraging husband writer N.R. Chendur doubted my translation skills. But the translation was a big hit and the third edition is now due."

Ms. Chendur went on to translate Sujatha's `Gayathri', Na. Parthasarathy's `Samudhaya Veedhi' and Sivasankari's `Oru Manidanin Kadhai', as the novels "moved her deeply."

"I act as a bridge between Telugu and Tamil literature. Most of us are unaware of the literature or writers of our neighbouring State because of the language barrier," said Ms. Chendur, who is also associated with organisations involved in social work, including the Andhra Mahila Sabha.

She cherishes her translation of Pudhumaipithan's short stories, including `Saaba Vimochanam' and Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi's `Anil Kunju'. At the age of 75, she is busy writing for `Suraksha', a magazine brought out by the Andhra Pradesh police department. Currently, she is engrossed in Kiran Desai's `Inheritance of Loss'. Perhaps, a Telugu translation of the Booker-winning work is not too far away.

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