I somehow never got around to reading translations much. It was something I had given very little thought to. But strangely, I just realized that there’s always a copy of one translated work on my desk. It is a book I go to whenever I have a hard time whipping my wild side down. Bhagavad Gita by Mani Rao has been with me for about two years now and I have found utmost solace from its substance.
But I have been completely blind to the fact that it is a translation and by far the best one I’ve ever read. While I did love it for it was I never really gave it credit for the kind of quality it has as a translation. The Bhagavad Gita, the mammoth dialogue between the charismatic super hero Lord Krishna and his friend and warrior in distress, offers a highly spiritual path to success and mental peace to those will read with open mind. It is a bundle of lessons, a wonderful poem captured live while Krishna advises his friend Arjuna, in 18 chapters. And translating it into an easily readable form for today’s audience isn’t easy at all.
And this is exactly what Mani Rao has done. I love the fresh presentation of the Gita yet it encompasses the crux of the matter. What is even more striking is the fact that even after reading it over and over it still appeals to me. The most important words are strung together in a certain way for impact and as it turns out that is exactly what a reader of today needs as a go-to after a taxing and strenuous day. Mani Rao tells that this is a deliberate effort and I commend on this novelty of thought. It is certainly not easy to translate The Gita and in a completely new format too. So, I am so happy to own a copy of this book though it is quite appalling on my side to have not acknowledged this earlier! I guess we do take things that we have very close to us for granted.
And this got me thinking about uncovering more translations that are out there. Being a non-native English speaker and writer, this makes a lot of sense and again I really wish this had occurred to my mish-mashy head sooner. It would definitely be a whole new experience reading about the native in a foreign language and I am excited about what all I will uncover. It is quite strange that I should discover my own nativity through a second eye but that’s how it is right. The world is one global village and the love of my life, English rules the roost for many a reason. The popular Indian journalist, Barkha Dutt once remarked that we do indeed dream in English and I couldn’t agree more. For I grew up with Heidi in the mountains of Swiss and loathed her fresh cheese and milk as while I had my everyday Indian breakfasts just as any kid in an English country would have.
When I started out writing stories I always a faced grave problem while naming my characters. I wondered how I should name my characters. I suppose a bit of the identity crisis in me just popped out during those times. However that stage has passed thankfully and I can now safely name my characters as the plot requires.
And as I typed this post, I also remembered how much I enjoyed reading No one writes to the colonel by Gabriel Garcia Marqueez which was a translated work too! It is a heart breaking story of an old colonel who lives with his sick, old wife in a dilapidated house mourning the death of their son all the while waiting for that letter which can give them some financial relief. The story is so fresh in memory and all the credit goes to the translator, J.S.Bernstein.
There’s much beauty in a well translated work for it offers a convenient view of the inside story of a nation,its people,their stories, dreams and aspirations to the outsider. But in my case, I think I am first going to discover those little things that have gone without notice in my own turf through these translations.
All that said, now I have given myself so many reasons not to hold up that last bit of balance in my account for indulging in some translated works.