Its been eons since I last updated my blog. I’m going to break the hiatus today, with something that I have always thought to be the most difficult of all literary tasks – translating an article from one language to another, without loosing its soul.
Last week I received a wonderful e-mail in Marathi from Sneha Rathod, a friend of mine. It was one of the best collection of thoughts I had read in a long long time. It struck me then that if I could try and translate that into English, it may reach a larger audience. So here goes… hope I do justice to the original article…
Most of the short stories mentioned here are in the context of the typical Indian society. But since social values rarely change among different regions, I hope you can find your own self somewhere in the varied emotions and subtle feelings of the protagonists, who show faith in these very values and trust in their relationships.
1. The rain is absolutely pouring down. The once bustling city has gone into hibernation mode. But not him. He is straddling away unabated on his bicycle, wading through the knee deep water, shouting as usual and selling his wares.
He is soaked in water. The raincoat was never going to be of any help in this rain. But he hardly has a choice. Though its late in the night, he must continue. He desperately needs money to enroll his children into school and buy some new clothes for his wife. He also needs to send some money back to his hometown. No wonder then that he is slogging it out for more than 20 hours in a day. This has taken a toll on his health and he looks dreary eyed now. A person who was known to be the most spirited and enthusiastic person in his group, has turned into an indifferent being today.
To a layman it may seem as if he is balancing the weight of the entire world on his shoulders. Defying adversity, he keeps his head high at all times. Have you ever come across such an optimist?
2. A family of four enter an up-market restaurant. A battle-hardened father, a resolute mother, a happy-go-lucky teenage girl and her confidently-responsible brother, reveling in the joy of his first salary.
The mother is finding it difficult to hide her pride. In all these years she had never thought that her opinion would matter to anyone. But today her son is giving her that importance. “What should I order for you, mother?”, he asks. “Oh, anything you order is fine with me son”, she blushes. In a moment, her entire life flashes before her eyes. The hardships encountered in bringing up the children. An eccentric husband. A prejudiced society. Today she fears no one. Her son has seen her toil away at life, and recognizes its value.
For the first time, the son doesn’t look at the price column on the menu card while ordering the dinner. Busy in her own thoughts, his mother quietly wipes away her tears of joy.
In the quiet atmosphere of the restaurant, have you ever observed such a relationship?
3. He is standing outside the movie hall waiting for her. Its been three years now that they have been having a close relationship. But she hasn’t yet mustered the courage to break the news to her father, fearing dire consequences.
The movie is about to start. His restlessness is palpable. After a few brief moments, he decides to try her cell number once more. There’s no answer from the other side. Thoughts run amok in his mind. He’s had enough of such secret meetings. He now has a good job, a good salary, “what more could her parents want?”, he thinks. “The time has come, today she will have to speak to her father about our relationship”, he says. But every ticking minute increases his anxiety. Now he decides to call her on her home number. He dials in the digits.
As luck would have it, her brother picks up the call. “Dare you call her again.. I will destroy your life..”
He is crestfallen upon hearing these words. Its as if somebody had snatched the earth from beneath his feet. He’s not sure what to do now. His predicament is in stark contrast with the fast-paced world around him. He sits there motionless, contemplating his next action..
In the rush to reach home to your loving family, have you ever come across such a person?
4. She comes out of the building in a very happy mood. She can’t help but smile even while calling a taxi to take her to the railway station. Now, she just can’t wait to break the news to her husband, but realizes that he will be busy at his workplace. “Should I still call him? After all, the news is big”, she murmurs to herself.
Upon reaching the station she realizes that the local train is just about to leave. Driven by habit, she rushes to catch it… and then suddenly realizes that now is not the time to rush through things. She will have to take more care of herself from now on.
Clutching on to a small envelope containing the report of her pregnancy test, she watches the train pull away.
Engrossed in a world of her own, have you ever come across such a woman?
5. She is very angry with everyone today. Someone in her class has played a silly prank on her and has thrown her school bag outside the window. Upset all day, she contacts her elder brother who studies in 5th grade, in the mid-school break and shares the incident with him.
He promptly goes to her classroom, and bullies everyone present into revealing the name of the boy who threw her bag out. The children of 3rd grade start getting frightened now. After some time, one boy cracks, and reveals the name of his offending classmate. Her brother finally gets hold of the prankster and gives him a good dressing-down. He also warns everyone against troubling his sister again in the future.
Her brother, with whom she’s always has silly fights at home, has turned into her saviour today. She fears no one when he is around. This time she didn’t have to wait till the Rakshabandhan (the traditional Indian festival celebrating the relationship between brothers and sisters) to get her customary gift. He hugs and consoles her, wiping away her tears.
She is feeling on top of the world that day. Have you ever come across such siblings?
6. All the friends are laughing, for no apparent reason. She had attended an interview today and is narrating her experiences to her friends. The funny way in which the receptionist spoke, the sarcastic answers that she had prepared in her mind for the questions being asked to her… Its almost 12 O’Clock in the night, but since it’s a Sunday the next day, nobody is in a hurry to get up early in the morning. They are all enjoying the time in her hostel room.
But all this revelry still can’t hide her disappointment of not getting the job that day. She desperately needs it. Its been 3 months now, and the inflow of money from her home has ceased. If this continues for a few more weeks, she may have to vacate the hostel.
Almost unknowingly, the tension starts to show on her face… she realizes this and tries to push it back again.
“.. and the watchman was constantly looking at me.. in my mind I thought that…” and once more she succeeds in laughing away her tensions.
She knows that she is just trying to postpone the inevitable and is trying to cover her disappointment and anxiety with humor. Hoping for some change in luck, have you ever come across such a girl?
7. She is the boss, but to everybody in office she is ‘Miss Ruthless’ (a.k.a. Meryl Streep in the ‘The Devil Wears Prada’). Though she is still single and the youngest member of the group, she has reached the highest echelon in the company. That position has rubbed off on her personality, and until now the external world has only seen her as a merciless and heartless rock.
The meeting has started. As usual she is listening silently. Her cell phone rings. Normally she ignores such calls, but not today. She picks it up and within no time excitement breaks the tough lines on her face. She is all smiles.
“.. Oh when did this happen..”, she exults, and walks out of the room still speaking on the phone.
How the roles change. The person who was the ‘boss’ a few minutes ago has suddenly transformed into a simple ‘friend’. On the other side of the phone is her classmate from childhood, her best friend, who is getting married.
Her happiness is evident. It’s not everyday that an occasion comes along when she can forget all her responsibilities at the office and really let her hair down. Have you ever come across such a female?