A translation that travels through time – The New Indian Express

Express press service

CHENNAI: The lives of Shakeel and Attar Nayyab are tied to communal politics. The decades-long friendship between Jaffer and Ramarao is threatened because of their children’s religious apprehensions. Gaviramma struggles to not repay the loan of Benami land in his name, and an unnamed protagonist resorts to infidelity to bear his in-laws’ heir when they refuse to believe their son is helpless. These characters become one with you as you turn the pages of Telugu – The best stories of our timeedited by Volga and translated by Alladi Uma and M Sridhar.

From farmer suicides and honor killings to caste and religious politics, the stories, while not explicit about the year or decade in which they take place, resonate with current climates. . “For three decades, our society has been going from bad to worse. Thus, the history written on the bad days can easily connect with the history of the worst days; the continuity will be there. I’m not cynical, neither are writers. But portraying reality is their responsibility,” Volga says.

Beware of stories
Calling the selection of 26 stories “the most difficult task for me”, the septuagenarian says: “I have read all the Telugu stories published in magazines and news anthologies. But for this book, I made a special effort to read a few hundred stories and selected 60 authors. After that, I selected 60 stories. My subjectivity stopped there. I started looking into various author and story identities. Yes, it is a political choice. Even then, it was a difficult task. Although my personal feelings got in the way, I believe the personal is political. Themes and writers were never a choice for the Volga. The story was. And she wanted non-Telugu readers to connect with them. “The time, the socio-political environment of our society, the various discriminations operating without pity, the economic disparities, the lack of equal opportunities, the destruction of agricultural fields and rural life, the writers had no no choice but to write about these themes. So I have no choice but to choose from these themes,” she says.

Even with these themes, it would not be wrong to say that caste and religion were important tools that shaped society in a Telugu country. And it continues, across the country. Concordantly, Volga laments, “Today, caste and religion are the main issues that writers have to grapple with. Even love stories become horror stories because of honor killings. Literature always reflects society. These stories do the same thing.

Change of style
For this book, instead of stringing words together in impeccable language, Volga chose to weave in a few local words, a few transliterations, and colloquialisms. This makes the stories more relevant to readers beyond Telugu borders.

“Every writer has their unique style based on their socio-cultural, political, religious, educational and other background, including that of gender. Linguists now agree that there cannot be a standard dialect by which other dialects are measured Telugu writers reacted strongly to the above factors.Traditional Telugu readers may have had problems accepting the styles in which the writers had expressed themselves.And yet they had their impact on the reading public. We wanted to get the individual flavors of the originals to the best of our abilities, even if we had to give up what is usually called their ‘readability’ in English,” she explains.

For Uma and Sridhar, although they had worked with her before, the collaboration with Volga for the first translated work of Harper Perennial was special. “We have had a long association with her, having translated her short stories into the book, Woman Unbound, published in 1997. Since then, she has been one of our sources for identifying texts for our many translation projects. She was open to differences of opinion on various aspects of Telugu literature. During the process of translating this volume, she also contributed to our drafts and also put us in touch with writers we didn’t know so that we could clarify some of our questions,” they say.

Publisher Harper Perennial
Price Rs 499
Pages: 353