Milk of human suffering | Daily News


Milk of human suffering

Translations of books from one language to another, over the years, served as a vital role played in the understanding of various nuances in the cross cultural communication. When the celebrated poet, Robert graves, translated Greek myths and legends from the original sources into English, it happened to be a pioneering turning point in the study of two more cultures in comparison.

This too ushered in an era of the study of comparative literary phenomena. Today as we take literature in a broad perspective, the translations have entered into a new sphere of recognition. Those who have excelled in two or more languages have introduced the global nature of literary studies via the translation method employed by them. One good example comes from the pioneer translations on the part of David Magarshak in his function as a translator of Russian classics such as War and Peace and Crime and Punishment into English. This has paved the way to bring out quite a number of other original works. This two enabled those works to be translated into other world languages.

Better translations

As the translations abound the book purchasing scene in our countries, the publishers concerned stress the need for better translations, significantly from various, so far unintroduced cultures. One good example that I happened to encounter comes from Mexico. The original work in English is titled as The Burning Plain, a collection of short stories by Juan Fulfo translated into Sinhala by Satyapala Galketiya, a well known Sinhala translator. The Sinhala translation is titled as Devena Tenna (Graphico, 2018). To his credit, Galketiya had brought out several volumes of translations prior to the attempt. These include Gibran, Tagore, Hesse and several others of fame.

In this volume of translated short stories by Juan Rulfo (1917 – 1986) Galketiya gives a brief account of the original writer and his literary techniques enabling the reader to grasp the inherent ideologies linked to the original creative flux. Rulfo, it is recorded, has written only one only one novel titled as ‘Pedro Paramo’ which was translated into Sinhala by the late cinematographer cum university lecturer Dharmasiri Pathiraja.

This collection of short stories, according to the translator Galketiya, is the only short story collection compiled by Rulfo. ON reading the short stories as translated into Sinhala, I found that they envelop various facets of human experiences that had led the people of Mexico live in poverty, disaster and at times in stress and disillusion. The translator makes the reader grip tightly into these experiences.

Religious nuances

As could be gauged via these translations, some short stories revolve round the much discussed literary topic of religious nuances such as truth-seeking, the concept of transience, the need for the perceiving of spirituality etc. The example could be drawn from stories such as Api Hari Duppath (We are Very Poor) and Minisa (The Man). It is the latent skill of the original writer who makes the reader feels that the unseen layer of human experiences ought to be perceived through a vision of fantasy and introspection.

As such, few stories embrace the expressive technique involved in the fantasy and magic realism, that is explored as the pioneer communicative form as laid down in the religious tales. The attempt on the part of the translator in the introduction of Rulfo to Sinhala readers is commendable. Firstly the human experiences embedded, though are age-old, they nevertheless are modern, and addressed the modern sensitivity. Davena Tenna (The Burning Plain) stories are symbolic of the pains and pleasures that are momentary in the living conditions of humans in struggle, poverty and death.

Perhaps a discerning reader may find that the conventional storytelling from has been grossly transcended or at times changed in order to narrate the human experiences. One such example is the translation of the story titled ‘The Hill of the Comrades’. Here the reader feels that protagonist narrator tells the nature f his struggle in twofold expressions: his own self as well as his inner soul. Thus, it is a narrative which is a real one as well as fantasy.

Human beings

The story titled Luvina is an episode from the life of a group of human beings torn between the spell of nature as well as individuals in search of new pastures. They are a team of people who go from one place to another in search of resting their bodies in order to relax. But it reminds of the dictum, wherever the man goes, he is bound by chains. Man perceives the bliss of the nature as well as disaster it causes in turn.

The story titled ‘Ovun Ohu Tanikaradama Giya Rathriya’ (The Night They Left Him Alone) revolves round a tired and lonely old soldier who is beign abandoned by fellow mates. But the man relieves himself of his rifle stung on the shoulder that is found as bullet-free and throws off his tattered garments. Thus, he becomes free from not only the bodily burdens, but also from his mind targeted to fellow feelings and teamwork. Here is a portrait of a man getting freed from all his bonds and runs away to enjoy for the first time the bliss of nature. But will he find that, is the question raised inner layer of the narrative. I found the short and long narrative packed with the human feelings heeded for all times. Thus, once again, I feel that the process of good translations could enrich the literature in a multifaceted way.

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