Revisiting Bengali creativity | Daily News

Revisiting Bengali creativity

It is widely believed and accepted that the translation process, as linked to literary canons, has given way not only to the expansion of one tradition of literature via another tradition. It has over the years has marked a resourceful strengthening of links of human relationships and experiences with another cultural trait in human existence. Thus to the more modern scholar, the good translation from one culture to another has resulted in the cross-cultural communication process.

Over the whole of last week, I had the fascinating recess of enjoying fifteen Bengali short stories in Sinhala translated from English. The translation is titled Kal Ikmavu Minisa (Fast Publishers 2020) as translated by Kumari Welikanda, a newcomer to the field of Sinhala readers. On further enquiry, I had the chance of knowing that all the original works had been selected from the Internet.

As a reader, I felt that the narratives are mostly humane in vision and poetic in expression and at times akin to the ballads. The Sinhala reader, perhaps, is not so alien to Bengali literature as Tagore’s works have been already introduced over the years. As the works of Tagore have played a vital role in the acceptance of Bengali literature, this compilation could be visualized as an expansion and an extension.

Layers of human encounter

The opening narrative titled Rosapata Kamisaya is a sensitive expression of a love affair that rests on several layers of human encounter. Though there is hardly a plotline or a storyline, the human experience embedded rests on a gift that is liked by one and disliked by another. The moods of lovers and the essence of lovelornness are the key point in the narrative.

The narrative that bears the title Kal Ikutvu Minisa conveys the sense of a person who has not been updated by Ashapruna Devi. It is presented in the form of an ailing man who has a life wish as well as a death wish blended. This is more or less a psychopathological study of a bedridden adult who comes for more attachment and wish fulfilment in order to live for more time. Nobody around him, the kith and kin never know whether he is dead or alive.

The narrative titled Ranga (No)pama by Narendranath Mitra to the reader comes in the form of a creative study of the concept of illusion and reality. We come across a film director who visualizes a certain woman who underlines a series of turmoil in her life. As such, he invited her to face the camera to portray that reality. But she fails, where a professional succeeds.

In a symbolic layer of the same narrative, a reader may feel that the maternal love as portrayed as the humane experience cannot be portrayed in the same manner. Sensitively and touchingly before a film camera. The narrative titled Sangavunu Vanapetha by Abhijith Sen is a sensitive study of walking and searching for her memory lanes in the past.

Moods of the past

Everything happens in a village set up where a certain lady participant comes to know that it is an area where she had lived during her childhood. As such, she gets a liking to recollect her moods of the past, in order to feel the pulse of the past living conditions with her parents. But she is grossly disillusioned and the area has changed over the years.

The charming narrative titled Yan Mahattayage Tegi Pettiya or the gift box of Mr Young written by Navnita Devi is set in a remote village set upon a certain Bengali district. A foreigner named Mr Young gets acquainted with the people in the village. He owns a good house, a dog and a car. Then he objects as time goes on became worthy items of treasure for those to live in the surroundings. The time comes when Mr Young the foreigner has to leave the village and go back to his native land. He leaves behind the house he lived behind and the car he owned.

Those who get them as gifts from Mr Young come to feel that the car, though in good condition is trouble giving item. But the merrymakers make use of the car for their discredit.

What happens, in the end, is that the gift of the car as given by Mr Young paves the way to a memorable tragicomic event. The narrative rests on a make-believe legend-like narrative, a reader may come across in a folktale. The narrative for me is quite reminiscent of a modern folk tale.

The narrative that embraces a lasting human impact is observable in the story titled Veedi Natattuva by Anjan Bhandopatdhya. The central experience is not quite commonplace as it comes from an urban circus performance where the character of the court jester or the joker is played by a short man or a dwarf who comes from the village sector. Though he makes the onlookers laugh at his performance; his own life is visualized as being torn between sorrow on one side and happiness on the other side

Fascinating narrative

He was compelled to live with tall people. Then by sheer luck, he happened to encounter a tall woman who is shown as a make-up artiste and a helping hand. The meeting point of the dwarf and the tall woman give way to visualize their inner selves and humans and not the least as performers and helping hands.

This fascinating narrative paves the way for several humane layers that could be gauged as enchanting episodes that tend to change one’s common way of thinking on human situations. Quite a number of narratives as selected in this compilations centre around the much anticipated spiritual essence of human experience. The translator I felt could have enriched the volume by short biographical sketches of the original Bengali writers.

At a time when most of us are homebound and allowed to take online measure to communicate with others, this compilation could be regarded as a welcome variant in the communication process. This translation comes as a gift to those of us who need to anticipate in human global matters that reach the culmination in creativity. In modern narratology, the genre known as the short story had undergone several phases. This compilation translated by Kumari Welihinda depicts these changes in the oriental context with special reference to Bengal.