Kolawole Mathew Ogundipe
The beauty compared not
To other things is nature
The undiluted one
Among other things, nature
The only one thing uninfluenced
By man, nature
The only one thing
Whose ownership cannot be claimed
By man but GOD, nature
The only one thing
That amazes man
Despite all his intelligence, nature
The only one thing
Corrupt not our being, nature
Nature is beautiful!
Nature is attractive!
And nature is incomprehensible to man!
Use of Time
Life’s short, our struggles
Futile besides graves and pyres
No waste of this time.
Friends from the old days
Christopher T. Dabrowski
The year 1494 Seneria – occupied lands:
Hagen came to a guard. The soldier smiled.
– Hagen, it’s been a long time! Although I should be afraid of you. – he said.
They hugged. Haden took out the dagger.
You should – he thought, sticking the blade in his friend’s back.
– Forgive me. – he whispered through the tears.
He dragged the corpse of his friend carefully into the bushes. He would be unable to bury him with dignity. Unfortunately, when at war, one cannot be sentimental. The mission is most important. That is how they trained him. And yet, he felt terrible about it.
If We Part
Onipede Festus Moses
In those days,
Things used to be okay
When we all agreed,
To be our brother’s keeper
We wined and dined together,
We’re tied in one tongue
Just to understand ourselves
If we part,
Will unity and faith, peace and progress remain?
Economically we’re united,
When the ruling Lord Lugard,
Championed the 1914 amalgamation
Just to avoid economic manipulation
Then, together we owned the oil boom;
The backbone of giant of Africa
But now that we claim:
“Carry your mother’s breast
I’ll carry my mother’s breast”
If we part,
Will the prodigal sons/daughters not resurface?
In unity we all stood,
When in 1960 we gained our independence
We all shunned TRIBALISM,
We all claimed brotherhood and sisterhood,
Our heterogeneous cultures then,
The reason for WAZOBIA,
Strengthened our economic unity
If we part,
Won’t there be any imbroglio?
When things fall apart,
And the centre can’t hold
Then, we meet to part,
We part to meet
But let’s come together
And redefine what sets us apart
So that what makes us united,
When we form our new Jerusalem,
Will not set us apart again.
Now it’s 17 again.
It’s time to weep
from the heart core,
just to make myself burdain-free,
burdain of my longings,
needs attached with you.
But I’ll not weep anymore
as it hurts you also.
I don’t wanna hurt you.
I am optimistic enough
to get your sweet touch
in my dreamy world.
Atleast I’m very close to you there.
I can feel your breathing
and realise your painful position
just like me.
So no more sadness, weeping.
Only love me like you do
May, May Happiness Continue To Radiate
She had been hounded, headbutted by strife,
Cheated by the moods, sparks & spins of life
Her challenges were many and various—spiritual,
occupational, environmental, mental and financial
She was named May since that was her month
of birth, but what evaded her life were funds
It was in the month of May that she set out
on a life-changing path and gave it her bout
She sought happiness, health and holisticism
in spite of a hail of hellish winds and criticism
It was a daring, deserved and dynamic stride
to wellness that saw her life enjoy a real ride
Her life realized and relished a love for oneself,
hence she recovered her purpose in life, herself
Hers was a life metamorphosed into meaningfulness,
characterized by regular exercises and liveliness
and a balanced diet, a good sleep, a positive thought
and a holistic way to health that made her less distraught
Let’s deal with the Surface of Reality
We are living in an era where your occupation matters over your mentality,where you shall be prioritized by the sexual affection not at all any romantic feeling,sympathy and all.In college or workplace none will be there to say you are perfect or ask you what are the problems in your life.
Even some so called intellectuals are also not at all interested to respect your profession may be you are a professor, may be you are a doctor,may be an engineer,none respects each other.Even now a days we are such a mean minded that we are not at all interested in relationships without benefits, maybe physically, may be for our academics whatever.
And the problem is, at least if you don’t want anything emotionally bonded relations with us at least respect us,but no “Only we are the human beings(so called)..others are rubbish”.And you know it’s same for everyone in our society.
I think Corona is at least better that it doesn’t even differentiate human beings according to their religion, profession.It only differentiate that whether you are breathing or not and that’s all.
And at last I wanna remindthat,”May be someone is there who knows how the world started,but now we all know that how it will end “.No no it’s not Corona.It will end for your ” Materialistic Greed and it’s benifits”and so on.
Let a Change be Brought
It’s really a daring matter to think of,
What is different from the tradition.
Whenever you contemplate of changing,
The established order and belief of society,
Your mind is obstructed by an invisible force,
Which is nothing but the apprehension,
Of getting strategically blocked from the access,
To the necessary sources required for life.
That is true indeed to many people of the society.
But what is the remedy of this panacea?
It is nothing but to make everyone think of,
something new, something different.
Can we think only of the arrival of groom on the wedding night to the residence of the bride?
Why do only man pour vermillion out on woman’s head?
Will the household chores be carried out by only woman?
Will women be detained from discussion of important matters of life?
Will only the sisters draw water from the well?
Will only they be ordered by their parents to give a glass of water?
Will even today women be given meal, after their service to men in a family?
Will still women be raped when they walk alone?
Will only sons instead of daughters be educated?
Issues will have no end like these as,
We don’t think of change,we don’t think of change.
Why? because of ignorance and fear in the mind.
What is the fear in the mind?
Let not fear grip your shirt’s sleeve,
Let a new dawn be brought by some of, your fearless activities in the society.
Let a change be brought in your family first,
Let your neighbours think of what you, have done and then and then………
An Interview with Krishna Dulal Borua of Assamese Literature
Q : How did you become at translator or how did you land your first translation job ?
A : The beginning was quite spontaneous. After my matriculation I was just going through the complete works (Rasnavali) of Rupkonwar Jyotiprasad Agarwalla and for some unknown reason I developed an intense urge to have his short story, ‘Juzaru’ in English. I went ahead with the translation and completed it within a couple of weeks. I handed my translation of the story to my father to have a look at it and point out the errors. He went through it once or twice and advised me to change the title from ‘The Warrior’ to the ‘The Soldier’ and said that he would like to show it to one of his colleagues at the Assam Civil Secretariat who happened to be a voracious reader with a keen eye on the latest literary trends. A couple of days later, my father handed me a typed copy of the translation along with several cyclostyled copies and said that everyone in his office had appreciated my effort. A year later a similar urge prompted me to interpret Nilmani Phookan’s poem ‘Kot Asu’ which went on to be published in the Cottonian in 1982.
Q : Do you have a consistent strategy or technique that you employ in the mechanics of your translation routine?
A : I try to prepare a frame-work of my interpretation at first following my immediate perception of the source text. Then gradually I try to immerse into the details. With the varied types of complexities and challenges cropping up in different endeavours, a translator has to be innovative and flexible in the application of techniques. Pre-conceived ideas may turn out to be utterly fruitless. Hence, one’s strategies, too, undergo changes according to situations.
Q : How long does it take you to complete all drafts and inquiries necessary to complete a book?
A : It depends on the type and complexity of the text and the time available for me to devote to the work. After all, I am not a full-time translator.
Q : Do you agree with it that a translator of prose has greater latitude than a translator of poetry that the prose translator has less of an obligation to precise shading and nuance?
A : Not exactly – nothing can be generalized. Both prose and poetry have their own distinctive traits and significance. A translator may take his or her liberties at times, but the maintenance of fidelity to the original text along with the desired level of palatability (readability) in the translated version, however difficult to attain, is what he/she needs to strive for.
Q : What’s your funniest translation story?
A : Mahim Bora’s ‘Tup’ (The bait) or Rajendra Sharma’s Katha award-winning story ‘Pratahbhraman’ (The morning stroll) are serious stories interspersed with varied elements of wit and humour.
Q : Punctuation difference between languages can pose special problems to a translator. Did your work raise such problems with punctuation?
A : I don’t exactly understand this problem about punctuation difference. Signs of interrogation or exclamation, commas or full-stops, hyphens or brackets are used in all languages in the same way with equal signification. In a lighter vein, I may mention that modern poetry is almost shorn of punctuation to pose any problem to a translator in this regard !
Q : Is it true that few critics possess the requisite skills and background to even evaluate a translation?
A : An evaluator of a work of translation has to be well versed in both the source and target languages as a translator. Intimate acquaintance with the tone, structures and nuances of both the languages is of vital importance. The number of evaluators may be few but among them, at present, the contributions of Prof. Pradip Acharya, Dr Madan Sharma and Amritjyoti Mahanta have been exemplary.
Q : Do you think of your own translation as definitive? What about yourself?
A : Not at all – any text can have multiple interpretations and styles of expression and this should go on and on in quest of newer dimensions. I believe that a translator needs to grow with his experience and find answers on his own along the journey.
Q : Do you think that the first requirement for a translator is that he should be a good writer in his own language?
A : A translator can benefit a lot by being a good writer in the target language of translation whether it be his own language or some other. However good a hand one may have in his or her own language, in translation, what would obviously count is the translator’s flair of expression in the target language.
Q : What’s the response when you answer “ I’m a translator “ to the question, “ What do you do ?
A : I strive to be both faithful to the source text and as appealing as possible in my renderings though I find myself outweighed most often by my limitations.
Q : How about translation centres ? Do you think they are useful or helpful?
A : Translation centres explore the various challenges faced by translators, analyse the features of narrativity and the ways in which these features are negotiated and manipulated in translation. It may be impossible to have a detailed schedule or a complete teaching-learning process within a stipulated period of time, but varied ideas can be gained for developing the skills of translation even by attending workshops.
Q : If you were a teacher of such a centre, what would you emphasize?
A : I would certainly emphasize foremost of all, upon John Dewey’s theory of ‘learning by doing’ – upon practising different patterns of texts with varied patterns of challenges in the narrativity. I would also discuss with the participants about my personal experiences citing interesting instances where I had myself stumbled earlier.
Q : Easy or hard , what have been the books you’ve most enjoyed translating ?
A : I can immediately mention about Nilmani Phookan’s poems – ‘Selected Poems of Nilmani Phookan’. I have been retranslating some of the poems of this collection again and again with an intense urge to reduce the rifts of imperfection in each attempt.
Q : What are your greatest accomplishment as a translator?
A : Not anything worthy of mention. However, the significant aspect worth mentioning is that translation exercises have developed my adoration for my mother tongue – Assamese immensely.
Q : What major challenges and problems have you faced at your work of translation ?
A : Translation acts as a bridge between cultures. Translation to or from a foreign language, or even a language within the country with unfamiliar expressions and features, pose stiff challenges. When the text centres round traditional backgrounds with folk or ethnic elements in abundance, the complexities in rendition soar, at times, to unmanageable proportions. In such situations, even a pan-Indian dictionary is unavailable to lend the minimal hand. As a result, even common words like ‘gamocha’, ‘pirali’, ‘thapona’, ‘chadar’, ‘agloti kolapat’, for instance, have been getting compromised with words or terms like ‘Assamese towel’, ‘plinth’, ‘altar’, ‘breast-cloth’, ‘tip of a banana leaf’ as English equivalents where, besides the inaccuracy or incompleteness in meanings, the cultural contexts associated with them get alienated. The ‘gamocha’ is not simply a towel, it is a symbol of honour used even in the sacred altars of prayer-houses apart from honouring guests, respected people and achievers. Male Bihu performers tie it across their foreheads. The front portion of a fresh-grown banana leaf is an indispensable item in Assamese society during rituals. The ‘Naam-ghar’ tradition in Assam, initiated by Srimanta Sankardev in the 15th century, is both a prayer-house and congregational hall unlike temples or other common places of worship.
Foot-noting, no doubt, is a much better option than going for vague cultural parallels, but the frequent use of foot-notes, especially with elaborate explanations, tends to ruffle the reader’s concentration and mar the level of reading pleasure. Again, there are words like the ‘nongola’ for which the term ‘bamboo gate’ cannot be adequate enough as an explanation considering its typical and uncommon structure. For its proper explanation perhaps a supporting diagrammatic representation would only serve the purpose. Footnoting with illustrations in literary texts would be an over-stretched enterprise, but this very arrangement initiated through dictionaries, first pan-India and subsequently trusted ones in the international circuit, can fulfill the needs of all.
Translation endeavours bring to the fore numerous limitations and inadequacies in the English vocabulary too. For example, there is no reverential version of the word ‘you’ while addressing in English to differentiate between a senior or respectable person from a youngster as prevalent in most Indian societies or cultures. English cannot distinguish between the different types of paternal and maternal uncles and aunts, in-laws, elder and younger brothers and sisters. While translating one of Nilmani Phookan’s poems, I came across a situation of utmost helplessness. In the poem, the funeral pyre’s flames do not get extinguished – the pyre keeps on burning. The situation demands the world ‘unextinguishing’ (or ‘inextinguishing’) to express the continuity of the fire burning in the pyre. But pitifully, owing to the inexistence of the aforesaid word, I had to settle for the term ‘unextinguished pyre’ in utter helplessness and unease –
In the green frontiers a gong breaks into a clangour
It’s evening now over the unextinguished pyre
The inexistence of a word in the target language led to an unsolicited state of inaccuracy in the translation!
Q : What do you do as hobby?
A : Learn, play and listen to music.
Q : Which book have you read the most in your lifetime?
A : ‘Health Guide’ by M.K. Gandhi.
Q : The authors or poets you like the best?
A : It is a long list.
Q : If you could choose to be a character in a book, who would it be?
A : I have already been made one (in a minor role) in Anuradha Sarmah Pujari’s best-selling novel, ‘Naharar Niribili Sa’ !
Q : What have your achievement been to date ?
A : Nothing worth mentioning.
Q : Are you happy as a veteran citizen of the country ?
A : Yes, amidst the multi-hued diversity.
Q : What is love? What quality do you most admire in a woman?
A : As water, love is the elixir of life. Motherliness.
Q : Do you believe in God?
A : Yes, it is a great source of mental strength. If he doesn’t exist, He has to be created. (in the tone of Voltaire).
Q : What have you learnt from life?
A : Sacrifice is the essence of life.
Q : What’s your future plan?
A : To serve my motherland in whatever way I can.
Q : What advice would you give to aspiring translators?
A : For a translator, the development of competence for nearing perfection is an evolutionary process. Different experiences provide us with opportunities for self-discovery whereby we can identify our strengths and weaknesses. The varieties of experiences open the doors of our perception and broaden the expanse of our horizon whereby the judicious choice of strategies is simultaneously promoted. The expansion of our vocabulary, imagination and styles of expression need to be constantly developed. We ought to keep striving to grow from strength to strength. Our revered teacher, Prof. Pradip Acharya Sir used to say, ‘When you get something late, you get it with compound interest!’
Q : Thank you very much sir for giving us your valuable time and answers.
A : You’re most welcome. It has been my pleasure too. Thank you.