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The chapter studies the stylistic comparisons of the poems translated
by the poet from English to Marathi and vice-versa. Translatability depends on the
culture specificity of a work. More culture bound a work, less the translatability. Kolatkar
has translated few of his small surreal pieces like ‘Irani’, ‘The Hag’, ‘Alphabet’
‘Seventeen lions congealed in Carpet’ etc. These poems, as has been noted by Vilas
Sarang, “Surreal in nature and surrealism being part of western poetic tradition are more
successful in translation. The poet could recreate almost possibility of meaning in target
language. There are comparatively less number of losses in these translations.”1. At
places the poet even adds more ambiguity, more possibilities of meaning in a target
language version of these poems. But in a poem like ‘Sarpa Satra’ because of its
histro-mythic content, its length and culture-specificity that occurs due to Vedic
terminology, the exact translation becomes a difficult task hence, the poet instead of
attempting an accurate translation, creats a new version with approximately same basic
meaning. As Vilas Sarang has stated, “…….in case of self- translations, author should
not be blamed for taking liberty with the text or not adhering to the original. Such
changes invite the evaluation of poem as an independent work. Any criticism over not
adhering to original is irrelevant. Self- translator is not at all a neglected species. At list
two Nobel Prize winner writers, Samuel Beckety and Ravindranath Tagore were self
-translators. Even Russian writer Vladimir Nabokov often translated his works from
Russian into English.”2 In case of Beckett translation was a chance to revise and correct.
Thus self- translation is just a part of author’s total creative process. Dr. Bhalchandra
Nemade in his essay, ‘Arun Kolatkar and Bilingual Poetry’ provides a comparative study
of Marathi and English versions of Kolatkar’s poem ‘Irani’ and argues, “The total
quantity of meaning of Marathi version of ‘Irani’ is much more than the translated
English version.”3 He claims that the complexity and richness of meaning is not\ can not
be brought successfully in foreign medium. He further interrogates why after all a poet
like Kolatker should write in English? He accuses Kolatkar of being a populist. Nemade’s
stand is based very much on the Sapir-Whorfian hypothesis of linguistic relativity which
now has become very much obsolete. The stronger version of the hypothesis makes any
kind of translation impossible. The claims Nemade had made were mainly based on the
first collections by Kolatkar both in Marathi and in English. The comprehensive nature of
his later poetry in both the languages makes one rethink over the allegations put forth
against Kolatkar. The more convenient and useful perspective on Kolatkar in this regard
is given by Vilas Sarang, which not only views the bilingual nature of Kolatkar’s poetic
genius in a sympathetic manner but also tries to coin it with the other bilingual traditions
in the History of Indian Literature and the literatures around the globe.
In an article, ‘Rise and fall of Bilingual Intellectual’, published in Economic and
Political Weekly (August2009, Vol.XLIV No 33) Ramchandra Guha provides a full
account of the bilingual traditions of scholarship and literary writings in India.He states,
“As for the political and social thinkers like Tilak, Gandhi, Tagore Gokhaley, Raja Ram
Mohan Roy, V. D. Savarkar, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar and many others wrote for the common
public in their mother tongue while as published their writings in English for the wider
reach to international community. Tagore, Gandhi and V. D. Savarkar published poems
and literary writings in Bengali, Gujarati and Marathi but always took care that they get
translated in English.”4. Until recently the most of the literary writers in regional
languages used to be professors in English, few such names include, Gopal Krishna
Adiga, Dr.U. R. Ananthamurthy, Harwanshray Bacchan, B. S. Mardhekar, V. D.
Karandikar, B. V. Nemade etc. Among others A. K. Ramanujan, R. Parthasarthi, Kamla
Das, Gauri Despande, Dilip Chitre and Arun Kolatkar are few names to continue the
tradition of bilingual writing.
The writings of Dilip Chitre and Arun Kolatkar took bilingual poetry on a global
platform. They introduced the Marathi poetic tradition to the whole world. It can be
considered as the most valuable contribution of these two poets. Their poetry in Marathi
and English has a sound cultural context. Their poetry depicts the problems of the places
and people staying in Mumbai. Mumbai can be seen as a sympathetic boundary to access
Marathi art, literature and culture and also its western counterpart. Their evaluation of
both these cultures has imparted a special aesthetic dimension to genre of poetry. Their
efforts have undoubtedly enriched the traditions of Marathi and English poetry.
The bilingual nature of Kolatkar’s poetry raises many questions: Why should the
poet write in two languages? If the poet writes simultaneously in two languages, how
does one recognize which is the original and which the translation is? Who is the target
readership of Kolatkar’s English poems? How to evaluate the bilingual poetry? Which
value system one that of the mother tongue or of the target language should be used for
such evaluation? Some of these questions have often been cited both by Sarang and
Nemade in different contexts. The comparative study of Kolatkar’s self -translations is
attempted in the light of these pertinent questions. The order and the group titles in which
the study took place are followed from ‘Boat ride and other Poems’, edited by A. K.
Maharotra published posthumously by Prass publication.
Niranjan Mohanti’s opinion in connection with translation provides some insights
towards the relevance of Kolatkar’s translations. He says, “Translating implies
interpreting, creating. It is an analogues process to that of creation and innate to the poetic
view of reality. It is a way of seeing and reading our world. It therefore has a function of
metaphor of meaning, and as such it represents for modern literary criticism the important
process of reading as an alternative writing.”5. In the same article he quotes from the
article ‘Translation: A Symbiosis of Cultures’ under his own authorship where he
correlates the relation between the source language and its culture with the target
language and its culture: “I believe that it is not the scope of target language that is
expanded but the scope of the deposits of source culture from which the translation
originated that is enlarged. In other words in translation two activities happen
simultaneously: one of defamiliarisation of the source language and one of
defamiliarization of the source language culture to the target culture. If the values
attitudes and relationships which constitute the source culture are reflected thoroughly in
the source language, and the translation is executed with excellence and perfection, initial
symbiosis of two cultures at the linguistic level would lead to the same process at the
societal leval”6
The self translations by Kolatkar are studied with the said view in mind. The study
alludes to two interesting facts about the translations from regional languages into
1. The fate of a translated text in another culture which is governed by an imperialist
attitude towards the literatures produced in that culture.
2. The exoticism attitude of poets that eulogizes the foreign readership.
Written in1960 Marathi title ‘Aikti’ first published in Marathi Aso (1963).
Marathi version:
English Version:
Tuzyasarkhi bedhab bai
Kuni kwachitach pahili asel
One seldom sees a woman
Pan tula
One seldom sees a woman
Ek kavita mi devu lagto
More mishappen than you
But i think I owe you a poem
Let’s suppose the debt paid with this poem
Far tar mi asa mhanu shaken
Ki mukya pranyanwar tu daya kartes
Coming right down to it
Tula Pan tuzyabaddal lihinar tari kay?
What will I write about you
mi pahila
At the most I could say
Te ekdach
You loved dumb animals
And leave at that
Eka ghodyala tu gajra khau ghalat hotis
Because I saw you once
You were feeding carrots
Tuzya ubhepanat
To a horse
Kaslich shobha navati
And the way you stood
Pani tapwaychya bambasarkhi
Was as much without grace and glamour
Tu kewal ubhi hotis
As an empty frig in a junk shop
For a moment the saliva of the horse
Ek hat pudha
Glittered on your finger like a wedding ring
Ani tyatli gajra khayla
Then the wind dropped
Ek lalghotya ghoda
Khali man karun tuzyasamor ubha hota
Tyachya lalecha
Ek shintoda
Tuzya karangaliwar padla
Wa angathisarkha chamakla
Mag wara padla
An tuzya sarkhya zalelya zagyala
Sahaj milun gele
Saral zalelya gawatache ture
1. Structure: Marathi poem contains seven four line stanzas. Lines are of unequal length,
unrhymed and syntactically each one forms an independent sentence. The poem is
absolutely free of punctuation marks, mere exception of a question mark that occurs in a
first line of the second stanza. The English poem is divided in two unequal stanzas. The
English poem is divided in two unequal stanzas, the first one a quartet, setting a purpose
of turning towards a woman as an object of poetry and the second one of fourteen lines,
contains the remaining stuff of description of the woman when once she had been seen on
the ground. The Marathi and English poems are not exact equivalents of each other in
total length and in total number of lines. Marathi poem contains twenty eight lines while
the English poem contains eighteen lines. In both the languages, the poem is an address to
the imaginary character of a lonely woman whose character the poet delineates .The
English version is absolutely free from any punctuation marks.
2. The first person narrator ‘I’ of the poem does not come in usual capital form. By
making the ‘i’ small the poet underrates the importance of narrator as a person. The
character of woman is portrayed in a very casual fashion. She is shown as a woman
without any special characteristic features, keeping parallel to her depiction Kolatkar
makes the narrator very casual, unimportant and humble personality. Any sort of authority
and ownership featured by capital ‘I’ is absent from the character of the narrator of the
English version. But coming to Marathi version, because of the inherent limitation of that
language any such distinction or specification in characterization of the narrator through
scripting is impossible. Hence the humbleness and
the ordinariness underlined in
English version are not so prominent in Marathi version.
3. The distinction in English and Marathi versions start from the title itself. In Marathi the
one word title ‘Ekti’ is precise as well as suitable for the theme of the poem. In English,
the first line of the poem occurs as a title which is not as precise as the Marathi one and
lacks the suggestive quality which is found in Marathi title.
4. The Marathi version uses the adjective ‘bedhab’ in which the prefix ‘be’ means
without and the stem ‘dhab’ is shape or structure. The word suggests the innate bodily
shape of the woman in context. The English substitute for the same is ‘misshapen’-the
one that has not happened properly, which focuses more on the process of happening than
the inherent being. Thus, the substitute is not the exact synonym of Marathi word. Both
being adjectives, convey completely different aspects of woman’s being.
5. In both the versions the first stanza depicts the purpose why the author writes a poem
on the subject of ‘woman’. The Marathi poem goes:
“Tuzyasarkhi bedhab bai
Kuni kwachitach pahili asel
Pan tula
ek kavita deu lagto.”
In English it becomes:
“One seldom sees a woman
More mishappen than you.
But I think I owe you a poem
Let’s suppose the debt paid with this poem.”
One easily notes that the last two lines of Marathi version, ‘pan tula\ek
kavita deu lagto’ has become lengthy and repetative in English. ‘But I think I owe you a
poem’ is enough as translation. “Let’s suppose, the debt paid with this poem” is the
explanation of the context. The lines occur in English due to the culture specificity of
translation, where such explanation makes the context intelligible to the foreign readers.
6. In English version each stanza of four lines is an independent statement, having its own
verb phrase. But English version has two unequal paragraphs, first of four lines and the
second of fourteen lines. The first four lines form a single statement but the other fourteen
lines are joined to each other through words like ‘and’, ‘that’,’ because’, ‘to’, ‘as’, ‘for’,
‘like’, ‘then’ etc.All these fourteen lines form a single syntactic unit.
7. “tuzya ubhepanat \kaslich shobha navati\pani tapwaychya bambasarkhi \ tu nustich
ubhi hotis.” In these lines of Marathi version, ‘Pani Tapwaycha bamba’ is a typically
Maharastrian object, which is translated as ‘an empty frig in a junk shop’. As Arvind
Krishna Meharotra has stated, “An object in the junk shop is a beat up copper boiler used
for heating water”. By replacing a Maharastrian object with a corresponding English one,
Kolatkar, in translation theory terms, has ‘domesticated’ (as opposed to foreignized) the
translated text. Such a domestication of object helps Kolatkar in reducing the culture
specificity of the object in translation.”7
8. The English version ends with, “for moment saliva of the horse \ glittered on your
finger like a wedding ring \ then the wind dropped.” While the Marathi version extends to
one additional stanza, which goes:
“Mag wara padla
An tuzya sarkhya zalelya zagyala
Sahaj milun gele
Saral zalelya gawatache ture”
Since these lines are not available in English, any kind of further comparison
is impossible. Such an ending of the Marathi version gives it an apt complementary close.
Kahitari kujalyacha vas yay lagla
A rotten smell was coming from somewhere.
An mi Khishatun rumal Kadhnar
I gagged and reached for the handkerchief in my
Tocch karangali khali padli
ti mi dusrya hatanna uchalun ghetli
then my little finger dropped to the floor.
Ann rumal nakawar dharnar
I picked it up with one hand
Tar te nakach nistun rumalat ala
Pressed the handkerchief to my nose with the other
Te rumalat gundalun mi khishat takla
when my nose came off. I wrapped it up
In the folds of the handkerchief and stuffed it in my
Kahitari kujlyacha vas yetach hota
Mhanun khishatlya khishat nak muradla
That rotten smell was still very much in the air.
Ann karangalit alya padlyat ki kay
The nose twitched in my pocket.
Te baghnar: pan tevadyat divech gele
I thought I’ll take a closer look and see
if there were any maggots in my little finger.
That’s when the fuse went.
Written in 1960, the poem was published in Marathi in ‘Aso’ (1963). In English it was
first published in ‘Pen’. Marathi poem is collected in ‘Arun Kolatkarchya Kavita’ and the
English in ‘Boat ride and other Poems’
1. Structure: Marathi version has two verse paragraphs with unequal length. The first one
contains seven lines while the second one contains four lines. All the lines are precise
containing four to six words each. Although the lines are unrhymed, repetition of /r/
sound and /l/ sounds in varitable forms provide musical quality to these lines. In English,
two verse paragraphs, respectively of seven and five lines, are lengthier as compared to
Marathi version. Just like the Marathi poem, the lines are unrhymed and of unequal
2. Punctuations: Marathi poem is absolutely free from the punctuation marks with mere
exception of a colon that occurs in the last line. In the first verse paragraph each line is an
independent clause and all these clauses are conjoined to each other by words like ‘ann’,
‘toch’, ‘ti’, ‘ann’, ‘tar’, ‘to.’ etc. The end of the first verse paragraph syntactically
completes the first sentence. In the second verse paragraph too all the lines contain
clauses joined together through words like ‘mhanun’, ‘ann’, ‘pan’ and at the end of these
four lines it has the completion of the sentence. Thus, syntactically, there are two
independent compound statements divided into eleven lines. Such unusual patterning of
punctuations is suitable for the modernist surrealistic theme of the poem. Different parts
of human body get rotten and loose their ability to exist, which is the apt metaphor of
modern life. But instead of giving it the metaphorical treatment it is treated with the tools
of magic realism which enhances the tragic effect of modern existence.
English version of the poem does not follow such unusual patterning of
punctuations. As opposite to the complete lack of punctuations in Marathi, English
version has eight full stops, showing the existence of eight complete sentences.
Syntactically as well, these sentences are free of any deviation which makes it intelligible
even for common readers. The modernist-surrealist world view is the common element in
both the versions. But the structural complexity and consequent ambiguity that enriches
the poeticity of the Marathi version is missing in the English version where the whole
treatment of the subject is more simplistic due to the conventional patterning of
3: In both the versions the narrator maintains a usual story-telling stance. Marathi version
has taken a more colloquial pose; a rustic person casually narrating a story of the
deterioration of his own body. His colloquial tone is reflected through phrases like, ‘Yay
lagla’, which in standard Marathi should be ‘Yevu lagla’.The lack of punctuation marks
gives a rapid flow to a discourse which is very natural of a person telling a story in
frightened and astonished manner. The bad smell of limbs getting rotten, getting cut off
from body and still not loosing the ability to function (Khishatlya khishat nak muradla),
all are phenomenal happenings so the astonishment in the speech of the narrator is natural
one. The English version too has the story telling stance but it lacks the colloquial flavor
and the use of six full stops breaks the discourse into independent syntactic units which
results in hampering the flow and tempo of the discourse.
4: The English version is almost a word for word translation of a Marathi poem but an
exception of the third line from the end i.e. ‘I thought I’ll take a close look and see’ which
is absent from the Marathi version. ‘Ann karanglit alya padlyat ki kay te baghnar\ pan
toch divech gele’- is a very dense conclusion of Marathi poem. The gap between the two
happenings, ‘to see’ and ‘vanishing of light’ is shown through a colon, the only
punctuation in the Marathi poem. But in English, having a close look at it there are any
maggots in the little finger ends with a full stop and an independent statement discloses
the happening, that’s when the fuse turned off. Though the conclusions are syntactically
different in both the versions, they are most suitable for the respective frameworks chosen
for each version.
5: Coming to the title of both the versions, is not the exact translation of the object. The
fuse and the lights (lamp) are relatively closer but distinctly separate objects. Fuse is the
object which enables the lamp to function and give light. (Actually to shade the pressure
of voltage and stop the possible damage of electrical appliances) High voltage cuts the
electric current off and stops the working of lamps. Both the titles are highly culture
specific. The narrator in Marathi thinks in terms of lamp i. e. light coming and going
while more technically aware the English narrator thinks in terms of fuse turning on and
off, both finally direct at the same happening i. e. disconnection of electricity resulting in
Marathi version:
English version:
Angat firtat chaka
Swasanche firtat patte
Sambhala apaple fete
Rollers spin inside my body
Driven by belts of breath
Bai ga tu konihi uss
Watch it fellows
Bhatin ghatin kiristav
Mind your turbans
Itha nahi bhedbhav
Padar khoch
Whoever you are, woman,
Brahmin, ghatan, whatever,
Ann mukatyna ghar gath
Makes no difference
Tu mhatari ki tarni
Tuck your sari and scram
Te pan hi girni
Vicharnar nahi
Flee, go home to your momma
Tu dagadu dhondu ki pandu
I don’t even want to know
Sri purush ki hijda
Whether you’re a young woman
Kala gora jad lukda
Or an old hag
Kasa ka asenas
Whether you’re dagdu, thondu or pandu
Pan babare merbani kar
A man, a woman or a eunuch
Ata visar tuzi jawar
Black, white fat or thin
An jiwat jiv ahe tawer
Is all one to my friend
Dhum palat sut
But do yourself a favour
Drop your jowar
And run
Jara maga hata
Run for your life
Nahitar atapita
Hotel hada
Back off boss
And keep your distance
Hi chakki ata mad zali
Unless you want to end up
jo hat ghalel bhik
In a sack of flour
toch khaun shamel bhuk
It’s gone kill-crazy now, this mill
ata hichi
And it’s not going to be satisfied
Bhakbhak bhakbhak bhakbhak
Until it has ripped
Hina pisli jagdamba
Every hand that feeds it
Tikhat gode ki ambat
Chug chug chugchug chugchug
Na vicharta
The mill swallowed the mother of us all
Swallowed her whole
In just one gulp
And what did she taste like
Sweet? Bitter? Sour?
The mill doesn’t know
And the mill doesn’t care
1. THEME: The poem takes the floor mill as a metaphor of the destructive power,
fatal calamity that kills one without any reason. A calamity comes uninvited, without
any prior information and destructs the masses, the innocent at the large quantity. It
may be natural or man made, a negative side of human fate, knows no discrimination
of rich or poor, man or woman, makes no division on the basis of cast, color, creed or
When it occurs, occurs with a desperate wish to destruct everything
2. In English version, the flour mill itself is shown as the narrator of story. Only in
last two stanzas, there is suggestion of third person mention of the flour mill. In all
the earlier stanzas, the pronouns used are my, I, me, all being first person make a clear
indication that the flour mill tells the story. The idea that the floor mill speaks is the
personification of the mill. The poem keeps the possibility of metaphorical
interpretation open. The mill may just be a metaphor, suggestive of the destructive
capacities hidden within any individual which posses the mania of evil, that destructs
everything and everybody without any discrimination. Marathi version makes no
reference of any first person pronoun. The whole poem comes as if some third party is
telling a story of a mill that has gone mad. There is no personification of the mill
hence the relevant shade of meaning mentioned above is absent from Marathi version,
where the ‘Chakki’ remains a symbol of any destructive power that exists in and out
of human mind.
3. Structure: Marathi poem is composed in four line stanza structure, very keen to the
structure of ancient Marathi form of ‘abhanga’, used by most of the saint poets. In
these stanzas, first three lines are lengthier than the last one. The first three lines have
approximately nine to twelve words while the last lines are of four to seven words
each. Total number of the stanzas in Marathi version is eight. The first line and the
last line are unrhymed while the second and the third lines rhyme with each other.
English version is composed of four line stanzas. But these four line stanzas do not
share other features with the Marathi version. Total number of stanzas in English
version is seven. It lacks the rhythmical element which is an integral part of the
Marathi poem.
4. Punctuation: Both the versions are completely free of any punctuation marks. The
stanzas in both the versions are end stopped.
5. Tense: Both the versions make use of the simple present tense which is most
suitable for expressing the state of human existence in a highly hazardous and
calamite situations.
6. Rhythm: Rhythm is an essential element of poetry. In translation of poetry,
translating the rhythm of the original is an ever challenging part. In poetry the rhythm
conveys more meaning than the mere composition of words. In the present poem
every possible attempt is made to maintain the rhythm of the original. At places a
word for word translation is barred to maintain the element of rhythm and consequent
musicality. For e.g. the last two lines of the first stanza:
“ sambhala apaple phete
“Watch it fellows
Mind your turbans”
Apart from the change in sequence of the lines, ‘fellows’ is not the exact translation
of ‘gavawalyano’, but ‘fellow’ and ‘fete’ occur as alliterative substitutes, and hence
rhythmical. Here the rhythmical substitute is favored than the semantic one. Same is
the case with second stanza:
“Bai gat u konihi aas
Bhatin ghatin kiristav
Ethe nahi bhedbhav
Padar khoch”
In English it is translated as:
Whoever you are, woman
Brahmin ghatan whatever,
Makes no difference
Tuck your sari and scram”
In this stanza, ‘Bhatin ghatin kiristav’is substituted by ‘woman Brahmin
ghatan’ which is a rhythmic substitute rather than semantic one. At places English
version looses both the rhythm, denseness and precision which is the characteristic of
Marathi version. For e.g.:
Jara mage hata
Nahitar atapita
Hotel hada”
Is translated as:
Back off boss
And keep your distance
Unless you want to end up
in a sack of flour.”
It appears very prosaic as compared to the original Marathi version.
7. Onomatopoeic equivalents: For showing the sound that the mill produces, the poem
makes use of the onomatopoeic expressions both in Marathi and in English. In
Marathi it is ‘bhakbhak bhakbhak bhakbhak’ which is the sound of the two rotating
wheels of the flour mill. It reminds one of the traditional stone mills used at every
Maharastrian home before the appearance of the electrical flour mills. But in English
the sound is ‘chug chug chug chug chugchug’ which is the sound of the rotating belts
moving round the wheels of the electrical mill.
8. Overall Perfection: Marathi version is characterized by the overall precision of
diction as a result of which it ends in eight stanzas of precise length of lines. For the
same content the English version takes nine stanzas. The last stanza in Marathi goes:
“Bhakbhak bhakbhak bhakbhak
Hina pisli jagdamba
Tikhat gode ki ambat
Na vicharta.”
For giving expression to the content in this stanza English version takes two
stanzas, even then the comprehensive meaning expressed by the word ‘Jagdamba’ a
mythopoeic religious figure known to all Marathi speakers, can not be covered by its
very prosaic English translation, ‘the mother of us all’. She is not only the ‘Mother’
but the one who controls, protects, nurtures and when necessary destructs everything
available on the earth. For Marathi ‘pisli’, English ‘swallowed’ is not the exact
equivalent. Pisli means to turn into small pieces or turn into flour. But to swallow
means to remove the existence completely. These words are qualitatively independent
words and not synonyms of each other.
Mumbaina bhikes lawala
Kalyanla gul khalla
Bombay made me a beggar.
Jya gawala nav navata
Kalyan gave me a lump of jiggery to suck.
Pan ek dhabdhaba hota
In a small village that had a waterfall
Titha ek blanket vikla
but no name
An potbhar pani pyalo
my blanket found a buyer
and I feasted on just plain ordinary water .
Pimpalachi pana chaghalat
Nashkaparyanta alo
I arrived in Nasik with
Titha tukaram vikla
Peepul leaves between my teeth.
An war khimapav khalla
There I sold my Tukaram
Jenva agraroad sodla
to buy myself some bread and mince.
Tenva ek chappal tutla
When I turned off Agra Road,
one of my sandals gave up the ghost.
Ohalat nit anghol keli
An pahilach dar thothawala
I gave myself a good bath
Titha bhiksha magitli
in a little stream.
An gawabaher padlo
I knocked on the first door I came upon,
Zadakhali pot bharla
asked for a handout, and left the village.
pan tahan bhagli nahi
I sat down under a tree,
hungry no more but thirsty like never before.
Ek gadiwala hota
Tyala navgav sangitla
I gave my name et cetera
Gadiwala mhanala
to a man in a bullock cart
Jalo jine vagaire
who hated beggars and quoted Tukaram,
Pudha tyachya malywar
but who, when we got to his farm later,
Thandgar pani pyalo
was kind enough to give me
Nantar ala rotegav
a cool drink of water.
Titha panchyat bharli
An devlat kutra mela
Then came Rotegoan where I went on a trial
Ratrabhar kanhat ordat
and had to drag a carcass away
Andharat an ushashich
when howling all night
Te madha odhun nela
a dog died in the temple
where I was trying to get some sleep.
Titha bhakri milali
Pan ek bai mutat hoti
There I got a bread to eat alright
Ti andharat disli nahi
but a woman was pissing.
Ti mhanali randechya
I didn’t see her in the dark
Bhadya dole phutle ka
And she just blew up.
Bhosdichyana bhakri
Bread you want you motherfucker you blind cunt,
she said,
Watewar gurhal disla
I’ll give you bread.
Titha uss magun khalla
Vishnukrantawar haglo
I could smell molasses boiling in the field.
Kadunimbana puslo
I asked for some sugarcane to eat.
Rastyat vidi sapadli
I shat on vishnukranta
Ti khishamade thewali
and wiped my arse with neem leaves.
I found a beedi lying on the road
Khup rakhadanpatti keli
and put it in my pocket.
Tya varshi dushkal hota
Ek melela bail pahyala
It was walk walk and walk all the way.
Ek tekdi chadhun gelo
It was a year of famine.
Tekdiwarchya devalatun
I saw a dead bullock.
Nawasacha paisa ghetla
I crossed a hill.
I picked up a small coin
Kopargav motha titha
from a temple on the top of that hill.
Stalin melyacha wachla
Kopargav motha titha
Kopargaon is a big town.
Bhik magayala sharamlo
That’s where I read that Stalin was dead.
An pach dara thothawali
Kopargaon is a big town
Tenva ardhi mud milali
where it seemed shameful to beg.
And I had to nock on the five doors
Dhuldhuwat doska dadhi
to get a half a handful rice.
Talkyawar unhacha ghan
Ratra farshiwar kadhli
Dust in my beard, dust in my hair.
Mhanun khajnara dhungan
The sun like a hammer on my head.
Pawalat thokleli yatra
An itching arse.
Patryasarkhi tapleli
A night spent on flagstones.
My tin shod hegira
Janghet gola zalela
as hotting up.
Dhotar sarkha karayala
Thabaklo don mail station
The station two miles ahead of me,
Pudha gav tin mail maga
the town three miles behind,
Tenva gham dolyat gela
I stopped to straighten my dhoti
Ani ek chitra disla
that had bunched up in my crotch
when sweat stung my eyes
and I could see.
Rastyas lagunach kumpan
Aat sarawalela angan
Ek zopdi ek mhatara
A low fence by the roadside.
Darat ubhi suun ki kon
A clean swept yard.
Titha magitla pani
A hut. An old man.
Te onjalina pyalo
A young woman in a doorway.
I asked for some water
and cupped my hands to receive it.
Olya koprani payhala
Saglach premal mhatara
Water dripping down my elbows
Shubhra changulki dadhi
I looked at the old man.
Sope samadhan dole
The goodly beard.
Ardha adhik katarlela
The contentment that showed in his eyes.
Pudhyat rakelcha daba
The cut up can of kerosene
that lay prostrate before him.
Na magta milaleli
Kandabhakar khaun uthalo
Bread arrived, unbidden,
Dhunganakhalchi hawersack
with an onion for a companion.
Uchlun pathiwar ghetli
I ate it up.
Mag don mail vichar kela
I picked up the haversack I was sitting on.
An partaycha tharawala
I thought about it for a mile or a two.
But I knew already
that it was a time to turn around.
1. Structure:
a. Both English and Marathi version contains fourteen stanzas with six lines each.
b. Lines in Marathi are more precise in length as compared to English. Most lines in
Marathi have three words each, rarely they posses 4-5 words in a line.
Marathi version is untitled and hence the first line of the poem is used as the title.
English version on the other hand is titled as ‘The Turnaround’ which is taken from
the concluding line of the poem
2: stanza1:
The opening line of the Marathi version is a colloquial expression. The
line Mumbaina bhikes lawala…. is an instance of personification where non- human city
of Mumbai is said to have caused human-like effect on the existence of the narrator and
thereby proved instrumental in shaping his character and personality. In English opening
line ‘Bombay made me bagger’ retains the effect of personification but lacks the
colloquial touch. The following line in Marathi is ‘kalyanla gul khalla’ is constructed in
regular syntactic construction while its substitute in English, ‘kalyan gave me a lump of
jaggery to suck..’ is a semantic deviation because the action verb ‘gave’ normally takes +
human nouns as its subject. But Kalyan is name of city hence – human .The line ‘titha ek
blanket vikla in Marathi is an active voice construction while its substitute in English,
‘my blanket found a buyer’ is passive, used more for the narrative report of speech act
than live depiction of action.
3: Stanza 2
: ‘pimpalachi pana chaghalit Nashakaparyant alo’ and ‘I arrived in Nasik
with peepul leaves in my teeth’ show fronting of different structural items. In Marathi the
phrase ‘pimpalachi pana chaghlit’ is fronted and given prominence, while
Nashakaparyanta is kept at the background. English version does completely opposite of
it. But this is more the effect of the difference between the basic syntactic structures of
both these languages than the device of fronted topic. Marathi has S+O+V while as
English has S+V+O structure. The metonymic reference ‘titha Tukaram vikla’ is retained
in English ‘there I sold my Tukaram’ But, ‘titha Tukaram vikla ann war khimapav khalla’
is a complex construction, through the process of co-ordination bringing two independent
clauses together. In English, ‘there I sold my Tukaram to buy myself some bread and
mince’ is a complex through subordination bringing two unequal clauses together.
‘After leaving Agra Road the narrator takes a good bath in a stream and
asked for a handout at few doors before leaving the village. He could anyhow fulfill his
hunger but remained thirsty like never before. The Marathi expression, ‘…pot bharla pan
tahan bhagli nahi’ is very straightforward and affirms to the present time only. But the
English substitute ‘hungry no more but thirsty like never before’ surpasses the boundary
of present and enhances its scope in the past that is in the bygone time of his life. Thus, it
no more remains the ordinary thirst but becomes the metaphysical thirst of knowledge
beyond, seeking for the nature of things along with human existence.
5: Stanza 4
: ‘Ek gadiwan hota tyala navgav sangitla’ has fronted the topic of the
bullock cart man keeping the narrator’s act of telling him his name at the end. The
English version does exactly opposite, which is again not the conscious foregrounding but
the result of varying syntactic structures of both the languages. ‘Gadiwan mhanalla jalo
jine vagaire’, a typical colloquial construction in Marathi states the anxiety of the human
existence on the part of the speaker, the bullock cart man. It is replaced by an ironic
paradoxical construction in English, ‘a man… who hated beggars and quoted Tukaram’.
This paradox of the situation will be properly comprehended by the bilingual readers who
share the context of Tukaram making an appeal to embrace those poor and helpless. Even
though the man hated the beggars, he was kind enough to give the narrator a cool sip of
water when he got down the cart at his farm.
6: Stanza 5 : The arrival at Rotegaon and the story of dragging the carcass of the dog has
been told with pictersqueness and graphic details in both the versions. The mention of
‘panchyat’ being held in the temple is deleted from the English version. Instead, there is
an additional event of ‘the trial’ which the narrator had to undergo which is not the part of
Marathi poem.
7: Stanza 6
: The reference of the travel in earlier stanza has its reason and explanation
in the following stanza. He got a bread but at the expense of the trial. He could not see the
woman who was pissing in the darkness. She blew up and abused him badly, insulted
him. The expression that had been used to depict this incident in both the languages is
drastically different from each other. In Marathi it makes use of highly colloquial
language, abuses with all its baser qualities with zero euphemism of standard uses. While
insulting and abusing the narrator the lady does not care to complete a sentence properly,
which results in fragmented syntax, ‘bhosadichyanna bhakri….’ In English, due to lack
of colloquialism, the abusing part does not achieve the intensity of Marathi version. The
expression, ‘….bread you want you….I’ll give you bread’ emphasizes the need of bread
rather than the rash abusing. The total impact of the expressions on the mind of readers of
both the versions is very different.
8: Stanza 7
: The concept of ‘gurhal’ in Marathi is unknown to English readers, hence
the elaboration, ‘molasses boiling in the field’ where he asked for some sugarcane to eat.
The narrator shat on the vishnukranta a typical grass flower found in Maharashtra. As A.
K. Meharotra has stated, “Vishnukranta was first translated as ‘daises’ but was again
deleted for daisies are not grass flowers found commonly on an uncultivated field.”8 The
Marathi expression, ‘vishnukrantawer haglo, Kadunimbane puslo’ is colloquial as well as
deft and precise. In English it becomes, ‘I shat on vishnukranta and wiped my arse with
neem leaves’, which is less rhythmic and less poetic than the Marathi version. The beedi
is an Indian low quality cigarette, made of leaves of the tree called tendu and ordinary
non- graded tobacco, commonly used by the rustic fellows. The narrator finds one on the
road and keeps it in his pocket. The beedi being so uniquely Indian remains as it is in
English version. The bilingual reader can comprehend this expression more than the
native English one.
9: Stanza 8
: The reference of famine has appeared with minute details in both the
versions. The first line of the stanza ‘Khup rakhdampatti keli’ is a precise and exact
expression of a man striving to live in the situation of famine. In a poem it depicts a
narrator’s own condition in the midst of anxiety and tiredness of life he faces. In English
it gives a pretty elaborate speech saying, ‘It was walk walk walk and walk all the way’
which is very different in its effect than the single worded precision of ‘rakhdampatti’ in
Marathi. The sequence of the last two lines o the poem is altered in the English version.
‘Tekdiwarchya dewalatun nawasacha paisa ghetla’ becomes, ‘I picked up a small coin\
from a temple on the top of that hill’, which is just to confirm to the regular syntactic
structure of English language. The word ‘navasacha’ is altogether dropped from the
English version .The concept in Marathi means a vow made to ask for God’s grace for the
self or the dear ones in exchange with the offering of money or some other precious
things. The possible reason for its deletion From English version may be the difficulty to
comprehend for the foreign reader.
10: Stanza 9
: “kopargaon motha titha \ Stalin melyacha wachla’, this single
sentence in Marathi gets divided into two when it appears in English “kopargaon is a big
town \ that’s where I read that Stalin was dead”. The English version has lost the
suggestive nature and has become more informative which tells that Kopargaon is a name
of the town which is big in size. Such a change may prove help to native English reader
who knows nothing about Kopargaon. In a first line about Kopargaon, Marathi version
deletes verb which makes it precise and more poetic. It is here that the narrator received
the news of Stalin’s death and that he felt ashamed of begging. He knocked five doors for
getting a handful of rice. The line ‘Ann pach dara thothawali\tar ardhi mud milali.”
consciously deletes the subject which is understood in the given context of Marathi. In
English it comes in an orderly manner, “And I had to nock”, confirms more to regular
uses than any experiment with the syntax.
11. Stanza10
: At almost middle of the journey, the narrator spends a night on
flagstone. He is tired of the dirt and the dust in his hair and beard. He bears the sun like a
hammer on his head. Marathi version expresses this part in a characteristic colloquial way
for which he uses a typical west Maharashtra dialect of Marathi. Use of phrases like,
‘dhuldhuwat doska’, ‘talkyawer unhacha ghan’, ‘Khajnara dhungan’, etc give a regional,
rustic touch to Marathi version, which is almost absent in English. In a couplet ‘Pawalat
thokleli yatra\ patryasarkhi tapleli’, the reader of Marathi comprehends the intrinsic
reference of Nana Patil and his ‘Patri Sarkar’, which is very much the part of his
subconscious. But the English substitute, ‘tin shod hegira’ remains incomprehensible to
English readers, which compelled A. K. Meharotra, the editor of Kolatkar’s posthumous
collection to ask the context of the phrase to the bed ridden poet.9
12. Stanza11
: The Narrator looks back and forth and finds the station two miles
ahead and the town three miles behind. The Marathi version talks of the straightening of
dhoti at the beginning which follows the mention of the said distances. The English
stanza does exactly opposite of it, the narrator stands up to straighten his dhoti and then
he has the cognition of the distances of the town and the station. At this moment sweat
stung his eyes and he could see a picture which proves to be the reason of his turnabout.
: The stanza depicts an idealistic picture of an old man and his
household. Marathi version refers to a daughter in law who stands in the courtyard
through the line, ‘Darat ubhi suun ki kon’. But in English she is simply a young woman
whose relationship with the old man is not noted. The narrator asks for water and cups his
hands to drink it.
: The second last stanza is an account of character and personality of
the old man. The narrator looked at him with the dripping wet elbows, which had goodly
beard. His eyes were full with contentment which was the result of his simplistic lifestyle.
The half cut kerosene cane was lying before him. Both the versions depict the old man
with equal ease and simplicity.
15: Stanza 14
: The narrator is provided with a bread (bhakri) and onion, with
intrinsic respect in his gesture. He ate it up; he thought for a while and decided to return.
The Marathi version is completely unpunctuated while as English version uses forty six
full stops and nine commas.
Marathi version
English version
Nalela gath marun suin mhanali
Knotting the cord, the midwife said,
Pedhe ana ho pedhe ana
It’s boy it’s boy it’s boy.
Kanala sui tochun sonar mhanala
Piercing an earlobe, the goldsmith said,
Don rupaye zale don rupaye
Two bucks just two bucks.
Dandala devi tochun nurse mhanali
Syringe in hand, the nurse said,
Ajibat dukht nahi ajibat
It’s not gonna hurt, not a bit.
Bulila patti lawun Baban mhanala
Tuzyapeksha maza motthay tuzyapeksha maza
Measuring my dick, Baban said,
Pathiwar gudda marun baban mhanala
Mine’ bigger, bigger than yours.
Tuzya bapachi ann mazya bapachi kusti lagli tar
Punching my back, Baban said,
Ghotyawar lath marun Baban mhanala
My dad can lick your dad.
Radubai kuthli radubai
Kicking my shin , Bunny said,
Sissy, a sissy, what a sissy you are.
Pawalala pawul lawun Bani mhanali
Saikal saikal kheluya saikal saikal
Pressing her toes against mine, Bunny said,
Potala thunki lawun Bani mhanali
Bicycle, bicycle, let’s play bicycle.
Doctor doctor kheluya doctor doctor
Rubbing spittle on my tummy, Bunny said,
Kushicha chimata ghewun Bani mhanali
Doctor, doctor, let’s play doctor.
Panghrunat ye panghrunat
Tickling my ribs, Bunny said,
Come on in, between the sheets.
Dokyala chapat marun ek master mhanala
Tetis adche kiti tetis adche
Boxing my ears, a teacher said,
Kanala pichki marun ek master mhanala
How much is thirty times thirty eight?
shefield gaw kuthay mag shefield gaw
Rapping my knuckles, a teacher said,
mandiwar hat thewun ek master mhanala
And where is Sheffield then? Where’s Sheffield?
ambewanat chal ambewanat
Squeezing my thigh, a teacher said,
Let’s go to the mango grove.
Mundi murgalat nhavi mhanala
Halu naka sahib halu naka
Twisting my neck, the barber said,
Chatila tep lawun shimpi mhanala
Don’t move now, don’t move.
Ektis inch fakta ektis inch
Measuring my chest the tailor said,
Butat pay kombat chambhar mhanala
Thirty one inches, just thirty one.
Ghalun ghalun sail hoil ghalun ghalun
Forcing my feet into the shoe, the cobbler said,
Use it, and it wont be so tight.
Pathiwar chadhun porga mhanala
Ghoda ghoda haik haik ghoda ghoda
Jumping on my back, junior said,
Potawar pay dewun boss mhanala
Giddy up, giddy up.
Ilaj nahi Mr. Nene ilaj nahi
Giving me the boot, my boss said.
Lund pakdun bayako mhanali
I can’t help it Mr. Nene, I just can’t.
Kapun takin ek diwas kapun takin
Grabbing my cock, my wife said,
I’ll chop it off one day, just chop it off.
Gotiwar light takun ek doctor mhanala
Hydrocil nakkich hydrocil
Feeling my balls, a doctor said,
Pawalala pin tochun ek doctor mhanala
Hydrocele, I’m sure it’s hydrocele.
Maharog nakkich maharog
Sticking a pin in my toe, another said,
Potawar chapti marun ek doctor mhanala
Leprosy, you can take it from me, it’s leprosy.
Ulser nakkich ulser
Tapping my stomach, a third one said,
Ulcer, ulcer, no doubt about it.
Payawar pay dewun ekjan mhanala
sorry yar sorry
Stepping on my toes, a guy said,
Dolyat chatri ghalun ekjan mhanala
Sorry man, I’m sorry.
Maf karma bhai maf karma
Sticking an umbrella in my eye, another said,
Angawar truck ghalun ekjan mhanala
I hope you aren’t hurt.
Dikhta nahi madarchot dikhta nahi
Bearing down on me full tilt, a trucker said,
Can’t you see where you going you motherfucker?
Structure: Both the versions contain eight stanzas with six lines each. The poem
presents different pictures of people in conversation in varied contexts. The discourse
changes from free direct to free indirect, as per the suitability of the occasion. Marathi
version is completely unpunctuated while the English is largely punctuated with
commas, full stops and question marks at places.
1. Stanza 1
: The first stanza depicts the conversation at the time of the child birth.
As soon as the baby comes out of the mother’s womb, the society decides whether to
be happy, knowing its gender. The context is portrayed with blatant expressions. The
midwife (Suin) exclaims, ‘pedhe ana’ i.e. ‘bring sweets’ for it’s a boy. In English, the
midwife simply declares that it’s a boy. This difference in expression suggestively
points towards the different value systems of both the languages. Marathi version is
strongly characterized by the gender bias as compared to the culture of English. The
reference of piercing the earlobe of the child soon after its birth occurs in both the
languages, but its religious connotations could only be shared by one who knows
Marathi language and its culture. Similarly, the nurse in Marathi version talks of
giving a dose of smallpox (devi) vaccine to a newborn infant. Smallpox had been a
terrible epidemic disease in India during the decade of sixties. The nurse in English
version does not make clear what the injection is, she holds it so as it does not get
2. Stanza 2. : Here we have a picture of an adolescent narrator playing with a friend
named Baban. Baban measures the size of his dick and declares his is bigger than the
narrator. Punching the narrator’s back, he tells that his father is more powerful, and
could easily defeat the narrator’s father in the game of wrestling. The wrestling part
is simply deleted from the English version. The Marathi ‘kusti’, in ‘tuzy bapachi ann
mazya bapachi kusti lagli tar’ is not familiar to the readers of English version hence
the references is simply dropped. When Baban kicks the narrator on his shin and calls
him ‘radubai’ which in Marathi means girl like, who cries very soon, the English
version chooses the word ‘sissy’, which is too urban for the colloquial Marathi
3. Stanza 3.
: The play continues. But instead of Baban, now we have a small girl
Bani. She presses her toe against the narrator’s and asks to play bicycle. Marathi
version uses the repetition of the use of the word cycle which is characteristic of
children’s language in Marathi. Such a repetition indicates that the point of view of
the speaker in the poem is that of a small child. English version does not have such a
repetition and the consequent suggestion of point of view. Same is the case with the
later lines of the stanza where she prefers to play ‘doctor- doctor’. The child like
point of view of Bani in the first four lines changes to that of an adolescent when she
offers to come on in her bed to the narrator. The passage has been translated in
English without much loss of meaning.
4. Stanza 4
: In Marathi version this is a picture of a teacher talking to a student and
asking about the multiplication table, ‘tetis adche kiti tetis adche?’ meaning what is
thirty three two and half time? This question reminds us of the Indian pedagogic
practice of memorizing the multiplication tables by heart. Students in past time used
to get severe punishments by their teachers for not being able to reproduce the table
orally. This according to many teachers was the foundation of the whole course of
mathematics. The English translation, ‘thirty three times thirty eight’ simply serves
the rhythmic purpose and does not maintain the semantic accuracy. It does not share
the culture context of Marathi, hence remains elusive to the mind of English readers.
The question, ‘where is Sheffield?’(Sheffield gaw kuthay Sheffield gaw?) is more
English in its tone than Marathi. The last line of the stanza in Marathi, ‘Mandiwar
hath theun master mhanala\ ambewanat chal ambewanat’ clearly indicates how the
adult teacher is trying to flirt with an immature girl student. The whole expression
underlines the mischievous tone of the narrator. The English translation has become
very plane and lacks the suggestiveness of the Marathi version.
5. Stanza 5
: The appearance of the barber, tailor and the cobbler and their respective
speeches get translated without any change in the original structure and meaning.
Both the versions make effective use of repetition which in itself is a comment on the
rhythmical potential of both the languages, and the way the poet has skillfully
exploited this potential for his purpose.
6. Stanza 6
: Junior, boss and the wife appear with their pragmatic statements
addressing the narrator. All of them have been translated aptly with proper rhythmic
sense in both the languages. ‘ghoda ghoda haik’ in Marathi has not only found an apt
semantic substitute but also a rhythmic substitute with repition of \g\ sound in both
the versions. The Marathi phrase ‘potawar pay dewun’ acts more on figurative plane
than on the literal one. While the English substitute ‘giving a boot’ is to be
understood much on the denotative level.
7. Stanza 7
: Three different doctors focus on three different parts of the narrator’s
body and declare their diagnosis accordingly. He is declared to have been suffering
from three diseases namely, hydrocel, leprosy and ulcer. Stanza in both the versions
conveys the theme of pain and anxiety caused due to narrator’s critical physical
condition with equal intensity and detached tone touched by black humor. The light
tone of the narrator distorts the seriousness caused by pain.
8. Stanza 8
: A man steps on the narrator’s toe, another one sticks an umbrella into
his eye and both of them beg for apologies. Throughout the course of narration the
attempt seem to be of showing that how the world has gone inhuman and insincere
and inhuman and the apologies have lost real touch of sympathy, changing it to mere
words of formality. The narrator of the poem attempts to expose hypocrisy, and
superficiality of such insincere people. The poem ends with a man who bears down a
truck on his body and abuses, ‘dikhta nahi madarchot’ (can’t you see where you
going you motherfucker) The abuse in Marathi is more rough and strongly colloquial
making use of ‘ Bombay Hindi’, used by highwaymen in Mumbai. The abuse makes
the reader visualize this typically Indian context.
Kay Danger Wara Sutlaya:
The Wind Song.
Are tuzi topi
Fuck your cap.
Tuzi topi geli khaddyat
If it’s gone, it’s gone.
Kapal pahila sambhal
You have still got your head on, right?
Kay danger wara sutlaya
Hold on to it tight.
Doskyat kachara
And look after yourself, man.
Dhul dhul dokyat
A danger wind is blowing.
Look at all this rubbish in my hair
Sahebachi khidki phutli
And damn this dust,
Gadiwar kacha
It’s all getting in my eyes!
Apoap gundaltiy
Panjabyacha galicha
A window shuts with a bang
Parsinicha flowerpat
And showers glass on a fat mattress.
Gadabada loltoy
Chandeliers have too many problems of their own
To notice how the carpets have begun
Sindhinichya dandiwarli
To roll up by themselves.
Mhagdi nylon sadi
A Ming vase, overturned,
Challi waryawarti hawai zaj
Spins around and rolls from side to side
Nawawya majalyawerlya
On a newly waxed floor
Bangalyacha lenga lagech
As it wrestles with a private demon if its own.
lagla tichya pathi
A nylon sari off the clothe line
Khapranna fefra bharla
And goes swirling up in the air,
Fadfad kartayat pakharansarkhi
Pursued by pajamas
Kulkarnyachya bhintiwerlya
Of a Bengali chartert accountant,
Digrya thikrya farshiwarti
That tears themselves away from the balcony railing
Narya narya tuza bap
And, pedaling furiously, ascend to heaven
Satakla ki photomadhna
To catch up with the sari
And conduct a series of a joint maneuvers
Maidanawar jikdatikda
High above the city skyline.
Esessiche paper
Dhawatya Mercedeswar
Like illiterate teleprinters
Kadkadkadat zad padla
Invented by a race of giants
Professorsaheb tumchi
Before they could discover electricity,
Kavita geli udat
Rooftops come to life;
And the news of coming storm is relayed from roof to
Pala penter
Rhaude rangacha dabda
As tiles start talking in tongues.
Zyayaratpatra khadkhad kartoy
Let me help you to sweep the floor, Mr. Kulkarni;
Tumhich rangawaleli panchwis phuti Helen
Your college degrees,
Tumchya bokandi basnaray
They’re all lying shattered on the ground.
Dhengat mangut pakadnaray
Larry, Larry my boy,
Master master bagha kasa
Has your dad been missing from his silver picture
Hisade martoy bhintiwarti
Bhartacha nakasha
I thought I saw him running around in circles
Gela udat khidkibaher
Around a fire hydrant in Apollo Street.
Dongarasakat nadyansakat khuntisakat
Last I saw him he was about to get into a flight
Gela saral akashat.
Over a cute little piece of tinfoil
With three almond leaves,
Two bus tickets and yards of carbon paper that has
ganged upon him.
Your poem professor;
You say it’s gone?
Slipped out of your hands and disappeared?
Just like that?
May be it went for a walk, you know.
Have you looked everywhere?
And don’t look so sad, professor, cheer up!
May be the poem was never any good to begin with.
Have you considered that?
Drop the paint brush.
Leave your cans of paint and run, painter, run!
I hope you are fast enough on your feet.
The long legged foxy lady you painted on the billboard
Has begun to shake her hips;
And I hope you’re far away when she starts looking for
Slicing her way through everything
That lies in her flight path
Like a guillotine unhinged.
Teacher, teacher, look, the map!
The map of India!
The way it’s kicking,
The way it’s dancing on the classroom wall.
Do you think it’s going to fall?
There it goes, it’s gone already.
Cities, mountains, forests, rivers and all,
Out the window and up into the sky.
1: Title: The Marathi version uses one of the middle lines as its title. It sets an
example as against the usual way of choosing the first line as the title of the poem.
The English version has an independent title, ‘The Wind Song’.
2: Structure: The Marathi version contains seven stanzas with six lines each. The
lines are short containing two or three words each. The English version is pretty
longer with eight stanzas of nine lines each. Each line consists of more than six
3: Punctuation: Marathi version appears in a completely unpunctuated manner while
the English version is regularly punctuated. The use of punctuations leads towards
over- simplification and straightforward communication of the content.
4: Stanza 1 : The English version is the free rendering of the original Marathi poem
than the word for word translation. Instead of giving separate English substitutes to
each lexical item, the tendency is towards providing gross semantic substitute for the
complete line or at list a complete syntactic unit. The precision and the rhythmic
balance of Marathi version is sacrificed at places. ‘are tuzi topi | topi geli khaddyat’,
comparatively plain expression becomes unduly sensational and over dramatic, ‘fuck
your cap | If it’s gone it’s gone’. In Marathi, ‘kapal pahila sambhal’ is an appeal to a
person wearing cap to take care of the forehead, while the narrator in English is
shown to be worried about the head and asks him to hold it tight. ‘Look after your self
man’ is a casual expression of concern is an extra addition in English version.
‘Doskyat kachra | dhul dhul dolyat’, a precise expression in Marathi takes three long
lines in English.
5: Stanza 2
: The first line of the stanza, ‘sahebachi khidki futli’ becomes, ‘the
window shuts with a bang’, dropping the reference of the ‘sahib’ meaning the officer.
‘Chandeliers have too many problems of their own’ is a line in English, which can’t
be traced back into Marathi. Carpet get rolled by itself in both the versions but in
Marathi it’s the ‘Panjabi’s carpet’ while in English it has no specific owner. Same is
the case with the flower pot. In Marathi it is owned by a Parsi lady, in English, the
flowerpot has no specific owner instead it has an additional reference of ‘over the
newly waxed floor’. The last line in English, ‘as it wrestles with the private demon of
its own has no trace back in Marathi.
6: Stanza 3
: The danger wind is blowing. Things have started disseminating due to
it. The nylon sari slithers off the cloth line. Marathi version provides all the
specifications of the ownership and quality of the sari in a single stroke,
‘sindhinichya dandiwerli mhagdi nylon sadi’. A comment of the narrator on the
movement of the sari due to the danger wind blowing is humorous, and colored by
child-like innocence. It goes further, ‘waryawerti hawai zaj’ (it’s flying on the air as if
it’s an airplane). Pajamas of the Bengali start chasing the sari. A single reference of
‘Bengali’ in Marathi is changed into ‘Bengali chartert accountant’ in English. Both
the versions personify the sari and pajamas but Marathi version achieves marked
precision, ‘Bangalyacha lenga lagech \ lagla tichya pathi’. English version is more
explanatory adding the description of the pajamas tear out from the balcony railing
and peddle furiously to ascend the heaven and to conduct the joint maneuvers high
above the skyline. Lenga in Marathi is masculine and can be used as a singular. The
pajamas in English have no gender specification and always occur as plural. As a
result feminine sari being chassed by masculine lenga reminds the readers of the
delicate affair between the two and suggests the one between their owners, in a
gossipy manner. The bold humorous stroke of the Marathi remains absent from the
English due to the inherent lexicographic limitation of English.
7: Stanza 4
The fourth stanza in Marathi is so precise and witty that English
version takes two full length stanzas (18 lines) to express the essence of these lines:
“Khapranna fefra bharla\
fad fad kartayat pakhransarkhi \
kulkarnyachya bhintiwerlya \
digrya thikrya farshiwerti”
The lines are self explanatory; achieve consonance due to the repetition of consonantal
sound \r\. In English line, ‘the rooftop comes to life’, the act is kept at the background and
foregrounds the line, ‘like illiterate teleprinters\ invented by the race of giants\ before they
could discover electricity. It has the hazardus effect of undue procrastination of action.
The riff-raff onomatopoeic effect of the falling of the roof top matches perfectly with the
one in Marathi, caused through the words, ‘digrya thikrya farshiwarti’, both repeat the \r\
sound many times. In English the news of the arrival of the storm is relayed from roof to
roof, as the tiles talk in tongues is a mechanical personification and is absent from the
Marathi original. The narrator provides the help for sweeping the floor of Mr. Kulkarni,
and the college degrees get scattered on the floor, both being an additions typical of the
English translation.
8: Stanza 5
: This stanza exists only in English. It begins with the line, ‘Larry, Larry
my boy! Has your dad been missing from his silver picture frame?’ This initial line of the
stanza goes rhythmically and semantically parallel with the concluding lines of the fourth
stanza in Marathi. Larry’s father running around in the Apollo Street and getting into
fight with three almond leaves, two bus tickets and yards of carbon papers is immensely
humorous with subtle metonymic effect transferring the sense of the –human photograph
of Larry’s father to +human living father. Since this part is absent in the Marathi version,
comparative study remains impossible.
9: Stanza 6
The Marathi version begins with ‘answer books of S. S. C.
examination get scattered on ground’ covers ‘the tree falls on Mercedes in speed’ and
ends with ‘a poem by a professor fly in the sky’. The English stanza begins with a
detailed talk about the professor’s poem which includes the hypothesis that ‘may be
the poem has gone for walk and consoles the professor, asks him to cheer up for ‘the
poem wasn’t so good to begin with’. The English version does not allow the
saturation of happenings as in the Marathi poem, but analyses the single situation at
10: Stanza 7.
The opening line of the stanza, ‘run painter run’ is common in
both the versions. In the third line the Marathi poem gives information of the roadside
advertisement board that makes noise due to wind. The English stanza drops this
information, continues to address the painter and suggests him to run as fast as he
could. The fourth line in Marathi, ‘tumich rangawaleli panchwis footi Helen…’
becomes elaborate in English. It goes, ‘the long legged foxy lady you painted on the
billboard.’ It is almost double in length than the original. The Marathi stanza ends
with two rhyming but colloquial prosaic lines: ‘tumchya bokandi basnaray \ dhengat
mangut pakadnaray’. These lines make suggestion of the danger of possible murder.
Though violent, the act gets expressed in a cold blooded dark humor and unusual
casualty. English stanza takes too much time in elaboration of the act of the lady in
poster. The foxy lady has started shaking her hips .The painter is advised to be away
from her before she starts looking for him. She comes towards him slicing her way,
just like an unhinged guillotine. In this stanza, the suggestion of her possible attack is
too remote and her dangerous intention is remotely suggested through the image of
the guillotine.
11: Stanza 8. : The last stanza, in both the versions addresses the teacher, draws her
attention towards the map of India, which attempts forcefully to leave its place and
fly in the sky. The line in Marathi ‘hisade martoy bhintiwer’ is translated as ‘dancing
on the wall’. Both are semantically different, for the earlier has the connotations of
anger and annoyance that are absent from the later. The map in the Marathi version
succeeds in going out of the class room with all its mountains, rivers and the rod it
was hung on. The description is a smart and creative display of mixing imagination
and reality. The mountains and the rivers are the symbolic representations on the map
while the rod is actual domestic and concrete reality. This mixing of the reality and
imagination and the consequent aesthetic effect is absent from the English translation.
It makes no mention of the rod instead it uses a rhetorical question, ‘Do you think it’s
going to fall?’ followed by the answer by the narrator himself, ‘There it is. It’s gone
already’. It is more prolonged and conversational than the Marathi poem.
Te bagh te bagh
Look, look.
Don khekde bagh te
Just look at them.
Kase taplet
The crabs.
There are two of them.
Kunawer taplet mhanun kay vicharttos
Are tuzyawer
They’re keeping watch.
Baghtayat bagh kase
On whom you ask?
On you of course,
Tuzyakada baghtayat
Who else?
Ankhi kunakada
Kase ektak baslet
See how they’re looking?
Looking at you,
Ek hikda ek hikda
Barobar 160 anshancha kon karun baslet
And you’ll never catch them blink either
Ek davikada ek ujwikada
One on this side
One on the other.
Dole khanarayat tuze
At an angle of a hundred and sixty degrees
Ghabarlas kashala
To your left and to your right.
Mhanaje agdi attach khanarayat asa nahi
They’re going to eat your eyes.
Aaj nahi tar udya
That scares you?
Udya nahi tar parwa
It needn’t, you know.
Nahitar ankhi dha varshani re
It’s not that they’re going to start eating right away.
Tyanna kay
No. But one of these days.
Tynna kasli ghai ahe
Tomorrow? Who knows?
Baghun ghetil sawakash
If not tomorrow, then the day after.
Or ten years from now, who can tell?
Ikda bagh ikda
Saglich mundi halwu nakos
They’re in no hurry.
Bubla ikadachi ikda kar
They have plenty of time.
And they can live without food
Distoy ka ek khekda
For a long time, you know.
Sabandha nasel disat ewadhyat
Ardha distoy na
Look this way,
Ata ikda bagh ikda
Don’t turn your head.
Are bubla ikda kar
Just move your eyeballs.
Ikda pan ardha distoy na
Do you see a crab there?
Nahitar nuste denge disat astil re
Not the whole crab, may be,
Ahe ki nahi
Not yet,
Disel akha khekda pan disel
But you did see something move?
Ajun taim ahe re
Now look the other way.
Tyanna kay dusra dhanda ahe ka
No, no. Not the whole head.
Hech tyancha kam
Just move your eyeballs
Like I said.
Are he tuzech khekde
Agdi swatache
All you can see for now
Tyanna kutha dusrya tisryache dole khanyat intrestay
Is just the pincers may be,
But you’ll see,
You’ll see the whole crab yet.
Tuzya dokyanach he upatale
Lanache mothe zale
And you’ll see it clearly.
Bagh kase laddu baslet
They’re only doing their job of course,
Baslet aj baghu
But patience
Udya baghu karat
Is one thing you should learn from them.
Kapalvegle zalyapasna
The crabs belong to you,
Tuzech dole khanarayat
and to you alone.
Tu mhanshil tenva
They have no interest in eating
Ki zala kam
somebody else’s eyes.
Sambandha mitla
They came out of your head.
Where else do you think they came from?
but how they’ve grown.
Look at them now,
Big fat crabs.
They’ve been playing a waiting game
Ever since they emerged
from your head.
STRUCTURE: Marathi version contains sixteen stanzas, each with a precise, unrhymed
triplet and concludes with a single line. English version contains fifteen stanzas each with
a quartet.
Marathi version is completely unpunctuated while the English
version is crowded with full stops, commas and question marks.
Both the versions revolve round the common theme of self made disasters,
symbolized by the crabs, eating out the life of human beings. Self originated hazards, of
which the crabs is the metaphor threaten the human existence and increase the anxiety of
mankind in general. Although the theme is highly serious, the treatment given to it is
light- hearted and playful. The narrator, who seems to be the authorial voice as well, talks
to an implied character, which makes the tone of both the versions conversational.
In the triplet of the opening stanza of Marathi version we read, ‘Te bagh
te bagh \ don khekde bagh te \ Kase taplet’. English version takes four lines, still the last
line ‘kase taplet’ remains unincluded. In Marathi the third person plural pronoun ‘te’
(they) is used before the main verb ‘bagh’ (see) and the repetition of s+v becomes the
repetition of two independent but precise statements. The English syntax does not allow
such a bare ‘they’ with the main verb, instead it becomes ‘them’ and at the cost of
precision the statement in English becomes, ‘look, look. \ just look at them.’ In the
remaining two lines of the stanza, ‘Don khekde bagh te \ kase taplet’, the numerical
pronoun ‘don’ (two) precedes the noun ‘khekde’ (crabs) and thereby the number of the
crabs is fore grounded. In English, the substitute lines are: ‘The crabs. \ there are two of
them’ these lines give more prominence to the bare existence of the crabs and keep their
number at the background. Besides, ‘Don khekde bagh te \ kase taplet’ is a compound
statement, ‘to’ is a co-ordinating conjunction which brings two independent clauses
together. English version keeps two independent sentences marked by full stop.
: The second stanza of Marathi begins with a longish question, ‘Kunawar
taplet mhanun kay vichartos?’ follows the answer ‘are tuzyawar’ and brings a powerful
rhetoric effect. The English stanza begins with a simple sentence in a present continuous
form of tense: ‘They are keeping watch’ followed by a question ‘on whom do you ask?’ a
non standard colloquial structure. (Lacks the standard use of verb, do, did, and does)
Even though it contains a question word ‘that’, the structure makes it a question in a
statement form where interrogative tone of the speaker plays an important role. The
answer part of the question comes in the third line, ‘On you of course, followed by a tag
in next line, ‘whom else.’ Marathi stanza ends with the statement ‘baghtayat bagh kase’,
keeps the sentence run on in the next stanza.
STANZA3. : The run-on stanza in Marathi carries the half-said sense forward. The tag
which closes the second stanza of English version becomes the part of the opening of the
third stanza in Marathi with ‘tuzyakada baghtayat \ ankhi kunakada’ the English stanza
repeats the sense implied at the end of the second stanza:
“See how they’re looking?
Looking at you,
This pattern of a question followed by answer is the idiosyncrasy of English
version. It ends with a long line, ‘And you’ll never catch them blink either’, which is
substitute for Marathi ‘Kase ektak basalet’. In Marathi stanza, the first line rhymes with
the third (baghtayat \ basalet). Even the similar sounding words like ‘tuzyakada’,
‘kunakada’ cause an internal rhyme in the Marathi poem. The English version lacks both
these features.
STANZA4. : The Marathi version makes use of structural parallelism which results in
the element of musicality:
“Aj nahitar udya
Udya nahitar parwa”
Followed by a sudden temporal gap through the line, “Nahitar ankhi daha diwasani re”,
which is a mild shock of expectation on the part of a reader. The English translation
works on altogether different plane. It no longer relies on parallelism. Instead, it makes
effective use of broken syntax of day-to-day conversation:
“No. But one of these days.
Tomorrow? Who knows?
If not tomorrow, then the day after.
Or ten years from now, who can tell?”
The stanza makes a characteristic use of interrogative which help narrator get
established in conversation with the implied listener.
STANZA7 : The crabs are in no hurry. The three lines convey his senses are divided
into two syntactic units. The first two lines form the first unit:
“tynna kay
Tyanna kasli ghai ahe?”
And the third line ‘baghun ghetil sawakash’ forms the second unit. The whole stanza
conveys its sense with utmost precision while the English version is characterized by
length and repetition of the same idea through varied syntactic structures. It goes: ‘There
is no hurry’ and again ‘they have plenty of time’, where the earlier statement entails the
later. The idea that, ‘And they can leave without food\ for long time you know’ is an
invention of English version. It has no parallel in Marathi.
The narrator of the poem suggests the implied listener to look from this
side to that in order to have a glance at the crabs. This part is provided with the minute
details of how to look at them. In order to catch the listener’s attention, the narrator in
Marathi makes use of free repetition: ‘Ekda bagh ekda’ not opting for such a repetition in
English he says:
“Look this way
The suggestion to make ‘hurry’ intended by the word ‘quick’ in English is
absent from Marathi. In both the versions the rest of the two lines ask the listener not to
move the head but only eyeballs. The word ‘mundi’ in Marathi is borrowed from the
rustic agrarian dialect, which is a suggestion of the narrator and the listener is speaker of
that dialect.
Stanza9: Both the versions use two interrogatives, each in order to set a conversational
tone with the implied listener. But the difference is that the use is marked by a question
mark in English while it remains unmarked in Marathi. Besides it doesn’t follow the
V+interogative+subject, for the first question. The last question ‘Ardha distoy na?’ in
Marathi and ‘but you did see something move?’ asks for completely different kind of
STANZA10 : This stanza is repetition of the eightth stanza asking to see at the opposite
“Ata ikda bagh ikda
Are bubla ikde kar
Ikda pan ardha distoy na?”
The opposite direction is suggested by a single word ‘ata’. The English
version makes clear reference: ‘now look at the other way’. The desperation of ‘Are
bubula ikde kar’ is partially achieved by ‘No no .\Not the whole head’, even though
these words are not the exact syntactic substitute of each other. The free repetition of
the word ‘ikda’ (four times) in Marathi provides the element of internal rhyme. The
third line, ‘just move your eyeballs’ has the repetitive effect of what has already been
achieved semantically. ‘Ikde pan ardha distoy na?’ is semantically a step ahead of
‘like I said’ in English.
: The stanza enforces the assertion that the whole of the crabs may not be
viewed and possibly only the pinsters could be apparent. The stanza in Marathi uses a tag
question divided into two lines:
“Nahitar nuste denge disat astil re
Ahe ki nahi?”
English version uses a plain sentence instead:
“All you can see for now
Is just pincers may be”
Though not exact syntactic substitutes, they convey the same idea. The last line, on the
other hand is an attempt to use exact substitute. The Marathi line ‘disel akkha khekda pan
disel’ gets divided into two lines:
‘but you’ll see
You’ll see the whole crab yet.’
Both the versions convey the same sense.
Stanza12. : From this stanza onwards the translation becomes freer and doesn’t care to
find exact syntactic features as substitutes. The Marathi stanza opens with the suggestion
that there is still some time to get the complete visual of the crabs. It adds that they have
nothing else to do than this. English stanza doesn’t have such a suggestion. It simply
asserts the fact that they are doing nothing but their own job. And patience is one thing
which the listener should learn from the crabs. Such kind of ‘learning’ part is absent from
Marathi version.
: Here the metaphoric nature of crabs becomes explicit. The first and
second line forms a sentence:
“Aree he tuzech khekde
Agdi swatache” (crabs as self imposed trouble)
The English version uses almost exact syntactic substitute: ‘The crabs belong to you,
And you alone’ The last sentence, ‘tyanna kutha dusaryache dole khanyat intrestaya’,
though the subtlest form of interogative does not ask for information but gives
information itself. The English stanza has two concluding lines, in a form of sentence,
“They have no interest in eating
somebody else’s eyes”.
Stanza 14
: It is the last stanza of Marathi version. It tells of the origin of the crabs that
they have both born and brought up in your head and now have grown very fat. The first
two lines tell the factual truth:
‘tuzya dokyatna upatle
Lanache mothe zale’
The last line functions to draw the attention of the implied listener:
‘Bagh kase ladadu baslet’
In English version as well the first line tells a fact that they have come out of his head.
But the second line uses a rhetorical question in order to confirm the fact mentioned
earlier. It takes two lines in English to draw attention of implied listener:
‘But they have grown
Look at them now’
The first line is an independent sentence and second marked by comma, gives a chance to
continue its sense in the last stanza.
: This stanza is available only in English hence no comparison is possible.
The stanza begins with a line: ‘look at them now’. The last three lines talk of the act of
waiting on the part of the crabs. These three lines together form a complex sentence. But
the stanza over all doesn’t show any syntactic or semantic significance.
Marathi version:
English version
Chadh mazywar
Come climb on me.
Tang mar mala
Go right up,
all the way to the top.
Ghal mazya galyat
Tuza gala tuzya tangdya
Wrap yourself around me.
Crawl up and down
Karun ghe kadkadat
and all over me.
Nachav jya nachwaychyat tya vija
Want to trip me up?
Sod lol mazya taklawar
Come on,
Lav mala vijechya shendya
give it a try.
Mi ubhay ithe majbut
Put your arms around my neck.
Poladi mallakhambasarkha
Or strangle me
with your legs.
Come on, do your worst.
A thunderstorm?
Oh, I just love it!
Let’s have some more of that thunder and lightening.
I want to hear it one more time.
And a little louder please, if you don’t mind.
Send your thunderbolts
on my bald soul.
That felt good, you know.
A wig of lightening! For me?
What fun.
Have you done your worst?
And yet
here I stand,
the same as always,
and firmly rooted to the ground
like an exercise pole in an Indian gym.
But an exercise pole
made of steel, shall we say?
Because I’m a good lightening conductor, you see.
And nothing else,
at least I hope you had a good workout.
Title: ‘Mallakhamb’ as A. K. Maharotra tells, “Kolatkar had explained it as ‘a wrestler’s
pole, a smooth, wooden vertical pole buried in the ground.’ It is a common feature of all
Indian gyms. It is used by wrestlers in training and displaying their skill.”10
Structure: In Marathi it is a very short ten lined poem divided into five couplets. English
poem on the other hand is a long poem divided into eleven stanzas containing three lines
each. The Marathi poem is completely unpunctuated while the English poem is widely
punctuated. The difference in size and structures of these poems itself shows that the
English poem is the loose rendering of the original Marathi and not an exact translation.
The thematic significance of these poems is also widely different.
Theme: The Marathi poem provides a graphic picture of an athlete who plays and
displays his skill on mallakhamb. All the images used in the poem draw a complete
picture of an athlete but the last couplet opens with the secret that it is not the
mallakhamb, but the first person narrator and the protagonist who stands still and
challenges his counterpart to show all his athlete skill to subdue him. He is so confident
about himself that he announces, in spite of all tricks and moves, he will remain still and
static. At another level, the poem can be viewed as the description of the sexual act, an
individual, challenges his counterpart to attack and destroy him. It also displays
confidence that nothing can change his static position and stillness. The whole expression
in Marathi is marked by precision and exactness. Not referring the specific context of
happenings, the poet maintains ambiguity in the process of comprehension hence it
carries multiple significance. It is a metaphor of two men in fight and the first one
challenges the second.
The concept of Mallakhamb is very much foreign to readers of English. It
could either be understood by Marathi readers or bilingual ones. Hence for purely English
reader, the first level of meaning which necessarily include an athlete playing on the
mallakhamb and the narrative voice that assumes the role of Mallakhamb and challenges
the player will remain elusive. The visual effect of the poem could be achieved only if the
reader has already experienced the picture of the athlete playing on the mallakhamb. The
most probable interpretation for the English reader is of two people in conflict with each
other, the first one challenging the other. But stylistically, the poems are widely different
for the English version elaborates the theme with some possible addition and
explanations. The line wise stylistic comparison is impossible due to their radically varied
Tiwaiwar raddicha dhigay
Beware of the old newspapers
Jara sambhalun rha
on the little three-legged stool over there.
Raddila disturb karu nako
Don’t disturb them.
Mala mahitay
I know it for a fact
Panopani sap wyalet
That snakes have spawned in between those sheets.
Tikda baghu nako
Don’t even look in that direction.
Pepranchee kopre
It’s not because of the breeze
Waryana kapre zalele nahit
that their corners are fluttering.
Chalthit chulbul chalaleli ahe
It’s alive, that nest of newspapers.
Sapachi pila
Newborn snakes, coiling and uncoiling,
Mana walwun tuzykada baghtayat
are turning their heads to look at you..
To kopra phana kadhatoy
That white corner has spread its hood.
Jibhalya chattoy
A forked tongue
Tikda laksha deu nako
shoots out of its mouth.
Dole mitun ghe
Keep your eyes closed.
Udya sakali
Get rid of the whole god dam pile if you want to
Watla tar raddi vikun tak
in the morning.
Structure: Both the versions have almost same structure with six stanzas of three lines
each. Marathi version is completely un-punctuated while English version uses few of
Title: The title of Marathi version is very brief. A pile of old newspapers and magazines
is called ‘raddi’ in Marathi which becomes the title of the Marathi version. The title of
English version is more simple and explanatory, that is ‘Old Newspapers’. The Marathi
title, ‘raddi’, reminds us of any middleclass Marathi household where used up books,
magazines and newspapers are kept in pile. When the pile grows sizable, it is sold out to a
scrap merchant. The English title merely explains the term without any cultural
Stanza 1. : Marathi version first states the situation in the form of simple sentence. The
later two lines that form another statement ask to be aware of the pile of old newspapers,
stated in the first line. English version first makes the implied listener aware of, with the
fronting of the word ‘beware’ at the background of the actual object of threat i.e. the pile
of old newspapers. ‘Tiwai’, a small three legged stool like piece of furniture is typical
Marathi object. Its English substitute uses a mere description, ‘the little three legged stool
like piece of furniture’ that lacks precision.
Stanza 2 :
The first line of the second stanza makes use of code-switching, in a line,
‘raddila disturb karu nako’, which in English is plainly ‘don’t disturb them’. The second
line carries only two words, ‘mala mahitay’. The English substitute takes six words
where a phrase ‘for a fact’ is addition which is absent in Marathi. The same is the case
with the last line which is so precise that it contains only three words: ‘panopani sap
wyayalet’. The English substitute is much lengthy with eight words. A single Marathi
word ‘panopani’ takes four words for English expression. ‘Panopani’ means within each
page, its English substitute ‘in between those sheets’ has a very gross reference as against
the very specific in Marathi.
Stanza 3. : The issue of lack of precision can be observed throughout. Apart from this,
the first line of the third stanza in both the versions is of prohibition, and a suggestion of
not to look at the pile of newspapers. The second and third lines of Marathi stanza are
characterized by the effective use of alliteration: ‘peprache kopre \ waryana kapre zalele
nahit’, with repetition of \r\ sound. The pair, ‘kopre’ and ‘kapre’ causes a peculiar
internal rhyme. The effect is retained less effectively in English, ‘It’s not because of
breeze \ that their corners are fluttering’.
Stanza 4
The opening line of this stanza in Marathi is strongly marked by the
alliterative effect with repetition of \ts\ sound. The line also has onomatopoeic effect; the
line makes the reader visualize the slow shaking of pile. The opening line of English
version has different kind of alliterative effect with repetition of \n\ sound in ‘nest of
newspapers’. It is continued in the first phrase of the second line, ‘newborn snakes’. The
single word ‘chulbul’ in Marathi gets translated as ‘coiling and uncoiling’ is more
explanatory than accurate.
Stanza 5
: The first line of both the versions, attribute plus animate actions to minus
animate subject like corner. The complete corner is treated as if it is alive and spreads its
hood. The effect continues in the second line of Marathi and second and third line of
English. The Marathi line ‘jibhalya chattoy’ is very precise as compared to English: ‘a
forked tongue \ shoots out of its mouth’. The minus animate effect of the corner is
understood in English because of the pronoun ‘it’ while as in Marathi it remains intact.
English stanza ends with the description of forked tongue and the Marathi with a
suggestion to neglect the corner.
In both the versions, the last stanza opens with the narrator’s suggestion to keep eyes
closed. The last two lines in Marathi give a clear suggestion to sell out the pile. But
English version keeps more avenues of interpretation open by use of a phrase ‘get rid of’.
It doesn’t tell the way how one should get rid of. Besides the temporal phrase, ‘udya
sakali’ comes in second line in Marathi while it comes in the last line in English. The
Marathi version doesn’t use any epithet to describe the pile while in English it is ‘god
dam pile’.
The Marathi version makes use of compound verbs like, ‘dhigay’-Dhig+ahe,
mahitay- Mahit +ahe, Baghatayat-Baghat+ahet, Chattoy- chatat + ahe etc which are
reminiscence of the West Maharashtra dialect of Marathi. They provide colloquial touch
to the whole discourse. English version simply lacks this feature.
Marathi version
English version
A bulding starts to sway from side to side like an
Ek building pratham jagchya jagi zulay lagtMag
jara laun gulmorachya bundhyala gandasthal
ghaste Ta mulakhali sule ghalun sagla zadach
baghun chawadapan bitharli|Terachahi lakshan
It kneels before a gulmohur to rub its head against
the bole.
It gets its tusks under the roots and begins to shake
kahi thik disat nahi|Te bagh tiche dole firle tondala
the tree.
fes yetoy|Khidkya asade detayat bhinti ekmekant
The next one on the block to freak out is building
misaltayat|Kilachandchya bedroomchi bhint sarakli
number fourteen.
And it’s catching. Number thirteen now is about to
bhintina haluch yewun tichi jaga patkawaliMukesh
throw a fit.
millchi chimani jara halalyasrkhi watliMukesh
Look. It has started rolling its eyes and foaming at
millchi chimni ekdam musalasarkhi wer geliMukesh
the mouth.
millchi chimni ata girni kudayala khali aliDarmyan
All the windows are jumping. The walls are shifting.
akra numbrelapan gachke basay lagle baghAta
dachmaltey prachand rangadyasarkhiGachiwerla
teretsarkhaBartakkyanchya bedroomchya khidkitna
baher aleliDhaddhdit panchawanna futi toph
chaufer kshitij hungatey
Did you notice how Kilachand’s bedroom wall just
slipped away?
That was smoothly done.
Patel’s drawing room wall comes gliding over and
slides into its place.
I think I see the chimney of Mukesh spinning and
Weaving Mill move.
The chimney of Mukesh Mill rises, it lifts clear off
the ground.
Up like a giant epileptic battle tank in its last throes.
The penthouse on top whirls about like a gun turret.
A mighty fifty five foot cannon is sticking out
Of Bartakke’s bedroom window and it’s sniffing at
the horizon.
Title: ‘Building’ is an English word frequently used by Marathi speakers as a borrowing.
In Marathi, all the non- human, non- animate objects are attributed masculine or feminine
gender like the animate and human beings. When attributed specific gender, these nouns
take pronouns he (to) for masculine singular and she (ti) for feminine singular. The
pronominal system of Marathi does not have ‘it’ which in English is used for nonanimate and non- human nouns. If the noun is feminine singular and if it needs to be
changed in plural, a suffix \a:\ is added in. Following this rule, building which is a
feminine singular adds in the suffix \a:\ and we get the title word ‘Bildinga.’ With
addition of a prefix from Marathi grammar system to an originally English word the
writer codifies it to suit to the syntactic structure of Marathi. On the other hand it is a
lexical deviation, with application of the rule of the foreign lexical system to an English
word. The title in English is an exact semantic substitute of the original Marathi.
Both the versions carry five stanzas of a triplet, followed by a stanza with a
couplet. The lines are end- stopped and unrhymed. Marathi version is completely
un-punctuated while the English version makes use of regular punctuation pattern.
Both the versions handle the surrealistic situation, if non living\ non human
things and objects start behave as if they are living and human. In this modern time the
world of things and objects often overpowers human existence and challenges the
existance of people and society. Violence these objects cause is the main focus of this
poem. In a surrealistic mode the poet portrays the living paradox of human life that the
things and objects which should merely be the tools and the instruments of human life,
human beings send most of their time and energy in collecting them as a result they
overpower and prove hazard to human existence.
Stanza1. : In both the versions the first line of the first stanza is semantically anomalous
because the syntactic items provided in the line do not direct towards the world which
really exists. The first line in Marathi, ‘Ek building pratham jagchya jagi zulay lagte’ is
an instance of semantic deviation because building is a non- animate, non- human noun.
The verb phrase like ‘zulay lagte’ expects plus human plus animate nouns only. The
English verb ‘sway’ is used to describe both plus and minus animate as well as plus and
minus human actions. Hence, the use proves to be a regular one and not a deviation. The
line in Marathi ends with ‘zulay lagte’ but the English has an additional clause like ‘like
an elephant’ which in traditional sense is a simile. When we read the second line in
Marathi, ‘mag jara laun gulmorachya zadala gandasthal ghaste’ and the last one, ‘Ata
mulakhali sule ghalun sagle zadach gadgada halawate’ the deviation continues. The verb
‘laun’ expects plus animate plus human subject while as building is non human nonanimate. Similarly tusks (sule) are bodily organs specific to animate and human beings
which the building is not. English phrases, ‘rub the head against the bole’ and ‘get its
tusks under the roots’ are deviant to certain extent. The words like ‘gandasthal’, ‘sule’ in
Marathi version show the implicit metaphor, without tenor.
Stanza2. :
All the buildings have gone mad. They are getting freak out one after on
other. Marathi version starts with building number eleven whom building number
fourteen and thirteen follow consequently. The verb ‘bitherli’ in Marathi and ‘freak out’
in English stand for reckless wild and excited behavior which is characteristic of plus
animate plus human subject. But at both the places it describes the behavior of buildings
which are non-human, non -animate. The English version does not make the reference of
building number eleven and its consequent relationship with building number fourteen
and thirteen. The stanza opens with the clause, ‘next one….to freak out’ which deletes the
reference of building number eleven. Besides, ‘the next one ‘to whom?’ the English
version keeps the question unanswered. The last line in both the versions is about the
extreme state of madness. The verb phrases ‘dole firle’, ‘tondala face yetoy’ in Marathi
and ‘rolling its eyes’, ‘foaming at the mouth’ in English are the human attributes applied
to non human object like buildings which makes the clear case for personification.
The surreal element in the poem gets immensely powerful in this
stanza. Windows start jumping, the walls shift, they get mixed with each other. In
Marathi ‘khidkya aasade detayat’ is substituted as ‘windows are jumping’. Actually,
‘aasade dene’ an idiomatic expression in Marathi means ‘attempt to get free from the
clutches of something,’ which differs much from mere jumping. ‘Bhinti ekmekant
misaltat’ becomes ‘walls are shifting’. ‘misaltat’ means to get mixed to with each other
which is result of shifting. The English version emphasizes the process while the Marathi
version focuses on the result. The saturation of activities is marked in English by
immense use of punctuations and small, simple sentences ending with full stop. With
zero punctuation, Marathi version doesn’t allow the reader to grasp visually where an
action ends and where the next one begins. The second and the third lines in both the
versions provide a concrete references of ‘Kilachand’s bedroom’ and ‘Patel’s
drawingroom’ which remind the cosmopolitan face of the city like Mumbai.
‘Kilachandchya bedroomchi bhint sarakli bagh dawikada’ is just a statement substituted
by a question, ‘Did you notice how Kilachand’s bedroom wall just slipped away’ which
has the same effect of catching one’s attention achieved by ‘sarakli bagh dawikada’.
Patel’s drawing room wall takes the place vacated by the movement of the Kilachand’s
bedroom wall.
Not only the residential buildings but also the industrial ones start behaving
wildly. The chimney of Mukesh spinning and weaving mill moves slightly. Marathi
version uses a phrase ‘Mukesh Mill’ takes it for granted that it is a spinning and weaving
mill while the English has clear mention of its function. The chimney of Mukesh Mill
lifts the ground for which Marathi version arranges a simile with the word ‘musalasarkhi
wer geli’, musal in Marathi is a wooden pole used to beat corn in order to separate husk
from it. The phrase suggests a sudden dangerous uplift. Since the reader of English is not
familiar with this typical Marathi object, the reference is deleted from English version.
The last line of both the versions describes how rapidly the uplifted chimney comes down
with the dangerous intention of changing the whole mill into powder. “Chimney ata girni
kudayala khali ali’ is highly colloquial expression while ‘down it comes to pulverize the
mill’ is one of regular English uses.
Stanza5. :
The stanza once again draws its attention towards building number eleven.
Marathi version has this second reference while the English version refers building
number eleven for the first time. The building moves to and fro. It’s rocking backward
and forward, with convulsions. Its movement is compared with a huge battle tank. In
Marathi the battle tank is just huge (prachand) while English version uses two epithets,
giant and epileptic. Further it is post modified by a phrase ‘in its last throes, which adds
to the graphic quality and enables us to visualize the movement more concretely and
accurately. ‘Duchmaltoy’, ‘gachake basay lagle’ are colloquial phrases in Marathi, their
substitutes in English lack such a colloquial touch. The last line in both the versions is
about the penthouse at the top of the building. It whirls about like a gun turret. Even
though turret is an English word, the poet uses it in Marathi as an instance of code
switching, where it is mere turret instead if the ‘gut turret’ as in English.
Stanza6 :
In both the versions it is a couplet instead of regular triplet as in the earlier
stanzas. Cannon has come out of one Mr. Bartakke’s bedroom and it’s sniffing the
horizon. The Marathi stanza foregrounds Bartakke’s bedroom, its window and huge fifty
five feet size of the cannon, keeping its act of sniffing the horizon at the background. The
English stanza does completely opposite i. e. keeps the fifty five feet huge sized cannon at
the front and everything else at the back which concentrates more on the vicious
intentions of the cannon and the possibility of destruction than mere size.
Marathi version:
English version
Paygatichya kambalyana zadap ghatli bagh
The blanket sprang
Kambla pasartay angawar
From the foot of the bed
And pounced on you.
Dasha kasha shivshivtayat
Kali bota walwaltayat
It’s spreading now,
Kali lat futli bagh chatadawar
all over your body.
Kali bota vintayat tuzya galyabhowati haluhalu
The fringe is itching.
Kasa wattay
Jara gudguli zalyasarkha
how the black fingers squirm.
Kalya kadhichi pal futli re
A black wave breaks on your chest.
Futli futli futli
Knit, knit, the black fingers are knitting
slowly round your throat.
Tuzya othawar ek kala botay
Ordu nakos te bajawatay
Feels ticklish,
doesn’t it.
Kali bota jara awal hotayat galyala
Lathad kambla zatak
There’s black finger on your lips.
Achke de
It’s warning you
Not to scream or shout for help.
Black fingers are tightening round your throat.
Wake up, man,
kick the blanket.
Strike back at it, with both feet.
Throw it off.
Or gasp
your last.
Title: ‘Kambla’ in Marathi is a coarse hand spun blanket (usually black in color) made of
the raw wool of lambs. The community of goat keepers in Maharashtra called ‘dhangars’
are specialists in production of wool as well as weaving such blankets. All the people
with this specific community and some of the Marathi agrarian communities attribute
certain religious connotations to this blanket. It is very coarse and fulfills the needs of the
goat keepers and the farmers. In western part of Maharashtra, the places like Sangola and
Pandharpur in Solapur district are famous for the market of these blankets. The word
‘Kambla’ in Marathi recalls all above references to mind of a reader. English word
‘blanket’ refers to a very sophisticated, machine spun, fine object which lacks all above
cultural connotations.
Structure: The Marathi version of the poem has a very neat stanza structure. It has seven
stanzas with two lines each followed by a very brief single line at the end. The English
version on the other hand has highly undisciplined and uneven stanza structure ranging
from triplet through couplet to a single line. The English version has six stanzas with
triplet, two with couplet and two with single lines. It doesn’t even follow the semantic
sequence as that of Marathi. As usual, the Marathi version is completely un-punctuated
while the English has regular scheme of punctuation marks. The narrative structure of the
poem is dialogic. It is an address to an implied listener who is acted upon by the blanket
and threatens his existence. The role of the narrator is just like a confidante who knows
everything about the character and gives him advice when necessary. Since the number of
lines in both the versions differ widely, and the English version does not follow the
semantic structure and sequence of the original, in this study, Marathi stanzas are taken as
point of reference and an attempt is made to compare English lines with Marathi that
possibly express the sense of the original.
Theme: The poem is from that group of poems which handle the theme of the attack of
non human world of things and objects over human existence. The otherwise useful thing
like the blanket looses all its utilitarian value and turns hostile, proves harmful for the
existence of human beings. In both the versions almost half of the poem is narrated in a
very playful humorous manner and assumes the innocence and usual utility of the blanket,
but towards the end the tone of the narrator suddenly turns serious, both the narrator and
the reader become conscious of the harmful potential of the blanket.
Stanza 1
: The stanza begins with the pouncing of the blanket over the body of the
implied listener. It covers his whole body. ‘paygatichya kamblyana zadap ghatli bagh \
kambla pasartay angawar’ is a very close, attached and informal discourse. The phrase,
‘zadap ghatli bagh’ initiates the attachment and involvement of the narrative voice with
the implied listener. The attachment is marked by the conversational opening as well as
the use of colloquial west-Maharashtra dialect instead of the regular, standard Marathi. It
helps the author bring precision in the discourse. The English version lacks these features,
hence become lengthy and verbose at places. For just two lines in Marathi, the English
stanza takes two stanzas of six lines.
Stanza 2 :
‘Dasha kasha shivshivtayat
Kali bota walwaltayat’
The first line has an alliterative effect caused by the repetition of \s\ sound. The words
‘shivshivtayat’ and ‘walwaltayat’ have alliterative as well as onomatopoeic effect. In the
English version, it is the third stanza where the sense of the above lines gets expressed
through three short lines which lack both alliterative as well as onomatopoeic features.
Stanza 3 : The blanket is growing dangerous now. It melts away all around. The black
weave breaks near the chest of the implied listener. The black fingers knit around his
neck slowly. In Marathi couplet, both lines begin with a word ‘kali’ that brings an
element of rhythm. In English as well a word ‘black’ gets repeated but not in specific
sequence, hence no rhythmic effect. Instead, ‘knit, knit, the black fingers are knitting’
gives alliterative effect which is absent in Marathi original.
Stanza 4
The extremely serious situation is handled with utmost lightness. The
narrator in Marathi asks the reader ‘kasa wattay? Jara gudgulya zalyasarkha’. The plain
question gets converted into tag question when it comes in English, ‘Feels ticklish? \
doesn’t it’. Both the versions are extreme instances of black humor.
Stanza 5
: A very light hearted, trivial almost childlike expression is deleted from
English. The stanza is very rich in alliterative, rhythmic and musical possibilities. The
expression becomes idiosyncratic, ‘kalya kadhichi pal futli re \ futli futli futli’ which is
difficult to translate without loss of musicality and folk song type gaiety with specific
cultural context.
Stanza 6 : The stanza attracts the listener’s attention to a black finger on his lips which
threatens him to keep quiet. In English version it asks the listener not to scream or shout
for help. Apart from this semantic variation, the English version shows certain syntactic
differences as well. Marathi version makes use of the compound verbs at the end of every
line that makes the stanza rhythmic and rhyming for e. g.:
Such compound verbs are characteristic of the West-Maharashtra dialect of Marathi. The
English version lacks such a specific use of dialect and the consequent colloquial
Stanza 7
: The blanket has now taken complete possession of the listener. The black
fingers tighten around his throat. It is about to kill him so the narrator suggests him to
throw away the blanket. It is almost the climax of the ongoing violence caused by the
blanket. A two line stanza through a very precise two word line structure suggests the
listener to gasp: ‘achake de’. What gets expressed in three small lines in Marathi, takes
seven lines spread in varied syntactic patterns .Initially, there is a single line which tells
the listener of the black fingers tighten his throat, which follows a triplet stanza that
makes him conscious and aware of the hazard and asks him to kick the blanket off. The
whole thing is followed by a single line:
‘or gasp
Your last’
In Englishthe lines, ‘throw the blanket off’and ‘gasp for the last’ come as an options to
each other, but in Marathi, ‘achke de’ is the final fate of the listener. Apart from all the
above close features, the surrealistic element and the personification are the common
features of both the version.
Marathi Version:
English version
Ek ghas kawucha hoshil
Save a piece of yourself for that crow over there.
Ek chiwucha
Come on crow, come and get it.
Ek fadfadnarya pepracha
Save a piece, a tiny morsel, for that nice little sparrow.
You see her?
Stool yeil tarasasarkha ekdam tirkasun
Come on sparrow, come and get it
Randukrasarkha ekdam tirkasun
And save a piece, a tidbit, for this morning’s
Dholitna jibhalya chatat boot baher yetil
Any minute it will spread its wings and come for its
Hanger zadap ghaltil
Warulatna nal yetil sarpatat
Dhuna walat ghalayache chimte tolasarkhe tanatan
That wooden stool is not waiting for an invitation.
It will attack you like a hyena.
Ekdam saglyanchich
The radio will come charging at you
Jewayachi wel zaleli asel
Like a wild boar.
Saglyannach ekdam upwas sodayacha asel
Even your old shoe will come out of hiding
With its tongue hanging out.
Thamb tari kunala mhanshil
Baghata baghata
Hissing water pipes will come crawling out of their
Wastunchya raktat sakhar houn jashil
and clothes pegs will come jumping like joyous locusts
to feast on you.
All of sudden it will be feeding time for all things.
They will all come and crowd you and they will all be
How will you stop them?
You won’t have the heart.
How will you hold them off?
Before you know it,
you’ll have become
in the blood of things.
The Marathi title ‘Chattamatta’ is a word used in the language of children,
meaning to have (eat away) something completely. English, ‘The Feast’ on the contrary is
used commonly by the children and the adults.
Marathi version has five stanzas of three lines each. In English, there are
four stanzas of unequal length that range from three to nine lines each. In both the
versions the lines are unrhymed. Marathi version is completely un-punctuated while the
English version uses punctuations at few places.
Both the versions revolve round the common theme of the domination of the
non- human, non- animate world of things and objects over the human life. The ordinary
things like newspapers, radio, hangers, wooden stool, water pipes, and clothes’ pegs jump
over the narrator and wish to eat him up completely and threaten to reduce him till he
becomes sugar in their blood.
Stanza1 :
In Marathi the first stanza takes a rhythm and tone of nursery rhyme. The first
two lines: ‘Ek ghas kawucha hoshil \ ek ghas kaucha’, are typically used by a mother
feeding her child. The verb hoshil changes the tone and the context. The third line, ‘Ek
ghas phadphadnarya pepracha’ undoes the motherly loving effect and sets the
threatening tone. The reader gets some hint of the impending horror. Such a double
perception and comprehension is absent from the English version because it clearly asks
to save a piece of yourself for a crow, for a sparrow and for a newspaper. There is a
complete indication of the violence caused by these non-living objects and their readiness
to eat out the narrator. In Marathi the casual and serious tones work simultaneously. The
casual tone is employed smartly to baffle the reader. The semantic material that is
expressed in three brief lines of Marathi stanza is elaborated in seven long lines of the
English version.
Stanza2 :
The stanza describes the attack of the wooden stool, the radio and the old
shoe. The first line,’ stool yein tarsasarkha tirkasun’ is marked by repetition of \t\ and \r\
sounds. The phrase ‘randukrasarkha redio’ in second line is syntactically parallel to the
earlier phrase. A foregrounding of the parallel items provides a unique stylistic texture to
Marathi version. This feature is completely absent in English version. Both the versions
make effective use of simile in describing the objects like stool and radio which are
compared with ‘hyena’ and ‘wild boar’ respectively. The last line in Marathi, ‘dholitna
jibhalya chatat boot baher yetil’ reminds the reader of snake coming out of its hide with a
venomous intention to bite somebody because ‘dholi’ in Marathi is a specific dwelling
place of snakes and ‘jibhlya chatat’ describes the movement of its forked tongue. English
version does not have such an immediate reference to snake like intention of the shoe.
The vicious intention of the object is marked and becomes more effective due to the
implicit metaphor of snake. Though both the stanzas carry equal number of semantic
units, Marathi stanza gets expressed in three brief lines, while English version takes six
comparatively longer lines to express the same semantic content.
Stanza 3 :
Three more domestic objects, hangers, water pipes and cloth’s pegs attack
wildly over the narrator. The reference of hangers is absent from the English stanza.
‘warulatun nal yetil sarpatat’ and ‘hissing water pipes will come crawling out of their
wholes gives the feeling of fierceness through the picture of snakes attack the narrator.
Marathi ‘sarpatat’ and English ‘hissing’ both have onomatopoeic effect. Two phrases,
‘tolasarkhe tanatan’ in Marathi and ‘joyous locusts’ in English are examples of
consonance and assonance respectively. Both the versions use three lines each to express
the given semantic content. Not many stylistic variations are found in this stanza.
Stanza 4
All the objects in a pose of attack are shown to be very hungry, anxiously
waiting for their meal. ‘Jewanachi wel’, a lunch\ dinner hour in Marathi becomes
‘feeding time’ in English, which make the objects dependent on somebody for they can’t
have the food by themselves. The phrase ‘saglyannach upwas sodayacha asel’ is simply
deleted from the English version. Instead, the line, ‘They will all come and crowd you
and they will all be hungry’ marks the dependence of the objects over the narrator for
feeding themselves. ‘Upawas’, in Marathi has certain cultural connotations, which are
dropped out by a plain statement in English. Three short lines in Marathi are substituted
for the two lengthier lines in English.
Stanza 5
: The semantic content of stanza four and five in Marathi gets expressed in a
single stanza of English version. After the line, ‘they will all be hungry’, English version
doesn’t break into another stanza. In Marathi the fifth stanza is about the description of
objects and helplessness of the narrator. They will all be so hungry and intend to attack
violently that he will not be able to stop anybody. Before he could say something, he will
already be eaten out by the objects and become sugar in their blood. The uses of
interrogatives in both the versions bring conversational tone. In English, a clear use of
second person pronoun ‘you’ marks the presence of the implied listener. Marathi version
has achieved the same effect without use of ‘you’. Throughout the English version, we
find free use of pronouns like, you, your self, your, they, them, etc. in repeated manner
which underline the form of address and set a conversational tone of the discourse. Mode
of conversation in Marathi hence becomes more implicit and subtle while in English it is
more explicit and blatant.
Marathi Version:
English version:
Pratyekala Amuk itkech gal asayla payjet
I will have to describe you as an explosion of cheeks.
Asa kuthay
I’m impressed.
Kinwa itkech kule pahijet
I can’t think of anyone else who offers such a wide
Asahi nahi
In all sizes and in all possible and impossible colors.
Nakdole kutha asawet
I’m not being sarcastic.
Kuthlya pranyanche
Mind? No why should I mind?
Ani tyanni kitida badlawa
Two in the front and two behind
Yalahi kahi niyam nahit
is more common,
but you can have as many cheeks as you want.
Te thikay
There’s no rule that says that you can’t.
Karan tumi dhag
Tumi eka khidkitna yenar
I don’t know who it belongs to-
Adhantari lolat lolat
which animal, real or imaginary,
and it could be anywhere in that jumble of cheeks-
Potatlya khandyatlya galatlya galat hasat hasat
but I’m sure there is an eye there somewhere.
Gudhgyatlya dolyatlya nakatli mekda kadhat kadhat
And nose too. It’s somewhere around.
Bagletlya ganditalya tondatle dat tokrat tokrat
Not necessary on the face,
Tar ya ki
but then I do not know of any rule that says
that a nose always has to be in one place.
Maza mhanana evadhach
Ki tumhi jase ya khidkitna aat aalat
And even if there were such rules,
Tase tya khidkitna
I’m sure they won’t apply to you.
Tumhi baher ka jat nahi
Because you are a special case.
For you, Sir Cloud
Mhanaje mala nidan
Everything is allowed.
Sakal hoiparyanta
For you above all, are you.
Chatakade tari baghata yeil
You come rolling in through that window,
wiggling your arse
and smiling from cheek to cheek to cheek to cheek,
picking your nose that’s sticking out of your crotch,
scratching your balls, three of them, hanging between
your shoulder blades,
and sticking your tongue out of that arsehole in your
You come rolling in through my window.
As if this room belonged to you
and you’re welcome of course, you can stay for as
long as you like.
Make yourself comfortable.
But I don’t have to tell you that,
do I?
All I’m saying is, on the other hand
if you want to get the hell out,
If I’m saying, mind you, If you want to get the hell
get out of my sight and leave me alone
to study ceiling in peace
for the rest of what remains of this night,
that’s all right too.
I’m not going to stop you.
And you can get out the same way you got in you
in case you’re wondering,
just roll out the other window!
Which, as you can see, is equally wide and equally
And well, ciao!
Have fun.
The title of the Marathi poem is brief with a single word ‘Dhag’, while in
English it is in a fashion of the titles of ode form of poetry i. e. ‘To a Cloud’, claiming
that it is an address to a cloud.
The Marathi version of the poem comprises six stanzas of four lines each.
The lines are unrhymed and of unequal length. The English version has seven stanzas of
four lines each. The total number of lines in Marathi is twenty four while in English it is
Fifty four lines.
In both the versions, the poet treats in an extremely playful manner the theme
of the intrusion of clouds both in the internal and the external universe of the narrator. It
provides a personified surrealistic description of the existence, action and movements and
clouds from whom he wants to get rid of.
1: In Marathi version, the poet goes on making random statements, about irrelevant
issues, as the imagination of a small kid allows. It is something about the imaginary
moves and actions of the clouds as well as the funny animal- like shapes they take. It
baffles the reader for long about the subject of the poem. It is in the third stanza he refers
to clouds saying:
‘Te thickay
Karan tumi dhag’
Much later, the reader understands that the description so far applies to clouds. This
description tells of having no rules about how many cheeks one should have and where
the positioning of nose and eyes ought to be. When the reader understands that all this is
said about clouds, it proves to be a mild shock to him. As far the English version, the ‘To
a Cloud’ is so self explanatory which tells the reader that the whole discourse is an
address to a cloud. Besides, the first line of the English version:
“I will have to describe you as an
Explosion of cheeks”
Makes the reader aware at the very outset that all what is being said is about nobody but
the clouds.
2. The first line of the Marathi version begins with a rhetorical question:
“prtyekala amuk itke gal asayale payjet
asa kuthay”
This question is not intended to ask for any piece of information, but is used to enforce
the idea in the interrogative statement. The first line of the English version is hypothetical
in its essence as well as syntactic structure. It goes:
“I will have to describe you as an explosion of cheeks.”
From the very opening both the versions display large degree of stylistic variations.
3: In English, the whole of the first stanza is an elaboration about the wide range of sizes
and colors in cheeks provided by clouds. The narrator is in conversation with the clouds.
The pronouns ‘you’ and ‘I’ used in the first line set the conversational tone of the stanza.
It takes almost ten lines for the description of cheeks that the clouds have on the different
parts of its body. Marathi version simply takes two lines of the first stanza for cheeks and
remaining two lines move towards other features saying: ‘kinwa itkech kule pahijet \ asa
nahi’. This other feature is not even mentioned in English version. Here the description of
cheeks is so elaborate that it crosses the ten lines of the first stanza and takes almost four
of the second. It is at the middle of the second stanza the narrator mentions that, ‘there is
eye somewhere and a nose too…somewhere around’. The Marathi version talks of the
nose and eyes at the beginning and continues talk that there are no determined rules about
where and how many cheeks one should have. But it does not take more than three lines.
In English, it takes three concluding lines out of nine lines of the second stanza.
4: First time ever, the third stanza refers to the clouds. Whatever said so far is okey ‘for
you are clouds’ and you can ‘easily come from a window’ in a leisurely manner and ‘go
out from the other’. The six lined third stanza considers the clouds as exception to every
rule about the form and structure, of physical features etc. for their’s is a special case and
they are clouds after all.
5: The length of lines in fourth stanza in Marathi is longer than the rest of the other
stanzas. The phrases like, ‘galatlya galat hasat hasat’, ‘nakatli mekda kadhat kadhat’,
‘tondatle dat tokrat tokkrat’ provide an element of humor. These phrases are
characterized by subtle rhyme and rhythm, that is not typical of poetic diction but through
the use of colloquial prose for the poetic purpose. The substitute fourth stanza in English
comprises eight lines. Like the Marathi stanza, it also describes the arrival of clouds in its
funny gesture, through the window. It lacks the rhyming and rhythmic qualities of the
6: In the last stanza of Marathi version, the narrator expresses his wish to look at the
ceiling till the morning after the departure of the clouds. In English, a longer stanza
combines the sense of two stanzas in Marathi, the first thing, to ask them to go away and
the second to express his will to study the ceiling till the morning. While doing so, the
narrator grows extremely conversational, a feature the Marathi version almost lacks. It
can only be achieved at the cost of overall precision and compactness.
7: The English poem ends with a three line stanza where he bids farewell to the clouds
and wishes them to have fun. It is an idiosyncratic part of English version, absent from
the Marathi original.
Dolyawerna rumal bandhun ghe
Blindfold yourself with a handkerchief.
Kala rumal
A black handkerchief
Tyatlya tyat bara
If you have one
Are don mintacha kam
Or an eye mask. Yes.
Nahitar kali makhmal aan
What could be better?
Tyachi ek ashi char bota patti kapun ghe
If you have a friend who works for an airline,
Ani don bajunni don nadya laun ghe
he could get you a nifty one.
Nahitar elasticchi patti shiwun ghe magna
Or why not make it at home?
Tyt kayay bayako shiwun dil ki tula
Get a piece of black velvet from somewhere.
Cut a strip, about four fingers wide,
Dolywarna patti bandh
Stitch a bit of tape at either end
Ani aaramkhurchit basun rha
or some elastic,
and there it is:
Aaramkhurchi ahe ki nahi ghari tuzya
a homemade eye mask.
Ahe na
I bet your wife can make one for you
Mag zala tar
in next to no time at all.
Nasel aaramkhurchi
Wrap it round your eyes
Ushi asel
and set yourself down in an armchair,
jamin asel
like you were a king
sitting for a royal portrait.
Tond war karayacha
Doka shant thewayacha
You have an armchair in your house, I hope?
Ani padun rhayacha
Oh good, you do?
That solves your problem then.
Ratrandiwas nako
Kamdhanda pan karshil ki nahi
And if you can’t get hold of an armchair,
Pan sawad kadhun
not to worry.
Get a cushion.
Or even the floor will do.
Just lie down, you know.
Flat out. On your back.
And well,
just take it easy. Relax.
Not the whole time, mind you.
No, that won’t do.
You will also have to go on doing whatever it is you
to make some kind of living you know.
But as often as you can.
Every chance you get.
Title: Kala-Rumal is exactly translated in English as ‘Black Handkerchief.
Structure: Marathi poem comprises eight stanzas of three lines each. The English
translation has ten stanzas of variable length, ranging from two to five lines.
Theme: Both the versions handle the theme of doing away from the miseries and worries
of day to day life. It is even an attempt to do away from ability to think. But the whole
thing is handled with a mock heroic manner. Instead of talking much on the cause and
effect of doing away from the world, the poem focuses on the procedure of making a
black mask and covering the face with it before lie down in peace. It makes fun of urban
people’s attempt to find peace via short-cut formulas instead of bringing change in their
Stanza 1 :
The sequence of the first stanza in both the versions is opposite to each
other. In Marathi, it is a natural sequence of s+o+v but in English it is deviated, with verb
at the initial position while the actual sequence of English syntax is s+v+o. The word
‘blindfold’ otherwise is a noun is used as a verb, which follows subject ‘yourself’, which
further follows the object ‘an handkerchief’. The next two lines in Marathi ‘Kala Rumal \
tyatlya tyat bara’ shows the importance of the black handkerchief in comparative terms.
The English construction ‘black handkerchief if you have one’ does not underline any
such comparison.
Stanza 2
The English version has a stanza which is not a part of Marathi original.
It talks of an eye mask, which a friend working with airline may make available. As the
stanza is an addition in English, it can not be studied in comparative perspective. This
stanza in English adds one more option in varied devices used to blindfold the implied
listener. Even though the stanza is absent in Marathi, in English, it is sharply tuned with
the following stanza which talks of making the home-made eye mask.
As far as the second stanza in original Marathi version is concerned, its
substitute in English occurs in the third stanza, which is a description of a home-made eye
mask. The Marathi version does not use the word eye-mask or its substitute; it just
concentrates on telling how to make one. In Marathi version it uses three lines which are
three complete statements that make a suggestion.
English stanza begins with an
interrogative which is in tune with the earlier stanza and tells of an eye mask. This stanza
furthers with the idea of making one at home. Though interrogative in nature the first line
functions to make a suggestion. This interrogative is idiosyncratic feature of English
stanza, so are the words ‘somewhere’ of second line and ‘or some elastic’ of fifth line
which do not occur in Marathi version. The Marathi version is characterized by the
double verb endings like, ‘kapun ghe’, laun ghe’, which impart the element of rhythm and
music to Marathi version, which the English translation lacks because of the inherent
limitations of English syntax.
Stanza 3
: Because of an addition of stanza in English translation the total sequence of
stanzas in both the versions get affected. The third stanza of Marathi original becomes the
fourth in English translation. In Marathi it begins with the elastic strip to be stitched to be
used as an eye mask. The English version covers this part in earlier stanza and starts with,
‘There it is \ a homemade eye mask’, which is not the part of Marathi original. Remaining
two lines which suggest that the wife may be able to stitch the mask goes in tune with the
original. The reference of two minutes in Marathi version is translated as ‘next to no
time’ which is less specific than the original.
Stanza 4
The fourth stanza in Marathi and fifth in English makes a suggestion to
wrap the eye mask around his eyes and lie down in the chair like the king. It goes:
‘…. A king \ sitting for a royal portrait.’
Marathi stanza ends just with a single word line, ‘rajasarkha’. The English stanza does
not care to tell the reason why to sit in the armchair.
Stanza 5
This stanza of Marathi original occurs at the sixth position in English
translation. The possibility of having an armchair is reviewed in the discourse. The
narrator interrogates the implied listener regarding the same. In Marathi version first two
out of three lines of the stanza appear in a form of questions. The English version too puts
two interrogatives. The first line of the stanza puts a question, in a form of statement. For
the assertion of the fact whether the listener has the armchair at home, employs another
statement in a form of question. The last, i. e. third line of the Marathi stanza is very
precise, ‘mag zala tar’, expresses the contentment of narrator at having the armchair
available at home. Its substitute in English is lengthier, ‘that solves your problem then’.
Stanza 6
This stanza is employed to provide options if the armchair is not
available. The options like cushion or pillow or at list floor are suggested in both the
versions. Marathi stanza makes use of brief two- word lines throughout. The second and
third lines use the parallel syntax: ‘Ushi asel \ jamin asel’, which adds to the rhythmic
quality. Instead of three shorter lines in Marathi, English stanza uses four lines,
comparatively lengthier than the original. The second line, ‘not to worry’ is not the part of
the original. It does not add much semantic or syntactic texture of the stanza.
Stanza 7
Both the versions give suggestion to the implied listener to lie down
calmly. All three lines in Marathi have three words each. They are characterized by
parallelism of structure and become highly rhythmic. The English stanza has four lines of
uneven length. The lines set a conversational tone, crowded with punctuation marks.
They are composed in a form of dialogue, asking the listener to relax.
Stanza 8 : It is a last stanza of the Marathi original, while the English version follows
one more couplet stanza. This stanza makes the implied listener aware of the time
constrains and the household and professional responsibilities in day to day life. To lie
down with peace in a calm and quiet manner is a happy thing but one mustn’t forget the
duties of the household. But whenever he has spare time, he can practice this exercise.
The Marathi version covers the whole thing in three small lines, while the English version
takes a stanza of four lines along with a concluding couplet. The rhetorical question in
Marathi, ‘kamdhanda pan karshil ki nahi?’ is more persuasive and enforcing than the
English statement, ‘you will also have to go on doing whatever it is you do \ to make
some kind of living’. It lacks both the precision and deftness of the Marathi original. The
English version does not just end with that. It adds two more lines: ‘But as often as you
can \ every chance you get’. These lines are substitute for the single Marathi line, ‘pan
sawad kadhun’.
Marathi version:
English version
Ananas aai ijar ani idlimbu
Pinaple. Mother. Pants. Lemon.
Ukhal uus ani edka
Mortar. Sugarcane. ram.
Sagle apaple chaukon sambhalun baslet
How secure they all look
Each ensconced in its own separate square.
Airan onwa aushadh ani amba
Cup khatara ganpati ani ghar
Mango. Anvil. Cup .Ganpati. Cart. House.
Saglyanchya swatachya malkichya jaga ahet
Medicine. Bottle. Man Touching his Toes.
All very comfortable,
Chamacha chhatri jahaj ani zabla
they all know exactly where they belong.
Tarbuj thasa daba dhag ani ban
Sagle apaplya jagi than mandun baslet
Spoon. Umbrella. Ship. Frock.
Watermelon. Rubberstamp. Box. Cloud. Arrow.
Talwar thadga daut dhanushya ani nal
Each one of them seems to have found
Patang fanas badak bhadaji ani maka
its own special niche, a sinecure.
Yancha ekmekanna upadrav honyachi shakyata nahi
Sword. Inkwell. Tombstone. Longbow. Water tap.
Yadnya rath lasun wajan ani shahamrug
Kite. Jackfruit. Brahmin. Duck. Maize.
Shatkon sasa harin kamal ani kshatriya
Their job is just to go on being themselves
Ya saglyannach adhalpad milalay
and their appointment is for life.
Aai balala ukhlat ghalnar nahi
Yajna. Chariot. Garlic. Ostrich.
Bhadaji badakala lasanachi fodani denar nahi
Hexagon. Rabbit. Deer. Lotus. Archer.
Tarbujala thadkun jahas dubhanganar nahi
No, you don’t have to worry.
There’s going to be no trouble in this peaceable
Shahamrug joparyant zabla khat nahi
Toparyant kshatryapan ganpatichya potat ban marnar
The mother will not pound the baby with a pestle.
Ani edkyna onwyala takkar dili nahi
The Brahmin will not fry the duck in garlic.
Tar onwyala thadgyawer cup fodayachi kay garajay
That ship
will not crash against the watermelon.
If the ostrich won’t eat the child’s frock,
the archer won’t shoot an arrow in Ganpati’s stomach.
And as long as the ram resists the impulse,
of butting him from behind
what possible reason
could the Man –Touching-his Toes have
to smash the cup
on the tombstone?
The title of Marathi version is a single word ‘Takta’, which a Marathi speaker
intrinsically knows as the chart of alphabet. The title of the English version is more
explanatory. It suggests that the ‘pictures’ from the Marathi alphabet chart and not the
whole chart is the matter of its concern.
Marathi version has seven triplet stanzas followed by a single line. In
English, there are eight stanzas of four lines each. In both versions lines are of uneven
length and unrhymed. In Marathi, the words used come in an alphabetic order of Marathi
alphabet chart. As the focus of the English version is the pictures, from the Marathi
alphabet chart, they get translated not following any order. The Marathi version of the
poem is completely un-punctuated while the English version marks them at places.
The pictures of Marathi alphabet chart and their hypothetical moves,
possibility of forcible acquisition of the place of one by the other and an attempt to
endanger the other’s existence is the dominant theme of both the versions. Since the
moves of the pictures are hypothetical, their result as well is possible and not sure. At
both the places, the poet exploits the surrealistic mode of expression .It assumes the
possibility if the non- animate pictures in the alphabet chart turn alive and take moves as
if they are animate. The suggestion of possible violence is one of the important motifs of
the poem.
1. The chart of alphabet is a very common, familiar object for every literate person and
his household. The reading of Marathi version imparts a strong visual impact to the
readers because the imprints of the table of alphabet exist in every literate mind. There is
a little chance for the readers who know only English to get acquainted to Marathi table
of alphabet. As a result a strong visual quality that the reader of Marathi version
experience is absent for the readers of English.
2. In order to make a sense that the words written in the chart do not stand for the objects
as such but they stand for the pictures, the English version uses full stops instead of
commas after each and every name from the list of pictures in the alphabet. Since the
sequence of the vowels and consonants is known to Marathi reader he understands the
individual status of the pictures from each table, without use of punctuation marks.
3. As in Marathi version, the words shown are instances of each and every alphabet, each
vowel or consonant occurs only once and in a specific order. Its substitute words in
English do not follow any order, and they occur twice or three times at several places.
4. The concluding lines of each stanza, which show the relationship of the words to each
other, are not translated accurately. Instead, the author takes a lot of liberty and at places
adds lines which no more exist in the original Marathi version. For eg:
4.1: The concluding line of the first stanza is, ‘sagle apaple chaukon sambhalun baslet.’
In English it is translated as: ‘How sure they all look \ each ensconced in its own separate
squire.’ A first line of this concluding couplet in English doesn’t really exist in Marathi.
4.2: The concluding line of the second stanza in Marathi is, ‘saglyanchya swatachya jaga
ahet’ which in English becomes: ‘All very comfortable, \ they all know exactly where
they belong.’ To have once own place to stay is ontological, while ‘to know where they
belong’ is much existential.
4.3 Third stanza in Marathi ends with, ‘sagle apaplya jagi than mandun baslet’, in
English, it has been translated as: “Each one of them seems to have found \ its own
special niche, a sinecure’, niche is a satisfying suitable position and sinecure is a place
with less work to do with more status and power. Both the Marathi and English versions
carry some implicit sense but ‘than mandun baslet ‘ is a verb phrase, which indicates a
state of sitting which is result of contentment and peace of all times, of all situations.
‘Niche’ and ‘sinecure’ are nouns that are semantically more emphatic in given syntactic
framework. They focus on why they are so contented. The English stanza concludes with
the line, ‘their job is just to go on being themselves \ and their appointment is for life. It
has no substitute in Marathi version though it carries some residues of the last line of the
third stanza in Marathi that goes, ‘sagle apapalya jagi than mandun baslet’.
: The fourth stanza in Marathi ends with, ‘yancha ekmekanna updraw honyachi
shakyata nahi’, meaning, they will not cause any harm to each other. The line with this
specific semantic material is absent from the English version.
4.5 : The fifth stanza in Marathi ends with the line, ‘ya saglyannach adhalpad milalay’,
that is, all of them have got their eternal place is not included in the English translation.
Instead, the lines, ‘No you don’t have to worry \ there’s going to be no trouble in this
peaceable kingdom’ add an extra semantic content, absent from the original.
5. The units of Marathi alphabet get completed at ‘ksha’, in fifth stanza. The sixth stanza
begins with the suggestion of possible attack of these units over each other and its
impending violence causing threat to other’s existence. The sixth stanza is characterized
by parallelism of structure. The double verb endings used in Marathi, ‘Ghalnar nahi’,
‘denar nahi’, ‘dubhanganar nahi’ are used repeatedly causing parallel structure. The
rhythm and musicality caused by this parallel structure is absent from the English
6. The parallelism resulting from the use of double verb endings continues in the seventh
stanza of Marathi original. The duel verbs, ‘khat nahi’, ‘marnar nahi’, ‘dili nahi’ result in
the similar type of rhythm as that of sixth stanza. The cause and effect relationship is
expressed through the words, ‘joparyanta….toparyanta’. The substitute stanza in English
lacks all the above features. It uses, ‘If ….’ (conditional clause) to show cause and effect
relationship in the impending happenings. The poem in Marathi ends with a single line
stanza, ‘Tar onwyala thadgyawer cup fodnyachi kay garajay?’ The English translation
concludes with a quartet, because of failure to find accurate precise substitute words in
Marathi version:
English version
Main managerko bola muze pagar mangata hai
i wan’t my pay i said
to the manager
Manager bola company ke rule se pagar ek tarikh ko
you’ll get paid said
the manager
Usaki ghadi table pe padi thi
but not before the first
Maine ghadi utha liya
don’t you know the rules?
Aur maneger ko police chauki ka rasta dikhaya
Coolly i picked up his
Bola agar complent karma hai to kar lo
Mere rule se pagar aajhi hoga
That lay on the table
Wanna bring in the cops
Mai bhabhi ko bola
i said
Kya bhaisaabke duty pe main aa jaun?
‘cordin to my rules
Bhadak gai saali
listen baby
Rahaman bola goli chalaunga
i get paid when i say so
Main bola ek randi ke waste?
Chalao goli gandu
Main Burma gaya udhar aag picture lag gaya tha
allow me beautiful
Picture dekhne gaya
i said to my sister in law
Udhar ticket ke waste kuch passport wagara dikhana
to step in my brother’s booties
padata hai
you had it coming said rahaman
Ticket walene pucha passport kidhar hai?
a gun in his hand
Main bola bhanchod
shoot me punk
Muze ticket mangata hai
kill your brother i said
for a bloody cunt
Un logone wapas Manipur bhej diya
Police commissioner ne pucha Burma kayko gaya
i went to burma
Main bola abe laundi ke bachhe
where the film aag was running
India main rukkhahi kya hain!
i went to see the film
the guy behind the
booking office window
wants to see my passport
i said
all i wanna do
is see a fucking film man
I was arrested and send back
to Manipur
no passport
the police commissioner asked
why did you go to burma?
Prick face i said
What’s there in India?
‘main managerko bola..’ , ‘Three Cups of Tea’, is a poem originally composed in
Bombay Hindi, a code used by the street men, under-world criminals and venders on the
pavements of the city of Mumbai. It has been translated by the poet into American slanga language used by tough guys (loafers) in America. Bombay Hindi is an idiosyncratic
identity of specific cultural group in Mumbai. Many of its cultural features can be
identified with the lifestyle of tough guys as shown in the American movies of 60s to 80s.
(Kolatkar acquired English language basically through these movies) The translation of
the poem is more cultural (semantic) than structural (syntactic).
The poem depicts three different episodes in the life of a person who doesn’t at all
care for the middleclass bourgeoisie values. His being is characterized by recklessness,
disrespect for culture, tradition and all established systems including legal system and
frankness in use of linguistic code. He makes liberal use of abuses, makes blatant
expression of everything avoides euphemisms completely. It will be interesting to study
each of these episodes in comparison with the other.
Structure of the poem:
1: Both the versions depict three events in a life of the narrator who is an anti-bourgeoisie
figure. Hindi version is untitled. But English version is titled as ‘Three Cups of Tea’. The
stanzas of English version are numbered.
2: English version has three stanzas with fourteen, nine and eight lines respectively while
Hindi version has four stanzas with eight, six, six and four lines each. The last episode
takes two stanzas (six+four) in Hindi but English version takes a single stanza for each of
the episodes.
3: Both the versions make minimum use of punctuation marks. Hindi version has four
question marks and an exclamatory while English version has only three question marks.
English version makes distinction by zero use of capital letters.
Part one: 1.
In both the versions the first part of the poem depicts the narrator’s encounter with a
manager with whom he argues regarding getting paid. English version makes use of
fourteen unrhymed lines while as Hindi version takes only seven lines. The lines used in
English are much shorter than those in Hindi. It is as if each line in Hindi is broken into
two when it appears in English. Hindi version is characterized by a complete absence of
punctuation marks. English version uses a bare question mark.
2: The narrator (first person I, speaker of the poem) is a character from the lower strata of
the society, who doesn’t have any respect for the middle-class ethical, moral values and
principles. The first person pronoun as a rule is written in capital in English. The capital
‘I’ in English is regarded as a symbol of excess individualism, capitalistic and colonial
imperial tendencies of western individual. But Kolatkar’s narrator seems to lack all these
qualities. He is completely regardless of these bourgeoisie values. Hence Kolatkar makes
a remarkable use of small (non-capital) ‘i’ trough out. In Hindi, there is no such
graphalogical distinction.
3: As a rule payment is given on the first date of the month. But the narrator, regardless of
this rule is inclined to get it right at this point of time. According to the established code
of conduct, the employee is supposed to request the employer to get payment. But the
speaker in the poem threatens his manager. He picks up the wrist watch on the table and
challenges him that he can go to police if he dares to. The whole passage, both in English
and in Hindi is a deviation from the established code of conduct. Both make equally
pungent use of satire and irony.
4. Because of the S+O+V pattern of Hindi version, all the lines end with verbs or verb
phrases, for e. g. ‘mangta hai’, ‘milega’, ‘padi thi’, ‘uthake liya’, ‘rasta dikhya’, ‘karta
hai to kar lo’, ‘hoga’ etc. But because of the S+V+O pattern and lines being broken,
English version doesn’t show such syntactic regularity.
5: In Hindi version all the verbs are in active voice. But in English they occur in mixed
manner and as a result activity shown by verbs has been slowed down as compared to
6: Both the versions make effective use of colloquial prose conversational style with all
its subtleties for giving poetic expression. By keeping usual poetic style at the
background, he foregrounds the colloquial expressions like ‘wanna’, ‘listen baby’ etc. In
English ‘baby’ is a typical vocative which is used in extremely informal situations by way
world people in America. It is indicative of disrespect regarding the listener. Using the
term for manager is thus semantic deviation of linguistic code. Hindi version shows a
typical tendency of layman’s use of vernacular mixed with English words like, manager,
company, rule, police, compliant etc.
Part two:
The second part of the poem deals with narrator’s attempt to break established moral and
ethical framework of the cotemporary social behavior.
1: Hindi version very precisely expresses the whole story in six bare lines, while the
English version takes eight lines to express the same content.
2: This poetic passage has a specific meaning in Indian socio-cultural framework. The
Indians consider each other as brothers and sisters. Every friend of a person is like a
brother and hence his wife a sister in law. The narrator in Hindi context tells of his
encounter with his friend and not necessarily with his real brother. The sister in law
(bhabhi) referred in the passage is not the real one but she is Rahaman’s his friend’s wife.
In English sister in law does not carry such a cultural connotation. Naturally, Rahaman is
considered as a real brother and his wife a real sister in law. Hindi version thus keeps
both the possibilities of meaning open and Rahaman may be treated both as the real
brother or a friend and his wife as real or remote sister in law. The English version
remains very specific in treating rahaman as the narrator’s real brother.
3: A narrator asks his friend’s\ brother’s wife if he can step in his brother’s booties. She
gets angry and even her husband Rahaman threaten the narrator of shooting. Recklessly
the narrator challenges to shoot if he dares to. He repents over a friend shooting him just
for the sake of a lady. Hindi version makes use of reporting verb and an interrogative:
‘Main bhabhiko bola\ kya bhaisaabke dutype main aan jaun?’ It gives a hilarious and
conversational tone to the rhetoric. The English version begins with an assertive sentence
and a reported verb which results in loss of activity and liveliness of the rhetoric.
4: The socially accepted norms of sexual behavior of people differ from a country to
country and culture to culture, as they radically differ in Indian and American societies.
The norms regarding female chastity and loyalty are rigorously observed in the Indian
society. Kolatkar’s narrator attempts to revolt his friend for breaking the established
social code of conduct through his speech. An alien person asking friend’s wife a blatant
permission to enter in her husband’s booties is a shock for the readers in Indian context.
The American readers may treat the affair little more liberally and may not get a cultural
shock out of the context.
5: The question asked in Hindi, ‘Bhaisaab ki dutype aan jaaun?’ is an indirect suggestion
towards sexual intercourse. The English substitute for the expression,’to step in my
brother’s booties is a direct and blatant in its appeal. Hindi phrase, ‘bhadak gayi saali’
shows the anger of the lady; the English version makes no reference of the lady’s reaction
6: Abuses used in both the versions convey altogether different things, for e.g. ‘rundi’, in
Hindi means a woman with a bad character. Its substitute, ‘bloody cunt’ in English has
relevance with sexual organs of a lady. The intensity of these abuses in respective cultures
is variable. ‘Gandu’ in Hindi is almost a tabbu word, not to be used by a gentleman
before a lady. Its substitute punk in English does not posses such a sharpness of
abusiveness. The order of lines is completely changed as they occur in Hindi and English,
for e. g. the challenge of shooting by a speaker in Hindi comes after ‘randi ke waste’ i. e.
just for a lady while in English it comes in reverse order.
Part three:
The third event is that of the narrator’s encounter with the internal security agencies in
Burma. It appears in completely different manners in Hindi and English.
1: In Hindi it is much elaborate and takes ten lines divides into two uneven stanzas of six
and four lines respectively. English version has a single stanza consisting of eight lines.
2: An important part that has appeared in Hindi version has been deleted from English.
The narrator in Hindi went to Burma. He came to know about the show of a movie called
‘Aag’. He went to watch the movie. In order to get ticket at the theatre, he was supposed
to show his passport. As he did not have any, he was arrested and sends back to Manipur.
A police commissioner asked him why he went to Burma to which he responded, ‘what’s
there in India?’ The English version is not so elaborate. It avoids telling why and how he
had been arrested, and directly glides over his sending back to Manipur.
3: The reference of ‘Aag’ movie in ‘Hindi’ version has a geo-cultural connotation.
Though the Indian subcontinent is divided into many independent countries, they share
many of the similar cultural features. India, being a cultural leader of the sub-continent,
Hindi movie is widely popular all over the continent and can be viewed in any of these
countries. As the English version avoids this mention of movie going of the narrator, it
has missed the whole geo-cultural reference.
4: The narrator speaker of the poem has an utter disrespect for the establishment. The
notion like patriotism and love for nation mean nothing for him. He is a typical
representative of the frustrated young generation of the post- independence era, mainly of
the sixties. This disrespect is made sharper in the concluding lines, when the
commissioner asks him why he went to Burma. In Hindi he says: ‘main bola abe laundike
bacche\ indiamen rakkhahi kya hai!’ Syntactically this is a rhetorical question. But
instead of using a question mark, the poet uses an exclamation which shows a very light,
frivolous and insincere attitude of the narrator towards his country. In English version the
conclusion is: ‘prick face i said\ what’s there in india?’ A question mark at the end
maintains an air of seriousness of his discourse. As a result the deep shade of irony and
satire which the Hindi reader experiences, the English reader remains deprived of it.
Translation or A New Version?
Instead of going for word to word translation of the poem, the poet uses an equivalent
dialect for Bombay Hindi i.e. an American slang, the language used by the tough guys of
American movies. The essence of what the narrator says in source language is transferred
tentatively in English. The phrases, idiomatic expressions and abuses used in English are
not exact translation of Hindi. Instead, there is an attempt to find out suitable substitute
for English version. The poet imagines what will be suitable for a use of tough guys’
speech in given context instead of translating a Hindi paradigm as it is. As a result, a
common communicable message is transferred in the target language by not exactly the
way it comes in a source language, not with all syntactic subtleties. In case of this poem a
rigorous translation i.e. use of an exact syntactic substitute does not fulfill the pragmatic
demands of the poem. The problem occur more prominently regarding idioms, slangs,
and abuses etc. which are the most idiosyncratic features of linguistic culture of the
community. An attempt of exact translation in such cases often leads to ridiculous and out
of place effect. Hence the writer makes use of expressions, slangs and abuses containing
approximately same shades of meaning which English speaker will use for such a
‘Hospital poems’ is originally a group of ten poems written in April-June 1965, first
published in Marathi in ‘Arun Kolatkarchya Kavita’. Arvind Krishna Maharotra11 claims
there are seven individually titled poems. But, actually in 2003 version of AKK there are
ten poems on the subject from page 107,(baban Hi Ghe Mutachi Batli) to page 124 (Eka
Manjrana Maza Anga). Of these, Kolatkar translated only four. Each poem has an
epigraph, two of them are in Hindi and the rest two are in English. These poems have an
autobiographical reference. Kolatkar was operated for stomach ulcer in March 1965, at
Dr. Bacha’s Nursing Home, Queen’s Road, New Marine Lines, Mumbai. The epigraph
for most of the poems first appeared in the special issue on Kolatkar, in Kavi India, Jan
17.Temperature Normal. Pulse, Respiration satisfactory.
Marathi version:
English version:
Gudhage tath
i lean back in the armchair
Karun don pay
and Bombay sinks
Samor kathadyawar thewato
Aani maga aaramkhurchit relto
the level of the balcony parapet rises
Tenva mazya drustina Mumbai budaleli aste
and the city is submerged
the terraces the chimneys the watertanks the
diste uchal
kathadyachya sapatina
ghetleli Mumbai budaleli
arials gachhya dhuradi panyachya takya
the whole city
gone under
papnit ghetto
i look at what remains
pahun warchywarti akash
my eyes take up the slack of the twilit sky
sandhiprakashat sail padlela
ni apaplya parina udnarya chimnya ni kawale
i count a crow and three sparrows
each flying according to its light
aikato chivchiv
i stretch my legs
ni dolyana pahato chimni
i put my feet up on the parapet
tyancha sambandha asel nasel jau dya
hi kathadyachi advi regh ni hi madhomadh
i hear a cheeping sound
pawalanchi fuli
i see a sparrow
is there a connection
i am afraid i do not know
this cross i make of my own two feet
floats on the last horizon
Title: In both the versions, the epigraph comes as a title in both the versions. It is a
remark on the patient’s case paper in hospital.
Structure: The Marathi and English versions have got distinct structure of each. In
Marathi, the poem is divided into four stanzas of five lines each. The lines are structured
in such a way that they create a triangular graphic which gives some idea of a shape
created by a figure sitting in an armchair. The first line of the stanza has got minimum
number of words and in each coming line of the stanza, the number of words increases,
thus creating a triangular shape. The structure of Marathi version conveys some of its
thematic aspects. The being of the poem and the meaning of the poem go hand in hand.
English version on the other hand bears altogether different structure. The poem divides
in ten couplets stanzas, which are unrhymed and run-on in nature. Both the versions of
the poem are completely unrhymed.
Theme: In both the versions of the poem try delimit the narrator’s spatial boundaries and
concern s partially due to the poet’s psychological condition in the hospital and partly
because of the infrastructure of the hospital.
1. Though the English version is much faithful translation, the sequence of lines is
changed at places. The Marathi version begins with the lines:
‘gudhage tath \
karun don pay \
samor kathadyawer thewato’
These three lines form a couplet in English and appear as a seventh couplet instead of
being the initial lines as in Marathi. The remaining part of the stanza in Marathi: ‘Ani
mag mi aramkhurchit relto \ Tenva mazya drustina pahila tar Mumbai budaleli aste’,
forms another couplet and comes at the initial position. The degradation of ‘self’ is shown
through the small ‘i’ instead of first person pronoun capital ‘I’ at all places of the English
version. Even the degradation of space around is shown through the same strategy, by
making ‘b’ in Bombay small. Marathi version, due to the inherent limitation of its script
can’t make such graphological experiment. Instead, it completely deletes the mention of
the first person pronoun throughout the poem.
2: The syntax of the first sentence in Marathi version doesn’t follow the conventional
sequence of s+o+v. Instead the verb comes at the middle position. It uses four complete
but small syntactic units: ‘dolyanna diste uuchal \ kathadyachya sapatine ghetleli \
Mumbai budaleli’. The English version brings first two sentences together by using the
coordinating conjunction ‘and’. The last line of Marathi stanza enlists the objects that had
been submerged with leaning back on the armchair. English version does the same but
changes the sequence:’Erials, gachhya, dhuradi, panyachya takya’, becomes, ‘the
terraces (gachhya), the chimneys (dhuradi), the watertanks (panyachya takya), the
antennas (Aerials), in order suit the rhythmic balance of the English language. The use of
definite article before each noun and the last word ‘everything’ in English makes the
expression as much as double in length as compared to Marathi.
3: The third stanza in Marathi forms a single syntactic unit with two independent clauses.
The first clause, ‘kilkilya \ papnit ghetto \ pahun werchyawerti akash’, is complete with
verb phrase ‘gheto pahun’ which in regular syntactic order is used as ‘pahun gheto’. The
rest of the line, ‘sandhiprakashat sail padlela’ comes as a post modifier, an epithet for
‘akash’. ‘ni’ is a co-ordinating conjunction conjoins this first clause with the second
clause, ‘aaplya parina udnarya chimnya kawle’. This intricate structure of the stanza
provides rhythmic tempo to a stanza. In English translation, the sense of the stanza is
diluted to certain extent. The syntax becomes fragmentary and the addition of details
which are implicit in Marathi original, reduce its complexity. The phrase, ‘whole city
gone under’ suggests the deepening of the city under the window pan, which is not
explicitly mentioned but understood in Marathi. The phrase, ‘I look at what remains’ is
again an addition to English version which reduce the density of English syntax. The
phrase, ‘slack of the twilit sky’ retains the alliterative effect of, ‘sandhiprakashat sail
padlela’ to some extent with proper choice of words. The last line of Marathi stanza, ‘ni
apaplya parina udnarya chimnya kawle’ takes new semantic as well as syntactic shape
when it appears in English. The simple act of observation in Marathi changes into
counting of sparrows and crows. The sparrows in English are in definite number of three.
The counting of sparrows in English follows the stanza of stretching legs and putting
them on the parapet, which in Marathi comes in the opening stanza itself.
4: The fourth stanza in Marathi expresses the doubt about the co-ordination of senses and
its role in cognition of things. He listens to the voice of sparrows and observes one but
doubts whether her cheeping and sight has some relation. The expression, ‘asel nasel
jaudya’ shows his lack of concern for the whole thing. In English, ‘is there a connection \
I am afraid I do not know’ underlines the implicit concern the narrator has. The last line
of Marathi poem gives graphic expression of the way he sits: ‘hi kathadyachi advi regh ni
hi madhomadh pawalachi fuli.’ It simply has the function to depict the picture, narrator
sitting cross-legged. English couplet adds a line and says: ‘This cross I make of my own
feet \ floats on the last horizon’. It shows the connection of the being of the narrator with
the external world he is observing. By cutting down such a connection, the Marathi
version underlines the theme of loneliness and lack of communication with the external
18: Gastrojejunostomy+Vagotomy+Appenddicectonomy+Hydrocele
Marathi version:
English version:
how clean an i become
Mi kiti swchha zalo ahe
now you can lay me down on that pushcart
Mala hatgadiwar adwe taka
and cover me up with a clean white sheet
Wa mazyawar shubhra chadar pasra
from neck to knee have i
Ghashapasun gudhagyaparyanta
been shaven clean
Maze kes khardun kadhlet saaf
a stomach pump has washed my stomach out
Maza pot pandhranda wisalun kadhlela ahe
fifteen times
Enima deun mazi katadi dhun takleli ahet
enemata have purified my intestines
Mala dhutlya tandalasarkha wattay
i feel sinless
Mala to rumal deta ka
like a grain of white rice
Mazya nakat shembud ahe
cooked in the holy water of Ganga
To mala shinkru dya
Mala hatgadiwar adwe taka
will you be good enough to pass me that handkerchief
Aani mazyawar ti shubhra chadar pasra
thank you
there was a bit of dirt in My nose
now you can lay me out on that pushcart
and cover me up with that clean white sheet
Title: Like all other hospital poems, this poem as well uses the note on the case paper as
a title. Since it is in English, in original Marathi version, it remains as it is in English
version as well.
Structure: Marathi poem comprises four stanzas of variable length. The first and third
stanza has three lines each, the second has five and the fourth concluding stanza has two
lines. The last two lines of the first stanza get repeated and form a concluding couplet.
The English version comprises five stanzas, first, third and fifth of three lines, second of
five lines and fourth of four lines. Like the original Marathi version the last two lines get
repeated to form the concluding couplet. Both the versions are completely unpunctuated.
Theme: Both the versions describe the post-treatment state of mind of the patient who is
the narrator of the poem. The opening and concluding lines in both the stanza give a hint
of death, in spite of all the possible treatments given for it creates a graphic picture of a
corpse lying on the pushcart, covered with clean white sheets
Stanza 1 : The syntax in Marathi version: ‘Mala hatgadiwar adve taka \ wa mazyawar
shubhra chadar pasra’ is a statement of certainty. The English translation of the same
with the use of ‘can’ becomes the statement of possibility. (If compare you do with you
can) ‘How clean am I become’ deviates from the regular structure, ‘how clean have I
become’. The gradual degeneration of one’s own self is underlined by avoiding capitals,
for the first person pronoun ‘I’, both at the opening of line and stanza.
Stanza 2
The Marathi version makes use of highly colloquial verb types in
‘kharadun kadhlet’, ‘visalun kadhalela’, ‘Dhun takleli’, which are typical of the dialect of
Marathi spoken at western part of Maharastra. The narration regarding the narrator’s
health becomes more alive due to such colloquial usages. The inherent structure of
English does not allow such experiments with verbs. The word like ‘enemata’ instead of
‘enema’ is an attempt to bring variation in this direction. The last line of Marathi is very
suggestive, in ‘Mala dhutlya tandalasarkha wattay’, dhutlya tandalasarkha means clean,
physically and by character. The idiomatic connotation may not be conveyed to English
reader in a word to word translation. The English version treats the line as a separate
stanza and becomes a bit lengthy: ‘I feel sinless \ like a grain of white rice \ cooked in the
holy water of the Ganga’
: Stanza three in Marathi is a request for getting a handkerchief in order to
clean the nose. Because of the inherent structure of Marathi syntax and semantic
convention it does not use any apparent politeness markers as does English. English
version begins with please and puts a request in a form of polite question: ‘will you be
good enough to ….’ and completes the request by the use of ‘thank you’. The request in
Marathi is implicit and less formal while in English it is formal and explicit.
Stanza 4 : In both the version last two lines of the first stanza get repeated with all its
noted stylistic features and with addition of a word in each. The Marathi version adds a
word ‘mag’ (then) in first line and uses ‘ani’ (and), instead of ‘wa’ (and). The stanza in
English begins with ‘yes’. The third line mentions ‘that clean white sheet’ instead just
‘that sheet’.
19: Glucose\ saline 500cc.
Marathi version:
Sister Carolla surgeon Griffithchya mithit
Leaving sister Carol in the arms
Pastisawya panawar sodun
Of surgeon Griffith on page thirty two
Sister Sethna mazya ushashi yete
Sister sethna comes to my bedside
Ani sirinjmadhe aunsebhar pani ghete
And takes an ounce of water in the syringe
Nakatun nighalelya nalechya kaunsat
the ryles tube comes out of my nose and puts
Duur khurchit basleli Aai diste
a question mark around my mother
Mandiwar ughada dasbodh dolyala chashma
reading ramdas at the other end of the room
Ghashat janawate ek thandagar udgarchinha.
i give the fat book in her lap a brotherly look
Intravinuschi pachvi batli rikami hote
an ice cold exclamation mark sticks in my throat
Aani sister Sethana standla sahavi latkawate
the fifth bottle of saline is empty
Hi shewatchi ‘I love you Carol.’
sister sethna hangs the sixth one on the stand
‘And I love you too’ Carol mhante
the last one i love you carol and i love you too
Ek don tin char pach: kachechya
says carol one two three four five
Botbhar poklit punapunha jamnara
the drop of saline that follows the drop of saline
Salaincha themb vishvacha Kendra houn rahilay
in a little tube of glass has become
Ujwa hat sabandh akhdun gelay
the centre of my universe o my right arm
Teblawar ramdasala utana theun
my mother leaves her ramdas on the table
Aai palangashejari yewun ubhi rahate
she comes over and stands beside my bed
Salaincha terawa themb tachkan umatto
the thirteenth drop of saline shines
Ani tichya ujwya galawar chamakato
like a perfect teardrop against her cheek
Pay chepu ka? Mi mhanto nako
press your legs? She asks no i tell her
Chashmyachya dawya kachetun ticha dola disat nahi
i cannot see her left eye through her glasses
Fakta ek ughadi khidki akashachi malabh
i see instead an open window an overcast sky
Kadachit pakshyacha ek thipka taralun jato
and what i take to be a bird in flight
Hawetlya hawet Ramdas kagdi latha zadto
ramdas complains pages kick in the air
Janma dukhacha ankur janma shokacha sagar
life is sapling of sorrow life is an ocean of grief
Janma bhayacha dongar chalenasa
life is a mountain of fear that will not move
Aai parat jate wa Ramdasala mandiwar ghete
my mother goes back and takes ramdas in her arms
Intravinuschya thembathembit maza matra ghadyal
these drops of saline have made a clock out of me
a clock that never runs down and where time
Kadhihi na sampanara kitihi na wajnara
is always forever and sister Sethna
Nishigandhacha bouquet kuni pathawalay to
is always arranging tuberoses in a vase
Sister Sethna flowerpotmadhye arrange karteya
do you like flowers? She asks
Do you like flowers? Ti vicharte
not particularly i tell her
Not particularly mi mhanto
my brother comes in bursting with news
Itkyat maza bhau yeto chehara fulalela
india has own the test match new Zealand is wiped out
Indiane test jinkli New Zeland cha dhuwwa
i feel like i want to pee i tell sister sethna
Laghwi hoilsa watta mi sisterla sangto
my mother and my brother and my brother step out of
Aai wa bhau baher jatat sister dar band karte
the room
Mutacha bhanda ghewun mi daha minita padun
pisspot between my legs i wait a good ten minutes
nothing happens
Hot kahich nahi.
In both the versions it is an epigraph which is a note on the case paper of the
Structure: In both the versions the poem comprises ten stanzas of five lines each. The
poem is a rich example of intertextuality where Sister Sethna, a character in a poem reads
a novel in which Surgeon Griffith and Sister Carol are the characters. The world of the
hospital which is the setting of the present poem and the characters Surgeon Griffith and
Sister Carol are characters from fiction that Sister Sethana reads whose probable setting is
also a hospital are cleverly grafted on each other. Both the texts get mixed into a fine
texture. Even the verses from ‘Dasbodh’ by Ramdas, the narrator’s mother reads, are
quoted in the context of the situation of the patient narrator and get mixed in the gloomy
texture of the poem.
The gloomy and tiring existence in the hospital accompanied by severe physical
ailment, emotional suffocation and narrator’s painful existence in the typical middleclass
background is the theme of both the versions.
Stanza 1
The opening stanza in both the versions begins with the effective use of
intertextuality where the world of the novel that Sister Sethna reads and the world of the
hospital where the narrator is admitted as a patient are finely amalgamated. Sister Sethna
leaves Sister Carol in arms of Surgeon Griffith on page thirty two and takes an ounce of
water in the syringe. Repetition of \s\ sound and its alliterative effect is maintained in
English stanza. The last two lines of the stanza in Marathi rhyme with each other (yete \
ghete). The last two lines of the stanza in English are characterized by the subtler use of
internal rhyme in comes\ ounce.
Stanza 2
The first line of the stanza in Marathi has alliterative effect through
repetition of \n\ sound. He could observe his mother sitting on chair at distance in a
bracket created by the tube coming from his nose. She wears, speaks and reads
‘Dasbodh’, which lies open on her lap. The last line tells of a feeling of cold exclamation
in a throat is ambiguous because it doesn’t make it clear whether it is a feeling of the
narrator himself or his mother whom he observes and describes. English version of this
stanza makes many semantic as well as syntactic changes in the original Marathi version.
The Ryles tube coming out of the nose of the patient narrator puts a question around his
mother is equally graphic and gives strong visual impact as Marathi. But ‘bracket’ turning
the question mark has different semantic implications. The last line, ‘I give a fat book a
brotherly look’ appears only in English. It is not the part of Marathi version. What
appears to be the last line of the Marathi stanza is postponed in English and becomes part
of next stanza.
Stanza 3 :
Like the first stanza this stanza carries the same features of intertextuality.
The Marathi stanza opens with the fifth bottle of intravenous getting empty and the sixth
being put up. The sister declares it to be the last one. Hurriedly, she rejoins her reading of
novel where Surgeon Griffith says: ‘I love you Carol’ on which Carol responds, ‘I love
you too’. The English stanza opens with the prolonged line, ‘an ice cold exclamation
mark sticks in my throat’, which as compared to its Marathi substitute is less ambiguous
and makes it clear that the exclamation sticks to the narrator’s throat. The rest of the part,
Sister Sethna hangs the sixth bottle and declares it to be the last, resuming her reading of
novel that is, a dialogue between Surgeon Griffith and Sister Carol is depicted with all the
stylistic features of the original.
Stanza 4
In the fourth stanza of Marathi version, the narrator concentrates on the
drops gathering in the glass tube, which he imagines, has become his sole universe. There
is a pain in his right hand due to a syringe of saline drops. The last two lines of the stanza
rhyme with each other (rahilay \ gelay). The English stanza concentrates on depiction of
the saline drops which the narrator observes. The last two lines rhyme with each other in
an unconventional manner, in a pair ‘become \ arm’. The last line in Marathi: ‘Ujwa hat
sabandh akhdun gelay’ expresses pain of the narrator in a clear-cut manner. In English it
just says; ‘O my right arm’ which is an exclamation of pain, of which perception is
Stanza 5 :
Mother keeps Ramdas she is reading on a table and comes near the bed. The
first two lines of Marathi version are single syntactic unit with two independent clauses:
‘teblawar ramdasala utana theun \ Aai palangashejari ubhi rahate’. The word ‘theun’ is
combination of verb + conjunction (Thewate+ani). The use of metonymy, using name of
Ramdas for his work, a piece of writing is an important feature of both the versions. The
adjective ‘utana’ in Marathi modifies Ramdas and his works simultaneously, because of
the metonymic reference. Hence the line ‘Ramdasala utana theun’ expresses humorous
connotations. The use of modifier\ adjective for Ramdas is absent from the English
version, so does the consequent humor. The last two lines of the stanza in Marathi rhyme
with each other (umatato \ chamakto). The drop of saline against mother’s cheek,
implicitly expresses the grief of mother for her son’s painful condition. With the use of a
phrase ‘like a perfect teardrop’, the English version makes her feeling explicit.
Stanza 6
Mother asks whether she should press his legs, ‘pay chepu ka? Mi
mhanato nako’, in a thin line it is understood by the reader that the question is asked by
the mother and is responded by the narrator. The English version makes clear mention of
who asks the question and who responds, the line risks oversimplification leading to less
poetic expression. The narrator couldn’t see the mother’s left eye through spectacles. He
could only see the open window, an overcast sky and a bird in flight. The Marathi version
doesn’t clarify whether it is a spectacle of the narrator or the mother and there by keeps
space for multiple significance. English version clearly tells that it is her spectacles and
avoids ambiguity.
The line in Marathi, ‘hawetlya hawet Ramdas kagdi latha zadto’ has a
strong visual effect of flopping of pages on the one hand and Ramdas taken as human
being expresses his disgust on the pathetic and sorrowful universal human situation.
English version has a very plain expression, ‘Ramdas complains pages kick in the air’
which keeps less space for reader’s imagination. The mid two lines of the stanza produce
a quote from ‘Dasbodh’, a work by Ramdas. It is characterized by parallelism,
alliteration, rhyming structure which results in musicality of high quality. Translated
version in English, does carry all these features but in a less emphatic manner. The last
line in Marathi, mother goes back and takes Ramdas in her laps which in English
becomes ‘in her arms’, Marathi expression is more intimate and motherly while English
is less intimate.
: The narrator has become one with the drops of the saline and any other
sensation makes no sense for him. The first line of Marathi version uses an onomatopoeic
expression, ‘thembathembi’, which visualizes the drop after drop falling in the tube.
These drops have made a clock that ‘never ends, never rings’. The English translation of
this part has gone little philosophic by saying, ‘a clock that never runs down and where
time is always forever’. The line at a time suggests the infinity of clock time and never
passing, tiresome nature of psychological time. The Marathi version makes reference of
somebody sending a bouquet of tube-roses while in English Sister Sethna always arranges
flowers in a vase regardless of who had send them.
Stanza 9 :
The stanza depicts the typical middle-class atmosphere and the excitement
of narrator’s brother on India winning a cricket match, indicating middle-class Indian’s
love for cricket. The stanza in Marathi opens with code switching. The sister switches
over in English, ‘Do you like flowers?’ ‘Not particularly’, the narrator responds and the
discourse continues in Marathi. To a reader of Marathi, it reminds the typical
missionary-type atmosphere in most of foreign aided hospitals. English version does not
provide an experience of code-switching. The narrator’s brother comes with the news of
victory of India over New-Zealand in cricket match. The phrase in Marathi, ‘chehara
fulalela’ depicts his extreme state of happiness. The English version, ‘he comes with
bursting with news’ connotes the force and energy in his arrival rather than his happiness.
Stanza 10
The climax of the narrator’s painful existence comes in the final stanza.
He feels like, he wants to pee, he tells it to sister, his brother and mother step out of the
room. He lies down with a pee-pot between his legs for ten minutes but nothing happens.
The normal bodily functions do not function regularly and with the casual ease makes the
narrator’s condition more pathetic and painful. Both the versions depict the miserable
state of the narrator’s being with equal intensity and graphic subtlety.
20: Sponged fully. Pt. has 2 small boils on its shoulder.
Marathi version:
English version
Eka manjrana maza anga chatun saf kelay
a kitten has licken me limbs so slick n clean
Tya khidkicha padda jara bajula kela
Ki Boribandar ani GPO yanchya adhemadhe
the curtain pulled aside
Mala surya ugawalela disel
i should be able to look out the window
and see the sun
Sister Leviyad
rise between the Victoria terminus
Ata mazya dhunganala talcum powder Lawtey
and the general post office
Ani mazya zatanche khunt
sister levillard
Elastoplastsmadhun parat ugwu laglet
Om mitray namaha: om hiranyagarbhaya is dusting my arse with talc
and my short hair are beginning to grow again
sharply through elastoplasts
Om mitray namah
Om hiranyagarbhaya namah
In both the versions the title is the verbatim on the nurse’s private case paper.
Structure: The Marathi version has two quartet stanzas followed by a couplet. The verse
quoted from Sanskrit scriptures is a traditional salutation to sun. The English version
contains a five lined stanza and it closes with a couplet, which is a literal translation of
Sanskrit quote in Marathi version. Both the versions are completely un-punctuated.
Theme :
The poem is an attempt to establish the relationship between the world of
hospital and the external world of daily happenings. In both the versions, the first stanza
describes the graphic picture of the external world as the narrator-patient observes it from
the window pans of the room in the hospital. The second stanza is an account of the nurse
dusting his body (arse in particular) with talcum powder, as a part of pre operating
treatment and his pubic hair is trying to grow out of the Elastoplasts.
1.The first line of the poem that talks metaphorically of the cleaning process of the
patient’s body, which had been attempted for some time and it has come to conclusion as
a result of which his body has become so clean that it looks like an object licked by the
kitten. This line in Marathi is a part of the first stanza while in English it forms an
independent stanza. In Marathi line, ‘Eka manjrana maza anga chatun saf kelay’ is plain
enough as compared to English. Marathi version talks of a full grown cat while the
English version substitutes it by a kitten, a sibling of the cat. The rest of the line , ‘has
licken me limbs so slick n clean’, attempts to bring an endearing tone with the use of ‘me’
instead of ‘my’ and ‘n’ instead of ‘and’. These experiments help English version to set an
informal endearing \ childish tone of the poem at the very initial level. The manner of
perception in both the versions is more like the child than the matured person, for which
the first line of the English version goes more complementary.
2: ‘Boribandar ani GPO yanchya adhemadhe mala surya ugawalela disel’ the line in
Marathi foregrounds the names of the places, keeping the rising of the sun at the
background. In English version the sequence goes opposite: ‘and see the sun \ rise
between the Victoria terminus \ and general post office’. This difference is the result of
the inherent syntactic structure of English language than the deliberate experimentation.
The names of places in Marathi version (Boribandar \ GPO) are more native while in
English they turn more British (Victoria Terminus \ general post office in full form).
3: The lens of camera zooms in the hospital room in the second stanza and describes the
process of sister dusting the patient’s arse with talcum powder. In both the versions, the
second stanza goes contradictory to what had been said in the first stanza. The already
clean shaved body no longer remains clean. The pubic hair start growing from the
Elastoplasts to which the narrator ironically salutes, as if it had been the vesitation that
grows due to photo-synthesis in the presence of sunlight, as one of the nature’s miracle.
The phrase ‘powder lawatiy’ is close to applying talcum powder but English version
changes it for ‘dusting….with talcum powder’ which has more graphic quality and
potential for visualizing.
Marathi Version:
English version
Ubagla jiv roj karun ha dhanda
The same old grind, day and night. I couldn’t take it
Mhatla jain pandharila yanda
any more.
This time, I said to myself, I’ll go to Pandharpur.
Watat hota jausa jausa
Oh, I was serious. I didn’t want to be felt behind.
Thesan pahun fitli haus
But I saw that railway station and I quickly changed
my mind.
Kewadha bandhun thewla thesan
O the sheer size of it. That’s what hits you first.
Baghunach khali basawa matkan
My knees buckled and I was dawn on my arse.
Itnach deva jate mi parat
I threw away my ticket. What refund, I said, I don’t
Jau de re maza tikit fukat
I just want to get back home and, well, stay there.
Pandhariraya tu mala hawas
God, I was looking forward to meeting you in the
Pan nahi mala zepayacha prawas
But I’m just not cut out for traveling, I guess.
Jamlyas tuch ye na kenvatari
I’ve often wondered, do you ever come down to
Tuzi wat pahin mi mazya ghari
If you do, my door is always open for you, remember.
Title: The title of Marathi version is stylistically notable for it is combination of a verb
‘geli’ (went) with the negative prefix ‘na’. The word is the new coinage by the author
which in its own respect becomes a noun. It is precise and experimental in
linguistic\stylistic context. The title of English version on the other hand is lengthy and
linguistically we find nothing striking about it.
Structure: The Marathi version comprises six closed couplets. The first line of each
couplet rhymes with the second. The lines are characterized by precision containing four
words in most lines and five or six words occasionally. This version appears in
completely un-punctuated manner. Its structure is close to the traditional structure of an
indigenous stanza pattern called ‘bharud’, with some changes to suit the modern syntax
of the language. Due to the rhythmic structure and precision of lines, Marathi version
strongly receives the germ of gaiety. English version carries most of the above features. It
has the same structure of six closed couplets. Each first line of the couplet rhymes with
the second. But the lines in English are elaborate and lengthy. Since the rhyming words
take accents on the different syllables, the rhyme appears farfetched. As a result the ease
and gaiety in Marathi version in lacking in the English version. All the lines in English
are dually punctuated.
Theme: Both the versions carry out the theme of frailty regarding one’s belief in God.
The modern devotee of Vithoba devotes Him as per convenience and not out of strong
passion. A protagonist of the poem, a middle aged woman decides to go to Pandharpur,
comes to a railway station, and gets worried about the difficulties and miseries during the
travel and cancels the plan of going to Pandharpur in order to meet Vithoba. She finally
appeals to God Vithoba himself to come to Mumbai at her convenience. The underlying
irony in the poem provides it subtle humorous touches.
1: The English rendering comes forth more as a free rendering than as an accurate
translation of Marathi version. Hence the close comparison of each stanza in Marathi
with the English proves aimless.
In Marathi a voice of the protagonist woman, one who wanted to go to
Pandharpur, is very impersonal as against the personal voice in English. The
Marathi version uses the first person pronoun ‘I’ and its variants only at six times
that too only in the last two couplets:
mi, maza…… 4th couplet.
mala, mala…..5th couplet.
mi, mazya……6th couplet.
The English version on the other hand uses the first person pronoun ‘I’ as much as
sixteen times and its variants me, myself, my six times.
3: The underlined irony and mockery of the poem can only be shared with knowledge
of Marathi culture and tradition of ‘wari’and ‘dindi’. The readers of Marathi version
will obviously share its cultural context. The warkaries are supposed to be the honest
devotees of Lord Vithoba and they are ready to sacrifice even their lives for the sake
of their beloved God. But the modern warkari in the poem wants to meet Vithala but
is not ready to undergo any physical trouble for the same. Her devotion is not
characterized by honesty and sacrifice. She wants to meet the God at her convenience,
not at the cost of any physical excurtion. Finally, she cancels her plan of going to
Pandherpur and invites the God Vithaba himself at her place to see her. For Marathi
readers the seeming contrast between the devotion of the traditional warkaries and
their modern counterparts is very striking. The reader of English version, who doesn’t
share this cultural context, will fail to see through the underlined mockery throughout
the poem.
4: As a result of punctuations, used in English version and use of first person pronoun
‘I’ at multiple times, the English version appears more conversational. In the first four
stanzas, she is in conversation with the readers and in the last two stanzas; she shifts
her focus from the reader to the lord Vithala and establishes conversation \ dialogue
with Him. Marathi version is completely un- punctuated and uses the personal
pronoun at minimum times which helps it maintaining impersonal tone and narrative
status. Her dialogue at places is a dialogue with Lord Vitthla and not with the readers.
But the dialogue of English version is very much the dialogue with the readers.
Speech of this version moves between the direct to free direct, while in Marathi it
moves from indirect to free indirect.
5: The Marathi version achieves rhythm out of precision of lines, equal length of lines
and their rhyming quality. The English version attempts to achieve the same kind of
rhythm by using different tools like, placing of equal length phrases, one after another
and through internal rhyming structure of these phrases
6: The language of the Marathi version is the language of an illiterate woman,
probably selling vegetables on the foot path, one among those who come to Mumbai
from different parts of regional Maharastra, in order to make their living. The words
like ‘yanda’, ‘jausa’, ‘Thesan’, ‘matkan’, ‘fukat’ are characteristic of colloquial,
illiterate langue of the rustics. These words posses a graphic pictersqueness and
cultural connotations which make the reader visualize the character and personality of
the protagonist speaker woman. English version does away from the colloquial usages
and lacks the specific cultural associations or resulting visualization.
Marathi version:
English version
Tuch tewwadha ka re baba ubha ekta ekta
Dear dear, how come you’re standing alone,
all by yourself?
Hath milav pair hilav bagh ambucha zatka
Aren’t you going to dance? Everyone else is.
Here, give me your hands.
Hay bichara kanwatila don hat balgunay
O come on,
Sang vithu te don hat Ambutaila miltil kay
This girl’s going to teach you how to kick up a storm.
Kay kunachya kamache te kadh kamreche sute
I know you’re attached to your hands,
Tuze hat gheun jat nahi koni kuthe
And your hands are attached
To your hips,
Ubha rahu nakos ugich khulyasarkha pahat
But do you think you can spare them
Mukatyana pakdave pudhe allele hat
For just a little while
May be?
Tuza photo kadhala khatak don kopya dein fukat
Sang tula halayala ata kayay harkat
It’s not as if they’re of any use to you, after all,
Doki badwun zijli tuzi pawala warna warna
or to anyone else for that matter.
Tachasudha zijwat ja ki asha madhna madhna
I promise to give them back to you,
both of them.
Mazi kalji karu nako mi hay changli dhaddhakat
And no one’s going to make off with them either,
Pitambarala pusun ghe nistel hat pakad ghat
I assure you.
Incidentally, do you know how silly you look
Just standing there?
A girl has just made you an offer of empty hands.
The offer is completely free.
But you better hurry up
Because the offer’s open only while the stock lasts.
You have your image to think of, I know.
And hands on hips are a great pose, I agree.
Hold it now, don’t move.
Click, click, click. Thanks, I got a nice shot. Send you
a copy.
But you can move now, you know.
Too many heads have rubbed against your feet,
but all the wear has been on the wrong side
or haven’t you noticed?
Now and then you got to use your heels as well.
A round of fugdi will do you good.
You need some exercise.
So, what are you waiting for?
Dry your palms against that yellow silk dhoti of yours.
Stretch your palms before you,
cross them at the wrists,
hold on to my hands, real tight,
throw your body backwards, and go, man, go,
give it a whirl,
don’t let go of me and you’ll be alright.
And don’t worry about me,
I’m an old pro at this game.
Title of the Marathi version contains single word ‘Fugdi’, while the English
version has a lengthy title, ‘Ambu Invites Vithoba for a Round of Fugdi’, which
explains the context and theme of the poem.
Structure: The Marathi version comprises seven rhymed couplets with almost equal line
length. These are closed couplets with end stopped lines. The whole poem is completely
unpunctuated. The English version has eight stanzas of five or six lines each. The lines
are unrhymed and of unequal length. In the Marathi version, the poet has invented and
exploited the rhythmic qualities and possibilities of colloquial prose language for the
purpose of verse. The English version too uses the prose but not colloquial language.
Here the coarseness of prose is not shed out. The Marathi version does not make any
mention of the name of the speaker protagonist, ‘Ambu’ in the title as the English version
does. But throughout the poem her name appears many times while the English version
makes use of pronouns instead.
Theme: ‘Fugdi’ is a kind of dance and game in Marathi culture. Ambu, one of the
devotees of Vithoba invites him for playing fugdi with her. The idol of Vitthala at
Pandharpur is closely described and personified in both the versions of the poem.
Stanza1. :
‘Vithoba’ and ‘fugdi’ are two important cultural icons in Marathi culture.
Almost every Marathi speaking mind is strongly associated with them and every coming
generation inherits the knowledge and tradition of ‘wari’, an annual cultural-religious
procession to the holy place of Pandharpur, which is the dwelling place of lord Vithoba.
Such a procession starts from the individual towns on foot. People of different casts and
creeds participate in the same, singing abhangas, the poems by the saint poets
Dnyaneshwar, Tukaram and others. As soon as the Marathi reader reads the title and the
first stanza of the poem, this inherited knowledge emerges from the subconscious of the
reader and comes on the surface of his mind which helps for the cognition of the context
of the poem. Such a process will not take place in the mind of non-Marathi, native
English readers. Naturally the translation has become an attempt to explain or paraphrase
the concept and context of fugdi which has resulted in lack of precision. The group of
warkaries, the devotees of Vithoba is playing the game of fugdi on the way to
Pandharpur, and one of the women devotee’s wonders why Vithoba is standing still, and
invites him for a round of Fugdi. Both the versions open with the question, by Ambu Why
after all Vatu is standing all alone. The English version uses one more interrogative,
‘Aren’t you going to dance?’ when everyone else is. Marathi version keeps this
interrogative implicit, the reader still understands it. The reference of fugdi a dance may
be mistaken by the non Marathi speakers for originally it is considered as a play and not
dance. Because of the shared context and Ambu’s free and frank appeal to Vithoba, the
whole poem acquires subtle touches of humor that are absent from the English version.
The line, ‘Hath milav pair hilav bagh Ambucha zatka’ makes the reader smile. In English
‘bagh Ambucha zataka’ is substituted as ‘this girl will teach you how to kick a storm’
which seems much out of way but makes one conscious of the swirling movement of
Stanza 2 : The stanza is a description of Vithoba’s usual pose, the one shown in the idol
of Pandharpur, with hands on hips. ‘Hai bichara kanwatila \don hat balgunay’ expresses
underlined sarcasm in Marathi. The line, ‘you are attached to hands\ and hands are
attached\ to your hips’, in English, is so elaborate and has missed the touches of sarcasm
leading to tickling humor. A request to spare them for a while, doesn’t explain the reason
‘why’. Even though one makes some sense from the title, reader of English remains
confused regarding whom Vithu is supposed to play fugdi with.
Stanza 3 : The line, ‘kay kunachya kamache te kadh kamreche sute’ is characterized by
consonance with the repeated use of consonant sounds like \k\. English version is far from
such alliterative and rhythmic quality. The hands kept on hips are useless hence they need
to be drawn apart from the hips. English version doesn’t ask him to draw them apart
instead, makes the promise of giving them back. Marathi original doesn’t make such
promise. The close of the stanza with assurance that no one will make off with those
hands is common part of both the versions. The inherent directness of expression in
Marathi language suits the purpose of the poem while indirectness and jumble of formal
expressions in English result in loss of semantic and syntactic balance.
Stanza 4 : The girl, (Ambu) offers her hands for fugdi and asks Vithu not to look like a
silly boy and pick them up, the Marathi stanza ends just at that. The English stanza says a
completely different thing in a completely different manner. Ambu orders Vithoba not to
stand like a silly boy (ubha rahu nakos ugich\ khulyasarkha pahat). The substitute line in
English comes in interrogative form asking Vithu if he knows how silly he looks while
standing there. The rest of the part of English version where he talks of the offer made
free of cost and lasts still the stock is available. He makes grafting of the western
consumerism on the stem of nativistic cultural movement of ‘wari’, which in essence is
anti-consumerist, based on sacrifice. The ‘wari’ of our time is growing on the rhizome of
western consumerism. Such a fusion in English version makes the poem post modern in
the true sense of the term.
Stanza 5 :
Vithu is still reluctant to move. Ambu provides an incentive to drawing a
photograph and give him two copies free of cost. The English stanza opens with ‘image
of Vithu’ and the ‘pose’ he gives for photo which is the addition to the original Marathi
version. The version elaborates the activity of drawing a photograph (click, click, and
click) and Ambu assures Vithu of sending a copy and requests him to move. The
dramatization of the part enables the reader to visualize the whole thing graphically.
Stanza 6
In the Marathi version, Ambu sarcastically tells Vithu that his feet are
damaged because of rubbing too many heads through the lines:
‘Doki badwun zijli tuzi
pawla warna warna
tachasudha zijwat ja ki
ashach madhna madhna’.
The selection of words and deftness of expression sets the ironic-satiric tone
in Marathi version. The understood cultural context of too many devotees going to see
Vithoba and rubbing their heads against his feet adds to this effect and makes the line
utterly humorous. The English version, due to lack of precision and culture specificity of
context, can not retain this effect. The narrator of English version explains Vithu how his
feet have been damaged due to too much rubbing of heads and how he needs to use his
heels and a round of fugdi will provide good exercise for him. She tells everything in an
endearing tone as if telling to a small child. This idiosyncratic tone in English becomes
very amusing.
Stanza 7
Vithu anyhow appears to have persuaded. Ambu asks him not to worry
about her and hold her hands tightly. The pair ‘dhaddhakat\ghat’ is a highly unusual kind
of rhyme. The English stanza opens with an interrogative, ‘what are you waiting for?’
absent from original Marathi version. It follows the suggestion to Vithoba of drying his
hands against a ‘yellow silk dhoti’ which is the descriptive substitute of original Marathi
pitambar, provided in order to cope with the requirement of native English speakers. The
English stanza comprises one more stanza which is not the part of the original Marathi
version. Both these stanzas give an elaborate description of how to cross legs and hold the
hands of the next person for taking proper pose for fugdi. The whole of the last stanza
talks of taking a pose for fugdi by throwing body backwards and give a proper whirl. The
Marathi reader already knows the game of fugdi and does not require such description.
Marathi version:
English version
Aho photographer aho photographer
Hay Mister, you the photographer?
Maza photo kadha Vitthal Rakhmaibarobar
I want my picture taken with Vithoba and Rukhmini.
Rakhmai to my left, Vithoba to my right
Aga rakhmai jara bajula sar
and me in the middle. That’s the way I want it.
Tumha doghanmadhe mala jaga kar
Move over Rakhmai, step aside.
Alikade Vitthal palikade Rakhmai
Make room for me between the two of you.
Mi madhomadh ubhi rahin ga bai
Oh you’re hopeless! Why are you so stiff?
Agdich kasa re tu plywoodcha dev
They’re all going to say you’re a plywood God.
Aitimadhe asa mazya khandywar hat thev
Come close to me, Vitthoo my dear,
Ka ga Rakhmai tula ka ga ala rag
and put your arm around my shoulder. There, that’s
Mumbaila jatana dein parat Vitthal tuza tula ga
Rakhmai, you’re jealous! But you don’t have to worry.
Aho photographer photot kunchlyane bhara rang
I’ll return your Vitthoo to you before I go back to
Mazi sadi choli nili nile Vitthalache anga
Ardhya kalakat yete pahun mi jatra
You’ll fill in nice colors in that picture, won’t you Mr.
Ghongadyanchi kharedi an palnyat don chakra
Visarata kama naye mrutyuchi vihir
Paint my sari blue and blue and blue the body of
Toparyant maza photo asel na tayar
I’ll take a quick look around the fair,
Go for a spin in the giant wheel,
Pick up a good blanket for myself,
take well of death if I find the time,
and be back again in half an hour to collect my picture.
You’ll keep it ready for me, won’t you?
Title: The title of the Marathi version is precise; containing the single word ‘photo’; the
reader understands the reference and its context only after reading the whole poem. The
English version uses a very lengthy title, which rules two and half lines. The title explains
every minute detail about the ‘photo’, who when and how wants it to be drawn. The
length of the title of English version helps the non-Marathi readers to understand the
context of the poem which makes its comprehension possible.
Structure: The Marathi version is composed in eight closed couplets of almost equal
length of lines. Lines in the couplet are end-stopped and rhyme with each other. It is
marked by zero punctuation. The English stanza is composed in ten stanzas. Nine stanzas
of English version contain two lines each while the seventh stanza contains three lines.
The lines are end-stopped but do not rhyme with each other. It uses punctuations at all the
necessary places. The sequence of stanzas in Marathi version is changed at places in the
English translation and few additional lines are introduced to suit the rhythmic balance.
Theme: Both the versions depict the common theme of a visit of a prostitute to a
photographer’s tent at annual Ashadhi fair as clearly stated in the title of English version.
It, like many other poems of the collection is a comment on the practical attitude of a
modern devotee of Vithoba as against the highly spiritual outlook of the saint poets and
devotees of the past who did not even hesitate to sacrifice their lives for the sake of Lord
Vithoba. The demand made by the prostitute to a photographer to color the sari and
blouse in same blue which is color of Vithoba is a parody of the spiritual oneness
expected by saints and true devotees.
1: Marathi version starts with direct mention of ‘photographer’, using a respect
marking modifier, ‘aho’, where the narrator woman seems pretty sure of the
photographer’s identity. The inherent structure of English language doesn’t allow
such directness. The narrator catches the attention by calling ‘Hay mister’ and in order
to be sure about his identity as a photographer, puts forth a question, ‘you the
photographer’. This very opening sets the tone of both the versions in different way.
Though direct in address the Marathi version doesn’t appear impolite due to ‘aho’, the
word which functions as an honorific in Marathi. In English, the construction ‘I want
my picture …’ bring a sense of an order and hence little less polite.
2. The second and third stanzas of Marathi version appear in a changed sequence in
the English translation. In the second stanza of the Marathi version the narrator
woman asks Rukhmini, wife of Vothoba to make room for her between them and in
the subsequent stanza she clears the position for herself, not referring or addressing
the photographer personally. In the English version, her conversation with the
photographer started in the first stanza still continues, and she makes him clear the
position in which she wants a photograph, soon moves to Rukhmini to ask her to
make room for her between them. This change of sequence of second and third stanza
serves the purpose of semantic balance, though the focus of the reader’s attention
varies in both the versions.
3. The focus of attention shifts from the photographer, to Rukhmini and then to
Vithoba. In the fourth stanza of the Marathi version, the woman complains Vithoba of
his being too very stiff, like the plywood and asks him to be little flexible and put his
arm around her shoulder. Coming to English version, the whole structure of the
dialogue changes and what gets told in two lines, takes four lines, adding the stuff of
its own. In the first stanza the woman herself calls Vithoba a plywood God while in
English she calls him hopeless and very stiff and is worried that others will call him a
plywood God. In the subsequent stanza she endearingly asks Vitthu to come close
which follows her suggestion to keep his arms around her shoulder. The part grows
conversational and on the move of Vitthu she responds, ‘that’s better’. The
elaboration and adding of few details makes the English version more dramatic than
the original.
Too much intimacy of the lady with Vithoba enrages Rukhmini, which does not
go unnoticed from the eyes of the lady. Asking Rukhmini why she is so angry, she
assures her of returning Vitthu back before she leaves for Mumbai. The English
version focuses on the reason why Rukhmini is angry than the actual anger. The lady
tells Rukhmini not to be jealous on her intimacy with Vithu and she will return him
back before going to Mumbai.
The dialogic narration once again turns to the photographer asking him to fill nice
blue color in the photograph and imagines her sari and blouse painted in the same
blue as that of the body of Vithoba. In the mind of the Marathi readers the blue color
of Vithoba and being one with that color has metaphysical and spiritual connotations.
This is considered as the highest stage of devotion, achieved not so easily as the
prostitute lady imagines. A woman tries to achieve it superficially by painting the
photograph blue in color. It is a mockery of the true devotion and questions the means
and ends of the modern devotees used by people like the narrator woman in the poem.
This mocking touch will not be perceived by the foreign non Marathi and native
English readers due to the lack of the shared cultural context.
6. After taking the photograph, the lady wishes to take a quick round of the fair to
purchase a blanket and take a spin in a wheel. She even does not want to forget the
well of death. Precise and exact expression becomes lengthy and verbose in English.
The brief expression of two stanzas in Marathi three complete stanzas. In Marathi, the
narrator does not want to forget the visit to the well of death, but in English she will
visit it if she gets time.
Marathi version:
English version
Johar mybap johar
greetings my masters
Tumchya maharancha mi mahar
from the slave of your slave
the lowest of the low requests
He chaturvarnyacha gadhav
permission to speak
rastyat marun padla adwa
i got news for you sir
the donkey sir
mansana jaycha tari kasa pudha
the donkey of the cast system is dead
yach adva yeta madha
it just collapse and die
and now it is blocking the road
naka ugich yala puju
and getting in everyone’s way
ata gadhav lagla kuju
do you want to built a shrine around it?
It’s already begun to rot sir
pathiwar bara gavchi dhul
Don’t even go near it
ahe gadhav lai khatyal
It has rolled in many rubbish heaps
And has lost none of its knack for making trouble
aho marun padla ata
The donkey is dead now
tari ajun hanta latha
But that don’t mean it won’t kick you in the teeth
Just leave it to me sir
mi wadun neto madha
i’ll drag away the carcass
bas te lagla mazyakada
it’s my job after all
you don’t want its good for nothing skin do you
kay karaycha yacha chamda
got a match, someone? Thanks, much obliged
jara matches taka ikda
and where’s the drummer
get him
bagha shodhun sagli gatara
look for him in all the gutters
kuthay tasha wajivnara
douse the donkey with kerosene
i’ll light it myself
tumi ghaslet warti wata
hold it drummer
mi matches lawato swata
the moment the donkey catches fire
you can let yourself loose on the kettledrum
ani mi shilgawla gadhav
got it?
ki tu jorana tasha badav
Here goes
Title: ‘Johar’ in Marathi is a greeting given by a low caste person to his feudal lord.
‘Greetings’ in English is just any of the greetings without any specialized connotations as
in Marathi.
Structure: The Marathi poem comprises eleven rhymed couplets of equal length of lines.
Lines are end stopped and the couplets are closed couplets. Lines are characterized by the
precision of length. The poem does not use any punctuation. The English version is not
divided into stanza pattern. The lines are unrhymed and of unequal length. The poem uses
less number of punctuation marks, i. e. two commas and three question marks, apart from
eight apostrophes.
Theme: In both the versions the poem focuses on the miseries caused due to the
hierarchal cast system in the Hindu Society. Both the presence and the absence of the
system prove equally harmful for the individual’s life. It is a pungent comment on the
system through the metaphor of donkey.
1: In the first couplet of Marathi version a low cast narrator greets his master, the
upper cast feudal lord, in words, ‘johar mybap johar’, and reminds the Marathi reader
of the abhanga, a form of poetry in Marathi, by a saint poet Chokha, with the same
title. He introduces himself as the lowest of the low in the hierarchy of the Hindu cast
system. The English version culturally and linguistically finds a parallel of an
American black man who serves his white master, telling him he is slave of the
slaves, the lowest of the low. As per the inherent structure and convention of using
politeness markers in English, he asks for a permission to speak for he has got news
to tell. The total discourse of introduction is of five initial lines, in the place of a small
couplet in Marathi. The syntactic and cultural parallel that he finds in English helps
him achieve rhythmic and semantic balance. A purposeful liberty taken in translation
makes it appear not a translated version but an independent composition in English.
2. After introducing himself properly, the protagonist forwards with the news he has
bought, the donkey of the cast system is dead. Its carcass is blocking the road. Marathi
version shows the irritation of the speaker through lines: ‘Mansana jaycha tari kasa
pudha\ yacha adwa yeta madha’. In English he seems little more sympathetic, for he
elaborates how the donkey died, ‘it just collapsed and died’ and when he asks his
master whether he wants to built a shrine around it? In Marathi version the speaker is
so very angry and irritated that he directly tells his master: ‘Naka ugich yala puju\ ata
gadhav lagla kuju’.
3. The narrator further tells about the mischievous and trouble causing nature of the
donkey in words,’pathiwar bara gawchi dhul\ ahe gadhav lai khatyal’. In Marathi
‘bara gavchi’ is an idiomatic expression which suggests that the donkey is very
experienced and worldly wise. He exploits all his experience for causing trouble to
others. In English, this original sense of the expression gets impaired when the
narrator suggests his master not to go near it for it has rolled down in so many rubbish
heaps. The troublesome nature of the donkey is illustrated with examples in both the
versions, that even though it is dead, it has not yet lost its habit of kicking others.
4. The low cast people in traditional structure of cast based society, had been
attributed all the manual and dirt-cleaning jobs. Since the narrator represents one of
them he is ready to drag away the carcass. In spite of formal announcement of the
death of the donkey of cast system, his willingness to do so is very ironic. It is a
mocking comment on the present social structure where the cast barriers are still very
strong and rigid in both the lower and the upper casts, in spite of its formal
demolition. The narrator of the English version even tells it openly, ‘its my job after
all’ which mocks at the so called metaphorical death of the cast system.
5. The donkey is so rotten that even its skin has become useless. The narrator in
Marathi version uses the rhetorical question, ‘kay karaycha yacha chamda?’ The
narrator of the English version uses a tag question, ‘you don’t want it’s good for
nothing skin, do you?’ The narrator further intends to burn the carcass of the donkey.
Due to the inherent directness of expression, Marathi version could employ a line
‘jara matches taka ikda’ suitable for the persistent rhythm of the poem. The
politeness markers used in the speech of the narrator keep the reader reminding of the
feudal hierarchical relation between master and slave. The speaker of the English
version politely asks, ‘got a match someone? Thanks. Much obliged’. The apt use of a
dialogue makes the reader visualize this dramatic sequence of asking for matches and
somebody provides it.
6. To play drum and such like musical instruments was considered the job of low cast
people in the traditional Hindu society. They possibly succumb to the habits like
drinking and get intoxicated till they loose control over themselves. The narrator asks
to bring the drummer and suggests looking for him in all the gutters. Low cast
dunkards lying on the roads, pavements and at dirty places like the gutters is a
common picture in both the rural and urban locations of India. A foreign reader may
found this phenomenon rather strange and may not be able to imagine the said
7.‘Kuthay tasha wajiwnara’, ‘tumi ghaslet warti wata’, ‘mi matchis lawato swata’,
are the phrases from the colloquial Marathi used by rural and non-elite lower caste
people. Throughout the Marathi version, the narrator’s speech is full with
colloquialism. English version fails to provide adequate colloquial substitute.
8. The narrator asks the drummer to let himself loose on the cattle drum as soon as the
donkey is set on the fire. This last part of Marathi poem is very much narrative while
the English version is completely dialogic and hence dramatic.
Marathi version:
English version:
Dewalat gelo hoto madhe
i’d gone to the temple the other day
Titha vitthal kahi disena
but vitthala was nowhere in sight
Rakhmai shejari
there was just an empty brick
nusti vith
next to rukhmini
Mi mhanalo rhayala
I shrugged and said
Rakhmai tar Rakhmai
Vitthala rakhmai what’s the difference
Kunachya tari payawar
i bowed down to her
doka thewayacha
and placed my head at her feet
Payawar thewalela
doka kadhun ghetla
withdrawing it almost immediately
aplyalach pudha maga
you never know when
lagel mhanun
you’ll need your head again
do you
ani jata jata sahaj
Rakhmaila mhanalo
but as I was leaving
Vitthu kutha gela
i asked rakhmai casually
Disat nahi
and where’s vitthoo
don’t see him around
Rakhmai mhanali
Kutha gela mhanje
she was surprised
Ubha nahi ka mazya
vitthoo she said
ujwya angala
isn’t he standing here at this one spot
Mi parat pahyala
all my life she said
Khatri karun ghyayala
doing nothing more than looking
Ani mhanalo titha
in front of my nose
kunihi nahi
Mhante nakasamor
and besides
Baghnyat janma gela
i don’t see too well
Bajucha mala jara
from the corners
Kamich dista
of my eyes
Dagdasarkhi zali
and O my neck how stiff it has become
man agdi dharli bagh
see? Like a stone
Ikadchi tikda
i can move it neither
jara hot nahi
this way nor that
Kadhi yeto kadhi jato
Kutha jato kay karto
i never know about vitthoo
Mala kahi kahi
where he goes
mahit nahi
when he goes or
Khandyala khanda bhidwun
what he’s up to, nothing
Nehami bajula asel vitthu
Mhanun mi pan bawalat
i had thought vitthu
Ubhi rahile
would always be standing by my side
that’s why I’v been standing here
Ashadhi kartikila
like a fool
Itke lok yetat nehami
Mala kadhich kasa kuni
all those people
Sangitla nahi
who came here in droves
during ashadh and kartik
Aaj ekdamach mala
how come they never told me
Bhetayala dhaun ala
Atthawis yugancha
all at once
a million years of loneliness
comes surging over me
The Marathi title ‘Wamangi’ etymologically takes its roots to Sanskrit
language where ‘wam’ means left and ‘anga’ means body. Myth logically it is
believed that the female element and the male element give birth to the whole
universe, hence the duality is denied and they are viewed as one. The wives are
considered as the left halves of their husbands’ .The pair of Vitthla and Rukhmai is
cited as an instance of such wholeness. Often in almost all the temples Vithoba and
Rukhmai are shown standing next to each other. So it is a deeply rooted belief that if
there is Vithoba, there has to be Rukhmai next to him. Even in the prayer songs, (Aarti
as it is called in Marathi) Rukhmai is refered as ‘wamangi’. So a very precise title in
Marathi brings to the surface the whole associated context. ‘The Left Half’, in
English, is an attempt to paraphrase the original term in Marathi, hence prone to
elaboration and verbosity. The foreign reader of the English version will probably
miss the sharing of context.
The title appears close to the phrase, ‘the better half’
used in English for wife of a person. This association is enough to make one guess
that it must be something about the female spouse.
Structure: The stanza pattern of Marathi version is close to the traditional form of
abhanga. The first two lines of the quartet stanzas are little longer than the last two.
Lines are end stopped. A thought\statement ends with the close of stanza. The poem
in Marathi contains twelve such quartets. The English version contains thirteen such
quartets but all the lines in the stanza are of unequal length. Both the versions make
no use of punctuations.
Theme: The poem is implicitly a feminist comment on the patriarchal society where
male find and enjoy each and every kind of freedom and females follow and believe
in them blindly. The narrator of the poem proves an instrument to awaken the
consciousness of Rakhmai who had been stands next to him for ages thinking that
Vitthu must have always been there standing by her side. The speaker-narrator brings
a complete metamorphosis in the attitude of Rakhmai. The Poet uses the couple of
Vitthal and Rakhmai as the metaphor of husband and wife relationship in the mass
Indian society. The story of Vitthal and Rakhmai ironically suggests the tradition of
disbelief, betrayal and frailty on the part of men which dates back to the times of the
Gods and the Goddesses. The creator himself had anyhow sawn the seeds of
inequality among Men and Women.
1: The narrator visits the temple and finds Vithoba nowhere around. He decides,
finally to bow down to the feet of Rukhmai. The repetitive structure of the second
stanza of the Marathi original produces a graphic visual effect of narrator in
conversation with himself. The substitute stanza in English could not retain the
rhythmic and graphic effect in a line:
‘…Vitthal Rakhmai what the difference?’
2: The casual approach of the narrator towards God is apparent in both the versions
where he does not find much difference between Vithoba and Rakhmai. He just needs
somebody to bow down merely as a routine activity instead of genuine devotion. The
English version marks this causality by not using the capital letters both for Vitthal
and Rakhmai, though they are names of God and Goddess.
3: Rukhmini is surprised to know that Vitthu is not standing next to her. She regrets
for taking him too much for granted. In the seventh stanza of Marathi version, she
complains that she had been standing there looking ahead of her nose and as a result
she could not see much through the corners of her eyes. This part is divided into two
separate stanzas in English. Among these two stanzas the first one talks of her looking
ahead of her nose and it adds two extra lines which are not the part of the Marathi
original. The following stanza talks of her weak eye-sight and disability of looking
through the corners of her eyes which in the original version is part of the seventh
4. It is first time ever Rukhmai becomes conscious of the whereabouts of Vitthu and
complains to the narrator, that she never knew where he went and what he did. The
Marathi version makes effective use of parallelism, which is an important feature of
the colloquial speech, in lines, ‘kadhi yeto kadhi jato\kuthe jato kay karto’. The
repetition of the structure, interrogative pronoun +verb brings unique rhythm to the
version. The English version as well creates rhythmical balance through the same
kind of structure, with addition of a third person singular pronoun. The structure
becomes, interrogative+ third person pronoun + verb, for e. g. ‘where he goes\when
he goes\what he is up to….’
5. Both the versions successfully employ the colloquial day today uses for poetic
expression. In both the versions, the narrator takes the stand of a story-teller and
frequently quotes from his conversation with Rukhmai. The discourse waves between
free direct to free indirect speeches throughout.
6. In spite of the culture-specificity of the context, the awakening of feminine
principle in God against the domination and betrayal by the mail counterpart appeals
equally to the readers of both the versions. By sharing the culture specific content the
reader of Marathi version perceives the mocking effect, persistent throughout the
poem. The reader of the English version instead finds the idea amusing.
7: Personification of the idol of the Vithoba and Rukhmai, the melting of physical
reality into perceived reality provides strong surreal face to both the versions.
Marathi version:
English version:
Mosmapramana mal kadhi santri kadhi kairi
When I was a young boy I used to go
Bapasanga asayachi roj kulabyala feri
to downtown Colaba with my father every day,
Sundays Raviwars all included,
Raviwar aso nahitarEitwar
selling fruits mangoes oranges whatever
Hapus pyri ordun zala awas tayar
depending on the season.
That’s where my bhajan singing voice comes from
Doghant milun hotya don changlya chapla
Bapachya mapachya donhi toch ghalayacha apla
from crying hapus! Paayriii! in the streets.
Mazya payamadhe jenva baghawa tenva wegla
Aj kay dhul tar udya mhane chikhall
I’ll have you picture the two of us,
father and son,
walking in and out of of each other’s shadows
Tudawatat baplek ekmekanchi sawli
endlessly down those kickback streets.
Mazya dokywar ek bharipaiki topli
He a simple man with a simple pagdi on his head,
I with a huge and rather ostentatious basket on
Tyachya dokyawar sada sadhich ek pagdi
Tasa maza bap hota ekdam sadha gadi
practically staggering under its weight,
he with a pair of down to earth chappals on his
Ekda asech gelo thet military area
Baba mhanla chal Balwant ata maga firuya
I with calluses dust or mud boots on mine,
depending on my whim
Mal gela nahi pan lai zala usher
the time of year or the dictates of fashion.
Tewadhyat ale tethe pach gore sojir
Once our walk had taken us further than
Mazya toplicha jara wadhla hota wajan
we usually went, way past the military barrier, when
Mi mhatla bara zala he ale itke jan
my father stopped and said Let’s call it a day,
we haven’t sold a thing today but it’s getting late.
Topli khali zali warchyawar sagli
We were about turn around and head for home
Paise dilyashiwaych nighun geli mandali
when we saw five soldiers , Brits, coming our
Bharlelya toplipeksha rikamicha wajan
O good, I thought, customers, but I was wrong.
Mansala kadhi kadhi hot nahi sahan
They surrounded me, I could feel
The basket emptying rapidly over my head,
Bara ambesudha hote changlyapaiki hapus
and the next minute they were gone.
Bhadaknar nahi tar kay karil bapus
This was fine by me except for the fact
that they hadn’t bothered to pay.
Eka wakilashi hoti bapachi walkhan
I had not realized it until then
Mhanun bhetla mothya militari sahebacha kan
that the weight of the empty basket
can be much more than a full one sometimes.
Ghati mansala tasa ervi sapadla nasta
And they had been good mangoes too,
Thet sahebachya kanapotar janara rasata
handpicked Alphonsoes all, of the finest quality,
that’s what really pissed my father off.
Tyala sangitli gosta kay zala anyay
As it happened, my father knew a lawyer, a biggie,
Mhanto tya sojirana tumi walkhal kay
which helped, haw else would hicks like us have got
within earshot of the army brass?
Bap sadha to mhanala he distwe kathin
The big man in Khaki heard my father out and said
Mi mhanalo mala pakki ahe athwan
Will you be able to identify the men?
My father, simple man that he was, looked
Militari hapisar ata to sudha hot agora
doubtful and said
Pan manus chanla mala mhanla pora
That may be difficult.
O but I can, I said, hastily butting in.
Saglyannach mi karto ubhe tuzyasamor
The big man, a Brit of course,
Tu mala sang tyatle kon kon chor
Looked approvingly at me and said Good boy
I’ll line them all up in front of you then.
Gore lok distat mala saglech sarkhe
You just point them out to me, the thieving
Tarihi marli mya feri dole karun barke
Sare gore sare eka padachech hapus
White men you know they all look the same to me
Mhantat balwant mala nakos kapus
but all the same I walked past them
with a straight face and narrowed eyes,
Dolyannich dabun mi ekekala pahyala
Saglech distat tayar zalele khayala
examining each eat and fruity face closely.
They all appeared about equally ripe for the knife
and each one seemed to say to me Please,
Bedhadak mi niwadle tyatlech pach
Balwant, spare me,
Mhanalo ha ha ha ha ani ha ki to nave hach
but finally it had to be done. I picked
five of them at random you may say,
Saglech jag khote paha karun vichar
pointing a finger as I said Him
Titha khare chor mi tari kuthun annar
and him and him and him and uh… was it him or
Pach khishatun ale baba rupaye pannas
Let me see now. No doubt about it, it was him.
Pan ferichya dhandyt ha wasulicha lai taras
A random choice I agree and no not fair at all
but have a heart.
How was a poor boy like me to produce
five real thieves
in a world that’s getting more unreal by the day?
We got our money back didn’t we?
Fifty bucks from five different pockets.
Recovering money, I tell you,
is the biggest headache in this line of business.
Title: The Marathi title ‘Kulabyachi Feri’ underlines the place Colaba where the narrator
visits. Though the purpose is not explicitly given, as the reader starts reading the poem,
he gets to know that it is a visit for selling fruits. The English title on the other hand is
more explicit. Along with the place Colaba, it clearly states the purpose in words, ‘crying
mangoes’. The reader, before he starts reading the poem is well informed about the place
and purpose of the visit the narrator makes.
Structure: The Marathi version contains twenty four closed couplets. Two lines in couplet
are of approximately equal length. The lines are end stopped and each first line of the
couplet rhymes with the second one. The English version is composed in free verse. Lines
are unrhymed and do not follow regulations of length. It includes five verse paragraphs,
each containing unequal number of lines. The Marathi version strictly avoids the use of
punctuations while the English version employs them at good proportion. Both the
versions use first person narrative for expression, Balwantbua being the protagonist and
narrator. Both the versions use colloquial day- to-day language. In Marathi it is
specifically a dialect used by the uneducated rustic folks. In Marathi colloquial expression
finely fitted into the regularities of prosody. The English version does not show any
concerns with such kind of regularities.
Theme: Both the versions provide a live description of a walk taken to Colaba for selling
mangoes by the narrator Balwantbua as a boy with his father. The poem focuses on the
extremely shrewd nature, cunning and worldly wisdom of the protagonist even as a boy.
He finds his own ways of dealing with the already corrupt, deceptive and untruthful
world, turns the table upon the white soldiers who deceived him, not really bothering
about the principles.
1: The whole poem in English at large is a recreation of the original poem in English.
Hence the parameters of exact translation and a close line to line comparison of both
the versions will not be fruitful. The attempt had been made to find out equivalents
suitable dialect (rustic\ uneducated layman’s day to day speech) in order to maintain
the worldliness depicted in the original poem. The English version doesn’t closely
follow the sequence in which things get told in the original version. These changes
create a semantic logic, suitable for the stylistic possibilities of English language. The
English version opens with the line: ‘When I was a young boy I used to go\ to
downtown Colaba with my father every day’. It is a very traditional way of how the
story gets told. The reason why Balwant visited to Colaba with his father is told in
next two lines. Marathi version foregrounds the reason through the device of fronted
topic keeping the fact of visit at the background. It goes: ‘Mosmapramana mal kadhi
santri kadhi kairi\ Bapasanga asayachi roj colabyala feri’. Such a foregrounding
results in a sudden cognition of both the act and its cause. The first verse paragraph of
English version is the combination of the first and second couplet of Marathi at
random sequence. It further informs the reader that his bhajan singing voice has
incidentally come from crying mangoes, which is not the part of the Marathi original.
2: The second verse paragraph in English again opens with a formal statement: ‘I’ll
have you picture of the two of us,\ father and son’ and then furthers to tell the details
of their usual visit to Colaba. He pictures the characters of both the father and the son.
Father always wears a pagdi on the head and chapples in his feet while the boy is
barefeet with a heavy basket of fruits on his head. The Marathi version creates a
suitable satiric and mocking comprehension of the relationship. The English version,
stylistically more plain, provides de facto picture of the boy in words, ‘a huge rather
ostentatious basket on mine,\practically staggering under its weight.’ A mocking
effect to some extent is achieved through the lines: ‘calluses dust or mud boots on
mine,\ depending on my whim\ the time of year or the dictates of fashion’ The third to
sixth couplets of Marathi original, that make the second verse paragraph of English
provide an implicit comment on the poor economy of the family and lack of care and
love on the part of the father. The narrative voice keeps silence on the issue but the
eye of the camera makes it explicit.
3: The real happening- the real story gets told in seventh to twelfth couplets of
Marathi version, which forms the third verse paragraph of the English version. The
directness of narrative in Marathi appeals the reader from the very beginning. The
narrator says: ‘Ekda asech gelo thet military area\baba mhanla chal Balwant ata
maga firu’. The couplet like all others is marked for its unusual and highly
experimental use of rhyme in the pair, ‘area\firuya’. The narrative of English version
is taken a back to story-telling convention for making apt background. It begins:
‘Once our walk had taken us further than\we usually went, way past the military
barrier’. Taking this proper story telling position, he tells the story of how five British
soldiers came and emptied the basket of mangoes and went away not bothering to
pay. To see them arrive, he had felt happy because he was tired of carrying the heavy
basket. But his happiness proved temporary and felt the weight of an empty basket
more than the full one. As against the precision of the Marathi version, the English
version marks elaboration, adding few lines which are not the part of the Marathi
original. The passage of six couplets in the original version gets elaborated in
eighteen lines in English translation.
4: The remaining poem of twelve couplets in Marathi and two verse paragraphs in
English is an account of how Balwant’s father took help of the lawyer who had
acquaintance with the head military officer, and recovered money from five British
soldiers. The whole business could take place only because of the worldly wisdom of
Balwant who accepted the challenge to recognize the criminal soldiers, though all
British looked equal to his sight. The English translation tells the story in a faithful
manner without missing any semantic detail but with many stylistic variations.
Naturally, though faithful rendering of the original, the aesthetic effect it creates on
the mind of the readers differs in quality and quantity.
5: The syntax of Marathi version throughout is very deviant and experimental as
compared to the English version. Instead of the conventional syntax of s+o+v in
Marathi, it uses verb at the middle position in most of the lines. The lines end with
adjectives or the adjective phrases as per the requirement of the rhyme and rhythm.
The English version, at most places uses the conventional syntax of s+v+o..\The
strength of the English version lies in its consistent dialogic structure of the narrative.
It makes the reader visualize every situation in graphic manner.
IN 1921…)
Marathi version:
English version:
Wa govindbua tumhi keli ki kamal
Govindabua, you’ve got to be some kind of genius.
Abhangala dili tumhi bandchi chal
The way you tortured that innocent song
‘rup pahata’che khup zale hal hal
in the police commissioner’s office the other day,
Police commisionar chya hapisat parwa
I don’t think I’ll ever completely recover from
To ha Vitthala barawa to ha madhava barawa
The circus band treatment you gave it.
But then, like it says in the song:
Fekto Govindabua vilayati tan
That Vitthala is good, O that Madhava is good.
Vitthal Mundhechi lachakli ki man
The whole farce took place in front of Kelly Sahib.
Halwawi kashala itkya jorana
And who do you think was on the harmonium?
Ugichchy ugich mhanto wahawa
Appropriately enough, Atmaram the butcher.
To ha Vitthala barawa to ha Madhava barawa
The man should’ve been arrested on the spot.
Will no one even try to rescue that poor harmonium?
Keli sahebasamor he zala natak
But then, what does the song say;
Peti wajawato Atmaram khatik
That Vitthala is good, O that Madhava is good.
Aho tyala karayacha tithech atak
Nidan tya bicharya petila tari sodwa
Vitthala Munde’s got a crick in the neck.
To ha Vitthala barawa to ha Madhava barawa
Where was the need to nod his head
With such ecstactic approval?
Are Atmaram kay wajawato … mati?
Every time Govindabua unleashed a taan
Sapadli paypeti khatkachya hati
that can only be described as, well, European?
Ben ben karatat ekdam sur sati
But never mind. Like the song has it:
Ajunahi paha tyala fasawar chadhawa
That Vitthala is good, O that Madhava is good.
To ha Vitthala barawa to ha Madhava barawa
The man doesn’t know his treble from his base.
He really slaughtered the harmonium that day.
Wahawa Govindabua ha konta rag
Illegally, too; have you ever heard
Surabhowati firati khali war pudha maga
all the seven notes going ‘Ba…Ba…’ at the same
Saglech sur warjya tya ganyala lago aag
Tal rabracha ani rag yedzawa
It’s still not too late to hang him I say.
To ha Vitthala barawa to a Madhava barawa
But then, as the song would have it:
That Vitthala is good, O that Madhava is good.
Gana banda kara deto tumhala swarajya
Don’t tell me, Govindbua; let me guess;
Pancham eikun mhanato Pancham George
It’s a rubber taal and fuckall raag; right?
Sutli bharamasath mazya dadhimadhe khaj
To sing the way you do, round and about all notes,
Are kunitari tyachi dadhitari khajawa
Without hitting a single one even accidentally
To ha Vitthala barawa to ha Madhava barawa
has to be some kind of achievement.
But then, how does the song go:
Sahebane thopatli swathachya hatane path
That Vitthala is good that Madhava is good.
Mhanato udya ye mazya karkunala bhet
Stop that song, says George the fifth, suing for peace.
Tula deto chanpaiki ek certificate
Stop the song, and you can have your bloody swaraj.
Ata Govindabuwala nahi kunachich parva
Your prickly fifth is making my beard itch like mad.
To ha Vitthala barawa to ha Madhava barawa
Will someone be good enough
to scratch his majesty’s beard please?
Muthimadhe pakadli sahebachi surali
Don’t you know what the song says:
Jyala tyala dakhwato sahi tyachi kurali
That Vitthala is good, O that Madhava is good.
Zali hairan mandali Mandawi te Warali
Now that he has a certificate to prove it,
Bhale bhale bhale mhane Balawantabua
The man has really started believing in all that crap
To ha Vitthala Barawa to ha Madhava barawa.
about him being a genius and god knows what else.
And is ever ready to flash it before everyone he meets.
And why not? The song says:
That Vitthala is good, O that Madhava is good.
By now they’ve begun to dread the sight of Govindbua
from Mandwi to Warali,
and the sight of the short and curly signature
of Sir Patrick Kelly’
Well well well well well well well, says Balwantbua.
But the song says it all:
That Vitthala is good, O that Madhava is good.
Title: The title of both the versions is unusually lengthy. In Marathi version it takes two
lines including nine words in all. In English it is lengthier than that. It contains six lines,
including forty one words in all. It adds some more information (e. g. the designation of
the police officer, the name, the author and language of the song etc.)
Structure: The Marathi version has got eight stanzas of five lines each. The poem has an
intricate rhyme scheme in which first three lines of the stanza rhyme with each other and
the concluding lines rhyme in couplet. \wa:\ is the common ending sound in each
concluding couplet. The lines include five to six lines with thirteen to fifteen sound units.
The English version has nine stanzas of seven lines each. The lines are unrhymed and of
uneven length. The length of the lines ranges from four to twelve words. The Marathi
version doesn’t use any punctuation marks while the English version uses them at all
necessary places.
Theme: As stated in the title the poem is the highly prejudiced account of the
experimental song (bhajan) in the office of Patrick Kelly.
1: Use of the colloquial language of the day today speech is characteristic of both the
versions like many other poems from the collection of ‘Chirimiri’. The dialect chosen
for Marathi version is the one used by uneducated warkaries. The range of usages,
creative productivity of words in their varied forms, the natural rhythmic and rhyming
qualities, intrinsic humour, due to irony and understatement etc are the features that
exhibit the stylistic richness and innate gaiety of the rustic dialect. Though colloquial,
the language of English version is very much close to standard language of urban
uses. The dialogic nature helps the reader to imagine actual sequence of events
happened in a graphic manner. The language of English version lacks the rich display
of varied stylistic features.
2: The shared solemnity of Bhajan, its religious and ethical nature and the treatment
given to it (abhangala dili bandchi chal) creates subtle humor. The humor created in
English so much depends on exaggerated linguistic uses than any shared knowledge
of the context.
3: The syntax of Marathi version does not follow the conventional S+V+O pattern.
None of the sentences of the poem end with the verb. In order to suit the rhythm of
Marathi language and the poem in itself, the lines end with adjectives, nouns or any
other kind of modifiers. The regular pattern of such kind of deviations can be
observed throughout. Though deviated, due to the regular recurrence, the structures
become parallel to each other.
4: In the Marathi version, each stanza ends with a line of abhanga by dnyaneshwar:
‘To ha madhava barava, to ha vitthal barawa’. It is translated in English as: ‘That
vitthal is good, O that Madhava is good’. The word barawa in Marathi has an archaic
quality. It was mostly used by the poets of the ‘warkari’ cult of 13th and 14th century.
English substitute ‘good’ is a very routine word of day to day uses.
5: Because of the oral transmission of the ‘warkari’ saint literature for generations,
each and every Marathi speaker, literate or illiterate, is properly acquainted with these
lines by Jnaneshwar with its religious nature, the serious emotions expressed therein
etc. Naturally, to a reader of Marathi version who is closely associated with the
tradition, what appeals most is the mock heroic treatment given to a solemn abhanga.
Due to lack of the knowledge of Marathi culture and tradition, the non-Marathi
English reader remains ignorant of this aspect of the poem.
6: In the second line of second stanza of Marathi version (Vitthal mundechi lachakli ki
man), the author smartly plays on the word, ‘munde’. ‘Munde’ in Marathi means neck,
and so does the Marathi word ‘man’. Munde is used both as a surname and neck. A
funny composition of surname ‘munde’ with meaning neck and having crick in a
neck, becomes amusing. The reader of English version can only comprehend it as a
surname and hence will miss the funny part of it.
Mulbhut pinjaryat nar ani nari
A man and a woman in a radical cage
Mulbhut pinjrayat nar ani nari
Grope and get bruised in an animal light.
Pashvi prakashat chachpadtat theccalat.
They get their crumbs from amused spectators:
Pinjaryat taktat ekhadi bhakri
The spectacled leopard, the highbrow camel
Baghi shwapade. Uchabhru unta
And the high hilled deer.
Unch tachanchi mrugi wa chasmist chitta.
The unlearnt skin of the two, so dazzled
Amli prakashat diplelya doghanchi
In the narcotic light, it is blunt and smooth
Smritibhransh zaleli twachahe bothat ann
Like the fat palm of an infant cactus.
Gulgulit kowalya niwadunga – panjagat.
The two might declare harsh thorns and live
Kevilwane kate pukarun doghehi jagtil
As insensate as a castes, piteously bristled
Ya prakashas bochkarat, niwadung - nihsandnya.
And opposing the light
1: Structure: In Marathi version we have two stanzas with five lines each. The first
stanza contains three independent sentences with three full stops and the second stanza
contains two sentences with a comma and two full stops. English version contains two
stanzas with five and six lines each. The first stanza has two full stops and a colon for
two independent sentences. A use of colon in English version shows the semantic
relationship between the third and the fourth line. The second stanza contains six lines
with two full stops and three commas. In both the stanzas lines are unrhymed.
2: Verb system: Marathi version shows the tendency of deleting verbs. The first stanza
contains three sentences but there are only two apparent verbs. ‘Chachpadtat’ in the first
sentence and ‘taktat’ in the second. The verb in the third sentence is deleted and can only
be perceived in semantic context. The sentence goes: “Uchabhru unta uncha tachanchi
mrugi wa chasmist chitta.” The context helps us perceive the existence of verb ‘be’. At
purely syntactic level one has to apply the addition test of transformational grammar to
see the presence of the verb. Such a use of verb enriches the structural complexity of
Marathi version. In the second stanza the verb in the first sentence comes in a compound
form of noun + verb. (twachahe = twacca + ahe ) It is an attempt to delete an independent
existence of verb. Even the usual position of verb in Marathi syntax is final but ‘twchahe’
comes at the middle. Same is the case with the verbs in a first two sentences of the first
stanza. ‘chachpadtat’ and ‘taktat’ do not occur at the usual final position. Even ‘jagtil’ in
the last sentence of the poem occur at the middle position. The verbs by definition are
units in a statement that show ‘action’ or ‘activity’. General loss of activity in the human
world is one of the recurrent themes in Kolatkar. By moving the verbs from its usual final
position to the middle one the impact of activity is reduced and they grow passive or in
active, which suits the cited theme of the poem. For e. g. thechalat, diplelya, pukarun,
bochkarat are all adverbs having potential of acting as the independent verbs. Liberal use
of such adverbs diverts the attention of reader from main verbs, and reduces the ‘kinetic’
impact suggested thereby. The Marathi version thus makes a suggestive use of verbs
which is supportive to the central theme of the poem. If we shortlist the verbs and verb
phrases used in the English version, they are, grope and get bruised, get, is, declare, live
etc. In the first sentence, of the first stanza, ‘grope and get bruised’ comes in accord with
the syntactic order of English, i. e. S + V + O. The effect that the Marathi version causes
through suggestive adverbs is impossible to recreate in English because of the inherent
structure of this language. In the second sentence as well the syntactic order is not
deviated. In the second and the third sentence of the first stanza, Marathi version keeps
distinction between sentences by use of full stops. But English version makes use of
colon and conjoins the two sentences which results in the establishment of natural
syntactic relationship between the second and the third sentence. It brings simplicity and
clarity to discourse making it less poetic. On the other hand the separation of these
statements Marathi version maintains the rich ambiguity to the syntactic relations.
3: Adjectives and adjective Phrases: Adjectives and adjective phrases (epithets) used in
two versions convey different, sometimes opposite meanings at places. e. g. ‘radical cage’
for ‘mulbhut pinjara’, ‘animal light’ for ‘pashvi prakash’, ‘amused spectacles’ for ‘baghi
shwapade’ ,‘narcotic light’ for ‘amli prakash’ ,‘blont and smooth skin’ for ‘bothat
gulgulit twacha’, ‘harsh thorns’ for ‘kevilwane kate’ etc. These epithets are not translated
accurately on word for word basis. Hence, it is difficult to treat any of these versions as
translation in proper. They need to be accepted as free renderings or the independent
version. The comparison of two versions becomes contrastive in nature.
4: The sequence: The internal sequence of lines and sentences changes as they get
translated as a result of the basic difference between the syntactic structures of both the
languages. Even the lexical items change their sequence as they appear in other language
for e. g. a line “the spectacled leopard, the highbrow camel and the high hilled dear”
begins with the end in Marathi:
“Uchabhru unt, unch tachanchi mrugi wa chasmist chitta”.
5: Generation of new meanings of known words: Kolatkar might have composed two
versions side by side. (He agrees to have done so in some cases) Such a procedure of
composing generates new meanings of known words. For e.g. ‘Uchabhru’ in Marathi
means ‘elite’. English substitute used by Kolatkar is ‘high brow’ which has very different
meaning. ‘Bhru’ (bhrukuti in Sanskrit), a Sanskrit originated word means eyebrow in
Marathi. The English substitute used by Kolatkar takes us back to the etymological root
of the word ‘uchabhru’. Even high-brow reminds you of the similar sounding word
eye-brow. Thus in order to enjoy Kolatkar’s bilingual oeuvre in the true sense, a reader
has necessarily to be a bilingual.
6: The concluding lines in both the versions merely appear to be equal but they express
different meanings. The last sentence of English version has become pretty long which
takes three complete lines while the same message gets expressed in two lines in Marathi.
It goes:
“kevilwane kate pukarun doghehi jagtil
ya prakashas bochkarat nivadung nisandnya”
‘Kevilwane kate’ in Marathi means ‘harsh thrones’, which is its exact semantic opposite
.The phrase ‘nivadunga nisandnya’appears in English as ‘insensate as a cactus’. The
compact metaphor in Marathi becomes little explanatory simile.
7: Tense: Both the versions make use of simple present tense throughout the poem which
is suitable for expressing static nature of action and the frozen miserable situation (time).
In last line of Marathi version ‘kevilwane kate pukarun doghehi jagtil | ya prakashas
bochkarat, nivadunga ninishabda’ makes use of a plain future tense to express the future
of the caged man and woman. Instead of such plain future the English version uses the
hypothetical verb ‘might’: “The two might declare harsh thorns and live | as insensate
cactus, piteously bristled and opposing the light.” The Marathi future time verb ‘jagtil’
expresses some sort of certainty while hypothetical ‘might’ in English expresses
uncertainty about the future action.
8. Theme: ‘static nature of human word as against the activity of nonhuman things’ is
one of the often cited themes in Kolatkar. The poem is a white statement about the
acceptance of freedom as a value in modern human life. The ‘nar’ and ‘nari’ i. e. man
and woman are ‘caged’. The cage may not be the physical cage but the psychological
one caused due to inevitable human condition of contemporary time. The animals
(-human) world on the contrary is radically free and gets amused due to the caged
static condition of human beings. Lack of freedom and lack of action in human world
makes the senses blatant and loose all the sensory memory. The ‘narcotic light’ acts
as the enslaving element that cuts off each and every possibility of freedom.
In a Godforsaken hotel
Adgawachya Hotelatil
In a Godforsaken hotel
Adgavchya hotelatil
In a Godforsaken hotel
Marnashejarchi kholi
In a godforsaken town
Mazi mandatil kundali
Lizards will cast my horoscope
Bhintiwarlya pali
On the walls of a room
Adgavchya hotelatil
That’s next door to deaths.
Kudhi tamsi kholi
In a godforsaken hotel
Hastamaithun pahatil tithalya
In the godforsaken town
Kustik kopryatla koli
A spider will watch
Tithe mich mazi baghtoya wat
Me masturbate
Eka kholit mandun than
From the sneering corner
Dar ughadel apoap
Of a neurotic.
In a godforsaken hotel
In the godforsaken town
Mazi chakartach wahan
I keep myself waiting
Adgavchya hotelat
Behind the door
Eka okyabhukya kholit
That will open when my shoe
Mi lawanar ahe
Creaks in the corridor.
Mazya makdala kolit.
In a godforsaken hotel
In a godforsaken town
I mean to set
Fire to my ape
Between the four walls
Of a starved and lonely room.
Structure of the poem: English – In a structure of four six line stanzas, first two lines
occur in incremental repetition at the beginning of each stanza. Each stanza ends with a
full stop that forms an independent sentence of each stanza. The whole poem contains
four approximately equal length sentences. The lines are unrhymed.
Marathi: It contains four quartet stanzas. Repition of lines at the beginning of the stanza is
not regular one. Only one line, ‘adgawchya hotelatil’ gets repeated the beginning of each
stanza with exception of the third one. The lines of the Marathi version are even more
precise than the English version, where most of the lines contain two to five words. There
is a total absence of punctuation marks but each stanza contains a single verb phrase with
main verb, as its lexical unit as in ‘mandatil’, ‘pahil’, ‘ughadel’, ‘lawanar ahe’etc. These
verbs are markers of four independent sentences, just like the English version. One can
observe alternate rhyming i. e. alternate lines rhyme with each other for e.g. kholi-poli,
kholi-koli, than-vahan, kholit-kolit etc.
2: Music: Both the versions have got a certain element of music. In English the music is
caused due to the repetition of first two lines at the beginning of each stanza while in
Marathi it occurs mainly due to the alternative rhyming words in each stanza
3: Theme : The poem is composed in1954-55. It is first published in Marathi ‘Shabda’,
as a part of a sequence ‘Kalya Kavita’ (Black Poems). Marathi poem ‘Adgawachya
hotelatil’ is included in the first collection ‘Arun Kolatkarchya Kavita’ According to
Darshan Chabda12, the godforsaken hotel was in Nasik , where she and Kolatkar spend a
few days during the early unsettled months of their marriage. This was a period when
Kolatkar was fighting for acceptance of their marriage with his father. This was also a
period when Kolatkar had yet to settle in his carrier as an artist. The poem has strong
biographical touches. Regardless of this, like many other poems under the sequence of
‘Kalya Kavita’, the present poem covers as its central theme the conquering of the animal
world over the human one. Lizards casting his horoscope and spider watching him
masturbate are indicative of the dominance of the non human world. Inability to act and
to face the situation is another parallel theme. An utterly frustrated narrator has lost the
will to be alive and hence he “means to set fire to my ape\between the four walls.”
Loneliness, frustration, impotency, loss of ability to act further leads to the suicidal
attempt of the narrator.
4: Tense and verbs: The poet has thoroughly been successful in substituting very carefully
chosen, apt verbs and verb phrases that express exact time and aspects in both the
versions. There are four full-length sentences in English version, meaning four verb
phrases in a single stanza. They are, ‘will cast’, ‘will watch’, ‘keep me waiting’ and
‘mean to set fire’. The first two indicate clear future tense while the third and fourth are in
continuous form of the present tense indicating the foregoing action, yet to be completed.
In Marathi version the verb phrases are ‘mandatil’, ‘pahil’, ‘ughadel’and ‘lawanar ahe’.
Among these, first three are in future tense while the last one is in continuous form of
present tense.
5: The first two lines in the English version, ‘In the godforsaken hotel\ in the godforsaken
town’ get repeated at the beginning of each stanza. In Marathi version, a single line,
‘adgavchya hotelat’ gets repeated at the beginning of first second and fourth stanza. The
lines in English are lengthier as compared to Marathi. All stanzas in English contain six
lines each while the stanzas in Marathi include four lines each. The lines do not occur in
exactly same sequence in both the versions. for e. g. the line indicating the location of the
room, ‘that’s next door to the death’s’ comes at the end of the first stanza in English
while in Marathi it comes immediately after the opening line of first stanza. In English
the epithet godforsaken is used for both the hotel and the town but its substitute in
Marathi, ‘adgavchya’ qualifies only hotel.
6: In English version the sequence of lines other than those get repeated is different from
Marathi version. The ending clause ‘a room that’s next door to deaths’ comes
immediately after the first line in Marathi and we read:
“Adgavchya hotelatil
Maranashejarchi kholi”
Here the phrase ‘maranashejarchi kholi’ helps forming a complete clause, combining
earlier line and generates the rhythmic possibility: kholi-kundali-pali.
In the third stanza, ‘I keep myself waiting\behind the door’ becomes ‘tithe mich
mazi baghtoy wat\ Eka kholit mandun than’. These lines are not the exact translations of
each other. The English lines we do not come across the assertive tone suggested by those
in Marathi. Similarly, in the last stanza, ‘I mean to set \fire to my ape\between the four
walls\of a starved lonely room’, becomes ‘Eka okyabhukya kholit\mi lawanar ahe\ mazya
makdala kolit’. The order of lines is completely reverse. The total essence of last two
lines is concentrated in ‘eka okybhukya kholit’ which keeps no need of the verbal
translation of, ‘between the four walls’.
English version:
Marathi version:
Of an origin moot as cancer’s
A terribly nominal horse. He trod
Behadda nammatra ghodaa.
Like a rumor of a raid.
Tycha ugam ani vikas gudh
Though his hoof - told tale rang frank as bread
Hadamansane matishi droha patkarlela.
The narrative dexterity of his rhyming hooves
Tyachya khoddaudichya valandar vanvyala
Of the clever Hans variety
Veg ekadya hallyachya afawecha.
Alarmed, as a spate of counterfeit currency
Tyachya ovibadha tapanche
Does. And startled
Khankhanit bol
For the first time out of their customary torpor,
Bhakartukdyaitake dhaldhalit.
Mountains-the outdated immortals, the ageing
Pan vilin pashanyuganche jakhad rajerajwade
Stone age majesties-moved, to migrate.
(tyanchya myanatach amaratwa ganjlele)
And the clop clop coins on the way, by him
Nakli nanyanchya dahashadwadi sulsulatane
Lavished, were left untouched
Dongar hadarale arthawyavasthesarkhe
Pahun tyachya yamkya tapanche kathankaushalya
And innocent looking like an explosive cigarette.
Paramparagat nidretun uthale
Sinhasan sodun paraganda zale.
Sphotak cigarettepramane niragas disnari
Nani matra tashich padun rahili
Ghodyanchya tapani udhalleli.
1: Structure: English poem is divided into four stanzas, first two with four lines each
and the last two with three lines each. Lines in each stanza are run on. It makes use of
unusual punctuation marks. It totally contains six commas five full stops and dashes
at two places. Lines are fragmented hence the punctuation marks do not help in
making sense of lines. Both the poems are independent compositions on the same
subject. Only occasionally do we find the resemblance in certain lines. Right from the
title the two poems show distinction. The title of the Marathi poem is one word title
‘Ghoda’ meaning horse. While in English First line of the poem ‘Of an origin Moot
as cancer’ is used as a title. The division of lines into stanza patterns is absent from
the Marathi version. These poems can not even be called versions of the same poem,
for in every sense except few semantic associations they radically differ from each
other. The Marathi poem has two parts, first contains sixteen lines and the second,
contains only three lines. It makes minimum use of punctuations, with six full stops.
Fragmented lines and unorthodox use of punctuations bring rich complexity,
characteristic of modernist discourse.
2: Theme: As Manohar Oak, a contemporary Marathi poet had stated13, the theme of
the poem is creativity, the power of inspiration, the horse is the metaphor of
inspiration which is nominal, i.e. spatially micro element, but has no end, absolutely
infinite, in temporal sense .Its beginning is unknown and mysterious. The horse is
revolutionary. It revolts against the establishment in the world of creativity which is
static and hence stale and saturated. The horse comes with rapid force and intends to
change the existing creative world drastically in order to give it as concrete a voice as
a completely domestic and realistic item like bread. The poet expresses the poet’s
attitude towards the bygone generation of poets in words, ‘outdated immortals, and
the ageing stone age majesties who have already moved to migrate’. They have lost
their creative capabilities and become stereotypes. The appearance of horse shakes
them completely, alarms them as the counterfeit currency does to the economy of the
nation. All the clop clop coins lavished by the horse left untouched as innocent as the
explosive cigarette. Though both the poems handle the common single theme, there is
no exact word to word semantic substitution of the context. Each poem handles the
theme in its own way. They show their uniqueness in terms of the length of lines, use
of phrases and clauses, use of punctuations, sequence of lines etc.
3: Tense: Both the versions show a tendency towards deleting verbs. Despite such
tendency English poem uses verbs like trod, rang, alarmed, startled, moved lavished,
and were left. Most of the verbs in Marathi poem can not be perceived unless we
apply to them the addition test of transformational grammar. For e.g.
1. Behadda nammatra ghoda (ahe)
2. Tyacha ugam ani vikas gudh cancersarkha (ahe).
3. Tyachya khoddaudichya vanvyala weg ekadya hallyachya afawecha (ahe)
4. Tyachya ovibadha tapanche khankhanit bol bhakartukdyitke dhaldhalit (ahet).
Such an attempt had not been possible in English after the initial line due to its
inherent structure. The above lines of Marathi poem are artistically coined in
parallelism with the occurrence of invariant items at the initial position of each line
i.e. (a….) structure which more specifically is the characteristic of anaphora. English
poem lacks such a highly artistic anaphoric construction.
4: The close comparison (line to line) of the Marathi and English poem will show
how they are independent poems with the single theme, rather than the versions of a
single poem. As had already been mentioned the distinction starts from the title itself.
The title of Marathi poem is ‘Ghoda’ while of the English poem ‘Of an origin Moot
as Cancer’s’. The title line itself is a first line of English poem while Marathi poem
starts with the line, ‘behadda nammatra ghoda’. What had been said in first line of
English poem appears in the second stanza of Marathi poem, ‘Tyacha ugam ani vikas
gudha cancersarkha (Of an origin Moot as cancers). The first line of Marathi poem
becomes the second line of English poem, ‘a terribly nominal horse (behadda
nammatra ghoda).In English last two lines of first stanza are : ‘like rumour of a raid \
though his hoof - told tale rang frank as a bread.’ In Marathi the line ‘ tachya
hadamansane matishi droha patkaralela’ immediately follows instead and then
comes the line, ‘Tyachya khoddaudichya valandar vanvyala veg ekadya halyachya
afawecha \ tyachya ovibadha tapanche \ khankhanit bol \ bhakartukdyaitake
dhaldhlit.’ Almost takes five lines to express the content that had been expressed in
two bare lines of the English poem.
The second stanza in English starts with the line ‘the narrative dexterity of his
rhyming hooves \ of the Clever Hans variety \ Alarmed as a spate of counterfeit
currency \ Does.\ And startled.’ The Marathi poem adds two different lines, absent
from English, ‘Pan vilin pashanyuganche jakhad rajerajwade \ tyanchya myanatach
amaratwa ganjalele, meaning ‘the kings and priences of the stone age in whose
scythe immortality has rotten’. Comparison is impossible since these lines are not
available in English version. These lines in Marathi remind us of the princely states of
Indian history that had been merged in India after independence. The line ‘narrative
dexterity of rhyming hooves’ finds expression in words, ‘pahun tyachya yamakya
tapanche kathankaushlya’, but occurs in different sequence than English. The last two
lines of the English stanza, ‘Alarmed as a spate of counterfeit currency \Does. And
startled.’ become, ‘Nakli nanyanchya dahashadwadi sulsulatane’ and comes after the
description of old king and their times. The line ‘Of the clever hans variety’ finds no
expression in Marathi.
In the place of the third stanza of English poem, “For the first time out of their
arthavyawasthesarkhe \ pahun tyachya yamakya tapanche kathankaushalya \
sinhasan sodun paraganda zale.’ The reference of ‘narrative dexterity of his rhyming
hooves’ had already occurred in the second stanza of English poem. The description
of the kings etc. is shortened to a single line of English, ‘Mountains-the outdated
immortals, the ageing stone age majesties’ takes the whole of the second stanza of
seven lines in Marathi poem. But this single line becomes ambiguous due to the
occurrence of ‘mountains’ at the beginning, which generates a question that who
exactly moves to migrate, the mountains or the outdated immortals or both or whether
the mountain functions as an adjective of age-old immortals? Coming to the last
stanza, English poem says:
‘And the clop clop coins on the way, by him \
Lavished, were left untouched \
And innocent looking like an explosive cigarette.’
In Marathi these lines come in reverse order, beginning with the reference of the
explosive cigarette, ending with lavished by horse hooves. In English poem description
depends on the back pointed reference of the horse, from the first stanza, because there is
no reference of horse hooves in the last stanza of the poem.
5: Stylistically, both the poems are rich with their own features. English poem makes
effective use of fragmentary lines. They are broken at unusual places which create
multiple waves of meaning and one has to move forward to backward reference for
making sense. For instance, in the second and third line of first stanza:
“A terribly nominal horse. He trod
Like a rumor of raid”
Or the last two lines of the second stanza:
“Alarmed, as a spate of counterfeit currency
Does. and startled.”
Or even the last stanza:
“And clop clop coins on the way by him
Lavished, were left untouched
And innocent looking like an explosive cigarette.”
At all these places, the unusual breaking of lines and unorthodox sequence of words in
sentences are the dominant features.
Its counterpart in Marathi uses the words suggesting multiple meanings. It is
characterized by the absolutely concrete, graphic and visual imagery. ‘Gudh ugam ani
vikas cancersarkha’, ‘hadamansane matishi droha kelela’,’valandar vanawa’, ‘ovibadha
tapa’, ‘bhakartukdyasarkhe dhaldhlit bol’, ‘jakhad rajerajwade’, ‘nakli nani’, ‘dongar
hadarle arthavyvasthesarkhe’, ‘yamkya tapa’, ‘sphotak cigarette’ etc.are the phrases,
most of them being adjective phrases, which enable the reader to concretely visualize the
picture of things they suggest. A word like ‘khoddaud’, used for the habit of the horse by
altering the original initial sound \gh\ but this deliberate phonic change reminds us of
‘ghoddaud’, which is substitute for speed of the horse.
“The pluriform world we know speaks multilaterally but very often it is
received and understood in a uniform manner that is crafted by the
dominant language. Once translation theory instills 'loss' at the very heart
of language and moreover insists that each language is a translation into
and within itself then it becomes possible to appreciate and respond
honestly to the hetrovolences of the world and its many words. Such an
understanding of the cultural politics of translation, as a matter of fact, is
part of larger thesis that argues that the colonial modern condition itself is
an effect of an uneven incomplete and an insufficiently multilateral
The present discussion attempts a comparative study of Marathi and English
versions of a poem ‘Sarpa Satra’ by Arun Kolatkar. Kolatkar calls the English version of
the poem as a separate poem and not the translation.15 Present study is an attempt to find
out reasons why the poem should not be called a translation? What are the factors that
invite the attention of reader to view it as an independent poem? What are the
comparative linguistic (Semantic, Syntactic and phonological) features of each version of
the poem. It is also an attempt to find out whether a shared knowledge of one's
mytho-historical background adds to the depth of meaning of a particular poem.
Structure of the poem:
The apparent structure of both the versions is similar one. The poem is divided into three
a. The first part opens with a monologue by Janamejaya who proclaims his plan of
revenge by demolishing the whole species of snakes for one killed his father Parikshita.
He announces the plan of 'Sarpa Satra' in order to fulfill his vicious will. Total number of
stanzas in Marathi is twenty two, while in English it is nineteen.
b. The second part of the poem opens with Jaratkaru speaking to her son Aastika. The
title of second part is merely 'JARATKARU' in Marathi while as it is ‘Jaratkaru speaks to
her son Aastika’ in English. This second part has two sub divisions in English and three
in Marathi.
c. In the third part the voice behind the whole drama appears telling the happenings after
the yajnya is over. The title of this part in Marathi is ‘avabhritsnan’ and ‘The Ritual
Bath’ in English.
In both the versions a consistent pattern of three line stanzas in free verse is followed. It
uses a first person narrative throughout.
Janamejaya, son of late Parikshita opens the poem by telling his plan of revenge
of his father’s death who died of snakebite, by removing the whole race of nagas’ (snake
people) from the surface of the earth. He even talks of arranging ‘Sarpa Satra’, a snake
sacrifice for the purpose. Its narration in Marathi is quiet leisurely. He expresses himself
in such a way that any common man, in his angry mood will do. He does not follow any
constrains suited to the king of some country. The narrator fully enjoys his story telling
stance. English version on the contrary is more compact and to the point. The sequence of
stanzas as it appears in both the version is very different. In Marathi version, the reason
why Janamejaya’s father died is delayed purposely. The syntax of this version creates
suspense in the mind of a reader for a while. It goes:
‘Maza Bap Kasa Mela
Mala bilkul mahit navata kahi
Kalpanach navati iteke divas
Mi far lahan hoto a tenva,
Pan eka sapane marla mhane tyala
Muddam dukh dharun.’
The first stanza, talks of the fact that he didn't know how his father died. But as
he had known the reason recently, it is placed in the second stanza. Thus, there is a
division of reader's attention through syntax:
1. The thing that Janamejaya did not know the reason of his father's death for long time.
2. He had known the reason recently that he died of snakebite when he was too small.
In English version of the poem, the reason of his father's death is disclosed in the opening
stanza itself:
‘It was a scheming snake, I' m told,
With a grudge against my great grandfather
that killed my father
Killed him with venom
That now gained in potency
through years of patient waiting.’
In English version, Janamejaya's does not know the cause of his father's death and his
knowing the fact lately comes in stanza 14 to 17. The stanza which describes, Takshaka
distributed sweets after death of Parikshita comes in parenthesis in English while Marathi
version doesn't use any parenthesis for the same. Janamejaya after initiating the subject
further explains his plan of vengeance Marathi version takes four bare lines for it.
‘Pan ata Janamejayashi gath ahe mhanava
Kadravanna tya eka krityabaddal
Kiti mothi kimmat majavi lagnaray aplyala
Yachi ajun kalpana nahi tyanna’
In spite of being so short it makes use of casual, colloquial style of ordinary speech which
is unsuitable for a king / prince or the hero of an epic. It is a deliberate deviation from the
original high frowned style of epic. By using the colloquial language of contemporary
people, the poet makes the problem of Janamejaya the problem of every contemporary
person. What is so swift, precise and effective in Marathi takes an elaborate and a very
blatant expression in English:
‘My vengeance will be swift and terrible
I will not rest
Until I've exterminated them all
They will discover
That no hole is deep enough
To hide from Janamejaya.’
After Janamejaya explains his plan of revenge, the first part closes and in the second
Jaratkaru appears speaking to her son Aastika. She tells the complete history before
'Sarpa Satra' to her son. The title given to this part in Marathi is simply ‘Jaratkaru’. It is
only when the reader actually reads the poem comes to know that she is talking to her son
Aastika. A reader is left to himself to find out to whom Jaratkaru speaks and what her
relationship to Aastika is. But the title of the English version is ‘Jaratkaru speaks to her
son Aastika’. Due to self explanatory title, a reader feels comfortable with all necessary
information at hand that helps interpret the poem.
Both the versions of this part are characterized by the use of subtle irony and
humorous expression. But the proportion at which each of these features found their
expression is different. The tone of Marathi version is highly colloquial and relaxed while
in English it is still formal, in spite of its being ironic and conversational. The comparison
of few opening stanzas will make the point clear. In Marathi we read:
“Sap chawala | Ni maza bap mela| Kenva
Tar mhane mi far lahan hoto tenva| Mala athawat pan nahi
Pan tyacha badla|Mhanun jagatlya yachayawat saglya sapancha
Sarsakat sanhar karayacha|Asa tharawalaya me
Ekalahi jiwant sodayacha nahi|Asa jar kunitari mhanaya lagla
Kunitari Mhanje arthat|Manusach ekhada
Karan Manus ha ek prani sodla|Tar ha asla vichar ankhi kunachya dokyat
Pan asa jar kuni mhanaya lagla|Tar kay karu aapan
Tyawar kay pratikriya hoil apli|Ha maskari kartoy apli
Asach vatel suruvatila bahutek|Kunalahi:
Mag jamel aapla|De tali
Mazya aaila pan ek mungi chawali hoti|Mhanun disel ti mungi
chirdayacha vrat ghetlaya mi 7|..Prithwi mungihin hoiparyant te hotach
Such an elaborate gesture full with irony, satire and humor! It takes an
opportunity to place a good humored comment on the general human temperament. She
(Jaratkaru) makes fun of Janamejaya's crazy plan of revenge. If satire is the literary art of
diminishing a subject by making it ridiculous and evoking towards it attitudes of
amusement, indignation and scorn, the passage is purely satiric. 16 It not only derides but
questions the sanity of king like Janamejaya. When the same passage occurs in English
the use of irony and satire is less pungent. Even the hilarious expression in Marathi
becomes much serious. We read:
‘What would your reaction be?
If someone were to come up to you and say,
My father died of snakebite
When? Oh, I was too young then
I don’t even remember
But I'm going to avenge his death by killing
Every single snake that lives
By wiping out the whole species
From the face of the earth
Or tell him about your own plan
To cleanse the earth of all ants
because one bit your mum.’
Thus, the English version achieves precision, makes use of rhetoric strategies,
satire, humor etc. but at limited extent. The elaboration, colloquial usages and subtle
irony bring healthy sportiveness in Marathi version. English version in spite of all these
devices maintains a solemn serious tone with few exceptions. Janamejaya announces the
'Sarpasatra' and the preparation for it gets started. Different people are allotted different
responsibilities. All his friends and counselors support Janamejaya for his act regardless
of its consequences. Marathi version elaborates many Vedic rituals, names of rishis, roles
played by them during the yajnya etc. It is full with specific Vedic jargon with words like
hota, udgata, ardhvayu, sthapati ritwij etc. The description regarding it is completely
deleted form English Version. There are many stanzas in Marathi whose semantic
substitutes are dropped from English version for e.g. the stanza like:
Chanabhargav hota hotoya mhane
Ani Jaimini udgata
Acha?Ani ardhwayu?Pingal asa eiklaya mi”
is completely deleted from English version. Even in English, there are certain parts which
are specific to English version and they do not have any substitute in Marathi. For e.g. a
stanza in which Lohitaksha advices:
‘That Saturn in arterism
Of uttarphalguni does not
lead well for the project’
Or even a stanza which talks of the magnitude of Vyasa's epic:
‘I mean 2400 verses,
Lord have merci what it needs
Is good editor’
The whole part does not find any place in Marathi. The sequence in
which the semantic substitutes of each stanza occur is changed to suit the rhythmic
possibilities of each language at places, Marathi Version uses carefully selected diction in
which words borrowed from Sanskrit are in abundance. But at places he deliberately
breaks this solemnity by using foreign words which are part of contemporary
conversation. He also uses certain words and phrases of a layman's speech of modern
time. They juxtapose the past and present and the time boundary disappears. What is true
of the past is true of this time also. The whimsical and inhuman decisions of the rulers
like Janamejaya destructed the masses in the past and the same has been happening in
present time. Thus, the poem transcends the temporal conditions and comments on the
conditions of contemporary human situation. We state a few stanzas of this type:
" Yadnyamandapacha contract kunala milnar?
Hach ek jikdatikda
deshbhar, nakyanakyavar, gavogav,
samanya lokanchya
charchecha vishay houn basto".
" Udya samja ekhadya'
Randukarala '
Aplya pilachi munja karayachi asel'
tari kahitari shasradhar
Nakki Shodun kadhatil he lok'
No problem".
"Kharach ahe te pan pratkasha
apli aali Nagawanshachi ahe ha vichar
to aplya earrerchya
Add yevu det nahi . etc."
In a dramatic structure of a poem, such a deliberate break in solemnity of diction helps
achieve what Brectch calls alienation effect. It doesn't let the reader forget that they are
listening to dramatic character which is just an illusion. After killing Parikshita,
Takshaka visits Jaratkaru and boasts about his bravery and Jaratkaru expresses her
indignation and disapproval on what he had done. In English her disapproval limits
merely to asking him why he did not take revenge on Arjuna and why did he wait for his
grandson to grow up, she asks:
‘Why did you wait?
For his grandson to grow up
To give him a taste of your terrible poison
Instead of Arjuna
Don’t you know?
That true revenge accepts no substitute’.
Marathi version just doesn't end with that. It gives a prolonged list of when, where and
how revenge can be taken according to the Holy Scriptures. It goes:
‘Dukh Dharne|He pavitra kartavya ahe pratyek nagacha
Nagdharma ahe to| Pan jyana divachala asel
Tyachyavarach dukh dharta yeto| Vatel tyachyavar nahi.
Yachi tula athavan karun dyayachi pali |Mazyavar yavi
Yachya sarkhe durdiva nahi Takshaka.|Vatel tyala chavala tar nag
Aani veda kutra| Yat farak kay rahila mag
Yadnyat eak vel pistpashu chalel,|Shunashep chalel,
Pan dukhat pryayi purusha chalat nahi|Ekavar dharalela dukh
Tyachya mulachya, natawachya kinwa |Ankhi kunachya tari navawar
Transfer nahi karata yet|Dukh : ekagrah:
He pahilecha sutra ahe|Kal dnatachya dukh sutratala
Ani dukhe vyabhichra: nisshiddha:|He dusara
Nishiddha eiwaji |Akshamya:
asa path bhed adhalto kutha kutha.|Ekachya gunhyasathi
Hajaroncha sarasakat hurada karana|Kitapat kshamya ahe kinva nahi
Yabaddal matra kaldanta kahich mhanat nahi|Asa kadhi koni karel
He tyachya swapnatahi ala nasanar bahutek|Hi sarvaswi navin kalpana
Janmejaya sarakhya|Ekhadya manasalacha suchu shakate’
Jaratkaru further goes on describing the actual 'Sarpa Satra', a snake
sacrifice organized by Janamejaya as a part of revenge on Takshaka for he killed his
father. Marathi version splits the part in a new section but English poem is continuation
of earlier part. While describing the atmosphere of 'SarpaSatra' special Vedic jargon from
Sanskrit is brought into use. It uses the words like hota, udgata samagan, adhidevan,
som, dashapavitra, yap, rashana, shamitsa, pasha, alabhan, havirbhag, pashushrapni,
ardhvayu, ritvij, yag etc. which obviously have no substitute in English, for they are
specific to vedic culture. In Marathi, they help creating proper setting for yajnja. English
version doesn't create any effort to create such a setting nor does it use such specified
jargon. The shared knowledge of the yajnya procedure creates many more layers of
meanings in Marathi while the reader of English version remains deprived of them.
Janamejaya makes a misuse of Agni for the sake of revenge during SarpaSatra.
Even Gods had not been invited for this sacrifice. Sequentially the fact that Gods had not
been invited for yajnya comes much earlier in English version and it then talks of the
dishonor of Agni and the whole institution of yajnya. In Marathi, we read of the misuse of
Agni and deliberate degeneration of yajnya at the earlier part and Gods not being invited
comes as one of the signs of the overall dishonor. During the SarpaSatra, snake after
snake is being dragged to put in to the fire. The smell of snake flesh is pervaded in the
atmosphere of Takshila. Jaratkaru makes a very mocking reference of the same:
‘Soon will start thinking of fresh air |As something unindian, alien|And antinational
Lines in Marathi are not so sharply mocking. She simply says:
‘Ani aplya Rastriya|Paryawarnacha| Ek bhag houn baslay’
The description of the snake flesh is very elaborate in Marathi:
‘Ani naganchya jalnarya mansacha|Tarpentinemadhe
Purya taltana yava tasa Kahisa |haluhalu deshbhar pasarto Ahe’
The olfactory imagery which makes the reader to smell the burning flesh is scarcely
present in English. It is merely reduced to verbal description. In Marathi there are at list
five stanzas which describe how people are busy in discussing the number of snakes
being killed by far and express happiness over the fact that they are humans and not
shakes. English version glides over to the part where Jaratkaru says that people forget
one thing that the earth after all rests on a hood of snake called Shesha. She expresses her
proud that Shesha is her respected brother to whom she sends Rakhi every year. The
‘Rakhi’ in English becomes ‘Bhaubij’ in Marathi. ‘Rakhi’ and ‘Bhaubij’ are the cultural
signs of brother-sister relationship. ‘Bhaubij’ of course is exclusively Marathi while
Rakhi has its historical tradition in other regional cultures as well. Jaratkaru is worried
about the future of the world. If Shesha gets the slightest idea of what's happening under
name of 'Sarpa Satra' he will give a toss to his head in anger and then there will be the
end of everything. This part of Jaratkaru’s speech makes use of code switching from
English to Hindi:
‘Khatam| That’s what I'm really
Worried about| And once that happens| Then what?’ .
Such a code switching is absent from Marathi version which uses colloquial
expression in order to maintain the sportive, hilarious tone. The rhetorical style in
Marathi leaves an everlasting impact of its own.
'prithwichach adhar gelyaalvar |To ni:shesh zalyawar'
Kasla domblacha rajya karnar ahes |Ani kuthachya dheklawar
Te tari kalu de baba |Ase vicharayala pahijel ahe konitari
Swatahala prithipati mhanun ghenarya|Ya Parikshitachya porala,
Ya majalelya bharatkulotpanna bailala’
In the final part, the voice behind the drama appears to narrate the happenings
afte the snake sacrifice. The Marathi version depicts these happenings in a very swift
manner spending some eighteen stanzas. English version consumes about twenty four
stanzas for the same. Certain stanzas in English are merely elaborative in manner. A very
precise expression in Marathi risks verbosity when it appears in English for e.g. the
phrase 'Ritwik Ani sadasya', containing three words becomes 'officiating priests honored
guests and Vedic wizards and other intellectual supporters of the show' consist almost a
complete stanza and single line.
Further when we read in the poem:
‘Yadynamadapatil torana |Bhandikundi, khamb, vita,|Milel te lutun
|Bajarbunge Brahman |Tupacha chikhal tudavat|Apaplya ghari jatat’ .
For these two stanzas, in English we read:
'Bands of brahmins' |hangers on
and assorted free loaders |strip the place
of everything that isn't nailed down| and make off.
with whatever they can lay| their hands on.
sacrificial vessels; furniture, deer skin bricks'.
In spite of such elaboration in three stanzas, the phrase 'tupacha chikhal tudwit' finds no
place in English version. At places, the poet makes few additions in Marathi and we read:
'Satra band padatat
Ani lokana itar vishay shodhave lagatat
Karamanukisathi' .
The same single stanza gets elaborated in two more and we read:
‘When these things come to an end| People find
Other subjects to talk about |Than just
The latest episode of the Mahabharata |And the daily statistics of death:
Rediscover simpler pleasures| Fly kites,
Collect wild flowers make love| Life seems
To return to normal |But do not be deceived.
Though sooner or later| These celebrations of hatred too,
Come to an end’.
After spending four complete stanzas, he enters to the description of fire produced for
destruction of Bhrigis. Same addition of two stanzas has been made while talking of the
fire that Parashar produced for the massacre of Rakshasas which adds nothing significant
to the content of the poem. But throughout the poem the poet does not confirm to exact
translation and at places there are new additions and permutations. And hence the poem
in English invites the reader’s attention as a separate poem.The stylistic study of
Kolatkar’s self translations induces one to raise certain theoretical questions about
translation in general as well as the whole species of Bilingual Writing. Hence it is
necessary to make mention of these issues. They not necessarily occur as the problems
but also provide certain insights on framing the sensibility of Kolatkar as a bilingual poet.
Let’s discuss some of these theoretical issues:
Translatability depends on the culture specificity of a work. More culture bound
a work less the translatability. Kolatkar has translated few of his small surreal pieces like
Irani, The Hag, Alphabet, Seventeen lions congealed in a carpet etc. These poems, as has
been noted by Vilas Sarang, surreal in nature and surrealism being part of western poetic
tradition are more successful in translation. The poet could recreate almost every
possibility of meaning in target language. There are comparatively less number of losses
in these translations. At places the poet even adds more ambiguity, more possibilities of
meaning in a target language version of these poems. But a poem like ‘SarpaSatra,’
because of its histro-mythic content, its length and culture specificity that occurs due to
vedic terminology, an exact translation of it becomes a difficult task. Hence, instead of
attempting an accurate translation, the poet creates a new version with approximately
same basic meaning. And as Vilas Sarang has stated, in case of self translations, the
author should not be blamed for his taking liberty and not adhering to original.17. It's
making changes invite it's evaluation as an independent poem. Any criticism over not
adhering to original is irrelevant. Self translation is not at all a neglected species. At list
two Nobel Prize winner writers, Samuel Beckett and Ravindranath Tagore were self
translators. Even Russian writer Vladimir Nabokov often translated his works from
Russian into English. In case of Beckett translation was a chance to revise and correct
(Brain Michel as quoted by Sarang) 18. Thus, the self translation is just a part of author's
total creative process.
Dr. Bhalchandra Nemade in his essay on bilingual poetry19 makes a stand that
total quantity of meaning of Marathi version of Irani has much more than translated
version. He claims that the complexity and richness of meaning in Marathi is not / can not
be brought successfully in foreign medium. He further accuses Kolatkar of being populist
and blames him for writing poetry in English. In spite of the culture specificity of the
content, there remains the basic meaning (one which is same in two or more paraphrases
of poem) as against the surface meaning (one which is decided by linguistic medium, the
form of the poem). If deep meaning is translated, the medium of target language may add
its specific surface meaning to a poem. There is no point in calling Kolatkar as populist
for he didn’t give any of his later English collections (Kala Ghoda, 'Sarpa Satra') to any of
the international publishing houses in spite of their repeated requests.Who is an intended
reader of Kolatkar’s English poems? Even this is one of the allegations by Namade that
he writes for foreign reader. In a changing linguistic scene, English is neither a foreign
language nor does he write for the foreign reader. English is a single language that
connects the different parts of India from South to North. Even in cities, there are a
considerable number of people whose mother tongue is Marathi but they don’t read in
Marathi. It is this group which may be an expected reader and not necessarily the foreign
(British, White, European) reader in colonial – imperial conditions. Besides, to express
the message in another language may also be a creative need of the author as it had been
case of Beckett. For Beckett as it had been cited, translation was a chance to correct and
to revise. Even in Kolatkar’s poetic sensibility, he assumes complete objectivity and
absence of emotions and sentiments as an aesthetic strategy. Foreign language as a
medium helps de- familiarize local emotion. So Kolatkar’s writing in English is his
attempt to achieve objectivity.
A still another allegation put forth by Namade is, ‘none of the characteristics of
Marathi poems by Kolatkar are found prominent in his English poems’. Viewing the total
poetic canvas of Kolatkar’s poetry, regardless of language, we find that even his poems in
Bhijaki Wahi, Chirimiri, as compared to his first collection ‘Arun Kolatkarchya Kavita’
are very different in character. In English the poems in 'Jejuri' are much different in
character from poems in 'Kala Ghoda'. But we even surprisingly observe that his poems in
'Jejuri' and that of 'Chirimiri' are much closer in character.
Now I put the last point which is regarding the criticism of translated literature
in general. How to evaluate translated literature? Which value system and aesthetic
principles should we apply for it, one that of source language or that of a target language?
Due to lack of a concrete paradigm regarding the issue, a bilingual student has to rely on
comparative study of a work, in finding out what is more and what is less.
1: Sarang Vilas:2002, ‘Atmanuwad’, ‘Aksharancha Shram Kela’, Mauj pub. Mumbai.
2: Ibid.
3: Nemade B. V.:1985, ‘Arun Kolatkar and Bilingual Poetry, Readings in Commonwealth
Literature’, Amur et. al. ed. Sterling Pub. Delhi.
4: Guha Ramchandra, Rise and Fall of Bilingual Intellectual, Political and Economical
Weekly, Aug. 2006, vol. XLIV No.33.
5: Mohanti Nilanjan: Limits of Creativity and Translator’s Responsibility, ‘Translation
Today’ vol.2, No. 2, Oct 2005.
7: Maharotra A. K. 2009, Introduction, Boat Ride and Other Poems, Prass pub. Mumbai.
8: Ibid.
9: Ibid.
10: Ibid.
11: Ibid.
12: Ibid.
13: Oak Manohar, ‘Arun Kolatkarchya Kavitanchya Nimittane’, in Patankar1998.
14: Radhakrishna R. Notes on Translatability in an Uneven World: Translation Today,
vol. II Oct. 2005, CIIL 2005.
15: Kimbahune R.S. talking to author.
16: Abrams M. H. 1978, Glossory of Literary Terms, MacMillan India Ltd. Delhi.
17: Sarang Vilas, 2000, ibid.
18: Michael Brion, Art in Microcosm: the manuscript of Becket’s ‘Come and Go’, quoted
by Sarang 2000, ibid.
19: Nemade B. V. 1985,ibid.