The Unadorned

My literary blog to keep track of my creative mood swings with poems n short stories, book reviews n humorous prose, travelogues n photography, reflections n translations, both in English n Hindi.

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I'm a peace-loving married Indian male on the right side of '50 with college-going children, and presently employed under government. Educationally I've a master's degree in History, and another in Computer Application. Besides, I've a post graduate diploma in Management. My published works are:- (1)"In Harness", ISBN 81-8157-183-5, a poetry collections and (2) "The Remix of Orchid", ISBN 978-81-7525-729-0, a short story collections with a foreword by Mr. Ruskin Bond, (3) "Virasat", ISBN 978-81-7525-982-9, again a short story collection but in Hindi, (4) "Ek Saal Baad," ISBN 978-81-906496-8-1, my second Story Collection in Hindi.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Brag 'n Ramble

Only recently I finished drafting and revising my third book, "Virasat" in Hindi, consisting of thirty short stories, all of them set in Indian post office, and its multicultural workforce. It has romance and ghosts, computers and docoits, accidents and rescues, conmen and astrologer…and the list is really exhaustive. During the last one-and-half year of slogging, I had always felt that I could write a snippet in my blog about how I felt writing a book Hindi. It is a language I have no formal learning of, and all my exposure to this has been by way of Bollywood movies and TV telecasts, my children's text book and newspaper headlines. Honestly, I have had no occasion to read a full-length book written in Hindi by any revered author. Not even "Wordiwala Goonda" that really brought the pulp revolution to Indian writing-publishing world in nineties! There could be a bit of bragging on my part while inditing this snippet, but then again, it would be difficult, nay impossible to avoid this. Otherwise, how on earth a topic like this could be developed without a pinch of bragging and rambling? Yes, while clambering across the avalanche of problems I used to think that I was doing something challenging, proving myself as competent and as creative as I had ever fancied about me.

Hindi is the official language of Indian federation and, of late, it has gained its respectability, even though the world considered India a country populated by people with high degree of proficiency in English. There are Booker Prize winners from India winning the laurels almost in regular intervals. This is what English language has brought them. Despite the spurt in this, Hindi has been rapidly gaining ground here. Want to see the proof? Okay, the proof is me and my forthcoming book, "Virasat".

Now that I have written books both in English and in Hindi, I can say this with confidence: Between English and Hindi, the latter is a difficult language to master. In a way it is always a herculean task to gain working efficiency in any language which is not the first language of the speaker. But then there are ways. Or else how are we getting Booker Prizes, not via translation but by originally writing in English?

Hindi demands accuracy unlike any other language; it is language with strict rules of gender and inflections, pluralizations and hyphenations, spellings and word formations. The voice changes from active to passive so very frequently that it appears as if one is not eating; he is being force fed. Funnily, the gender changes not as per the gender identity of the actor but in accordance with the object in the sentence. Examples are numerous, but then at least one can be funnily cited here. If somebody has eaten rice, then rice makes him a "He" and the same fellow is transformed into "She" if the object of eating is not rice but roti. Besides, like any other Indian language, Hindi has a plethora of conventions who is to be respectfully addressed and who is not to be. There are exceptions, too. Not knowing exceptions is as much a blunder as not knowing the rules themselves.

Hindi has its liberal sides too. English is really strict about tense transitions, whether it is resorted to in the middle of a sentence or inside a paragraph. The author is responsible and should be equipped with his answers why he should take a tense transition before actually choosing one. But Hindi is liberal: it is so liberal that one's writing is said to be properly reflecting the mood if one chooses to shift from present to past and past to future frequently. Literally it is encouraged.

Now I have a problem that demands a respectable solution. Those who have heard me speaking Hindi would surely consider me somebody really struggling to gain some proficiency, at least some proficiency, in speaking the language. They would never believe that such a person could write a full-length book in Hindi consisting of thirty short stories! And once when I actually read out a few from them to a friendly listener, I had an ominous question to face: 'Have you yourself written this story or got it written?' I don't know how I'd be able to give a reply to this that would be believable, if not convincing. My first attempt has been something like this: 'My dear friend, I even don't speak English properly. Then how could I write a book in English "The Remix of Orchid"? How was Mr. Ruskin Bond so impressed to give a heart-warming foreword for this book? And went to the extent of saying: "And I can say this to those who love books: your choice of reading a book on the Andamans should start right here. With "The Remix of Orchid" you will not be disappointed." '

Here, I remember an encouraging line without remembering the name of the speaker: 'Just do that…and forget'.

And now, to quote just one paragraph from the preface of the book:

घुमाते-घामते किसी और के बगीचे में घुस आया, फूल-पत्तियों का नज़ारा देखकर रुक गया, पेड़ों पर फल देखकर तोड़ने की कोशिश कीअब मालिक के सामने हिम्मत जुटाकर अपना दोष कबूल लेता हूँ, जो फल तोड़ लिया है, उसे मालिक के सामने प्रस्तुत करता हूँजी, हाँ । "विरासत" है वह फल और आप हैं उस बगीचे के मालिकआप हिन्दी जानते हैं, आप पाठक हैं, आपने इस किताब को देखकर नज़रंदाज़ नहीं किया, आपने और महत्वपूर्ण कार्यों को छोड़कर इसको पढ़ने में समय दिया--तो आप "विरासत" का मालिक नहीं तो और कौन ?

A. N. Nanda



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