A few years ago a friend of mine handed me a remarkable anthology of translated stories from India called Imaging the Other, edited by Sara Rai and G J V Prasad, filled with stories translated from Kannada, Urdu, Bangla, Oriya, Marathi, Hindi, Konkani, Asomiya, Tamil, as well as a few stories written in English. I find the language and imagery of these stories to be completely transfixing. Take this opening from the story, “The Dear Ones,” by Binapani Mohanty, originally published in Oriya in a journal called Jhankara.
He sat down on the mud-plastered veranda, and yanked his soiled
jeans up to his knees. It was slowly getting dark. Soon the trees would
filter the moonlight and splash it all over. There would be excitement
in the village – he had returned after a very long absence. The mango
trees were in bloom. Along the way he had noticed unripe mangoes,
the size of peanuts, on the branches.
I love these images of the mud-plastered veranda, mangoes the size of peanuts, moonlight splashed by the trees. They are achingly particular, coming from an intimate relationship with one place.
Though this collection is from 1999, Katha has continued its mission to publish translations of contemporary Indian literature. Katha, with their slogan “Translating Stories, Transforming Lives,” has been using story and storytelling for 22 years to link literature to literacy education. They have a catalogue of books for adults and children. Check out their adult catalogue here: