Thursday, June 11, 2009
Translation for Tamil short story 2
I don't like to translate my Tamil stories, for a good reason. I tried writing some English short stories at one point, long back, and they all came out stilted and artificial. I am fluent in the English language, but I seem to write stories better in Tamil, and articles better in English.
But a couple of people have asked for translations to the two stories in this blog. Here is a translation for the second story, linked here.
A very brief discussion on women's liberation
By, Ramiah Ariya
Raghu looked at his watch. His friends at work were visiting for the first time. He was excited about the visit.
Along with his wife, Prema, he had tried to find a movie to watch for the evening. They had succeeded in settling on a "family" movie finally. Still, it had an "item" number.
"When they arrive, you don't have to take the women in and discuss sarees and jewelry," said Raghu.
"Don't bother about what we discuss", said Prema.
"Why don't you discuss something useful?"
"Why? You think guys have an intellectual conversation?" asked Prema.
"There are so many subjects - the country is going to the dogs; society is corrupt. I like to talk about something useful", said Raghu.
"You only end up fighting when you discuss such topics", said Prema.
"No. We won't. We will manage an illuminating conversation, so even you will be interested", said Raghu.
After the movie was over, there was a brief silence. Raghu decided to initiate a meaningful, stimulating discussion.
"What do you think of women going to work, as they do in this movie?" he asked.
The men glared at him. The women looked at their husbands for a reply.
"I love watching Vadivelu getting beaten up", said Varun.
"I know..it never gets old", said Gandhi.
"Why don't you answer his question?" said Varun's wife.
Raghu repeated his question.
"Oh yeah...hmmmm...nothing wrong with it if they have talent", said Gandhi.
"I am sure you have lots of 'talent'.." said his wife.
"Historically, they usually say that the man is for work and the woman is meant to be at home.." said Gandhi.
"Who said that? Nobody said that...do you know the guy who said it?"
Gandhi said, "I am sure Varun knows that guy. Leave me alone".
Raghu wanted to steer the discussion to be more fruitful. He said, "So as long as the woman is talented, you are fine with it?"
"First of all why are you questioning me? Why don't you answer your own question? Is it right or wrong for women to work?"
Raghu decided this was a God-given opportunity to talk for the next half hour and showcase his deep intellect.
"According to the United Nations, women constitute fifty percent of the world's population. But they perform seventy five percent of the work"
"Who? My wife?" asked Varun
"No she doesn't"
"Let him speak", said Varun's wife.
"Alright, enough with the United Nations. How about your home?" asked Gandhi.
Prema said, "Exactly."
Raghu glared at her and said, "We should not talk about each other's homes. Statistics say that.."
Gandhi intercepted him and said, "Prema, why don't you tell us. Is Raghu supportive at home?"
"Friday evening he comes back from work and sits in front of the TV. He gets up again only on Monday morning".
Everyone laughed at this.
Gandhi said,"Yes, but what do you expect. He deals only with the United Nations.."
Raghu said, with growing irritation, "My point is, why can't women with talent work?"
"Just a second", said Gandhi's wife.
"Are you saying that women who stay at home are not talented?"
"I...I did not say that..."
"Or is it true that all of you guys who work are extremely talented?" she continued.
Raghu looked around for support.
"If you are so talented how come you don't have a car?"
The room went silent. Raghu desperately looked at Prema for help. She seemed to be laughing inside. He decided to deflect attention.
"No, I said that only because Varun said a man is meant for work"
"I did not say that...Gandhi said that".
Gandhi, cornered, said, without any reason, " I actually respect Kiran Bedi a lot".
Varun's wife said, "If we were all Kiran Bedis, you guys would not have a free run"
At this point, Prema interrupted. "Do you want to watch Friends?"
Raghu shot her an irritated look. Why did she always block his ideas from blossoming? They would start with Friends, move on to Lost and end up discussing sarees and jewelry. He had so many ideas on women's liberation. Even the women did not seem to be too interested in their own liberation.
"Shut up" he said, to Prema.
Then he turned to the others and said, "Now, would you like me to summarize all of the discussion points?"
"NO", they all yelled in chorus.
Raghu did not give up. He continued, "I wanted to cover another, very important angle of this interesting topic".
"I think we should leave", said Varun to Gandhi.
" No, hold on. As men, how can we help women achieve their objectives?"
Varun got up and said, "We will submit an essay tomorrow."
"But don't you think women suffer because of us?"
"They don't suffer as much as we do because of your speeches"
Varun's wife interceded and said, "Poor Varun does not make me suffer. He is nice"
"Did you hear that?" said Varun.
"In that case, why are we not ready to send women to work?"
Varun said, "You are lecturing all of us...why isn't Prema taking a job?"
"Oh..we should not discuss personal issues. Abstractly speaking, my hypothetical question is.."
"Prema..why don't you tell us. Why aren't you going to work?"
Raghu interrupted and said, "She attended an interview. She answered the questions wrong and they did not recruit. So, I said no after that."
"I did not answer anything wrong", said Prema.
Varun's wife said, "So, it was just one interview? Varun here attended ten different interviews and then finally we had to promise tonsuring his head for Venkatachalapathi. "
"Yes..tell that to everyone. Very mature" said Varun.
Raghu said, "No, it is not that way. I am just asking her to prepare well. If she attends interviews in all these companies and fails, I would lose my reputation."
"So you are not letting her go for the sake of your reputation?"
Raghu became confused. He said, "If there is a good opportunity, I will send her."
Gandhi's wife said, "Why do you keep saying you will 'send her'? If we get a degree after marriage, you say 'I let her go to school'. If we go to a job, 'I sent her for a job'. We can do things by ourselves."
"Ok..I will send her".
"Why are you repeating that?"
Gandhi said, "Come on Raghu. You cannot do this just because she failed a single interview. Don't keep her locked up at home".
Raghu looked around. Everyone was staring at him.
"I think it is time for watching Friends. Prema, can you switch on the tv?"
It does seem weird reading this in English. Let me know.