A Bend in the Corner:
T.S. Chandra Mouli’s Commendable Translation
of Enugu Narsimha Reddy’s Moola Malupu
Enugu Narsimha Reddy. A Bend in the Corner. Trans. T. S. Chandra Mouli. New Delhi: Indialog Publication Pvt. Ltd., 2020. Pp. 120. Price: 250. ISBN: 81-8443-064-7.
A Bend in the Corner is a collection of 62 poems, translated into English by T.S. Chandra Mouli from Enugu Narsimha Reddy’s Telugu poetry collection Moola Malupu that offers a thematic variety covering from contemporary scenario to relationship with land and people via realistic and philosophical musings, ingrained with subtle irony, sarcasm and figures.
Though Reddy is an administrator by profession, the poet in him guides him to share his views, feelings and experiences through the medium of poetry which always offers him “relief and recharges his batteries” and becomes not only “a safety valve” but also “a great motivating force” in his life.
Translation has proved to be a thread for binding the people as they can know, in the words of Dora Sales, “literary productions written in languages that unfortunately do not have wide opportunities for dissemination in this global world” (7).Translating from the source language to target language is a difficult task. The task becomes genuine and authentic if the translator who has command over both the languages and himself is a creative author. T.S. Chandra Mouli qualifies this parameter as he is himself a poet and critic. Praising him, the poet Enugu Narsimha Reddy writes: “I feel happy because my poetry inspired him to translate my book Moola Malupu into English. When I have gone through the English version of my poetry I am astonished to note that the translation carried the original fragrance intact” (5).
While translating poetry from source language to target language, Chittranjan Mishra recommends that the translator should be a poet because “When a poet undertakes the responsibility of translation the loss that poetry undergoes through translation is minimal” (9). Here the translator is Mouli who is himself an Indian English poet and has “an intimacy with the diction and constituents of the target language” (9). While translating, Mouli has attempted to preserve the very meaning of the text and when he finds any cultural specific term, he leaves it untranslated.
Now, come to the world of Enugu Narsimha Reddy’s A Bend in the Corner. The poet in Narsimha Reddy whose faith is that a “poet / stands for the people” (36) believes in placing “lamp / in the niche in wall” before “dusk gets denser” (50). He knows that it is difficult to be an administrator who has to become “a machine in motion” (96) and being an administrator, he himself has walked “along the path” where “there are thorns / not flowers” and “pelting stones too” (98). He is not satisfied with the assessment process of the work of a man. He chooses a path but this path becomes invisible “in bend in corner” (114) but he knows that he has to span the bend if he has to continue his journey. How poetic and symbolic he is in the presentation of the contemporary scenario which is dotted with the weeds of deceits, frauds, crimes and demonic activities!
Present day weeds
appear in diverse forms,
surround as print media,
while praising movement here
create invisible obstacles,
to decimate sons of soil
lurk like jackals,
to lead astray pester as monkeys,
turning roguish winds
damage fence of the field
attempt to hurl sparks of fire (117)
The weeds grow in abundance and make the lives of true human beings painful. The poet’s heart cries when he finds that even offices and educational institutions are not destroying the weeds, rather nurturing them and have got mixed with them like “water in milk” (118).
The poet Enugu Narsimha Reddy has poured on the white sheet what he feels but while doing so, he has also justified what he has written in his poems.
Poetry has to be sculpted
that lasts through ages
word orders have to be cast
that are memorable lifelong! (44)
The poet has made a good use of figures of speech like simile (wrecks of memories / that slipped like axle of cartwheel), metaphor (Fear is a consummate conjuror), alliteration (cubs camped currying favour) and personification (City salutes Nature / bowing with modesty) in A Bend in the Corner. Fusion of simile and alliteration (like a shimmering stone / I shine in scorching sun) and of metaphor and personification (Memento is a tinkling bell / time lovingly jingles while looking back) add the beauty. Striking Phrases (“dip in societal sea”, “realms of memories” , “curtains of illusion”), administrative words (“meeting in Collector’s office”, “Tahsildar’s office, “revenue department), use of soft sarcasm (Here except human beings / everything appears crystal clear), pieces of advice (practice what one preaches), Telugu words (Putti, Gunugu, Jamabandi, Kudumu, Mangalarathi, Nooru Varhaala Chettu and Mysamma), rivers, mythical characters and allusions (Lanka, Eklavya, Ganges, Godavari, Bhagirathas, Kakatiya, Viswakarma, Bhasmasura, Hanuman, Bhetal), and Telangana personalities (Joshua, Rajayya, Sidhareddy) demonstrate Enugu Narsimha Reddy’s knack of craftsmanship for making the poems memorable. Certainly this poetry collection reveals Reddy’s imaginative sensibility and his power of minute observation, the two ingredients which make him a sharing and caring poet.
In A Bend in the Corner, Enugu Narsimha Reddy communicates his experiences and feelings with the readers who, with the poet see the bend in the corner which makes path invisible but they span it with him while observing his rural painting, family pictures, Telangana personalities, nature portraits and contemporary scenery. T.S. Chandra Mouli has made the creative tour of Reddy’s Moola Malupu possible through its English translation in which, as he claims, “tried to remain invisible in the text as much as possible” (17). In brief, A Bend in the Corner, the bend attracts the poetry lovers who enter its world and find that its creator has attempted to maintain administrative balance of head and heart along with his poetic colours like figures, sarcasm, irony and humour with which he paints its world. Kudos to T.S. Chandra Mouli for placing Enugu Narsimha Reddy’s Moola Malupu on the global poetic pedestal as A Bend in the Corner (English translation) for the poetry lovers.