Dil Se: A Review

Review by Mohini Sharda


Dil Se
Genre: Poetry
Original Hindi Poet: Dr Veena Vij ‘Udit
Translator in English: Prof Seema Jain
Publisher: Sahitya Kalash Publication
Year of Publication: 2003
ISBN:     978-93-95677-62-2
No. of Pages:  119
Price: ₹ 300.00 INR

  Seema Jain’s translation of ‘Dil Se,’ a collection of selected poems by Dr. Veena Vij ‘Udit,’ merits and deserves serious critical attention. Translating poetry, be it from Hindi to English or any other language, is a challenging task. Life per se has a silent, inbuilt mosaic of complexities, intricacies and truths that vary from person to person and are diverse. Added to these are the problems of human relationships, personal dilemmas, conflicts and nagging feelings about filial blood bonds that grow, evolve or sometimes perish altogether. To give poetic expression to all such multiple intersecting hues of life in a target language requires great poetic effort. Seema Jain’s pen does not lag behind in this creative endeavour in her fourth book of translation. A poetic world that reflects these realities is likely to enchant and perturb, fascinate and make us ponder, in equal measures. To express such a world, a translator has to sift through multiple layers of meaning, find exact or near equivalents of cultural contexts and fathom the traces of metaphors embedded in the text. All these add to the area of difficulty, but Seema Jain negotiates this danger of untranslatability quite well.    

 Seem Jain’s words have their own self-governing beauty that enhances as these words get dressed in ink and lend profoundness to their meaning. While dealing with issues of contemporary relevance and importance like in ‘Blood Soaked Lake,’ that echoes with the moans and groans of the people of Kashmir valley or natural calamities like Covid-19 given voice to in ‘Natural Calamity’ or an advocacy for peace in the poem ‘Insurgency,’ her pen is clinically precise and reflects the pain of the disaster and the human cost involved.

  However, in poems on nature, she deftly and adroitly, with the dexterity of a skilled craftsman paints word-pictures through her language and accentuates the beauty inherent in the original poems.

 In ‘Onset of Spring’, we actually feel an exhilarating splash of liquid gold in:

  The rhythmic wind plays a dancing tune

  It flaunts its floating golden veil …

   The gentle sunlight flits through trees

    The yellow mustard seeds paint a golden hour

 

 The word-woven magic in ‘Crimson Hues of the Setting Sun’ and the unmistakable sensuous ring brought out in the following lines leaves us awestruck:

 

 If only you could witness

 How the dewdrops slipping from the petals touch 

 The green grass that beguiles itself

 With illusions of a long awaited embrace

 

The beautiful imagery in ‘Sunlight Peeps Through my Window’: “When the moon rays of memories descend upon casements of the heart,” testifies to her creative skills. Spontaneity is an outstanding quality of Seema Jain’s style and these poems go straight to the heart of the reader. There seems no conscious or deliberate effort to create an effect. Had it been so, it would have marred the musical flow of her translation.

 Veena Vij’s genius, as revealed in the book is essentially subjective, dealing with treasured emotions born out of everyday interaction of common individuals leading their humdrum existence. It appears she has dipped the pen in her own blood to give words to her own feelings and Seema Jain has beautifully translated the ebb and flow, the advancement and the receding of emotions through her fluency in the target and the source language.

 

The book is replete with poems vibrating to myriad emotions. For instance, in ‘Stream of Inner Thoughts,’ the carefree laughter of childhood knocking at the threshold of memories evokes a deep sense of nostalgia for childhood now gone forever.

 

‘Flimsy Bonds’ expresses a deep sense of agony over all flimsy bonds of relationship that

 Slowly nibble at us

 Like termite

 Corroding us

Mark how poignantly portrayed is the heart-wrenching cry of a mother for a loved one in a foreign land in the poem ‘Echo’

 

Out of the four shoulders carrying my corpse

One will be yours, now any faith fails to endorse.

My restless eyes will look for you in my last-hours. 

My motherhood will yearn to embrace you for my love shower

 

Or the deep longing for liberating death in ‘Adieu’

 

 Wrapped in the cloak of life

 The body is now tired

 And wants to bid adieu

 

Thus, there are multifold examples of varied emotions. And the reader transparently sees in them a true reflection of his/her own sentiments and sensations because Seema Jain’s well-chosen, well-placed words make the reader feel the writer’s emotions and intentions. In poems of love, expressing passion for the loved one, her words emerge as a guiding force to the feelings that lie submerged in the text’s layers or between the lines.

 

 The poem ‘Sweet Company’ reverberates with the deep yearning of the beloved for the lover in these lines:

   The turmoil of whose thoughts

   Goes on inside

    The hope of being one with him

    Tickles the entire being

 

 In ‘Soul Thirst’ the beautiful use of imagery suggests desolation and emotional sterility:

 

 The drowsy breeze gently touches the leaves

  But no spring comes to caress the tender buds …

 The Rain God kisses the dark face of clouds

  The lightning strikes, but no rain showers fall

  

In this poem Seema Jain successfully portrays the brokenness, the barrenness, the loss of vitality and physiological collapse of the modern word. ‘Your proximity’ with its rich wealth of imagery delineates a beloved’s pangs of heart.

 

So the impressive use of imagery in love poems enables the reader to gather various traces of love and the nuances of feelings scattered therein.

 While summing up, one can confidently assert that with the amount of thoughtful time invested in translation, Seema Jain has successfully brought out the passions and sensations in these poems as emphatically and empathetically, and as effectively and soulfully, and has captured the fragrance of the original poems.

***

 

Seema Jain is a bilingual poet, translator and editor. Ex-HoD English at KMV Jalandhar, she has authored, edited and translated fourteen books, contributed to about 100 anthologies, as also to the Stanford University Archives on Life in Quarantine, besides working on some projects and having published two books with the Sahitya Akademi. Her poems are widely published, translated, anthologized and recited. She is the recipient of many awards.

***

 

Veena Vij is a versatile personality who is an inspiring actor, author, poet and artist who has made significant contribution to the fields of acting, writing, and poetry. She has three poetry books, three storybooks and a book of memoirs to her credit. The Authors Guild of India adjudged her first storybook, Pighalti Shila, the best book of the year 2006. She has received many awards like Punjab Kala Sahitya Academy Award, Vidya Vachaspati Award, and Adha Jahan Award, to name a few. Her works have been published in magazines and e-magazines in India and abroad, and have been translated and published in Urdu and English. Her memoirs on her Face book page have elicited good reader engagement and were subsequently published as a book titled Chhut Put Afsaane. Dil Se is an English translation of her selected Hindi poems.

***

Prof. Mohini Sharda is Ex-Associate Professor and Head, English Department KMV Jalandhar. She has published and presented papers at national and international levels and compeered many national/international events and edited many books. She has been Director, Women’s Studies Centre, KMV, besides having been a member of Juvenile Justice Board, Punjab government. She has presented poems in online poetry meets and attended World Poetry Conference IV. Her poems are published in Vibrant Voices: An Anthology of 21st Century Indian Women Poets, (Sahitya Akademi publication) Mosaic of Poetic Musings: Contemporary Women Poets from India besides online international journals ESBB and Setu.


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