Translation: A Budding Writer’s Account

N. S. Murty

Telugu Fiction by Medico Shyam (Dr. Chirravoori Shyam)
Translated by N S Murty

“Sir! I have written a story. If you can spare some time…” 
I mumbled hesitatingly, walking up the steps on the verandah.
The renowned writer was idling in his easy chair.
“Why don’t you come tomorrow? If there are any corrections to be made…” he said abruptly ending his sentence.
I was irritated within, but what else can I do? 
“Okay sir,” I said politely and returned.
Why? Can’t he look at the draft now while he was idling in the chair? 
“Why don’t you come tomorrow?” 
How audacious! 
As if he had become an established writer already, for the handful of stories published out of the two dozen he wrote! 
Tut! One should never present his writing to others for evaluation. 
Even if one did, they should never ask for critical opinion.
It’s weird. I fail to stick to my own resolution. The moment I finish a piece of writing, I would be eager to show it to somebody seeking their opinion. I grow restless till I read it out to somebody … sometimes, even forcing them to hear me. 
Who knows? There could be some terrible mistakes which escaped my attention!
Medico Shyam
It would be easy for others to notice them instantly!
More so, if they were writers in their own right!
Next evening…
I read out the story and looked at him for his opinion.
He was listening to the story with his eyes closed all through and was nodding his head.
“You should stop imitating others and come out of their influence in your writing. I find shades of  both ‘Ravi Sastry ’ and ‘Puranam ’ all through your story. Short story is a short story. There is no room for poetry here. You should rid yourself of that fickleness. By the way, Mr. …., what is your name you mentioned? Writing a short story is not a sleight of hand or an exercise at gym. Don’t write about things that had happened remotely. At the same time, it should not be far from the truth. With all that, the story sounds like that I had read it before. Don’t mistake me. I don’t mean to dishearten you. To be honest, I was just like you when I started writing. I would rather advise you to revise the story completely.”
I was enraged to no mean extent.
But keeping my cool and civility, I got up and said, “Thank you, sir!”
“Nice to see you,” he said.
Useless fellow! 
What about Maupassant? O Henry? Did he ever think of Oscar Wilde? 
“I was like you when I started writing?”
How dared he compare my story with his first story! It was so awful!! 
Besides, this is not my first story.
These are the people known as ‘Armchair critics!’ perhaps.
I reached my room venting my anger against him and his comments.
Jagannadham was waiting for me.
He is a junior writer and a studious reader of my stories. He likes my stories. 
He treats me as his ‘Guru’ and even addresses me like that.
He always showed his scribblings to me without exception. Whatever corrections I suggested, he usually incorporated them faithfully.
“Hello, Jagannadham! What’s the matter?” I asked.
“Guruji! I have penned a new story and I wanted to seek your opinion,” he said hesitatingly.
“Can you come tomorrow? You will be passing by my house anyway. I am too tired today.” I said.
“I Understand.  But I am going out of town tomorrow and want to post this story in the Railway Mail Service today,” he said imploringly.
“Okay, then,” I condescended and asked him to read.
I am a senior writer among juniors, and junior among seniors. I had to my credit five short stories published in three or four magazines and received a few bucks in remuneration. Of course, that was not much- but enough for my pan and cigarettes.
Jagannadham began reading his story and I was listening to him with all ears, closing my eyes and nodding my head intermittently. 
The story was over. 
Jagannadham looked at me inquisitively. 
I prepared myself thoroughly about what to say, as I was listening to him. A writer of my standing should say something and that too,  in a grandiose manner. 
“Jagannadham! I don’t mean to snip your enthusiasm  and excitement with my opinion. But I must be honest when I express my opinion. The story is very primitive! What was the title you gave? Ten Paise? I have recently read a short story of the same title. I also remember a short story titled ‘An Ana (AN ANA)’ by Maupassant or somebody else. A short story should shock the reader. He should be proud to claim later that he had read it.  For that matter, one should read more and write less. Afterall, you started reading only recently and writing even more recently. You can write better in the coming days. But  for the present… . You should not copy the style and  phrases of other writers so blatantly. Do you thing it is a joke to write a short story?  Send it if you wish to. It is difficult to correct it. I will almost have to rewrite it in the name of correction. But you said you are leaving the city tomorrow…”.
“No problem, sir! I will post this as it is!” said Jagannadham, as his tongue went dry. 
His voice went dry. 


  1. Nice translation as if felt reading the original Telugu story. Senior writer among juniors and junior among seniors... good to read the phrase.

  2. Brilliant Translation by NS Murthy. I could say so, as I have read the original story in Telugu. I am sure, Jagannadham could publish the story without any corrections and took the mantle of senior writer.

  3. The translation of Shyam's story by NS Murthy was scintillating. Given the unique writing style of Shyam, it felt amazing to see Murthy capture so well in the translation, the idiom, flow and spark evident in the Telugu original - a treat indeed!

  4. Mukunda Ramarao, HyderabadJanuary 19, 2024 at 9:31 AM

    A story writer can understand another story writers work so well, and they can do justice if they try to translate the fellow story writers story, is very much evident in N.S.Murty translation. Although the story has different experiences to share, which is also the experiences of so many witers who have come up well in thrir journey, when they look back about the advices they have recieved when they were so sincerely looking for the feedbacks from the senior writers. . Nice story for any language, and equqlly nice translation which prompts for other translators to translate in their language. Congratulations to both Medico Shyam and N.S.Murty garu.

  5. The short story by Shyam brings out the age old conflict between an aspiring writer and a self proclaimed author.


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