Translations bring people from diverse backgrounds closer. New Education Policy has laid stress on availability of quality reading materials in various languages. Translation has a crucial role to play in this since people like to read best of literary works in their own language.
National Book Trust, India under Ministry of Education, Government of India has recently published English translation of renowned Punjabi writer Amrita Pritam’s 50 stories, entitled Selected Stories of Amrita Pritam. Amritbir Kaur is the translator.
While each of her stories in this collection is a gem and all of her characters appear real, readers however remain amazed at power that some of her female characters wielded in a conservative society! Further, her characters are so chiselled and polished that one cannot help but marvel at the ease with which writer puts life into them.
Here is lowdown on few of her stories wherein women are lead characters.
In one such story, a landlord is issueless. His wife arranges his marriage with a young lady. They become friends. After a few years a baby is born. There is celebration in d haveli. But a guilt conscience is pricking d young lady. She decides to bare d secret before her friend. This baby is not our husband’s. My ex- lover is the real father, she tells her!
In another story, 5 unmarried women while working in d office set eyes on their boss. Boss’s wife who comes daily to pick him up is called Black Hawk by them. After his wife dies all of a sudden they all try to woo d Boss. Try to look their Best! They become jealous of one another. But become friends once again as Boss marries a foreigner😊
In another heart- touching story, a traveller visits Himachal and spends some time with a local girl and then returns Bihar promising the girl that he wud come back to spend entire life with her, but didn’t.
Readers get overwhelmed with sympathy for the lady who keeps waiting eagerly for her Pardesi to return to her. “I used to tell him that one day your city will call u and u will go. And I will b left beating my head on these rocks,” she tells her friend about the Pardesi who had deserted that village girl. “Pardesi, I m still waiting for you at d same place you took my leave saying u will return soon….”
Her lady characters are sensitive and bold at the same time. In another story, lady is unhappy as her husband is much older. She elopes with another man and settles down at a far away place.
After a few months she realises that she is carrying a baby in her womb. She is ecstatic. But same day she comes to know that her husband is already married and son from her first wife has met with a serious accident and his mother desperately wants his father to be there.
She gets the shock of her life but gets bolder and tells her husband that her first husband is the father of the child yet to born. She sends her husband to his first wife to take care of his ailing son and leaves for her home alone.
Her parents inform her first husband about her arrival and he reaches their home to take her back to his village. But she tells him in no uncertain terms that the child in her womb is not his. She prefers to spend entire life with her unborn child!!