Whenever I pick up a translated text, especially in Axomiya, I am filled with apprehension, ‘Will it be another let-down or will it atleast come close to the original, if not surpass it’. Perhaps not a fair position at all, for a translator can only do as much. When the translator Mitali Goswami begins the book’s afterword with a popular quote from Salman Rushdie’s essay Imaginary Homelands: ‘Having been borne across the world, we are translated men. It is normally supposed that something always gets lost in translation. I cling obstinately to the notion that something can also be gained’. Her effort may not be flawless, but thanks to it, many readers would be able to enter the wonderful world of Hussein, where imagery and lyricism rule supreme. A collection of eight stories—Bak: The Water Spirit, Utsav: The Festival, Jatra: The Journey, Jigansha: The Slaughter, Grash: Encroach, Pokhila: The Butterfly, Hudumdao: The Rain God, and Bosikaran: The Enchantment—they are liberally sprinkled with Axomiya words and thus retain much of the original flavour of the stories. Hussein is known for his use of folklore, as well as his empathy for a way-of-life that is vanishing day by day, absorbed as we are with consuming more and more, till there is nothing left to appropriate.
Author: Imran Hussain | Translated from the Assamese by Mitali Goswami
Review by Nasreen Habib