My English translation of Mahmudul Haque’s Kalo Barof has been released in January 2012 by HarperCollins India. Details here.
In the Daily Star‘s Eid Supplement 2012, I published an essay on translating this book. From Kalo Borof to Black Ice: a translator’s journey
Here’s a tribute I wrote for Mahmudul Haque after he passed away in July 2008.
Other translations of mine:
- On Hire, published in Wasafiri, Winter 2015, a translation of “Bharay” (ভাড়ায়), a short story by Afsan Chowdhury.
He cannot recognise a single landmark after passing the Animal Hospital. Everything looks unfamiliar. Even the few places he can make out appear strange to his eyes. Ten years is not exactly a short time.
The plaza outside the prison did not strike him as unfamiliar. It looks the same today as when he had entered ages ago. Now there are more people and rickshaws around and the noise is much louder.
The girl who accompanied him from the prison gate is talking non-stop. She’s so cheerful and full of life that he feels uncomfortable. These past years he has not seen a single woman. He has completely forgotten how they talk, walk, or laugh.
- Beloved Rongomala (an excerpt),
published in World Literature Today online , May 2013, a translation of the opening chapter of “Shokhi Rongomala,” a novel by Shaheen Akhtar.
Even before the sun rises, the news arrives like a tempest that Chanda Bir is approaching the palace with Rongomala’s severed head. Still earlier, swarms of black crows flew in from who knows where. Their caw-caw-caws echo across the Raja’s courthouse, the corridors and balconies, the orchard and the banks of the pond. Uproar in every corner of the palace. From the commotion, you wouldn’t think it’s a lower-caste woman’s head that’s coming but a wildfire blazing across Roop Singh’s wetlands, the flames of which will burn to cinders the entire Chowdhury dynasty. In the outer house, Raj Chandra Chowdhury lies unconscious, stoned from a night of drinking bhang. Young and old, everyone is terrified—who will stop him when he wakes and launches into Lord Shiva’s apocalyptic dance with Rongomala’s head in his hands?
published in Words Without Borders, January 2013, a translation of “Opekkha”, a story by Ahmad Mostofa Kamal. Also, a Dispatches essay on the translation of the story: see
From the Translator: From অপেক্ষা (Opekkha) to Waiting.
Everyone was waiting for a miracle. This time they would see how powerful the Padma really was. Year after year they have witnessed the erosion by the river. Nothing had been spared; the Padma took houses, schools, bazaars, mosques, temples, police stations, telephone offices, farmland, and playgrounds. Everything surrendered to the Padma, even Ministers, MPs, and Presidents. So many came and went shouting loud pledges to halt the erosion, but they were playthings confronted by the Padma’s rage. The river has now reached a point where people say it cannot advance any further. It simply does not have the courage to swallow this house.
- Once Again Love,
published in Words Without Borders, April 2009, a translation of “Abaro Prem Ashche,” a short story by Shaheen Akhtar.
The picnic party microbus is stuck in a traffic jam. Before anyone can react, a hijra— separated from her band which is receiving a drubbing from the police—jumps on board. She finds herself stuck between a crocodile in the water and a tiger on the bank. If she gets tossed out of the vehicle, the police are sure to grab and beat her.
- Every Day, One Handkerchief,
published in Star Literature Eid Special, October 2007, a translation of “Protidin Ekti Rumal,” a short story by Mahmudul Haque.
Visiting the in-laws with a rusted tin suitcase in one hand and a jackfruit in the other, raising a litter of children, fetching sour pickles for the wife, roaming the footpaths and bazaars for tiny shrimp and cut pieces of fabric — that’s become the grand total of your life’s ideals.
- Torn Wire,
published in The Daily Star, January 20, 2007, a translation of “Chera Tar,” a story by Mahmudul Haque.
Since I took to walking, I now come across quite a few people around town. I bump into people I haven’t stayed in touch with or seen in twenty or thirty years.