I just wanted to share the topic of my paper with those who may be interested in a little further reading.
I wrote my paper on the Indian author Premchand, and his story “The Road to Salvation.” It’s just a short story, but I was most interested in the conflict the exists between two peasants and how they essentially destroy one another. It is an interesting perspective that we don’t really see elsewhere in the course reading materials.
I really loved Khan Saheb and his perpetuation of music in Firaaq. It might be easily argued that his most powerful line came when he tells Karim Mian seven musical notes cannot compete with the violence and hate that surrounds them. However, I thought he was particularly insightful when he jokingly suggested Muslims no longer wanted music (after Karim questions the lack of Muslim students). While it is obvious that this lack in Muslim attendance comes from the fear of violence, it reminds me of the ideas that Muslim extremist groups perpetuate. Some of the most beautiful literature comes from Sufi poets, yet fundamentalist groups (technically operating under the same faith) do their best to eliminate this literature and music (perhaps a twisted parallel to the destruction of Wali’s shrine).
In case I lost anyone there, I am basically saying:
It’s interesting that Khan says Muslims don’t need music anymore, because some Muslims won’t allow music anymore.
So I have this really cool NPR news app on my phone that enables me to flip through articles when I’m away from the radio. More to the point, and more relevant to this blog, I found a very interesting article on Indian weddings. It is an interview given by Indian wedding photographer Mahesh Stantaram. Unfortunately I cannot link to the article since I found it on my iPod, but in it Stantaram describes a few of the more extravagant weddings he has taken photos for. One used billboards as invitations, the guest list included 11,000 people! Anyway, one of the questions he was asked went something like: “why are Indian wedding ceremonies such large productions?” Stantaram responded with something I thought was really lovely: “I find them to be fascinating metaphors of my country’s penchant for order and chaos, color and noise, and the peculiar sense of taste and design or the lack thereof.”
I found Stantaram’s description a much kinder one then we have seen in Indian literature thus far. Granted, Stantaram is describing a wedding not a marriage, so perhaps it’s that hindsight 20/20 thing. But it seems to me the the success of the wedding, particularly in Chughtai’s work, often influences the success of the marriage.
So during our discussion on Monday we just barely touched on the problems that exist with translated literature. This is actually a subject that interests me a lot so I thought I might bring it up on the blog. When we were reading “Untouchable” I really loved what Professor Jani told us about Gandhi’s comment on language. It’s such a wonderful sentiment: language is just a means of communication, and we should communicate any way we can. However, there is no doubt that this creates barriers. Luckily we now have translations, but I always wonder what is lost within those altered words? Obviously there is no reasonable solution, and having these translated texts is much better than not having them at all, I just wish I could read literature in all its organic existence…