|Saturday, June 29, 2002||
of the most cherished myths that mankind has clung to from ages
immemorial is that everyone pays for his misdeeds: as you sow so shall
you reap. People cite instances of persons who acquired wealth by
corrupt means and were later brought to book, or were afflicted by some
incurable disease or their progeny turned out bad. For every one such
instance of an evil person paying for his sins I could adduce twenty
where they went unpunished. They did not suffer from pangs of guilt,
remained in good health, ate well, lived well, enjoyed life and esteem
of their fellow citizens, sent their children to the best schools and
colleges and saw them fixed in plum jobs, married into rich families
which ensured their future prospects. "There is a just man who
perishes in his righteousness, and wicked man who prolongs life in his
wickedness," says the Bible. When faced with hard evidence
that more often than not evil persons get a better deal in life than
good people, upholders of the myth resort to inane explanations like
honesty is its own reward, in the end truth always triumphs. They have
even more devious explanations when confronted with cases of suffering
inflicted on the good and the God-loving who have children born blind,
mentally deficient or spastic. "It is karma. They are paying
for sins they committed in their past lives", they say and explain
the prosperity of evil-doers thus, "they will surely pay for their
sins in their lives to come: be they re-born as snakes, pigs or
vermin." Such explanations are offered in the assurance that no one
knows anything about past lives or lives to come. As Ghalib said about
paradise, I say about past and future lives: Dil
kay behallaney ko yeh khayaal achha hai.
chaar-sau-bees (a cheat as defined under Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code).
When I was first introduced to Shakespeare’s plays in college, a common joke was to say that Shakespeare was not an Englishman but an Indian named Sheikh Peer who the English had abducted from India and given another name. However, when I read some of his plays, I could discern nothing Indian in them. They also seemed to be beyond being translated into Indian languages. Nevertheless Imtiaz Ali Taj and Ahmed Shah Bokhari translated Midsummer’s Night’s Dream into Urdu. It was staged in Government College, Lahore. It was so well-rendered with necessary adaptations that I enjoyed the Urdu version more than the English original. Since then I have been curious to know if Shakespeare has been translated in other Indian languages and his plays put on the stage. I have little doubt that as in other matters of literature or art, the Bengalis must have been the first. But I have never heard of any being put on the Kolkata stage. I may be wrong.
A few Hindi writers, notably Harivansh Rai Bachchan translated some plays and read them out to a small audience in the home of the then head of the British Council, Henry Croome-Johnson. I don’t think any of them were acted on the stage. Now my mentor in matters concerning Hindi literature, Professor Pramilla Sharma, tells me that probably the first man to try his hand at translating Shakespeare into Hindi was Gopinath Purohit of Jaipur: He was born in 1863, educated at Maharajah’s College, Jaipur, took a diploma in Sanskrit from Vishwa Vidyalaya, Agra, did his MA in English literature (the first to do so) and was appointed lecturer in Maharajah’s College. The Governor appointed him advisor to the ruler and in 1905 nominated him to the State Council and made him Rai Bahadur. Purohit first translated The Merchant of Venice (Venis ka Vyapaaree), followed by As You Like It (Man Bhaavan) and Romeo and Juliet (Prem Leela). All these translations were done before 1900. Purohit also wrote some novels and was, in his time, highly regarded as the doyen of Hindi literature. He died in 1935. I am not sure if any of his translated plays were put on the stage. Pramilla Sharma has given me a photostat copy of Prem Leela. My Hindi is not good enough to judge whether or not he did justice to Romeo and Juliet.
What does one do when lovers
Become, husband and wife
Without the bondage of marriage?
When passions refuse to ignite
Like an aging car on winter morns
When emotions flows sluggishly
In time hardened arteries.
When the cataract of proximity
Obscures clarity of vision.
When boredom seeps in like
Damp under the carpet.
And quarrels become as predictable
and repetitive as night and day
When love has come and gone
Like a virulent attack of small pox,
Leaving indelible scars behind;
What does one do?
Cling together for old time’s sake
Or go, while the going is good?
(Courtesy: Amarinder Bajaj,
World Cup winner
The Devil challenged God to a football game. "How can you win?" God asked, "all the famous football players are up here."
"How can I lose?" retorted Devil, "all the referees are down here."
Santa: "My wife and I argue a lot. She’s very touchy — the least little thing sets her off."
Banta: "You’re lucky. Mine is a self-starter."
(Contributed by Reeten Ganguly,