A year in translation

January 9, 2022

Balochi literature has recently witnessed a great surge in the realm of translation

A year in translation

A translation is primarily a dialogue between two languages. It is the most effective and expedient medium to bring two linguistic and cultural entities closer.

Literary translations in Balochi began in the early 1950s. In 1951, Maulana Khair Mohammad Nadvi launched a monthly magazine, Oman, from Karachi. It proved a harbinger of modern literary trends and views in Balochi literature. The first Balochi short story, Bewafa, (The Unfaithful) was published in the magazine in May 1951. The same goes for the first ever literary translation. Abdul Samad Amiri translated Maxim Gorky’s short story under the title Pashumain Janin into Balochi. The translation appeared in Oman in March 1952. In 1967, Ghaus Bux Sabir translated Hemingway’s classic The Old Man and the Sea into Balochi. However, until early 2000s, unlike short stories translation of novels had been proceeding at a slow pace. However, with the advent of the 21st Century, Balochi literature has witnessed a great surge in the realm. Over the two decades, the works of novelists like Marquez, Kafka, Camus, George Orwell, Naguib Mahfouz, Tolstoy, Gorky and Hermann Hesse, to mention a few, have been translated into Balochi.

A year in translation

In 2021 as well, a good amount of literature in translation appeared. This included novels, short stories and non-fiction.

Dr Naimatullah Gichki, who has been writing short stories for over half a century and ranks amongst the earliest translators of Balochi fiction, rendered several short stories from world literature into Balochi. Recently, he brought out an anthology of his translations titled: Gath o Goman. The anthology that runs for 130 pages contains 11 short stories written by nine Nobel laureates including Marquez, Hemingway, Nadine Gordimer, Tegore, Camus and Heinrich Boll. These short stories are mainly translated from Urdu as mentioned by the translator in the preface. Dr Naimatullah’s prose is lucid, fluent and his use of local idiom seizes readers’ attention the moment they start reading. The significance of this collection lies in the fact that these short stories have been translated by a master story teller. The publisher has called these a “tribute to the masters of world fiction”. This anthology is published by the Institute of Balochia Gwadar.

Rasul Gamzatov’s My Daghesta is one of the seminal literary works of the 21st Century. Originally written in Avar language, it has been translated into many languages including English, Russian, Urdu, Arabic and Brahvi. It flows like poetry, reads like fiction and feels like a memoir. At the same time, it transcends the margins of poetry, fiction and memoir. It has been translated into Balochi by Fida Ahmed under the title Mani Daghestan. Fida Ahmed is widely cherished for his remarkable translation of Homer’s Odyssey and Marquez’s No One Writes to the Colonel. He, however, is not the first translator to render this outstanding work in Balochi. Before him Rahman Arif, Ali Essa, Majeed Ajez, Ishaque and Mahmoud have also translated some parts of this remarkable book. Mani Daghestan has been published by Balochi Academy Quetta.

Sharaf Shad is a fine short story writer, poet, critic and a translator. He has translated the works of some literary giants like Camus, Naguib Mahfouz, Marquez, Chekhov and Kafka. All his previous translations fall in the category of fiction. This time, he has switched to nonfiction and translated EM Forster’s The Aspect of Novel into Balochi. There is a dearth of translations of nonfiction in Balochi specifically of books which deal with art and aspects of various genres.Gidar ay Izm is a valuable addition on the shelf of Balochi literature. It has been brought out by Mullah Ismail Labzanki Gall Pullabad.

Yasin Majrooh is a poet and short story writer who occasionally contributes translations as well.‘Laib Halas Booth (The Game is Over) is a slim volume of his translations. Short stories in this anthology have mainly been translated from Persian and Urdu. Some short stories are: Laib Halas Booth (Ghulam Hussain Saedi), Shap o Balo (Ghulam Hussain Nazari), Dil ay Baha (Abdul Majeed Najafi,) Wash Bahtin Bachak (Ali Abbas Hussaini), Pyala (Tolstoy) and Rahm ay Pendogir (Chekhov). This anthology has been published by GR Mullah Public Library, Jewani.

Inam Raza is a young short story writer who just brought out the first collection of his short stories. Apart from short story writing, he takes keen interest in translation. Haprung (The Rainbow Coloured) is an anthology of his translations. It contains 14 short stories by Maupassant, Tolstoy, Sartre, Hemingway, Naguib Mahfouz, Sadigh Hedayat and Sadat Hasan Manto. There are, however, a few short stories in this anthology that have already been translated into Balochi. These include The Wall (Sartre), The Cat in the Rain (Hemingway), Prisoner’s Uniform, Half a Day (Naguib Mahfouz), Haji Murad (Sadegh Hedayat) and Karamati (Manto). Though it is not unusual for writers to translate a piece that has already been translated, translators often provide justification for a re-translation. Inam, however, has not given any. This collection has beem published by Mullah Ismail Labzanki Gall Pullabad.

Gobind Malhi is considered one of the proponents of the progressive ideas in Sindhi literature. Abdullah Shohaz has translated his novel Shra, Boti into Balochi titled: Ram from Nangar Channa’s Urdu version with the same title. It is the first ever novel translated from Sindhi language. Ram has been published by Balochi Academy, Quetta.

Shusaku Endo is the first ever Japanese novelist to be translated into Balochi. Cheppan Mor is the Balochi translation of his acclaimed historical novel Silence. Translated by Umar Usman from Masood Ash’ar’s Urdu version Khamoshi, Cheppan Mor has been published by Balochi Academy, Quetta.

Apart from the abovementioned works, a good number of translations appeared in various literary magazines and journal as well. The quarterly Chammag brought out a special edition on African literature featuring authors from different African countries such as Chinua Achebe, Ben Okri, JM Coetzee and Naguib Mahfouz. It also features a chapter of Nobel laureate Abdul Razzaq Gurnah’s novel The Memory of Departure rendered by Abbas Hassan, a young poet and translator and a chapter of Tayib Saleh’s remarkable novel Season of Migration Towards North translated by Fida Ahmed.

The writer is a translator. He also serves as an assistant professor at Atta Shad Degree College, Turbat. He tweets @FazalBaloc

A year in translation