Bridge to Global Literature

Let’s all remember that more and more poetry gets lost without earnest attempts at translation.Read poetry here to get a glimpse of the rhythms and resonances of languages you don’t know.

A Letter from Fatima Gul – Udayan Thakker

Jun 27, 2022 | Poetry | 0 comments

Translated from the Gujarati by Mustansir Dalvi

My dearest Manilal,

do you remember?
I was buying potatoes in Natal
when all at once
you barged into the shop?
That was the first time we met.

After that,
you kept on finding
newer and newer excuses
to call on me at home.

It was the age of love,
my heart was raging, filled with fear.
We had different faiths, hadn’t we?

You were sure
Bapu was broad-minded,
he would bless our union. Happily,
you wrote him a letter.

Bapu wrote back:
‘What of your celibacy?
Marriage? And that too
to a Muslim girl?
And what faith will your children follow?

And how do you respond?
That Fatima is ready to convert to Hinduism?
Is religion a saree
to be tossed away nonchalantly?
For this, you must be ready
to give up home, marriage, even life!

You ask if I should consult Ba?
Do not ask.
You will break her heart.

Yours,
Bapu’

Who can fathom
the mind of a Mahatma?
Was he concerned
about losing face?
That the Moulvis would take to the mohallahs?
Was the Mahatma scared?

Manilal, I have heard
your parents have found
a Hindu girl for you.

I wish you both every happiness.
Sit together in the ashram and chant:
Ishwar Allah tero naam.

What else is left to be said, Manilal?
Sab ko sanmati de Bhagawan.

Yours,
at one time…

——-

Manilal – Gandhi’s son

Ishwar Allah Tero Naam/ Sabko Sanmati De Bhagwan- Gandhi’s favorite hymn. ‘You are Ishwar, You are Allah/ May God bring us all together.’

Udayan Thakker (born 1955, India) is a Gujarati poet. His first book of poems was prescribed as a textbook at a University. He is a recepient of NCERT national award.  English translations of his poems have been published in journals such as “Poetry” (Chicago) and “Stand” (Leeds.) A volume of English translations has been published by Onslaught Press, England. A book of Japanese translations has been published by JUNPA. He writes a weekly column on world literature in ‘Gujarat Samachar,’ and is Editor of poetryindia.com

Mustansir Dalvi is a poet, translator and editor. He has three books of poems in English, Brouhahas of Cocks (Poetrywala, 2013), Cosmopolitician (Poetrywala, 2018) and Walk (Yavanika Press, 2020/ Poetrywala 2021). His poems have been translated into French, Croatian, Hindi, Gujarati and Marathi. Mustansir Dalvi’s 2012 English translation of Muhammad Iqbal’s influential Shikwa and Jawaab-e-Shikwa from the Urdu as Taking Issue and Allah’s Answer (Penguin Classics) has been described as ‘insolent and heretical’. He is the editor of Man without a Navel a collection of translations of Hemant Divate’s poems from the Marathi (2018, Poetrywala). Mustansir Dalvi was born in Bombay. He teaches architecture in Mumbai.

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