Please tell us about yourself
Vasrha Gajendragadkar is a creative writer and translator. She has authored and translated more than 25 books including children’s books, creative prose, fiction and non- fiction works and environment related writing. She is also the recipient of two state literary awards.
Q: Can you tell us anything about yourself and your job that would surprise us:)?
A: Basically I am a creative writer and a translator. The number of books authored and translated by me is 25+. As a professional, I am in the field of content creation and development for last 25 years. Besides literary writing and translation I have dealt with variety of assignments like script writing for educational documentaries, storyboard writing for E learning courses, copy writing for advertisements, case study report writing, technical and scientific translations and many more.
I am glad to mention that my story book for children has received the state literary award in the children’s literature section in 2013 and my translated fiction has received the state literary award for best translation in 2014.
Q: What is your personal relationship to language and/or translation?
A: I am blessed with a strong and rich legacy of literature. My father (Dr. R. C. Dhere) was an erudite literatieur and scholar in the field of ancient literature, culture and folklore. I am born and brought up in a house where books are regarded as a major asset. Naturally I have a closer bond with language and literature. It is not just a medium of expression for me; but language is my identity. So in spite of having a post -graduate degree in science stream, I chose to focus on writing.
As regards translation, I have an intense passion for it. At the age of 22 I dared to start translating a classic and the best seller Gone with The Wind. It was my first ever translated work (It took 11 more years to see the light. It was published in 2009.) I have been in both literary and professional translations for last two decades and madly love translating fiction, especially children stories. My science background is an added advantage for me, since I am able to translate STEM content with more ease.
Q: When you’ve been given a story to translate, what’s your process, and how long does it generally take?
A: I read the entire story, first as a reader, to enjoy it. Second time when I read the same, I start retelling it to myself. It helps me to avoid the literal, word to word translation. Then I begin with actual translation. Even after completing the entire story, I read and re read it loudly to bring it maximum close to the original work, still giving the flavor of Marathi language and culture.
It is really difficult to tell the time required for a translation. It can happen so that a seemingly simple and short story is too difficult to translate. In such cases it requires more than 3-4 drafts to make it final and satisfactory.
Q: What do stories in translation bring to young readers?
Similar to original works, translated stories are treasures of entertainment for children. But more than that translations abate the young readers to know different regions with different cultures. In short they introduce children to the broader world and connect them with the distant people. These bonds help for their intellectual and emotional development. Moreover, translations increase the vocabulary and linguistic skills of children, since many a times new word are either coined or used creatively by the translator to bring the exact sense of the original content.
Q: How did you cultivate the skills needed to translate books for children?
Right from my school age, I happened to read variety of translated books. I read translations of Rabindranath Tagore, Sharadchandra Chattopadhyay, Premchand, Tolstoy, Maxim Gorky, Arthur Conan Doyle and many more. When I began with the translations it was at the back of the mind that the young readers must enjoy the translations like I did. The translated work should be as enriched and interesting as the original work so that children will be able to relate themselves with it. I consciously make it a habit to retell a story to myself, assuming that I am a child. This makes me think and select the appropriate words and phrases that would be close to the children’s world. I am always agile that my translations should help them cross socio-cultural boundaries without feeling they are doing so. I am of the opinion that translation is not entirely related to developing skills. It is related to your ability to unite with soul of the original author and what it requires is sensitivity, more than the skills.
Q: You’ve translated many stories for us. Which has been your favourite to work on?
A: I have translated more than 30 stories for Pratham Books. It is really a wonderful bouquet of variety of stories originated by writers across India. Actually it is difficult to name any one but I have enjoyed translating ‘’What Happened to the Old Shawl?” and ‘Neelumbera on a Full Moon Night”.
Q:What type of person do you think makes the best translator for children’s stories?
A: In my opinion, a sensitive and creative person having literary skills will be able to translate children’s stories.
Q: Do you have any advice for anyone interested in becoming a translator?
A: I would like to suggest them that keep reading, keep writing and keep rehearsing until you are able to bring the intensity of the original work in the translation. Let translation become your passion, before it becomes your profession.