Status: Read from Oct 04 to Oct 07, 2017
My rating: /5
Author: Fakir Mohan Senapati; translated from Odia by Chandan Das
This is the first-ever English translation of Fakir Mohan Senapati’s historical novel Lachhama. Written in Rajput heroic legend style, Lachhama is stylistically different from the social realism of Senapati’s other novels. The experiment with a more ornate and dramatic form does not detract, however, from Senapati’s passionate engagement with Odia nationalism, the emancipation of women, and the day-to-day concerns of Odia people.
The overarching theme in Lachhama is Odia nationalism in the backdrop of Senapati’s efforts to preserve Odia against hegemonic attempts to subsume it within the fold of Bengali. Equally, Lachhama champions the cause of women, an enduring motif of Senapati’s work. With its liberal useage of sati, sadhba, and patibrata terminology, this may seem surprising. However, it must be evaluated in the context of the time in which it was written (between 1901 and 1903) when the spaces offered by a paternalistic society for independent women were extremely limited.
Chandan Das’s translation smoothly and skillfully retains the poetry and atypical cadence of the original.
Lachhama is first ever English translation of Fakir Mohan Senapati’s book. This book narrates the historical romance of Rajput lady Lachhama and her husband Badal Singh, in the back drop of the political disturbances between the Mughals and Marathas to gain supremacy in Odisha. The story is set in a period of early advent of the British in India during which Nawab Alibardi Khan was Governor of Bengal. The depiction of love, honor, courage and revenge of the woman protagonist Lachhama is significant. The political, economic and social anarchy in Odisha is very vividly presented. The protagonist Lachhama is shown as equal of her husband in valour. The book also emphasizes the Hindu philosophy of Karma, dharma, kartavya, pitrusraddha etc. The brutality of Marathas and the misery of common man is presented elaborately. Quotations and allusions form religious texts are very generously used. The story gives a strong message of human optimism which can triumph against all odds. The best thing about the book is presenting the woman protagonist as a very strong optimistic individual during a time when the freedom provided to women were very limited.
The translation is very smooth and retains the poetic cadence of the original story.
1) Even being a odia i have to re-read few statements to understand. The use of few odia words may confuse the non-odia readers.
2) The narration of political drama was very elaborate that in some instances i completely forgot that the book was about the love story of Lachhama and her husband Badal Singh.
About the Author:
Social critic and reformer, poet, novelist, short story writer, translator, publisher, teacher, and administrator, Fakir Mohan Senapati (1843-1918) is widely regarded as having inaugurated and age of modern Odia prose. Senapati gave Odia literature its first major novels – Chha Mana Atha Guntha, Mamu, Lachhama, and Prayaschitta – short stories, and poems. His autobiography Atma Jibana Charita chronicles the life of his times. He is called the father of Odia nationalism and modern Odia literature. He is considered a pioneer in the field of Odia fiction. His “Rebati” published in 1898 in the first modern Odia short story. Much before social realism became the dominant mode in other literatures of the country; he had shown the way in the portrayal of life in the villages. His Chha Mana Atha Guntha is acclaimed as a modern classic.
Chandan Das teaches English at S.B.Women’s College in Cuttak, Odisha. He completed his PhD in translation studies in 2008 from Utkal University. His poems, translations, and short stories have been published in national and international journals.