Lost in Translation
We all are lost in translation. Yes you heard it right. Interpreters of our experiences.. So doesn’t that make us all a translator of some sort. We are indeed translators of our experiences into thoughts and namely perception.
Kamala Das, a well-known Indian poet said that she speaks in three languages, writes in two and dreams in one. As a kid, she saw broken heads of dolls as a cause for sadness. She didn’t see it as playful. She felt upset over the fact that those dolls had to be headless for eternity.
Our mind has the ability to collate all our experiences into one big entity which in turn gives us our ‘Big Perception.’ It all depends on our subjective view on the ongoings of daily life.
In an unpublished poem called ‘The Invisible Woman’ Kamala Das expresses the inner life of a married woman especially in the Indian Patriarchy.
She says a married woman is like a flightless bird that employs its wings only in its dreams. The wed-locked lady is the one on whom the garlands fade such is the heat of my loneliness
The married woman is seen as a mere nobody outside her hospital. The ladies with prim and proper hair-do look through her. Even though she has written four hundred poems, she becomes visible soon.
Many a time we are lost in seeing the inherent meaning of our lives. Atmost we try to follow suit with others. We don’t really want to know why we do what we do. We just do so as everybody on this goddamn earth is doing the same.
But sometimes you feel like just another brick in the wall. Hence get lost in translating the things that actually matter the most in life.
For whom do I exist ? Who am I ? What if you are just one among the millions whose voice is raised in clamour like maids at village-wells ? No one really pays heed. You figure out you’re just a drying seed who would be shed someday to grow as a memory for another.
It’s never about the end
Kamala Das in her poetry says that she had worn a wedding ring as a mockery.
She thought she was a married woman but life crowds you out and strangles the reality of your mind.
What was the outcome of marriage ? It helped her become a competent poet and well her husband a doting father. Nothing more, nothing less, nothing else.
Life isn’t what we think it ought to be. The journey need not have any worthwhile to offer nor the destination anything worthy to crave for. Yet you have to live through the experiences and phases.
Mundane contains wonder
When you translate something that you come across or experience, you’re trying to make sense of what’s happening or why something happens in the first place.
The speaker in Alexander Pushkin’s poem, ‘The Flower’ comes across a withered flower inside a book that has lost its fragrance. He wonders how it landed up inside the pages of the book and who kept it there.
Was it someone he knew or a stranger ? What was the forlorn flower supposed to do ? Mark a meeting of two lovers ? Or symbolise some dire parting of the ways ?
For all one knows, the flower might have left by someone
strolling alone through quiet fields or woodland shade.
What if the person who left the flower behind has faded like it got lost ? A dry, sere flower ensconced between the pages of a book can spark so many questions in a mind.
Why not be a ‘Lamplighter’ ?
Many a time the main difference between children and adults is that the former translate everything they see into something out of this world, while the latter see everything just as it is.
In the poem ‘Lamplighter’ by R.L. Stevenson, the speaker sees a lamplighter on the streets and finds his job fascinating. The work seems to inspire him much more than what his dad does as a banker.
He wants to grow up and be a lamplighter gallivanting the streets.
‘With lantern and with ladder he comes posting up the street’ is what the lamplighter is described as in the poem.
The speaker is in his childhood as the way he revels in talking about a mere lamplighter shows the fervour of an overexcited kid.
We often feel our childhoods weren’t worth remembering as it wasn’t great as we expected it to be. We miss looking at small moments where we actually could the ‘the world in a grain of sand.’
When your life seems dreary and lacks lustre, light the lamp of hope in every situation even if it seems hopeless.
A new enlightening spark
Translating experiences doesn’t always mean seeing everything through rose-tinted glasses.
You’re an artist who draws without an eraser in life.
Since failure is the condiment that gives success its flavour, not all experiences are there to bring out the best in you. Some bring out your worst and make you feel crippled. But those are the ones that tell teach you how to appreciate life.
Once Kamala Das, went upto the terrace to commit suicide at midnight.
She saw the moonlight on the courtyard below, just when she wished to splatter it with her blood, she saw a mad beggar below the lamppost dancing lifting his emaciated hands in the air. The rhythm of his grotesque dance seized her from jumping from the terrace. She instead felt she was dancing on the most desolate pinnacle in the world.
She returned to her room in an half-asleep state and wrote with a resolve ‘ Wipe out the paints, unmould the clay. Let nothing remain of that yesterday.’