Tamil Folk Tales Revived in English – The New Indian Express



Express news service

CHENNAI: A sparrow has gone in search of food for its hungry female. On the way back, drinking the nectar of a fragrant thaazhampoo (screw pine flower), he gets caught in the flower, as it closes at dusk. Then the little bird, as depicted in a folk tale, had no choice but to stay inside the dark space enveloped by the flower.

Coimbatore-based AS Mohanagiri, who rendered this story in English, could have felt the sparrow’s pain more than anyone, as he knows what life would be like in a dark world with himself a man having visual issues. Nonetheless, he translated 25 of these folk tales into English and put them together in an eBook for Kindle, which received five-star reviews.

Entitled Bed-time Stories for Grown-ups: Folktales from India, the tales were “trans-created” into English from the Tamil book Kongu Naattupura Kadhaikal: Thokuppum Aayvum, written by M Senthil Kumar, professor of Tamil in the arts of government College, Coimbatore. Senthil also edited Peyal magazine, a UGC-listed journal, a Tamil research and studies journal.

Mohanagiri, an English teacher at the same institution, said: “After receiving Senthil Kumar’s book in PDF format, I went through all of the folk tales, which he had collected and compiled. The Non-visual Desktop Access (NVDA) screen reader software, specially designed for the visually impaired, helped me translate the stories into English. While the software reads the e-scripts of all Indian languages, it read me all the folk tales in Tamil. After listening to it, I typed the tales in English on my computer, still using the software. Bearing witness to the fact that the fields of information technology are so surprising, the software, as you type, informs everything in its voice like spelling and grammar errors, selection of font sizes and colors, paragraph, etc.

“I thank such wonderful technology, which guided me in the creation of my first eBook. As I have transcreted the local tales in order to take them to new horizons, the book never hinders a foreign reader on their good reading journey. It took me about two months to produce this book, ”he adds.

Mohanagiri, who is also a Government Arts College alumnus, says the Kongu region’s folk tales, which have been passed down through word of mouth, reflect what life was like in the past.

“To translate them into English, I have chosen around 25 folk tales that reflect life as lived by our ancestors. For example, the story of the sparrow, who goes in search of food for his female, does not come home at night and is reprimanded by her female the next morning. The story is a symbolic representation of a Kongu family of yesteryear who forced husbands to return home at night wherever they went to work, ”says Mohanagiri.

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