Jaya Choudhury

In the Spanish Speaking world of India and Bangladesh and to a large number of Foreign Literature loving people Jaya Choudhury herself is an institution. A professor of Spanish at Golpark Ramkrishna Mission School of Language, and Shivpur Engineering College , this lady maintains a very low profile, a simple all embracing warm gesture . She has already five books to her credit , translation of a novel , ‘El invierno de Gunter’ by Juan Manuel Marcos , a book of poem by Carla Fabri , ‘Sandalo blanco’, both published by the Embassy of Paraguya , Six stories and a complete drama by Mario Vargos Yosa and Stories from Latin America published by Prativas . Her latest venture is ‘Gabriela Mistral en Bengali’, published by the Chile Embassy in the Kolkata Bookfare 2016 .A student of Jagannath Bosu , she is an established actor and has worked sincerely for her group , ‘Bhawanipore Anandom’ for last twenty years and has staged successfully a number of plays including ‘Nati Binodini’, ‘Manosa Mongal’ , ‘Yogayog’, ‘Vidhata Purush’ and has performed remarkably in a number of Spanish Dramas too . She is a wonderful singer and Sitar player . Besides her works of translation , she has a flair for essay writing , sometimes writes poems of her own, her ‘Sonamon’ series has attracted attention of many a good reader. Her translation works are published in ‘Anubad Potrika’, and in numerous literary magazines in India and Bangladesh ; ‘Shaluk’ of Obayed Akash , ‘Dhaka Review’ , ‘Noyakhalir Kotha’ are mentionworthy .

Reading of Literature and practicing it needs a different kind of atmosphere and zeal .One does not wake up in one fine morning and discover that she has become a writer and translator . We would like to know a few words about your background and preparatory period .

Well, I don’t have an illustrious background to tell . Daughter of Late Bikashananda Kundu and Smt. Bela Kundu spent my childhood in a refugee colony at DumDum, Calcutta. My father was not at all a rich man, though I studied in a convent Christ Church Girls High School, there. My institutional education is not much , as my parents family members expected and dreamt about me earlier. I left my Cost Accountancy course after passing inter level, didn’t finish my computer training , did montessory course, got training in drama for few years from Jagannath n Urmimala Basu…’am a trained classical singer..ha hahha…God knows I did so many things unfinished in my life.… and married at an early age after 4 and a half years whirl winding courtship . After leaving everything for 16 long years I started studying Spanish and finished the certificate course from Ramakrishna Mission, School of language and also passed the diploma course from Instituto Cervantes, Madrid of Spain. I don’t know if you call it preparatory.

When and how did you feel that you should start writing? Before you started learning Spanish , what were the genres of literature you felt passionate about ?

I am a voracious reader since God created the world. Used to study everything printed , may be any piece in “ thonga of Jilipi” or my father’s Materia Medica or the personal diary of my father’s “observation of his patient’s case ” or Amar Chitra katha to Ekkhon Magazine Or pocket book on Benhoor or Umaprasad Mukhopadhyay’s Himalayer Pathe Pathe to Sahasra Ek Arabya Rajani from my jyethu’s almirah...the list.. Actually there was no body to guide me what to read or how to read.. So I took every opportunity to read. From the age of 13 when I was in class seven I started to write and continued up to class eleven. And suddenly I started thinking that those were a pile of garbage and was polluting Bengali literature. So I stopped writing. Hmm… I think essentially love to read narration and hagiology has been my most favourite throughout my life.

Do you believe in hero worshiping ? Who are your idols ? Have you ever been influenced by anybody so far as style and form of writing are concerned ?

Strictly not blindly. Though from time to time I was influenced by many people at different ages of my life. My mother is a graceful super talented woman to whom I owe my every qualification . All my disqualifications are of mine. I haven’t found any person so far as complete as she. So you may tell that she is my hero. And when I resume my literary activity once again you have been a huge help to me I must acknowledge. I did not know much about contemporary poetry here, and you guided, gave tit bits about it to me thoroughly ever we met. You think, write and live for poetry. Actually I think you, yourself is poetry . Thank God . As far as writing is concerned I am an ardent fan of Ashapurna Devi and Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay and of course the great Tagore, who are not!

 Do you believe that Latin American literature is more experimental than our own ?

 Hmmmm ...well I think you mean the Hispanic Literature. Look Spanish is being told in 21 countries spanning 4 continents. So they already have many different experimentations in literature. What they have experimented 50 years back, is not even known to Bengali readers here. Due to the lack of translations though may be the reason I think. How many readers know Jaime Sabines, or Juana Ibarbourou or Sor Juana Ines De la Cruz or Alejandra Pizarnic or Mario Beneditti or Juan Rulfo or Roberto Boleno or Amparo Davila other than Lorca, Paz, Or Neruda or Marquez? They are scattered in various countries. I have few poets and authors in some countries as my friend . From them I come to know that they are doing nowadays...so many workshops on literature or experimentations.. Now in Latin American literature the younger generations are experimenting with the mechanical aspects of modern age. The modern  gadgets or scientific zig zag are influencing them now... whereas in Bengali short stories you can see only repeatedly irrelevant sex scenes or fantasies , whether you are going through the famous magazines or the memoires... Bengalis are essentially reminicising caste...They have only past not the present...ha ha haa.

Are not you thinking of publishing your own book of poems or essays ? You have written a good many in numerous blogs and little magazines .

Well I don’t have the courage to do so. Who knows me as an original writer? There are millions who are writing better than me. I am afraid of the refusal from the readers. Though in a couple of months some of my poems will see daylight in a compiled book with four other great poets of our time . I am lucky.

Tell us something about your dream project if there is any .

Umm I have a personal aim , let it be personal. Before I die I want to translate that . Otherwise I do whatever comes my way.

According to you what are the criteria of a good poem? When you select a work to be translated what do you look for in it ? Its popularity or something quintessential you think you should convey to your readers ?

Who am I to tell? I only know that every Man has a very unique set of thinking. So in order to satisfy their feeling any type of poetry can be written. I believe every poem has its own set of readers…that’s it. Here nobody can give the final judgement. Well if any poetry moves me unknowingly, not by name or calculations or big KNOWLEDGE I select that. . Not exactly. Though due to its popularity I got attracted at the beginning. But after reading that poem I decide.

Translation is a strenuous job. You are a busy professor and home maker. How do you pursue both with equal efficiency?

I beg your pardon. I am a messy homemaker though I manage somehow. I write 24 hours a day. In between do all my house hold chores , teach, meet people, take rest , do other things and pursue my hobby etc..

Why did you choose Spanish? Was there any special cause or person behind your choice?

It’s the other way round. Spanish have chosen me. At the age of 36. Was deeply bitter about life, I was looking for a saviour . I wanted to learn a foreign language , went to RamaKrishna Mission School of Language and found that the queue for obtaining forms for the Spanish language was smaller than the others . So I opted for Spanish , stood in that queue and eventually got myself enrolled there. That’s it.

While translating a poem, do you ever analyse it ? Is it necessary to translate more convincingly and sincerely ?

Yes I always analyse a poetry . I think, read and try to do some research work on not only the piece but also on its writer itself. It’s very important. Yes of course. Only sincerity and integrity can make a creation immortal... There is no short cut . I truly believe it .FEELING is the first and foremost quality of a translator I think, and then come any other considerations .

Is it not important to have ample knowledge about that foreign country, especially its culture, history and heritage while dealing with its literature?

Obtaining Knowledge is an endless journey. So one must continue his or her journey to come across new things till death . Yes , to translate a foreign language one MUST have knowledge about its culture, history and heritage as wide as possible.

Would you ever like to translate something from Bengali to Spanish ? Don’t you think it’s your duty to make them acquainted with your great works in Bengali too ?

Felt several times to do so. It’s my duty also to the literature of my mother tongue. But the dearth of money is preventing me to do so. Translation is not only my passion, it is my profession also. While translating I need money to survive . Isn’t it? Govt should fund us to promote our literature to the vast 21 Spanish speaking countries of the world.

Besides translation and literature what is your pastime?

Singing of course ... and nowadays once again I have resumed my old passion for playing Sitar .

Do you think while translating a poem, the translator herself should have a poetic bend of mind?

Errr. I think it is needed. Ifyou do not have the poetic subltleness you miss the main essence of the creation first in understanding and second in recreating in another language Thank You and May God bless you all.

Thank you and hearty well wishes on our behalf . We wish your worldwide recognition and fame . You have done a tremendous task in a very short time through your tenacity and sincerity , and hope your dreams will be fulfilled in near future .

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