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An Ordinary Girl

Sharing my translation of a famous poem (Sadharan Meye) written by Rabindranath Tagore, who won Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913. It's one of his story-like poems, written in Bengali, which is one of the regional languages in India, and the National Language of Bangladesh. I grew up in India, and I grew up with this language and with the works of this poet, who was not only a poet, but a Song-writer, Novelist, Short Story-writer, Dramatist, Essayist, covering every part of the literature. He was the first non-European to get a Nobel Prize. I started translating poems in English a few years before, and by now I have a collection of translations of his work, and the work of a few other renowned poets. I thought, perhaps it would be something valuable to share with my poet-friends at this site. An Ordinary Girl (A Translation From R. Tagore - Nobel-Laureate in 1913) I am a girl from the inner court, You wouldn't recognize me. I have read your novel, the last one to be published, “The Garland of Withered Flowers”! Your heroine “ Elokeshi” fell in love at the age of thirty-five, She was competing with a twenty-five year old, I have to say – you were so generous, You let her win! Let me tell you my story. I am young. I touched someone’s heart, Probably with my youth. I used to feel thrilled having known that, It slipped my mind that I am a very ordinary girl, There are hundreds and hundreds of girls like me, They all possess the charm of their youth. I beseech you, Please write a story about an ordinary girl. Her life is gloomy! If she has something really valuable in her How she is going to prove that — How many people realize that? They get captivated by the youthful beauty, They don’t unearth the inner soul, We get discarded like a Mirage! Let me tell you why this came up. Imagine, his name is Naresh. He said, he never caught a glimpse of anybody else like me. Did I dare to believe that? Did I dare not to believe? One day he went to England. I receive letters occasionally. Keep thinking – Wow! There are so many girls in that country! They are all competing with each other, And, all of them are fascinating – So smart, so bright! And, they all have discovered the one Naresh Sen Who was a nobody in his own country! In his letter by the last mail, Naresh wrote – He went to the sea for swimming with Lizzy, (He has quoted two lines from the Bengali poet – where Urvashi is appearing from the sea), Then they were relaxing on the sand beside each other, Gazing at the dancing blue waves in front of them, Sky lit with bright sun. Lizzy murmured in a very soft voice, “ You are here only for a few days. You will leave soon. Two parts of a shell, a droplet of tears covering the middle.” What a charming way of expression! Naresh also added “ Perhaps those words are made-up, but aren’t they stunning? A golden ring with a diamond is not real, But is it not?” You can guess, he is pointing at me with a comparison, It breaks my heart, Letting me know – I am nothing but an ordinary girl. I don’t have the wealth to pay the price of something precious. Alright, I accept it. I will remain a borrower for the rest of my life. I beg you, Saratbabu, write a story A story about a very ordinary girl – The unfortunate girl who has to compete from far with at least five to seven sensational women – Fighting with seven chariot-women. I know, I have lost. I am defeated. But make sure, your heroine wins – The girl you are writing about. Make sure she makes us proud ( God bless your pen)! Name her “ Malati”, That’s my name. You are not going to get caught, There are many many Malatis in Bengal. They are all ordinary girls, They don’t speak French or German, They only know how to cry. How will you make her win? Your thoughts are high, your pen is powerful. May be you will take her along the path of sacrifice, Of greatest sorrow, like Sakuntala. Please have compassion on me, Bring yourself down to my level. In the darkness of night, in my bed, The impossible blessings which I ask for, from God, I will not get it, But your heroine will. Make Naresh stay in London for seven years, Make him fail in his exam., Again and again, Stay pampered by his followers. In the meantime, Let Malati pass M.A. From University of Calcutta, Come first in Math by the magic of your pen. But don’t stop there, you don’t want a blemish on your title of The King of Literature! I might be unfortunate, But don’t curb your imagination – You are not a miser like The Almighty! Send the girl to Europe, The wise, the scholar, the brave, the poet, the artist, the rich – all will gather around her. let them discover her like astronomers do – Not only because she is a scholar, because she is a woman; The captivating magic she has let them find her mystery, not in the country of foolishness – In the countries of thoughtfulness, of kindness, Among British, German, French. Let there be a conference showing respect to Malati, With all the famous and the powerful, Imagine all the praises being showered at her, She glides by with little care Like a sailboat in the middle of waves. They are whispering about her eyes – The rain-clouds and sunlight of Indian sky blending in those eyes, (Here I have to admit, not being immodest, God has really blessed me with beautiful eyes. Although, I haven’t met any European admirer yet!) Naresh will come there and stand in a corner, And his group of breathtaking women! And then? That’s it. I have nothing else to say. My dream is over, Oh, the silly girl! Oh, the waste of power of the Creator! Translated by Malabika Ray Choudhury from the original work "Sadharan Meye" by Rabindranath Tagore. Posted on June 12, 2020 Translator's Notes: Saratbabu or Saratchandra Chattopadhya is another writer at the time of Rabindranath Tagore, who wrote novels mainly about women and the sufferings they went through.

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Date: 7/7/2020 3:04:00 PM
Hi Mala di, I am just short of the right adjective to describe your effort. It's so good! I haven't read the original but I am sure Tagore would be very proud of you !! It's so engrossing that I could go on and on ! Amazing! Keep up the good work dear! Much love and regards!
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Malabika Ray Choudhury
Date: 7/8/2020 6:07:00 AM
Dear Mitali, So glad you found the translation! Tagore's is a wealth we should all be proud of. It is only my humble effort to share his work with the international community. More translations will be coming! Love, Maladi
Date: 7/2/2020 5:00:00 AM
Perfectly you have captivated the poignant thought of the original masterpiece. I liked it as much as the bengali original.. Very nice Mala di .please add more
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Malabika Ray Choudhury
Date: 7/2/2020 6:24:00 AM
Dear Debjani, It's a great pleasure to share this great literary works with an audience of great poets and writers like you. Sharing with you is more special, because you read Bengali, and read the original poem. I will add more, I already have translated a few more pieces - those are fascinating stories and poetry! Thank you so much, Debjani.
Date: 7/1/2020 8:13:00 PM
Mala, this was a most captivating story. I think many of us can relate to feeling ordinary, like Malati did. I wonder if Tagore ever received a letter such as this? I so grateful to you for putting in the hard work of translation so that a great poet and story teller may be revealed to the English-speaking world. Thank you, and I hope you do more, my friend! ~ John
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Malabika Ray Choudhury
Date: 7/2/2020 6:19:00 AM
I have translated a few more, and plan to gradually post them. I feel humbled and honoured to share this great literary works with writers like you, John.
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Malabika Ray Choudhury
Date: 7/2/2020 6:16:00 AM
John, Tagore's life was a fascinating story! What amazes me about him, is how much he understood the plight of women in those days! Even now, his stories have the same appeal as they did hundred years ago. I am so glad you enjoyed the story, I knew you would! I feel myself very fortunate to be able to enjoy literature in both the languages so rich, and so dear to my heart. Thank you, take care. Mala
Date: 6/25/2020 3:53:00 PM
Oh dear.. What a lovely piece you have here. Your craft is definitely seasoned with lots of creativity. Great poem.
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Malabika Ray Choudhury
Date: 6/26/2020 5:58:00 AM
Hi Dear Poet! Such an honour to be complimented by a brilliant poet like you! I am reading your poetry, you are superbly creative! As you know, this is a translation from Tagore, whose poetry I grew up with. I completed a few translations of his famous poems, which I plan to gradually post here and in my blog. Thank you so much for visiting my page, and leave inspiring comments. Best wishes, Mala
Date: 6/17/2020 6:23:00 AM
I am so glad you translated his beautiful work for many others to read who have not read it earlier. This is one of my favorite ones! I love how your translation still holds the true essence of his words. :) (Also, I am yet to read your blog) Much love :)
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Malabika Ray Choudhury
Date: 6/26/2020 6:06:00 AM
Dear Aditi, Thank you for your sweet responses. I decided to translate a few of Tagore's works so people who don't read Bengali, get to know this genius. It's my humble effort, he has covered every area of literature, his work is insurmountable. I will be extremely delighted to share a few more of my attempts, here and in my blog as well. Love and best wishes, Mala
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Aditi Mishra
Date: 6/17/2020 7:20:00 AM
I hope to read more of your translations dear Mala. Unfortunately I do not understand Bangla but rely on the Hindi/English translations. Yet I love his words. He is one of the first poets I started to adore since I was a child.
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Malabika Ray Choudhury
Date: 6/17/2020 7:11:00 AM
Dear Aditi, delighted to know you read this translation. Hope I have done justice to this great work. I have a recitation album in You Tube. Do you speak the same language - Bengali - which I do? I started translating from Tagore to give my daughters an opportunity to read works of the genius. Now I have completed quite a few very long ones, which gradually I wish to share, here and in my blog. Love, Mala
Date: 6/14/2020 5:35:00 PM
I enjoyed reading this Mala. I know the difficulty in translating poetry from another language. My translated poem is posted here under the title "Skies From A Little Girl's Eyes". Translated from French. I marvel at how well you were able to translate Tagore's work. Wonderful! Blessings xxoo
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Malabika Ray Choudhury
Date: 6/15/2020 6:28:00 AM
Hi Connie, Found your poem and read it a few times. Brilliant! I also read the previous one which you had to work on. Thank you, got a taste of French poems. Love, Mala
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Malabika Ray Choudhury
Date: 6/14/2020 6:29:00 PM
Dear Connie, So glad to hear from you. You understand, it is difficult to translate from another language, because you have done it! I will definitely find your poem "Skies From A Little Girl's Eyes", and read it. The title itself sounds amazing and beautiful! This way we get familiar with the themes of other cultures. Thank you for letting me know. Love, Mala
Date: 6/14/2020 9:35:00 AM
Hello Mala, I have enjoyed the read of this poem. I was so engrossed reading I kept wondering how this poem would end. I have decided to make this poem my fav. I felt for the girl all through this poem. love, Darlene
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Darlene De Beaulieu
Date: 6/14/2020 2:45:00 PM
Hello Mala , i look forward to your next poem. Enjoy your day my friend. Love Darlene.I am glad that you have a few more to share.
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Malabika Ray Choudhury
Date: 6/14/2020 1:19:00 PM
Hi Darlene, I am so moved by your thoughtful comment. This is one of the story-poems by the genius poet, and to me, it is a narrative about women empowerment in the previous era. I am so glad to share this with you in translation, I have a few more to share in future. Love, Mala
Date: 6/12/2020 8:25:00 AM
A special poem this is--kudos to you for translating work of a renowned artist.
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Malabika Ray Choudhury
Date: 6/12/2020 8:46:00 AM
Dear Vijay, so delighted you read the poem in my blog and here. Thank you very much for suggesting I post it. There are very very special poems by Tagore, which I recently translated and would love to share. You know how amazing his poems are! Best wishes to you, Mala