Roughness and warmth

Print edition : January 06, 2017

Vittal Rao is not only an accomplished writer but also a painter, photographer and historian of no mean talent. The story here deals with the plight of the Anglo-Indian community, post-Independence. The lives unfold so graphically that you almost feel you are a witness. As if you are shamelessly eavesdropping on their conversations as you follow them to the post office every month to receive the money sent by their children abroad. The love-hate relationship between the old lady and the wastrel Mac Morgan is tellingly true to life, replete with petty squabbles, abusive exchanges, yet underscored by surprising crude warmth. The story starts and ends at the crossing of a road, which to a discerning reader denotes crossing the various stages of life. In the company of a mate, however quarrelsome and brutish he/she may be.

The charming patois of the Anglo-Indian community is beautifully captured in this story. The story in Tamil was a translation of sorts since the Anglo-Indian community speaks English; we had the onerous job of retranslating it into the language they speak. So, unlike other stories, it required a different approach to English altogether. On the surface the conversations seemed easy and effortless, but they were punctuated with roughness and warmth in equal measure and this had to be faithfully retained.

Dilip Kumar and Subashree Krishnaswamy

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