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Meera Parasuraman

Translating into the Tamil

I had written this poem in English quite some time ago. It was only recently that I thought of translating it into Tamil, my mother tongue. I believe that this decision was instinctive, considering that Tamil was the language I grew up with.


When the process of translation took off, the first roadblock I hit was the title. I wrestled with quite a few expressions in Tamil which could best express the idea behind the latter part of the title, “…Talking to me Too Much,” before I settled on the present one.

Moreover, the realization that a translation can be viewed from different perspectives hit home with my husband’s reaction to my audio recording of the Tamil translation. After listening to it repeatedly, he said that there was a sense of incompleteness about the ending. I then compared the English and the Tamil versions. I saw that, in the former, I have wondered why I need to talk of death, “When I am in a house / That lives, breathes, and talks to me / Every day, every second?” Here, all the ideas are contained in a single question. But, in the Tamil version, I have split up the ideas into two different questions. I first ask why I speak of death. I then bring in the idea of my living in a house that talks to me constantly, in the form of another query. This did not strike me as being odd then, nor does it now. But viewpoints differ, and, with them, interpretations. Therein lies the charm of a translation. 

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