Title: Penpiravi – Birth of a Woman
Translation by: Vineetha Mekkoth
Poems by: Girija Pathekkara
Published by: Authorspress
“Penpiravi – Birth of a Woman”, a collection of poems by
Vineetha Mekkoth, is a translation of Girija Pathekkara’s collection of
Malayalam poems of the same title.
Through the entire reading of the book from cover to cover,
I was aware of the presence of a woman who is very bold and progressive in her
thinking, but very docile in her personal everyday life. A docility that she
hangs on to, perhaps, out of her emotional attachment to those around her. A
docility that can, like a sleeping volcano, erupt at any moment. A docility
that can turn into a powerful force, which she essentially is, at her own free
will. A docility that she can do away with anytime if she so chooses. That
woman, I feel, is perhaps the poet. And, that woman, I know for sure, is me.
As a reader of poems, I believe the order of the poems in a
collection plays an important role in how the readers experience them. In the
poem “Ichchamati”, which is brilliantly placed as the concluding poem in this
collection, I could see the beginning of the woman’s transformation into what
she would and should become. However, I neither see the explosive awakening of
a sleeping volcano nor a vehement unleashing of the power of her will. What I
see is a gentle unfoldment that is as gentle as the metamorphosis of a
butterfly or the blooming of a flower.
“…Does the water
have eyes to see
the way it has to flow?
My little question
then you answered
with so many kisses.
mother, you had
May I step into her now?” (p. 76)
Ichamati is a river that flows between India and Bangladesh.
Roughly translated, the word ichamati
means “someone who moves (lives) by her own wishes”.
I take my hat off to Mekkoth for preserving the experience
of the poems. She has maintained the spirit of the original language,
Malayalam, without compromising the beauty of the target language, English. Mekkoth
has also been able to present the cultural setting of the original poems
effortlessly. Having said that, the poems don't lean on the original versions
to connect with and delight the readers. They are beautiful poems in themselves
that can enchant lovers of poetry across the world. Well, simply put, I enjoyed
reading the book.
I wish Vineetha Mekkoth and Girija Pathekkara the very best
on their poetic journeys.
The book is available at https://www.amazon.in/Penpiravi-Birth-Malayalam-Girija-Pathekkara/dp/B09HQ24CKJ/ref=sr_1_3?qid=1643973024&refinements=p_27%3AVineetha&s=books&sr=1-3.