‘Inevitably, we talked about Ammani. I said that for a woman who professes that everything makes her laugh, her laughter often borders on tears, or perhaps it is a strategy to divert her anger or pain. Laughter also seems to be her defense and her ammunition against the extreme ironies of life.Excerpt from my conversation with the author T. Janakiraman. Wooden Cow
“What could you get out of Ammani’s reflections?” asked Janakiraman.
“There are many that pertain to a woman’s sensibility. For now, I remember just one line that stayed in my mind, which reveals how we perceive things, depending on our state of mind.”
“Do you remember the line?”
“Yes. Ammani likes the room in the house in Madras where the sunlight filters through the leaves of the tree and falls on the floor as luminous dots: Sunlight scattered in dots like the hide of a dappled deer. At other times, it growled like the hide of a leapord. This metaphor fans out with profound implications. It is a deep, inward-looking consciousness; still, it can draw within its vortex the signature of a hundred other subjectivities that resonate with people. Then how can one call it narrowly subjective?”
Janakiraman did not answer. He was deep in thought and looked remote and withdrawn.
A few weeks later, I received a gift from him. It was a deer skin, the spots glowing yellow and gold on a soft surface. Since only rishis are eligible to sit on it, we hung up the lovely deer skin on the wall of our prayer room.’
How was the experience of revising an old edition of a translation that I did nearly forty years back?Introduction, Wooden Cow
‘I wrestled with a new kind of beast that I is hard to describe and difficult to handle. It entailed managing the dance between the ‘old’ and the ‘new’, each fighting for its space. It is any day easier to translate a book starting from scratch. Moyna Mazumdar, my editor, patiently worked with me through all the vexed moments when my role was rapidly turning into something like a negotiator between the ‘old’ and the ‘new’.