Antananarivo: Kalidasa's poems Meghaduta (The Cloud Messenger) and Ritusamhara (The Six Seasons) have been rendered into English translation by poet and Ambassador Abhay K.
This is perhaps for the first time that a poet has translated the two classic poems of Kalidasa, bringing them alive into contemporary poetic language.
A.N.D. Haksar, a well-known translator of Sanskrit, works into English, many published as Penguin classics, says–"Very well translated, Abhay K.'s translation of Meghaduta gives a fresh sense of the original"
In his introduction, Abhay K. has also highlighted how ecological sensibilities form the very essence of Kalidasa's Meghaduta and Ritusamhara, which need to be read and reread, especially when the world faces the triple threat of climate change, biodiversity loss and environmental pollution.
Poet and journalist Pritish Nandy says– "I have read and published several translations of Ritusamhara over the years but this is unquestionably the most wonderful. Abhay has cleverly sidestepped scholarship for the sheer magic of poetry. This is what makes this rendering such a delight. Most versions in existence are rigid and scholarly. In the process, they have lost out on the magic and enchantment of the original. Abhay, being a poet, captures precisely that. This is the Kalidasa you want to read."
Abhay K. says he always wanted to read and translate these two classics of Kalidasa. However, it was during the Covid-19 pandemic when he read a poem titled "Lockdown" by UK poet laureate Simon Armitage published in March 2020, which had reference to Meghaduta that he set on translating the two classics. His learning of Sanskrit during high school days came in handy.
Inspired by Meghaduta, Abhay K. has also penned a long poem titled 'Monsoon'. 'Monsoon' is a poem of love and longing wherein a poet in Madagascar exhorts monsoon to take his message and the sights and sounds of whatever it comes across on its way to his beloved in the Kashmir Valley in the Himalayas.
The poem introduces the reader to the rich beauty and splendour of the islands of Madagascar, Reunion, Mauritius, Seychelles, Mayotte, Comoros, Zanzibar, Socotra, Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Andaman & Nicobar and the Western Ghats, Aravalis, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Sundarbans, West Bengal, Bihar, Sikkim, Nepal, Uttarakhand, Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Kashmir Valley, their flora and fauna, cuisine, festivals and monuments as Monsoon travels through these places.
Abhay K.'s translation of Meghaduta has already been published in July 2021, while the translation of Ritusamhara will be published in October 2021. His book-length poem 'Monsoon' is likely to come out in 2022.