22 Jun 2022  |   06:50am IST

The script still matters

Five books in Konkani were released on tiatr but what is the state of its literature and are translations taking place into Konkani or of its classics into other languages
The script still matters

Ajit John


ive books on tiatr were released yesterday at the Tiatr Academy Goa. This was under its scheme ‘Preservation of Tiatr Literature’. Five books namely ‘Devan Ghoddlem Mon’xan Moddlem’ a tiatr, ‘Soccorina’ a Khell-Tiatr written by Menino Fernandes alias Menino de Bandar, ‘Mhoji Maim Mhoji Dusman’ a tiatr, ‘Hie Chukik Bhogsonnem Asa?’ a Khell-Tiatr written by Mario Menezes and ‘Amcho Bharot Mahan’ (Don Tiatr) written by the late Fr. Nevel L. S. Gracias was released.

Dr. Andre Rafael Fernandes, retired Professor, H.O.D (Department of English) was the Chief Guest while Tomazinho Cardozo and Fausto V. Da Costa spoke on the books. More books in the language and in this case the Romi script are to be welcomed no doubt. But how healthy is Konkani literature? Are books from other languages being translated into Konkani? Or for that matter the other way round.

Dr. Andre Rafael Fernandes was of the opinion that not many translations from other languages into Konkani were taking place. He said it would be possible to count the number of translations that had taken place. Dr Andre said “Translation is a field in which a lot of scope is present in both ways from Konkani into English or any other language and other languages into Konkani. Translations have taken place of novels by Mauzo, there have been some poems which have been translated from Konkani into other languages.” Asked if there was a paucity of good translators, absence of interest or a paucity of finance to fund such initiatives, the doctor admitted it was a bit baffling why this had not happened. He said so many books were translated into so many languages, like Portuguese, Russian, and French but in Konkani this movement for translation, he felt had not taken off. He admitted there was a lot of scope because very few books had been translated and why that had not happened he said remained a mystery. Dr Andre wondered if it was due to the lack of a reading habit, because if there was such a culture a translator would feel motivated. Since most readers in Goa would read in English and not Konkani, there would not be much of a market for him in that language. The Sahitya Academy he said encouraged translation so those dynamics he felt could be in play. He pointed out that there were other sources of entertainment like the digital media and people had choices and people were reading less. There were the diehard fans that still needed a book in their hands, he admitted but on the whole there was a crisis and the book shops were experiencing tough times. When asked about the absence of a standardised script and the politics that went with it, he said a lot of material was available in the Kannada script which not many people were aware of. He felt this could be a reason why translations were not taking place that easily. Dr Andre said the politics of the script had a lot to do with it too with a lot of people just not interested in reading in the other script which resulted in the audience reducing even further. This problem he felt would not be sorted out easily because it was entrenched. Speaking of the launch of the five books he said it was heartening and encouraging to see this and these books could be used as research material for students.

Tomazinho Cardozo writer in English and Konkani as well as a tiatrist speaking about translations said work was done in the Devnagari script but in the Roman script not much had been done. Asked why this was the case, he said one needed manpower and also the readership. He said “When you do a translation of an international book, you need a market and if there is no sale then what is the purpose? I don’t think individuals can do this, it has to be done by institutions like the tiatr academy or other institutions”. The reduction in readership he said was a reality in Konkani as well as in other languages. It is difficult to sell even five hundred copies. These books were sold to libraries and sale was possible. Every author has his or her readership, he said. Asked about the future of Konkani literature, he said the young generation was keen on English but even then the young generation was not reading in that language. It was a problem across languages.

Mario Menezes speaking after the event said the book he authored was due to his love for the language but he was very sure it would be sold in the market. These books would go to libraries across the state and perhaps even to other states and used for research. Menino Fernandes smiled and said the book he had authored was based on a true story that took place in the eighties. It is about an extra marital affair, a murder and how the culprit was caught. The tiatr he said ran for over three hundred shows and he was the first to take it to the gulf region in 1985.


Idhar Udhar