About Ponni's Beloved

For those who are wondering why I suddenly began translating Ponniyin Selvan, a popular tamil classic, I would like to say that this isn't something that I have started new. This exercise of translation began 12 years ago. I wrote about 40 chapters and then stopped.

My reasons for stopping were many. Maybe just like vandiya devan (hero of the novel), I didn't start my journey towards Ponni's Beloved on an auspicious day. And I encountered hurdles in many shapes and sizes. With life taking many bizarre turns, I left PS and all its groups to focus on mundane things that came my way.

A true quirk of fate brought an old member of Ponniyin Selvan (a popular author now) back in contact. And as we exchanged mails and updates about what happened in the group after I left, I checked out many old links to find many encouraging accounts about my little translation effort -

My love affair with "Ponniyin Selvan" started when I was slogging my butt out in Japan. Having travelled abroad for the first time (and unwittingly during winter), I greatly missed what one would take-for-granted during most of his life - the food and scents of his mother-land.

 was amazed at how detailed the story was. History is so interwined in the story, it is difficult to make out where history stops and fiction begins. The handling of the narration is a novelty in itself. Sometimes when the author talks to the reader in first-person, it really pains to put the book down. Especially the description of the bazaars of south-india, make me turn around and search for those elements in the market street of Nanganallur when I walk past.

Later on, when I bought my own tamil version of the book, I was amazed at how simple (and thus efficient) Sumeetha's translation was. In fact, when I read the book in tamil, I didnt feel like I was reading it for the first time at all! Rather, I felt the that the english translation was handled with such ease that the language (as it usually would especially when dealing with stories of a variant land) didnt matter at all. What kalki was for "Ponniyin Selvan", Sumeetha is for "Ponni's Beloved". Way to go, Sumeetha.

You can check out the entire blog here - http://madantalks.blogspot.in/2006/03/why-i-love-ponniyin-selvan.html

One more reader posted his review in the yahoo group -

Initially I didn’t read sumeeta’s translations in the first place – may be because I’d already read the original work several times.

But my wife, who is not very comfortable reading tamil – had the pleasure of reading all the 13 chapters posted in zine5.com. I’d narrated the story to her earlier – but obviously I skipped lot of details and just briefed the story.Now, after reading the translation – she is very well able to feel the depth of this classic.

(This is just to illustrate how PS is able to touch people who cannot read tamil at ease.)
After her excitement – I went through the site and was pleasently surprised by the way Sumeetha had begun the story : Introducing everything to the readers before actually beginning the first chapter, providing specific details on glossery etc.
The language is also excellent.
Now I feel like reading the whole of PS in english – in the words of Sumeetha !.
To me, Sumeetha’s work is very very important and deserves lot of kudos and encouragement !
This work demands lot of patience /dedicated work and has long standing implications.

I am humbled by these words from so many unknown readers. And if this does not prompt me to complete this translation, nothing will. 

So this new year, I have made a very important resolution and I intend to keep it. I am resolved to complete this translation and delve into the engrossing world of Kalki once again. 

I hope all my readers join me on this journey and help me realize my goal.

Thank You
Sumeetha Manikandan


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Volume 1 - New Flood