Title Verso: Sail’s Journey from Konkani to English Publishing
The publication of Mahableshwar Sail’s Aranyakand translated into English by Vidya Pai, (Oxford University Press, 2015) breaks new ground in the context of the modern Konkani novel. Slickly produced by OUP, Delhi and deftly promoted in a niche market called ‘Oxford Novellas,’ the move bodes well for many unsung and unseen Konkani writers in Goa or elsewhere who need to reach out to a wider (English or International) readership. The English translation of Sail’s Hawthan/ The Kiln by Vidya Pai was released by the World Konkani Centre, Mangalore in 2011. Kali Ganga translated by Vidya Pai was published by National Book Trust, Delhi in English in 2003 priced at Rs. 80.
From the humble beginnings of a Khol Khol Mulam in Konkani published a decade ago in 2005 with not a number to its name, today Sail has both a 10 as well as a 13 digit ISBN. The title verso page of Khol assigns the copyright to his wife Shalini Sail and is indexed charmingly as Publication No. 46. Writing for Sail is this intimate, home-grown, family practice nurtured by his dextrous readings in English, Kannada, Konkani and Marathi. South of Margao where Sail resides is Shristal, Canacona where the publisher of Khol i.e. Milind Kamalakar Mhalsi of Padmaja Prakashan is based. The printer is Manguesh Dhavlikar of Kasturi Graohics, Dhavli, Ponda, Goa. The price a modest Rs.150 as compared to OUP’s Rs. 295.
Indigenous publishing of Konkani writing needs to be saluted, even if it must give way to multinationals like Oxford. Yet the home-grown version of the original Konkani is far more moving than its translation, despite its hype – and OUP would balk at publishing in Devnagari Konkani.
It is heartening to see that sans English, Konkani literature is extending its footprint across genres into Konkani film like Paltadcho Munis (2009) directed by Laxmikant Shetgaonkar based on Sail’s Adrusta (1997). The Goan paintings of Mohan Naik from Balli, Cuncolim grace the covers of Pundalik Naik’s Acchev. This matrix of literature, painting and film nurturing the local idioms needs to be nurtured wholeheartedly rather than being lured to jettison this sacred anchorage for a rootless international language, viz. English.
Multilingual symposium on Mahableshwar Sail, Institute Menezes Braganza, Panaji, Goa, 13 April 2017. Pix of title verso pages of Aranyakand (OUP, 2015) and Khol, Khol Mulam (Padmaja Prakashan, 2005)