Rakhshanda Jalil – Panchlight and other stories

My friend Rakhshanda Jalil is singlemindedly pursuing her interests and dreams. Her latest book of translation has attracted attention from critics as well as high profile media persons such as Khushwant Singh. In his latest column he talks about RJ and her new book.

Bihar in translation
One of my lasting regrets is that when I migrated from Pakistan to India in August 1947, I did not learn to read and write Hindi. It was not entirely my fault as I got postings abroad and even lost much of the Urdu I knew. I was about to pick it up again in my years in Bombay. I envy those who are equally at ease with Hindi, Urdu and English.
One of them is Rakshanda Jalil of Jamia Millia University. She has written extensively about Delhi in English and translated Hindi novels. Though she is equally adept in Urdu, she does not write it, but uses it as her source material.
Rakshanda Jalil’s latest offering is translations of 10 short stories by Phaneshwar Nath Renu — Panchlight and other stories (Orient Black Swan). I had heard a great deal about Renu but was never able to lay my hands on any of his writing in English translation. I was aware that Renu (1921-77) was a Bihari from a tiny hamlet in Purnea district. He was deeply involved in the freedom movement and was jailed many times. His story Maraa Gayaa Gulfam was made into a highly popular feature film. Renu’s stories have the earthy fragrance of the soil of Bihar. […]