Mir Mosarraf Hossain’s “Bishad Sindhu” as “Ocean of Melancholy” by Alo Shome, Niyogi Books

Alo Shome’s seminal work of translation Ocean of Melancholy from Mir Mosarraf Hossain’s Bengali original, an epic historical novel, Bishad Sindhu opens a channel for non-Bangla readers to take a dip into the events which led to the tragic battle of Karbala and its aftermath.

The tale revolves around the tragic story of Hassan and Hussein, the grandsons of Prophet Muhammad, who were exterminated by their bitter enemy Yazid, the son of king of Damascus, for his desire for Zainab – Hassan’s beautiful wife – and his greed for the throne of Medina. The plot is dramatic, has a mythical undertone of it, and deeds of heroism and supernatural occurrences render an epic flavour to its narrative. The story line tours through the sufferings and agonies of human life and the covetousness and hatred of men, and, at the same time, imparts a historical background to the bloodbath and killings that took place in Karbala, Iraq on the 10th of October, AD 680.

Translation is a complex art; however, the complexity moves to a higher level it the source text belongs to a different age. Alo Shome’s attempt of ‘transcreation’ seems commendable, as she has tried to retain the nuances of source culture in the best possible manner. She talks about the issues faced and tackled during this translation and takes complete responsibility of the same through her footnotes provided in the text.

Shome’s language is as chiselled as her experience, which is gigantic. Her selected and translated collection of Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay’s essays Many Threads of Hinduism and her translation of Bankim’s study of Sri Krishna’s personality Krishna Charitra have been praised immensely. Her poems have also been critically appreciated.

About the Reviewer

Varsha Singh (M.Phil., Ph.D.) is an Independent Researcher, Critic, Poet, Translator and Editor from Jharkhand. She writes in English and Hindi. Along with being the Managing Editor of Reviews, she edits for several national and international journals. She currently teaches at the Department of English, Guru Nanak  College, Dhanbad.

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