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Jalaluddin jumps the dictionary

books Updated: Nov 26, 2011 01:37 IST
Soumya Mukerji
Soumya Mukerji
Hindustan Times
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There are two kinds of people in this world. One, who’ve read Rumi and the other, who haven’t. Oh wait, there’s a third. The kind that translates. And a fourth, that even runs down the translations by others! Farrukh Dhondy falls in that category. What you love about his interpretation of the 13th century Sufi poet-saint’s works is that they’re devoid of the heaviness of previous literary versions or the same-wordedness of the quote summaries on the Web.

The translations are simple, soulful and short, for any Sufi of the day to soak in without deliberation. There’s The One and the wine and the word-whirl of the desert dervish, but no, you’re saved of the long-windedness and spiritual jargon.

Starting from the soft pink on the cover and the petals that unfurl on it, each piece in poetry flows freely and frill-less, allowing you to feel and put the poetry in personal perspective rather than get overwhelmed by the other-worldliness of it all. No, that doesn’t mean it borders on the frivolous — there’s an effortless depth and insight, followed by an author’s note on how he came about to do the translation when he was handed over a tiringly intellectual version of Rumi when he boarded a flight.

But, he doesn’t stop at disapproving the scholarisation of Jalaluddin’s verses. He trashes Deepak Chopra’s translations too, calling them ‘fraud’, suddenly raising your brows with it towards the end. You could agree, but one interpreter of a work with a thousand meanings slamming another spoils the show, no?

Rumi, a new translation
Author: Farrukh Dhondy
Publisher: HarperCollins
Price: Rs 299