Prof: M S Verma
Editor, Professor, Translator
From M.S Verma:
A word about why I translated and edited the novel
I came across the novel and casually turned its pages, reading a few lines here or there. But the little sampling I did showed that along with all the realistic ups and downs of human life and predicaments, a purpose was woven into the fabric of the book. Hence I decided to read it leisurely with the seriousness it deserved and still deserves and then there was no stopping. Munshi Prem Chand (early twentieth century) the most respected Indian Hindi and Urdu fiction writer of stories and novels had caught my fancy in my school days and I had read most of his literature much before I graduated. The same was the case with Kamlesh Chauhan’s Saat Samundar Paar. I have read hundreds of novels by American and English authors and had felt that I had had a very good idea of the social and cultural life in those great countries. But it was for the first time for me to read about the Western Society from the perspective of an educated Indian lady of a very refined sensitivity who had observed the western society from very close quarters. Her own life has been, as I came to know later, a part of that society for over a decade. Initially I felt as if I were reading Prem Chand’s Karam Bhoomi or Rang Bhoomi, The celebrated Panjabi writer Amrita Pritam’s writings carry her personal pain in the writings and the readers feel her total emotional involvement in them. Kamlesh Chauhan too has not escaped from this. Her total involvement becomes obvious with the situations and characters especially with that of Sundari and like all great writing, the story sounds as an autographical account. But this impression was soon replaced by the author’s own unique style and the novel achieves objectivity..
The novel tells us very poignantly the story of Sundari, an educated, intelligent, sensitive lady who has imbibed Indian cultural values to the grass roots and struggles in vain to live them in her life. The story begins with the growing up of a girl into a woman; her craving for love that proves to be a mirage for her as the story moves on. A saying goes that ‘The drowning man catches at a straw’. It fully applies to Sundari for every firm catch of her turns out to be a straw and she consistently suffers. The initial blow came when she was married off to the uncle of her lover who had a heart of pure gold. The uncle on the other hand is all guilt through and through. Life of Sundari starts going down the hill as all her hopes and dreams are belied despite her best efforts to make her married life a success and life turns into a mockery. The tragedy becomes all the more painful when her lover Akash again makes an entry into her cursed life. She is forced to ride two horses which she can hardly manage, to function as an ideal housewife and an ardent lover. The author introduces a few moments of transitory but suspenseful relief during which too the reader trembles and is afraid of the next blow that Sundari is bound to receive and he starts sharing the miserable life of Sundari with numerous disastrous compromises in the same way as Sanjay shares the pain of Dhritrashra in the Mahabharta. The trials and tribulations and the misery keep on adding to their dimensions. The suffering is more emotional than the physical. It acquires its frightening starkness with the entry of Sundari’s nemesis, Sheila, an illiterate, crafty, calculating woman, a typical specimen that gives preference to the luxuries of the flesh and blood rather than the spirit. If Sundari’s parents had sent her with her husband with the hope of ensuring her happiness as a married woman, Sheila’s people had sent her to England with the clear object of earning money by hook or by crook and she fully translates their dreams into a grand success. She is so insensitive that right from the first night of her married life in the conjugal bed, she starts planning how to ruin her husband and his people. The contrast between the characters and situations of Sundari and Sheila convey the predicament of most victims of fate and shows the victory of evil over good.
However, there are other characters and events to enhance the readability of the novel. That ‘Crime and criminals prosper but finally meet their ignoble end’ is also conveyed to the reader in the passing.
Kamlesh Chauhan has very lucidly brought out the futility of Indian parents who marry their daughters off with foreigner grooms; mostly NRIs little knowing that they were sending them to suffer a hellish rootless life away from their protective care.
My detailed review, I remember, was published in America earlier. Here it is not my purpose to write another review but just to tell the enlightened readers why I translated and edited this good novel. I requested the author to give her permission to translate it with a little editing here and there and she readily and gladly agreed. The result is in your hands and I am sure the readers will enjoy the novel.
Prof. M. S. Verma,
Department of English,
BMIET, Sonepat, Haryana, 14th October, 2010