For the first time, the stories of P K Parakkadavu, hailed as the king of ‘micro-tales,’ are being translated into English.
A writer of universal agonies, he prefers this time to release his book Through the Mini Looking Glass’ in Ajman. The book will be released by poet Sachidanandan on December 14 in the presence of prominent Arab writers. Lead Books is the publisher of the book.
“My writings do not ponder over the nostalgic Malayali. They have a universal theme and structure and considering my readers outside the country, this time I have chosen a different destination,” says Parakkadavu.
The author shares an optimism that in this fast pace of life, when reading is confined to short intervals of a train journey or in a lift, his works, which often end up in three or four sentences, would give the readers a choice to opt for them.
“The reader can restart his reading from anywhere. Every page offers him a new tale, a new beginning and a new conclusion. Reading is no longer restricted by time or space,” he says.
Having published 32 books, including anthologies of stories, children’s literature, essays and memoirs, the author’s favourites are his micro-tales, a term coined for his works by Sachidanandan.
Parakkadavu has a reason for this. He says, “I wrote my first micro-tale Visa that has only 12 lines, on the death of a Gulf Malayali, brought up in a Muslim family.
The scene explains moments prior to his burial and how the politically-conscious neighbours chat around about the situation prevailing in the country and suddenly the deceased gets up and asks whether his visa has arrived.
It created a furore in the village and the religious heads were angry and said I was insulting beliefs. If 12 lines could make waves in a village, I thought it would be the best medium to convey my ideas.”
“Classics like Ernest Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea and Tagore’s Gitanjali’ were small in size. Malayali has a liking for huge works, but small lines ignite fire,” the author says, justifying his technique.
When he brings Aadi Sankaran to EMS Namboothirippad and the effects of globalisation in a single reference, “Mr Sankaran once again climbed up the coconut tree,/ Two pepsi/ Three cocacola/ Thrown all of them down,” things become extremely difficult for the translator.
“Parakkadavu’s writings need to be translated considering the direct meaning as well as the meaning implied. Some of the phrases he has used have no similar usage in English,” says V K Sreelesh, who has translated the works from Malayalam. The title was suggested by Yasin Ashraf. To write six lines he spends two weeks, editing and re-editing them.
“I feel St Gabriel brings me the idea. They come to my mind sometimes in the middle of sleep, sometimes during a journey… and I scribble them down. When the feeling is original, it naturally takes shape,” he says.
Parakkadavu’s original name is Ahammed. He was born in Parakkadavu in Vadakara.
Born to Ponnankott Hassan and Mariyam, he studied at Farooq College and has worked in Bahrain, the UAE and Qatar. He currently heads the periodicals section of a Malayalam daily. His family includes wife Sebunnisa and daughters Athira Sameer and Anuja Mirshad.