(A Quarterly International Peer-reviewed Refereed e-Journal
Devoted to English Language and Literature)
Rajender Toki. A Tale of An Idiot and Other Stories, translated from Hindi into English by R. K. Bhushan. New Delhi: Authorspress, 2022. Pp. 170. Rs. 395/- ISBN: 978-93-5529-131-8.
Reviewed by Sudhir K Arora
A Tale of An Idiot and Other Stories, which contains 11 stories along with Neeru Tandon’s “Foreword”, Bhaskaranand Jha Bhaskar’s “Introduction” and the two previews by Shaleen K Singh and Vandita Dharani is R. K. Bhushan Sabhaarwal’s translation of Dr. Rajender Toki’s Hindi stories. Rajender Toki does not need an introduction. He is a legend in the field of Hindi literature. It is the kind literary gesture from R. K. Bhushan who has made Toki’s stories available globally by translating them into English so effectively and technically that they seem to be giving the natural flavor. Translation is an art, of which Bhushan seems to be the master.
The book begins with the first story “Our Heroic Ideal” and ends with the story “A Tale of An Idiot.” It begins with the lines: “The hero of this story stopped at the gate of the hostel, he looked around on all sides and found nobody to welcome him” (26) and ends with “I hate such characters from the core of my heart as are left with a little emotionality and humanity. Therefore I am in search of such characters as represent this brutal inhuman society and are not IDIOTS like the hero. HERE ENDS THE TALE OF THE IDIOT” (159). The beginning lines and the ending lines clearly demonstrate the essence of the whole book. The book is mostly written in the autobiographical and confessional modes. The protagonist is in search of someone with whom he may converse and thus begins his journey. As the reader moves from one story to the other story and comes to conclude with the tale of the idiot who realizes the foolishness of being emotional and so begins to search the brutal characters who will not be like the idiot hero. This is what he realizes. Within the gamut of sarcasm, all the stories reveal the various stages of life which a man has to face and live. Bhaskar in his “Introduction” praises the stories saying: “Laced with comic effect, aiming at making one aware of the reality of life, stories are penetrating and engaging” (14). He also appreciates R. K. Bhushan for sustaining and keeping “the aesthetic value of Dr. Toki’s work in his (translator’s) translation” (14).
“Our Heroic Idol” demonstrates the story of a man who finds himself alone though poses to be an intellectual philosopher, equipped with western philosophy. Rickshaw walla makes the reader think and feel for the poor man who earns his living without caring for the wounded leg. As the reader turns the pages, he sees the picture of the social customs, rites and rituals in “Shraaddh” though finds a change when Raghu offers a book as dakshina. With the passage of time, the reader also experiences with the protagonists of the stories and becomes mature in his vision while making a tour of stories like “Roaming with the Shadows of the Past”, “The Image Idol”, “The Spell of Creation”, “Shrimaan Ji”, The Shameless”, “Humanity Desensitized”, and “The Denied, The Deprived and the Destitute.” Finally he comes to the last story “A Tale of An Idiot” which is the longest story in autobiographical vein. Though it is a story, it has the ingredients of being a novel. The hero of the story who is half-blind to the extent that he has a limited vision reminds the reader Milton and his literary achievements.
Kudos to the translational knack of R. K. Bhushan who, in the words of Bhaskar, “has successfully only transferred the beauty and soul of the original stories by Dr. Toki, in his beautiful translation – transcreation” (18). The book is really remarkable and recommendable for all types of readers—general as well as literary readers who will certainly feel their inner musings while experiencing with the experiences of the different characters of the stories.
About the Reviewer:
Dr Sudhir K. Arora, the Chief Editor of Creation and Criticism, is presently serving as Principal, Maharaja Harishchandra P. G. College, Moradabad, affiliated to M. J. P. Rohilkhand University, Bareilly, India. He has several significant publications to his credit including Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger: A Freakish Booker and Cultural and Philosophical Reflections in Indian Poetry in English. He can be contacted at email@example.com..