The translator Vishes Kothari’s note that prefaces Vijaydan Detha’s collection of folk tales reminds us that what we are going to read is an act of literary and cultural translation as well as a feat of literary magic where the intangible is made visible and accessible to the readers who do not have access to the original Rajasthani stories and perhaps even the milieu in which these stories are set and from which they emerged. It is to Detha’s credit that he not only recasts these tales in the familiar form of the short story, but also that he chooses to document the rich oral traditions of Rajasthan, in the native Rajasthani language, and in the process retrieves and documents a heritage which might otherwise have either been lost or subsumed by other languages of India. To Detha also goes the credit of pioneering, through his choice of folklore as literary medium, the linguistic and cultural assertion of the right of a people for recognition of the uniqueness of their cultural heritage, in a language that is very much alive in both private and public spaces, and yet awaits official recognition as a scheduled Indian language.
Whimsy, déjà vu and Delight!
Anjana Neira Dev
THE GARDEN OF TALES: THE BEST OF VIJAYDAN DETHA by Vishes Kothari Harper Perennial, HarperCollins Publishers, Haryana, 2023, 349 pp., ₹499.00
May 2023, volume 47, No 5