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C. Raghavan: A Translator par excellence


C.S. Venkiteswaran


Six months back, when I happened to visit Kasargod, I went to meet C. Raghavan at his residence: a small cosy house tucked behind a hill slope in front of the Government guest house. He was not feeling too well and was spending most of the time in bed. Obviously, he was happy to see me. As the conversation progressed, he narrated, without the slightest hint of self pity, about a stroke he suffered a few weeks back. It happened while he was translating a travelogue in Malayalam to Kannada. He was lying on his arm chair, reading the book and dictating the Kannada translation to his wife. Suddenly he felt unwell and was taken to the hospital for treatment. After being discharged and returning home, he found to his great surprise that he had forgotten most of his Kannada, though he had no problem with Malayalam. ‘Something happened to the Kannada part of my brain’, he said laughing, as jovial as ever. He hoped to recover soon and to get back to business as he had a lot of projects in the pipeline. I don’t think he ever got back to normal. On 20th February this year, he left us and this world that direly needs translations. He was 79 With the demise of C. Raghavan, we have lost one of the finest multilingual translators in the country. A very lively presence in the cultural scene of Tulunad, C. Raghavan was an integral part of all the progressive social and literary movements in the region during the last several decades. His contributions as a teacher, writer, historian, editor and translator have inspired and shaped a generation of literary enthusiasts, writers and students. A true polyglot, he was at ease with several languages. He was an expert in Tulu, Kannada and Malayalam languages and was very well at ease with Tamil and English. Raghavan Master was one of those rare translators who could translate from and into more than one source/target language. He translated a number of notable literary works from and into Malayalam and Kannada, and has ‘literally’ been an ambassador between the two languages. Throughout his life he lived in Kasargod or Tulunad which, like in the case of a translator, cuts across the territories of states and cultures. Tulunad is a virtual melting pot of cultures—Tulu, Kannada, Malayalam, Konkani, Beary and English. So, in several ...


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