Obama’s dreams now in Hindi: ‘Book will inspire Indians,too’

Translating Barack Obama’s memoir Dreams from My Father into Hindi,Ashok Kumar went through a mix of emotions himself.

Written by Chinki Sinha | New Delhi | Published:February 22, 2009 1:46 am

Translating Barack Obama’s memoir Dreams from My Father into Hindi,Ashok Kumar went through a mix of emotions himself. Reading and then translating the life of young Obama growing up in Chicago and his struggles with issues of race relations in the US was an “emotional journey”,the seasoned journalist said at the book’s launch on Saturday evening at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan’s Hall,Copernicus Lane.

“There were too many times when I felt sad,especially when he talks about his mother as a young girl sitting in the park with a black girl,and other children teasing her friend as a ‘nigger’,” Kumar said. “There is so much to learn — he is candid and honest.”

Obama,the first African-American president of the United States,wrote the book when he was only 33; it charters his journey as a young black man struggling to come to terms with life in a segregated society. Obama’s parents separated when he was two,and then divorced in 1964.

For Arvind Kumar,the publisher,translating the book in Hindi was a decision that came to him after reading the book. Seldom do politicians speak with such stark honesty about their private life,he said.

“There is a lot of substance in the book as a human document. It is an inspiring book,” he said. His first thought? “People must read it — and Hindi readers have shown a great interest in autobiographies.”

The book,he said,translates well for the Indian society. While race is an issue in America,caste distinctions are a pressing concern in India. “The book will inspire the marginalised section in this country — if a black man could do it in America,they,too,can do it here.”

Titled Pita Se Mile Sapne,the book was received well among the audience who listened attentively as Krishna Sobti and Neelabh read out excerpts from the translation at the launch function.

Ashok Kumar,a senior editor at India Today,finished the book in three months.

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