A Novel in Thamizh by
Translated into English by Latha Ramakrishnan
1. Thiruvalluvar (Tamil: திருவள்ளுவர், Tiruvaḷḷuvar ?)was a celebrated Tamil poet and philosopher  whose contribution to Tamil literature is the Thirukkural, a work on ethics. Thiruvalluvar is thought to have lived sometime between the 2nd century BC and the 8th century AD.This estimate is based on linguistic analysis of his writings, as there is no archaeological evidence for when he lived.He is sometimes also called Theiva Pulavar ("Divine Poet"), Valluvar, Poyya mozhi Pulavar, Senna Pothar, or Gnana Vettiyan.
2. Thomas the Apostle, also called Doubting Thomas or Didymus (meaning "Twin," as does "Thomas" inAramaic") was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. He is best known for questioning Jesus' resurrection when first told of it, then proclaiming "My Lord and my God" on seeing Jesus in John 20:28. He was perhaps the only Apostle who went out side the Roman Empireto preach the Gospel. He is also belie ved to have crossed the largest area, which includes the Parthian Empire and India.
3. Ka. Naa. Subramanyam (b. 31 January 1912 - d. 18 Dec ember 1988) was a Tamil writer and critic from Tamil Nadu, India. He is also popularly known by his Tamil initials as Ka..Naa.Su. Subramaniam was born in Valangaiman in Thanjavur District. His first noted published work was the novel Poithevu (1946). He also wrote poems using the pseu donym Mayan. He published many literary journals like Ilakkiya vattam, Sooravali and Chandraodayam. He became a literary critic in the 1950s. His reviews first appeared in the magazines Swadesamitran and Saraswathi. In 1965, he moved to New Delhi and started writing articles for English language newspapers. For the next twenty years he lived in Delhi and moved back to Chennai only in 1985. In 1986, he was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award for Tamil for his literary criticism Ilakkiyathukku oru Iyakkam (lit. A Movement for Literature). Pondicherry University made him an honorary professor. He died in 1988. The Government of Tamil Nadu nationalised his works in 2006.
I] down memory lane….
ON TRANSLATING KA.NAA.SU’S NOVEL THOMAS VANDHAAR INTO ENGLISH, UNDER THE TITLE
I am never good at undertaking ‘down memory lane’ journeys. And, twenty years is a long time. Still, a few reminiscences about this book seem inevitable…
Two or three years before his demise, in December 1988, veteran writer Ka.Naa.Subramaniam had come to Chennai and was living in Mylapore, with a failing eye-sight. Learning this I wrote a card to him saying that I would consider it an honour to be of some help to his literary activities. Shortly afterwards I met him and started going to his place almost everyday. I was one of the few who could read his handwriting (it would be too small but so neatly aligned with no corrections, addition, deletion etc.) and so was able to be of some help to him. I could feel a sense of peace in his presence.
When he asked me to translate into Tamil his novel ‘Avadhuthar’, originally written in English by him I thought he was kind of evaluating my literary capabilities and nothing more than that. But, he did get my translation published. So, when he asked me to translate his poignant novel ‘Thomas Vandhaar’ into English I set out to do it in right earnest.
Sad indeed that when I was half way through the translation assignment, Ka.Naa.Su breathed his last. Nevertheless, I finished translating Thomas Vandhaar, giving it the title ‘Came Thomas’, in the next six months. And, when his wife left for Delhi I gave my typed manuscript to her, thinking that in Delhi the prospects for its publication would be far better.
Nothing happened in the next twenty years for which no use blaming any body, including my own self. Recently, when I came to know that writer Ka.Naa.Su’s books and works were handed over to Kalachuvadu for preser vation, I contacted the son-in-law of Ka.Naa.Su, Mr.A.R.Venkatachalapathy and the head office of Kalachuvadu in Nagarcoil asking for my manuscript. They made arrangements for the manuscript to reach me within a month for which I genuinely thank them.
Seeing my manuscript, the white-sheets having turned grey and brown, after almost two decades, with the covering letter written by me, in fact, I experie nced an eerie feeling, to say the least.
We can perceive a general trend around us, the ‘in-thing’ so to say, whereby if one echoes our views he/she is hailed and approved of, and, if not, abused and subjected to class-based and caste-based castigation. But, Ka.Naa.Su belonged to that clan of writers who write what they feel right no matter whether they get accolades or brickbats and who would never be the mouth-piece of any particular individual or group.
When this novel was serialized in a small magazine for several months it gave considerable food for thought. I sincerely hope that this English version of it would also prove that poignant. Whatever be the merits of this translation of mine, they truly belong to Ka.Naa.Su and the lapses are entirely mine. Hope they are few.
There are a round 25 chapters in this novel, comprising some 230 pages. I would be uploading my English rendering of this novel chapterwise in this blogspot of mine once in every week. I sincerely wish to have my English rendering of this very thought-provoking novel published in a book form. I sincerely hope that there won't be any need for me to remind anyone that though writer Ka.Na.Su's works are nationalized my English translation of his Thamizh novel 'Thomas Vandhaar[Came Thomas] is not!