A couple of months ago, I was (once again) complaining to my father about the lack of recognition, appreciation, and feedback for my translation-creations of Bendre’s poetry. I suppose I repeated what I’d told him before – the unresponsiveness (despite their promises) of the many Kannada litterateurs I had shared my translations with, the general apathy of the non-Kannada people I’d reached out to (on Facebook mostly) who seemed interested in such things, the disregard of other Indian-language translators I’d sent messages to, the negligible number of visitors to the blog-website who’d thought to write a message saying they’d been there and enjoyed my translations.
It was then that Appa said something I knew – perhaps had even heard before – but had never properly recognized. “Madhava,” he said, “you have to realize that you are dealing with a very niche subject”.
It was no epiphany, but it came close. Appa’s words contributed to piercing the veil of disillusionment (and, to some extent, self-pity) I had allowed to mantle me. As I thought over what he’d said, I was able to return to the reason I had begun the blog-website in the first place: to popularize the sublime Kannada poetry of Da Ra Bendre.
I remember celebrating reaching 10,000 hits, a milestone the blog-website reached last December. At the time, it seemed like a significant milestone; especially since the website’s progression had been tortoise-slow for over three years. The initial indication that the website was gaining currency came in July 2019 – with a record 824 hits, the first time the monthly count had ever crossed 500. But it was the 1000 hits mark being breached the very next month that got my pulse racing. I began, for the first time, to check the stats on a daily basis – with some dread to begin but with pleasurable anticipation not long after. Happily, this upward trend did not falter – the blog-website continued to record over a 1000 monthly hits and I was soon preparing my write-up for when the blog reached the milestone of 10,000 hits. (In the thirteen months, not including this one, that have passed since August 2019, the only time the website did not record 1000 monthly hits was July 2020; when it recorded 990.)
Returning to what Appa said, his observation did not negate the desire to be recognized and appreciated so much as it tempered the desire. (Indeed, it would be somewhat unnatural on my part to not want my work to receive recognition – or even be published!) Consequently, it should not surprise anyone that I continue to look at the website’s stats regularly, check to see which translation-creations are currently in favour, and try to find ways to best promote the blog-website. What I have tried to change, however, are my attitude and my approach. I have decided to celebrate the support and appreciation that I do receive (from a small but wonderful group of friends and rasikas) rather than lament the appreciation I don’t.
Speaking of celebrating, I’m writing now to celebrate a different 10,000, one that is perhaps more meaningful than the number of hits. It is the total count of unique visitors to the blog-website since its inception in April 2016. It is also an indicator of the blog-website’s scope, its extent, its reach.
10,000, ten thousand, ಹತ್ತು ಸಾವಿರ (hattu sāvira): that is how many people have visited my blog-website and read Bendre’s poetry in its English avatar. The statistics tell me that these 10,000 people hail from 59 different countries, including St. Lucia, Brunei, and Serbia. Assuming, generously, that at least half of them already knew of Bendre and knew how to read Kannada (though I suspect that estimate errs on the high-side), it would mean that my blog-website has introduced both Bendre’s poetry and the Kannada language to some 5000 people around the world! And while none of these non-Kannada readers-who-aren’t-my-friends has written to me personally, it is nonetheless very gratifying to know that Bendre’s poetry has reached so many people (and hopefully moved some of them with its magic).
I’d like to end with an anecdote. About two months ago, my friend, Aditi, relayed her birthday wishes via a quite lovely voice message. Of the many nice things she said in her message, one was that “Bendre must be so proud of your work”. It was the first time somebody had expressed the thought in so many words. Recalling her words in this context, I’d like to think that Addy was right and that Bendre would be proud.