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The Cane Cutter’s Song by Raphael Confiant, translated by Vidya Vencatesan
In the 19th century when slavery was outlawed in Europe, the colonial empire needed cheap labour to work in the sugarcane plantations of the Antilles and the Mascarene islands.
The Indian Coolie provided these hard-working hands. They signed a 5-year contract, braved inhuman conditions on the boat to reach the sugar colonies where they were discriminated by the Whites and despised by the Blacks.
Translated from French by Vidya Vencatesan, Raphael Confiant’s ‘The Cane Cutter’s Song’ is the story of Adhiyaman, who migrates to Martinique. Life is tough but the Indian spirit triumphs over all hardship to create a rainbow nation where every race finds a place.
Vencatesan is Professor and Head, Dept of French University of Mumbai. A translator by passion she has translated Javed Akhtar's poetic oeuvre into French, published in France in 2014.
Prerna Kewalramani Vidya Srinivas