A joke in translation/Ek latife ka tarjuma

It is a truism that jokes lose in translation/ Yeh is zaahir baat ke latifa, tarjume mein, apna asar kho dete hai. But what is the harm in trying?/Lekin koshish karne mein kya bura hai?

This is one of the funniest jokes I have ever came across, and its contains a kernel of truth, bitter as it may be/Jitne latife maine apni zindagi mein dekhe hai, unme se sabse zidah mazahiya hai, jab ke is mein ek talkhi sachai hai.

See for yourself/Aap khud hi dekhiye. First the translation, and then the original/Pehle mera tarjuma, aur phir Angrezi mein……

Yeh ek science ki sacchai hai ke kisi bhi pathar ko paani ki lagatar boonde paane par mitti mein ghul jaayega, lekin ye qissa batata hai ke ek balti paani ek fauj ko kaise shikast de sakta hai.

Yeh baat us qat ki hai jab Francision aur Rusion mein jang chidi hui thi, us waqt ki jab napoleon Bonaparte ki ghaalibi lashake Rus ki sarzameen par phaila hua tha aur Yahudi “Pale of Settlement” (woh ilaaqa jahan Yahudi ko rehne ki ijazat thi) pahunch chuka tha.

Ek subh, ek “melamed” (מלמד, ya Yahudion ki zabaan mein Taalimi Ustaad), ek pani ki balti liye huye, dangg reh gaya ek Francisi fauji dasta ko aage sadak par kar. Ab Mashriqi Yahudion mein yeh jaana jata tha ke jo bhi us aadmi ke saamne aayega jo paani ki bari baalti le kar chal raha hai, us shakhs ki qismat jag jayegi. Doosri taraf, jise bhi aisa aadmi mile to khaali balti le kar chal raha hai, use ke liye bad-qismati hai.

Khuda jaanta tha ke Rusi Kaiser ke ahd mein Yahudion ko apne madre-vatan ko pasand karne ke liye koi ziadah wajeh na thi; berhaal woh phir bhi aapne paaida hone ki riyasat se ek tez vatan-parasti mehsoos karte the. To yeh lazmi tha ke yeeh vatan-parast ustaad ghair-mulki faujion ko dekh kar parehnai mehsoos karne laga.

“Main hamlawar ko achchi qismat kyun nawazun?” usne apne aap se kaha. “Napoleon ka sirf iraada hai Rus ko tabah karna”. Achanak use ek behtareen khayal aaya. Usne fauran apni paani ki balti ko ulta diya aur muskuraya jaise Francisi dasta aage badha. “Maine unka beda gharq kar diya,” usne khushi se socha.

Khair, jaise usne aapne ghar mein pair rakha, uski biwi, ek tez aurat, boli “Tum khali balti kyun le kar aaye? Paani kahan gaya?”

“Maine paani ulta diya ek fauji wajah se,” usne use bataye, aur samjhaya ke kaise Francisi faujon ki bad-qismati zaroori thi.

Chupke se sunti rahi woh jab tak us ka shohar bol raha tha, aur phir ghusse se boli:

” ‘Shlemiel‘ (Yiddish zabaan mein abla dimagh)! Agar jahan ke do sab se taqatwar mulkon ke beech mein behas chal rahi hai, to tumhe dakhl karne ki kya zaroorat thi?”

And in the original English….

It is a scientific fact that continual drops of water will eventually erode a rock, but this story demonstrates how a pail of water can defeat an army.

It happened during the Franco-Russian War, at the time when Napoleon Bonaparte and his victorious armies had swept through Russian territory and had reached the Jewish Pale of Settlement.

One bright morning, a melamed (מלמד, or Hebrew for teacher), carrying a pail of water, was startled to see a full company of French soldiers approaching on the road ahead. Now it is well known among Eastern Jews that whoever meets a person carrying a pail of water will enjoy good luck. Conversely, should anyone meet a person carrying an empty pail, it will result in ill fortune

The Almighty knows that the Jews of Czarist Russia had little reason to love their motherland; nevertheless they maintained a fierce loyalty to the land of their birth. So it was natural that the patriotic melamed should be thrown into near panic at the sight of the alien troops.

“Why should I bring good luck to the invaders?” he asked himself. “Napoleon’s only purpose is to destroy Mother Russia.” Suddenly he had an inspired idea. He quickly emptied the pail of its water and grinned as the French soldiers trudged past. “I fixed them good!” he thought triumphantly.

The moment he set foot inside his house, however, his wife, a shrewish woman, exclaimed,” Why do you bring home an empty pail? What happened to the water?”

“I dumped the water out as a military tactic,” he explained, reminding her of the necessity of bringing bad luck to the French armies.

She listened in stony silence until her husband had finished, and then burst out wrathfully:

“Shlemiel (Yiddish for a dolt who is a habitual bungler)! If two of the most powerful nations on earth are having an argument, who needs you to interfere?”

She has a point/ Uski baat to sahi hai….

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