82-year old Surjit Hans, a retired history professor, has spent two decades of meticulous effort to bring out Shakespeare’s works in Punjabi. Surjit Hans has finally translated all his works, including 38 plays, into Punjabi. He was assigned the translation work by the Patiala-based Punjabi University.
For Hans, it’s a real labour of love. He chose to translate Shakespeare into Punjabi full-time only in 1993 though he had been keen on it since his college days when he had played a wounded soldier in 'Macbeth' and also acted in 'Hamlet'. He has recently finished the translation of Henry VIII, the last of the Bard’s works (1564-1616). And the good professor has no plans to "retire" at all !. Hans is ready to start the translation work of Charles Darwin's monumental "The Origin of Species" into Punjabi.
Translating Shakespeare’s works in verse form was not difficult for the learned man but in Punjabi, there are no words for he, she, him or her. One has to use a verb to indicate the gender. In the poem, 'Venus and Adonis', these words come in virtually every line. Inevitably, to some extent, the beauty of the verse is lost in translation.
After "The Origin of Species", Hans would like to translate Adam Smith's "The Wealth of Nations" as well. More power to his pen !