Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture in Telugu

A Review by Anurajya Lakshmi Dittakavi, McDonald, PA   e-mail:  anuraja37@hotmail.com

Anurajya is from Andhra Pradesh, India. In 1978 she reached the US. In 1982, she and her husband Naga Sharkar Dittakavi went to Nigeria on an one-year teaching assignment. Anurajya’s specialty is HR-related issues in the IT industry. Along the way, she also earned a masters degree in management from CMU. She is a certified HR professional heading HR department in an IT company in Pittsburgh.

Prof. Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture — Telugu translation by Sri Lakshmi Polam Reddy.  Published by arrangement with Hyperion Publishers (230 pp).  For copies contact  sreepr@gmail.com

Randy Pausch was a professor in computer science and computer-human interaction at Carnegie Mellon University when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the fall of 2006.

The university has an ongoing lecture series under which top academicians are asked to “think deeply about what matters to them, and then give a hypothetical ‘final talk’ on what wisdom would [they] try to impart to the world if it was their last chance.” In September 2007, Pausch delivered his “Last Lecture” titled Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.” In the lecture peppered with humor, Pausch stresses that one needs to have fun in life while living life to its fullest because one never knows when it is snatched away from you. This lecture, when published as a book, became a runaway best seller.

I did not read The Last Lecture fearing it would emotionally drain me out.  Recently, Sri Lakshmi Polam Reddy, a Pittsburgh resident, inspired by Pausch’s background and his message, has rendered the book in Telugu. Reddy has published the book from her own resources.

Sri Lakshmi Polam Reddy shows to Telugu-speaking people the journey of Prof. Randy Pausch, who strived to fulfill most of his dreams in the short span of his life. This book made me revisit my own childhood dreams where I left them off a long time back, while busy making amends, adjustments, compromises and sacrifices to my own journey in life.

Most of our journeys in life are toward unknown destinations often without a timeframe, whereas Professor Randy Pausch’s life was with a few more scary facts:  In 2006, he was diagnosed with a deadly form of cancer in his pancreas, and in 2007 he was told that he had only three to six more month to live. Prof. Pausch made every bit of his short journey ahead worthwhile till he reached his destination –  his death. 

In this book, Sri Lakshmi’s Telugu is so fluid and precise that one never feels it is a translation. She is so facile with her Telugu that she makes it look simple. Telugu readers will be inspired both by Pausch’s life and Sri Lakshmi’s efforts to retell his story in Telugu. 

As you leaf through the chapters of this book, the author leads the readers to their own dreams and achievements. The Last Lecture is about childhood dreams on “How to make your Childhood Dreams a reality?”

Takeaways from this lecture Prof. Pausch father’s suggestion:  “Do not take a decision unless you need it desperately.” Prof. Pausch’s request to other parents is to “let their children paint their rooms (give the liberty).” 

Pausch knew how far he wanted to go while he was a kid, and he never gave up on anything that he had set his mind on. His efforts to go on the Space Shuttle prove this point. He did not think twice to resign from his faculty adviser position just to gain the space shuttle experience.

Pausch implores people to pay attention to “primary principles” in life. If someone is pushing you to do something right, he says, it is because he or she saw potential in you and they want you to be successful.

Pausch realized Coach Grahm’s advise to work hard on things that were difficult — that effort led him to be successful sometime later in life.

Along the way, here are some of the gems from Pausch: 

“Brick walls are there for a reason: they let us prove how badly we want things.” 

“Always speak the truth.”

“Don’t say sorry unless you mean it.”

“You need not fix everything that is damaged.” 

“Do not complain, just work hard.”

“Observe what others are doing — not what they are saying.” 

“Victory should not be the aim but do not accept the defeat.” 

“Showing gratitude is simple – send hand written thank you notes.”

Translation is always a work of inspiration, particularly when it is done in one’s spare time.  Sri Lakshmi’s passion for Pausch’s message comes right through in the translation. We only hope Srilakshmi would find some more treasures like these to bring to Telugu readers.

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