Friday, October 30, 2009

From Lional Bopage...........Comrade Haththotuwegama...

From Lional Bopage...........

I was extremely sad to hear the news of the death of Comrade Haththotuwegama. Even though I have not been in regular contact with him for some time, I was more than aware of the significant role he and his group of open theatre artists have played in raising the consciousness of the ordinary people of Sri Lanka on important social issues.
He was a Sama- Samajist at the time I first met him at Richmond College in Galle. He taught me English. I remember him being an excellent orator and was extremely popular amongst us, the college students.
By the time I was released from prison in the late seventies, Comrade Gamini had already established/founded the Wayside and Open theatre Group. I had the pleasure of meeting him on numerous occasions. I also took part in one of his workshops, which helped me innumerably when I was running/a part of the Songs of Liberation.
I still have memories of the time when some of my fellow JVP comrades took part in some of his training techniques. Their mixture of enthusiasm, interest and impatience, as they gradually shed the shackles of their rigid acting styles, will always stay with me. This led us to conceive a new drama, Milana vu Malak Nove (Not a flower withered away). This drama was based on the true life story of the late comrade Premawathie Manamperi. His techniques allowed us in a 'natural' way to get to the heart of the social issues we wished to share with our audiences, without being didactic about it. Unfortunately it was banned by the ruling party of the day.
One of his enduring qualities was that he was always a straightforward and very hospitable human being who was always socially engaged with the issues of the day. Though we did not always see eye to eye on all political issues, I never doubted his sincerity and commitment to the betterment of all the human beings who lived in Sri Lanka.
His contribution in the field of culture and in particular the theatre and English Literature was immeasurable. He will leave a void in the cultural life of the island that will be hard to fill.
I will not only remember and respect his contribution to the betterment both cultural and political to the social life of the people of Sri Lanka, but on a more personal level I will never forget the warmth of his smile which not only radiated his genuine love and interest of the people around him but for all the people who inhabit Sri Lanka.
As a fellow traveler who shares his political vision, I take this opportunity to salute him and to extend my deepest sympathy to his bereaved family and friends.

Lionel Bopage

Castro The Fallen by Rohana Pothuliyadda


Castro The Fallen

Fainted Fidel Castro had been fallen soon after addressing a rally.

Shouldered wavy cruelty coming along
insane stupidity woven in to pecks
of the venomous serpent ballet of vengefulness
raising against the gigantic walls of barriers

fought utmost still so feel fatigue at the end ?

Just for the love for voyages
marched comrades along with
as they anchored at
vivid and dream harbors
did you feel solitude?

the sky full of eagles
tearing off the radiant sun flower
the undestroyed historical memories of struggle
demolished the warmth of heart in its bottom
did those memories hurt you?

Youths well wearing the fake jewels
made of cheap wishes and false
drift towards the neighbors indeed
crippling legs due sadness of being passed
that crossed leagues of outstrips

Standing all alone in a world
of hunting dogs have no boundaries
Bearing the weight of the nation
on the shoulder tired and exhausted
beloved so far you ever struggled
did you kissed the land of ever?

The Sky has been Polluted [අහස හැඩි වී ඇත ]
Rohana Pothuliyadda
2004 December

[Translated by E.A.  Dawson Preethi]

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dedication - [Mahesh Munasinghe]


Dedication**
By: Mahesh Munasinghe - April, 2009


I am all alone here,
at this round-about.

All of them,
All the men and women
The group of professionals,
Intellectuals, poets and authors
Those who are called themselves,
Socialistic, democratic and radical
have left me here…

Most of them were taken away
Strayed as media prey
Some of them willingly
Some have escaped..
Some were disappeared
And some were shot dead…

All are gathered
there, at the next round-about
attracted to the radiance of celebration
born from lunacy of war…
This is the moment of victory..
The air gets vibrant
with the resonance of applause,
firecrackers , fireworks
The excited Sinhalese are getting warm
With the growing figures of dead

They gazed at me with disgust
As I stood, silently with this placard,
I was called a lunatic
Whenever my voice was raised,
I was attacked
I was called a traitor.
Whenever I became active,
I was arrested
I was called a terrorist.

“Kill and die!
For a sparkling tomorrow of my motherland!”
The bitter lie…,
further assures that,
“The war is humanitarian.
It brings peace.”

Hindus, who can’t recognize
the blood of your own people,
your bullet will bring more comfort to me…
Christians and Islamic followers,
If you have just finished the confession,
Your shot won’t loose its target…
Buddhists, devoted to Buddha,
if the bullet released for the sake of your creed,
You are absolutely sinless…..

Tomorrow some one will come ,
remove this placard with slogans
from my stiffened lifeless fingers
and bury me somewhere…
I won’t be here anymore,
At this round-bout
to listen to the exultant applaud
I won’t see the tomorrow
of the children of hatred
Of those who died
till the last Sinhalese
willing and wishing the death
till the end of the last Tamil

Yet,
Another one still loves humanity
Regardless the race, caste and religion
will come from somewhere
And raise this placard
dropped from my fingers
At the same round-about…

This is what written there…
Stop war!
Stop racial elimination!

Then I will see
from those who remained,
still alive,
one by one ,
would be moving back to him.…


** This is dedicated to the handful of people in the country who stand against the racial elimination.

Translated by: Kalpana Ambrose

Psychoanalytical Notion of Aksharaya - [Dr Ruwan M Jayatunge M.D. ]

Psychoanalytical Notion of Aksharaya

The feeling that they are more important to mother than father makes them feel that they are wonderful, and since they are already grown up and need not do anything to establish their greatness because - and as long as - mother loves them ...
-Erich Fromm

Asoka Handagama's controversial movie Aksharaya discusses one of the bitter and hidden issues of the society which is generally termed as incest. Although the movie received a major criticism and viewed via Sinhala Buddhist and Victorian moral spectacles the incestuous relations were discussed in the Jathaka Stories as well as in the Holy Bible. Incest has been documented in most civilizations. As a matter of fact its prevailing in the contemporary society hidden inside the walls. Unfortunately this topic is not discussed scientifically or otherwise and many feel uncomfortable to talk about it.

Incest refers to any sexual activity between close relatives often within the immediate family irrespective of the ages of the participants and irrespective of their consent , that is illegally or socially taboo. Incest is considered as the oldest crime.

The Jathaka stories reveals an incestuous attempt in Seggu Jathaka. As the story goes a father takes his young and beautiful daughter to the forest to check his daughter's sexual purity. The Holy Bible describes father – daughter incest in the story of Lot and how his two daughters got their father drunk on wine and engaged in sexual intercourse.

Although incest aversion is normally adduced to a specialized cognitive module which regraded as imprinting mechanism incest could be found in most of the societies. Some studies show that incest between father and daughter is the most common kind of incest.

Asoka Handagama

Asoka Handagama one of the outstanding film directors of our time boldly deals with this sensitive topic. As the film narrates the female magistrate who was deeply traumatized following the tragic death of her mother and the incestuous relationship between her father franticly attached to her 12 year old son. Both father and daughter are known for their outstanding manipulative skills, which contribute to their ability to keep their relationship inside the closet but confused, and self-blaming. Eventually the father becomes emotionally numbed and sexually non reactive towards his wife / daughter.

There have been many scientific studies based on incestuous relationships and its psychological repercussions. Based on the studies done by Joseph D. LaBarbera Vanderbilt University Nashville Tennessee, characteristic of families in which father-daughter incest occurs to women's sex-role functioning and attitudes toward heterosexual interactions changes drastically. The results show that a sexualized father-daughter relationship was correlated with negative male traits (e.g., arrogance), low levels of positive female traits (emotionality), and negative attitudes toward male sexuality and female competitiveness. The above mentioned features could be compared with the female magistrate of Aksharaya who was unhappily trapped in a traumatic relationship with her own father.

Aksharaya describes the incestuous relationship in a semi artistic form that could be compared with Sylvia Plath’s “The Beekeeper’s Daughter. The emotional relationship between the Supreme Court Judge (father ) and the Magistrate (daughter) is somewhat different from the Electra Complex which is depicted by the American female poet Sylvia Plath’s “The Beekeeper’s Daughter. But in the mean time both families carry their tormented memories. The relationship between the daughter and a father who occupy an important position in their traumatic childhood and has a profound influence on their present life owing to the intrusion of the father image . In other words it could be described as distorted Electra complex. ( according to Freudian Psychoanalytic theory female's psycho sexual development involves a sexual attachment to her father, and is analogous to a boy's attachment to his mother that forms the basis of the Oedipus complex). Hence Aksharaya narrates the distorted Electra complex that was never discussed in the history of Sinhala Cinema.

In psychoanalytic theory, the psychosexual development of children between the ages of three and five is characterized by incestuous desires toward the parent of the opposite sex. Aksharaya touches both father / daughter , mother / son incestuous connections. The work of John Bowlby on the development of the infant's attachment to his parents in the second half of the first year reflects the fruitfulness of an integration of psychoanalytic insights. The Magistrate's 12 year old son who is psycho sexually immature highly fascinated by his mothers breasts. Mothers extended breastfeeding and over attachment creates a pathological bonding.

The Magistrate and her son posses introverted pathological attachment which could be explained by Melanie Klein's Object Relation Theory. The Object relations theory emphasizes interpersonal relations, primarily in the family and especially between mother and child. The"object-relations" refers to the self-structure that is internalized in early childhood, which functions as a blueprint for establishing and maintaining future relationships. The Magistrate's 12 year old boy was in a stage which could be expressed as relationship seeking rather than pleasure seeking. His psychological dysfunction is an expression of being stuck at a stage of development and unable to mature further evolves in to aggression.

Aksharaya - A Letter of Fire

As the theory of Object Relations explains dysfunctional and symptomatic behaviors are really an immature attempt to resolve early traumas. The child lacks emotional maturity, he is in a state of "identity diffusion" and lacks the ego strength necessary to form and maintain healthy relationships. His maladaptive relational pattern leads to a deep insecurity. In the movie the child repeatedly asks his mother's permission to play rugby. This could be an attempt to seek of masculine identity. The killing of the prostitute is the metaphor , a dramatic transformation and establishing his masculine footprint.

Freud wrote that every boy has an Oedipus Complex - every boy represses his sexual desire for his mother and his jealousy toward his father and experiences emotional conflicts. But the magistrate's son goes a few steps further. He is a victim of a condition so called “Mother fixation” and obsess about his mother ,demands devotion - not just love , shows jealousy, anxiety and insecurity and acts like a narcissist.

The infant-mother relationship is pivotal to the child's emerging personality. Freud stated that for the baby, his mother is "unique, without parallel, laid down unalterably for a whole lifetime, as the first and strongest love object and as the prototype of all later love relations for both sexes." The early care giving relationship influences the child's developing cognitive ability, shapes his capacity to modulate affect, teaches him to empathize with the feelings of others, and even determines the shape and functioning of his brain. As Dr Peter Fonagy writes (Pathological attachments and Therapeutic Action ) There is overwhelming pressure on the child to develop a representation for internal states. Within the bio-psycho-social attachment system the child seeks out aspects of the environment contingently related to his self-expressions. Failing to find his current state mirrored, the child is likely to internalize the mother’s actual state as part of his or her own self structure. The child incorporates into his nascent self-structure a representation of the other.

Mother-son incest may be involved in the pathogenesis of a particular subtype of narcissistic personality disorder. Male patients with this disorder have a grandiose view of themselves as entitled to occupy a special position with others, combined with a paranoid tendency to anticipate imminent betrayal. The enormous guilt related to perceived oedipal transgressions leads these patients to fear retaliation from an enraged, vindictive, and castrating father at any moment. (Glen O. Gabbard – The Role of Mother Son Incest in the Pathogenesis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder)

Through out the movie , Aksharaya implies the erogenous erotic component for the mother during breast-feeding. The maternal seduction which occurred through breastfeeding reverberates. A traumatized woman who was trapped in an incestuous relationship does not want to consider her son as an independent unit. A woman who was deprived of a healthy sexual relationship derives psycho sexual satisfaction via her biological unit – the son.

This caused a paradox. A dichotomy has always existed between the breast as a nourishing object and the breast as an erotic object. In 1900 Freud wrote that "at the woman's breast love and hunger meet." For the breast satisfies both the alimentary and the sexual impulses. The nipple is a sexual object throughout Freudian metapsychology. So Aksharaya is no exception.

The film portrays psychosexual traumas within an upper middle class Sri Lankan family who were tormented by their past present and future. Father , mother and the son are affected by the extreme experiences of victimization and are associated with maladaptive and inflexible personality traits. The family members have enduring patterns of instability in relationships, goals, values, and mood which eventually leads to a catastrophe.

-Dr Ruwan M Jayatunge M.D.

More on Aksharaya-
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1019881/

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Citadel of Bones - [E.A. Dawson Preethi]


Citadel of bones

This is my great citadel,
made of the bones
of millions of men and women
died and gone
hewed and killed...

Skulls are placed
with open and empty eye holes
allowing the gentle breeze
to bring in the ashes of dead

The hip-joints
suffered with labor pains
displayed as souvenirs
reminding that no space left
for a single rise against my race

Unbent back bones
are kept in a line
in a secret chamber
as an alarm,
striking a chord…
day and night,
for my wretched cohorts,
who forget the things overnight
that……
“Them”,
those who bore those bones,
rose against us!

E.A. Dawson Preethi
271009
[Translated by Kalpana Ambrose]

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Emperor’s Clothes - [Mahesh Munasinghe]

The Emperor’s Clothes

Do not question
the numbers
when speaking of
your dead sons
accept quietly
your death dues.
Hush! Don’t worry!
just in case
you trouble
Our Army Officers.

Gentlemen of the Black Robes,
you who were called traitors,
we know your Glory!
Hush! Shut your ears!
No Legal Action against
The Power Holders now
just in case
you distress
Their Leader.

A billion ends with nine zeros!
war is indeed costlyon what,
pray, was it all spent?
Hush! No questions please!
Just in case
you embarrass
Our Rulers.

The liberated are free
in detention camps,
should another
Liberator descend to
free them.
Hush, Make no noise!
just is case
Our Sensitive Parliament
collapses
At such Heavy Questions.

Do not inquire
about the corpses
appearing here and there
of course, once in a way
Disappearances do Happen!
Hush! Don’t worry!
just in case
The Power and Glory
of our King
that rises by the day
Shatters.

Hungry? Just a little patience!
don’t you know?
this is only the effect
of a world wide crisis.
Hush! Shut the Door!
stay Indoors..
Just in case
You expose
Our apprehensive government
shying away
in Stage Fright
from The People

Hear nothing!
See nothing!
Say nothing.!
Until the little child
who saw through
the Emperor’s Clothes
…Into the Nakedness,
Arrives
To Awaken Us.

Mahesh Munasinghe
August 2009
[Translator Unknown]

Monday, October 19, 2009

My pen Hasn’t a voice Nimalarajan -[Manjula Wediwardana ]


My pen Hasn’t a voice Nimalarajan

My pen
Hasn’t a voice
Nimalarajan
My voice
Has no wings

Birds with a voice
Never sing
They only chatter
And
Birds with wings never fly

The year
Just Passed like a day..

If you could sing
Thousands of songs
If you could fly
To a far distant place
The year
Just passed like a day
And next
Is a New
Day?

My pen
Hasn’t a voice
Nimalarajan
My voice
Has no wings

Manjula Wediwardana
2001

(Translated by Prashansani Paranawithana)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

For Rajani by Dileepa Karunarathna

For Rajani

I have never been
lectured by you.
haven’t seen you for real,
even in tacky t.v.
Never heard the voice of you
Who had departed suddenly,
When I was an infant.

But yet you still imbue me
Whenever I m in delirium
Depressed by
personal calamity

your clarion call of dissent
like twilight at dawn,
reminds me again and again
not to lament on trifling things…
on love, negligence,
arrogance or impudence
of mundane people,
when living in this
paradise of mayhem

and to walk alone amid,
bogus intelligentsia,
hypocrites and hollow statues,
devoid of conscience yet
looks like granite statues,
if they answer
not to thy call

your vivacious smile of
exuberance and hope,
disparages whimsical woman
who fantasize themselves as
martyrs of femininity
after getting dumped by
some mundane guy

the compassion and
paramount humanity you showed,
edified that knowledge of
feminism, pacifism or socialism
are not meant to be jewellery
to show off or pretend,
but to serve humanity

and also you showed how to love
without being conditioned
by minority complex
or insecurity.
And that nothing can be incongruous
If empathy is present.

they shot you dead
for keeping your head high
amid atrocities
and clamoring for humanity.
Like a dog in the street
When you had only bare hands,
to cover the bullets

But how can you still make such impact,
If they shot you dead?
It cannot happen.
Immortals cannot be
Shot dead.

Dileepa Karunarathna
27-Sep-2009


Note: Dr. Rajani Thiranagama was a prominent Human Rights activist and intellectual, who was assassinated in cold blood 20 years and 5 days ago for denouncing militancy.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

To a "Hunter" - [Rasika Jayakody]


To a "Hunter"

Have you ever
Asked a fragmented flower,
How much it hurts
When you tear-off
Its last remaining petal…?

Can you feel
And come to terms with,
The unbearable solitude
The moon suffers,
When the last star fades away
Into unknown darkness
In nights like these…?

When a bloody hand
Rips-off innocent wings,
One by one,
Of a fair bird who tried to fly away
Will it be able to sing,
A dream of distant hope
Still trembling in the eyelashes…?

And when all is done,
Will there still remain,
A narration packed and packed
with more and more unsung poetry,
Trapped inside a pen,
Lost between,
the ink and the paper words
That never got written…?

Rasika Jayakody
Translated by - Jayashika Padmasiri
17.10.2009

Friday, October 16, 2009

Being Lost - [Jagath J Edirisinghe]


Being Lost

then we ceased;
time and
most of human
surpassed us
nor
time and human
being waiting; while
we were reversing;
being observed by us

time is’nt absolute; it’s relative
same as human so speculative

when time has elapsed enormous
we were waken and see around
human has lost in the mid
in the time tunnel
if it isn’t
we were lost
between time and human

then
to me, you
for you, me
were being aliens

Jagath J Edirisinghe
2007



I’m listening - [Jagath J Edirisinghe]


I’m listening

Never heard your verse
in this rampant wind
it was merged;
am trying to enchant
at least a word of thee word

to a reading delight;
how your lips quiver
can’t see you crystal clear
its dark surround dear
that you interwoven each carnally
without any mercy

how could behold
till the end of this hour
storm had perished
inviolable delicacy..
triumphantly...?

at the end of this
armageddon of ours
day will come or someday herein
thus you and me
still being in this moment
in this place though...?

indeed i did’nt hear your verse
i have to sing thee verse
endlessly
till it reaches its dead end
i will listen;
though i never hear a word...

Jagath J Edirisinghe
17.01.2008

SKY - [Jagath J Edirisinghe]

SKY

her own rains of tears
drizzled the land surfaces;
seeing bloomed flowers
evinced happiness
enshrouding her pains

Jagath J Edirisinghe
20.10.2008

Broken Pottu - [Mahesh Munasinghe]

Broken Pottu

Many thousands of the IDP children have lost both their parents comes news from the Sri Lankan ‘welfare camps’.

Bright red pottu
Every morning
Never missed.
The point of your finger
Right here between our eyebrows
For both of us.

Amma puts hers first
Then she puts mine.
Remember me insisting
Me first, me first!

That day Dad give me a biggest hug, squeezed so tight,
Lifted me so high, laughing so loud.
At midnight he went out of the bunker.
Amma must have known he wasn’t coming back
But still she smiled at me.

The day she went out of the bunker
Her pottu was still shining between her eyebrows.
Then her pottu went right into her head
And red blood came all down her calm, loving face.

Before then I only knew how to cry.
Then I knew how to shriek, to scream
Holding on to your body, Amma,

Scream!
Scream!
Scream!

Here too our school is under the trees
But they don’t take the register.
I don’t mind, I’m used to it.
The only thing different is
There are no bunkers here.
Sometimes my heart beats so hard
It’s louder than the gunshots
And tears just shoot out when I think about you.

Please don’t ask me about pottu
If Amma can’t put it on me I don’t want it.
And please don’t teach us about parents,
I don’t want to hear about them.

It’s not only me; none of us want to hear it.

Mahesh Munasinghe
http://www.1world1moon.com/

Translated by Prasanna Ratnayake

The pottu is the red spot traditionally worn by Hindu married women, more recently also by children. It is believed to protect them from evil. Usually a widow stops wearing her pottu immediately after her husband’s death.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN THIS POEM.

The Shoe - [Manjula Wediwardena]

The Shoe

Soil filled
Mud covered
Brown colored
This shoe, Canvas
With lace untied

Might have awaken early morning
Having laces nicely tied
Might’ve been marking his steps to school

In the morning
When exercising–left, right, left
Might’ve waited on same spot
Have stood at ease for a moment
And again have stood on alert

Sometime
When gets an interval
Have run to the canteen
And might turned back again
Jumped to the ground
And might playfully played

This shoe, Canvas
Might have returned home
After his schooling
Amidst on his way home
Might have clattered a boot on
& when it’s removed in the dark day light
Might there’s a hidden little foot too in it.

Manjula Wediwardena
http://monsoonmn.wordpress.com
(Translated by Prashansani Paranawithana)

Atawaka Puththu - Taking the Road less travelled by - [Dileepa Karunarathna]


Atawaka puththu by Liyanage Amarakeerthi is a unique book which discusses a wide span of contemporary topics. Reading this few days ago imbued me with a strange feeling which is a blend of nostalgia, wisdom, compassion and equanimity together with an irresistible desire to write down something about what I just read. Among many topics discussed in the book, taking the road less travelled by becomes a concealed theme which can be related to the whole book as well as life in general. The Robert Frost’s monumental poem “the road not taken” which is about making choices is used in the book to discuss some profound problems, dilemmas and choices people come across in their lives. The poem ideally suits for this since it doesn’t moralize the choices, but emphasizes the uncertainty about the appropriateness of the choice. Damayantha has to face this kind of situations in many occasions throughout novel like handing over the letter to anoma, decision to sabotage the examination using violence and joining the DJV, handling the delicate situation when Dilki falls in love with Ravi. Nanda’s decision to choose either academia or Prof. Ekanayake’s path etc…

Liyanage Amarakeerthi

The first 50 or 60 pages of the book is little different from the rest of the book in the sense it is written in different style. Especially the beginning of the book sounds agitated and the concept of twin is presented in the same style which makes the reader bewildered at first. But again one would say that there is no other way to present it and can also argue that it’s the hectic disoriented nature of the society or of that particular generation which has been symbolized in that temperament. But the writer soon gains a rhythm which is there constantly throughout the rest of the book. And we can also see that the writer is satirical about the folk culture and doesn’t treat it as a sacred thing. This equanimity is quite rare among writers since most of the writers talk about the generations, social evolution and folk culture as a nostalgic reminiscence rather than being equanimious about changes. This uniqueness of style can be seen when the land dispute is presented using Damayantha’s perspective. The eternal conflict between love, and social norms and personal dignity is depicted in love of nanda and anoma. What she asks from Nanda is to do exam again and get a so called ‘good’ job. But the stubborn nature of young Nanda doesn’t change and he get involved in things like bicycle races until Anoma commits suicide. According to Damayantha, getting through examinations, permanent jobs are words dismayed by nanda in those days. Though these social constrains are not the only reason for this tragedy, It can be considered as the prime reason.

The next part of the book starts with a description of Ravi who becomes a main character of the book in consequent pages. Ravi and Damayantha together forms a kind of binary opposition which depicts the ideological differences between rural and urban youth. These differences slightly resemble the description of petite bourgeois and urban proletarian, in Marxism. But we see that the reality of social relationships is more complicated which cannot be reduced to a particular analysis according to a particular philosophy. At the same time (in the conference hall scene in which damayantha and ravi meets for the first time) this also shows the extent to which our so called artists and related subculture is rotten and how they go after ministers and other authorities just for the sake of privileges and favors. After two friends get arrested, the writer takes Nanda back to the play with the issue of finding a person to bail out Damayantha. The story then revolves around Nanda’s life and the writer ridicules the whole university subculture and lecturers who does tuition. The names of these tuition institutes themselves carry subtle irony. Names like oxford, Cambridge and Harvard becomes satirical in this context. The writer also mention about great expectations Nanda had and role models he had like Dr Adikaram, Prof. Sarachchandra and how sloth can destroy those dreams and cause him to end up as a mundane person. This quite resembles ‘walmath wee hasarak nodutim’, a novel by Sarachchandra.

The writer sees both pros and cons of both DJV and government in objective manner. How Nanda’s image and personality dominate Damayantha and affect Damayantha’s attitudes and the ideological hegemony Nanda has towards Damayantha resembles Amarasekara’s short story “piya sulupiya saha putha”. Nanda’s dream about pala putha’s train is a symbolic representation of the plight of Srilanka as well as individuals like Nanda and at the end he sees Anoma which make the dream more natural and personal. How old ideals have been lost in this struggle to survive in Colombo in this capitalistic society which produces goods as well as demand for goods, the change of values, value conflict and the ultimate result of it is nicely depicted in the nostalgic retrospect of the student life of Nanda. Hypocrisy he had as a result of the society in which he was brought up and other aspects of his character and personality is nicely shown here in this part of the story. The Aquinas and Cambridge dilemma Nanda face as an assistant lecturer symbolizes this conflict of values.

The next part discusses the class distinction based on language using Dilki, Damayantha and Ravi. The writer also brings Samudra who is a girl from village, to the story at this time who can be compared and contrasted with Dilki. In subsequent pages, Ravi reveals his plans about Anisha, to Damayantha. Police SI and his sexual jealousy and its complicated nature which make him torture Ravi, is quite new to Damayantha. Later Ravi seriously falls in love with Anisha which cause her to face a dilemma. This again shows us the complicated nature of relationships in present social context. In those days in so called unspoiled villages, naive simple love existed and so were the relationships. But contrary to that, the nature of relationships has changed dramatically as society evolved. We can compare Anoma & Nanda VS Ravi & Anisha to make this point more clear. Ravi’s mere intention was to revenge from the SI until he falls in love with Anisha and Anisha herself is in dilemma because of fear towards SI and love about Ravi. This whole thing is very sophisticated compared to the simple love of Anoma and Nanda.

Samudra’s incident shows how sudden impulse can change people and how Damayantha’s sudden outburst with violence later cause him to get stuck in it. It all happens so quickly and he ends up as DJV activist in couple of days. Maybe this process can be generalized to understand how most of the youth joined that organization in those days. It does not happen after rigorous philosophical in-depth thinking about what’s right or wrong. But it was not a mere impulse which causes Damayantha to take this decision. Samudra’s plight motivated him to make the decision, change his ideology and undergo a transformation process. So it’s an impulse together with an experience associated with social injustice which caused people to take that step. The place where Damayantha talks with Rajiv and Nanditha shows his inner conflict and hidden guilt associated with Anoma’s letter. He recalls all things about that incident and unconsciously believes that things might have been completely different if he gave the letter to Nanda, which might be true. Whenever Rajiv reveals his stance and nanditha shows her disgust towards Nanda, Damayantha recalls phrases and sentences from old conversations associated with Anoma and Nanda. (pg278-280) This part of the book is very cleverly written and reveals Damayantha’s character. The dogmatic nature of most of the rural youth who joined DJV movement, how their naïve political ideology is constrained by slogans and limited exposure to various aspects of the society is also shown in this conversation.

But again the affectionate friendship of Ravi, Dilki and Anisha who visits Damayantha questions the raw simple class concept of DJV. Rajiv’s makes a sarcastic statement about being with Ravi and friends and skipping DJV meeting which reveals Rajiv’s hostility towards Ravi and friends. According to this classification, Engels also might have been branded as bourgeois and being ostracized if he lived there in srilanka in those days. We know how other leftist leaders were assassinated in those days in cold blood. As Amarasekara also has pointed out in his earlier work, inferiority complex is a main reason which motivates petite bourgeois youth to be militant. Damayantha also says to Ravi, “palayan ban yanna, eyala kawda api kawda? ” when Ravi mentions about Dilki (page289) Damayantha’s struggle with his Victorian ideals about sex which make sex mysterious thing, and natural desire to go to Dilki and his inner psyche is nicely shown in that night they spend in the village. Rajiv’s hostility towards Ravi and Dilki, and later surrendering to Army, Damayantha’s attitude about pol sunil and doubts about potential of pol sunil to be a good activist, all together reveals interesting aspects of the common mindset of people in that kind of village subculture. Because of being socially conditioned by the folk society and the above mentioned mindset, Damayantha believes that pol sunil cannot be good political activist. But at the same times empirical observations make him reconsider his opinion. This inner conflict is nicely presented when Damayantha goes to a meeting with pol sunil after Rajiv surrender to army.

Damayantha forgets the name ‘Gotabaya’ when he just escaped from the police jeep with the help of sunil. He calls him sunil aiya instead of gotabaya. This shows how emotions and feelings predominate over names imposed on them by the organization. We can see that DJV ideology has not integrated with the deepest roots of souls of rural youth and its artificial nature which has neglected the material reality of grassroots level. This dogmatic nature of the organization becomes apparent to the reader when they try to assassin the village midwife who is a radical individual, because of voting. Damayantha leaves back to Colombo and gets to know that his studentship has been cancelled because of getting involved the riot and sabotaging the examination. Nanda’s pragmatic attitude about this and how he tries to gain advantage of this in a selfish way is very interesting. Cambridge owner offers Damayantha to teach A/L which is very symbolic in the sense it symbolizes what can happen to an individual like damayantha in such scenario. Cambridge owner becomes a friend of Damayantha because Damayantha attacked a professor with whom he had disputes. Damayantha realizes that something is wrong in his politics when he sees that this kind of people also indirectly gains the advantage of things DJV does. Throughout the story, Prof. Ekanayake’s plays quite significant role which quite resembles characters we have met in books like “Mage naduwa iwarai” and “Aththa bindei paya burulen” and we can see what happens to him in last few pages of the book which again reminds us the impermanence and make us sympathize about his plight.

The last part of the book turnout to be very different and interesting story. Sometimes we feel that this is a product of a collective effort of Gunadasa amarasekara, John Grisham, Boris Pasternak, and G.B.Senanayake because of the style and the content of the book. It discusses the mentality of rural youth and its limitations, becomes an intriguing detective story (when Damayantha has been abducted) , Shows the inner conflict of characters and psychological aspects of characters, and also discusses the hardships individuals undergo when this kind of militant struggle is carried out.

The story of Dilki’s family which is presented next bears a resemblance to Indira’s ostalgic memories about her mom and childhood in “Premaye sathya kathawa” (by Amarasekara). As individual characters also, Indira and Dilki have many similarities. The story smoothly flows since then until Damayantha becomes Suneth and goes to Sarartha and talks to a girl called Randima confidently after going through a sophistication process using library and other resources there and then, the story is propelled towards a dramatic ending. This final part of the book shows how life experiences can groom a person to be a matured, worldly and complete person. Suneth is almost free from naïve immature reactionary Damayantha because of experiences he had and the productive time he spent in Sarartha. Nanda’s mental disorder also gets healed by being in his native village up to which roots of his illness, guilt and controversies extend. Dr Zoysa and Pradeep from Jaffna visits Nanda and they have very interesting discussion about the country as well as university education. Nanda with his wife and daughter finds the life and missing parts of it while being in the village once again. Retired from pursuit of false values which were presented to them by the capitalistic society, they start a new life. Nanda is going to resume his intellectual life which was paused when he started tuition and Nayani who was a conservative wife becomes a social activist who eventually becomes the leader of a movement which challenges the existing government. She is particularly motivated by the guilt of not answering to Damayantha’s call which again shows us how a particular incident or experience can affect one’s life and can result in a dramatic change.

The remaining part of the book sums up to a very good conclusion. The writer artistically points out the impermanence as a fundamental reality by showing the new era after the armed uprising of DJV and the oppression carried out by government in response. Ravi is emerged in his own work and Dilki too is busy and new Suneth realizes impermanence, emptiness and loneliness while being at Sarartha. Ravi is not single anymore, but a family and Suneth is experiencing a profound loneliness as if he lost his twin again. In these days, Suneth finds a book from Sarartha library which discuses this concept of twin or soul mate in a profound philosophical problem. But Anisha’s gets assassinated in cold blood by her ex boyfriend who was the police SI which again makes the whole outset topsy-turvy. This part of the book is simply awesome. Dilki falls in love with Ravi while they try to empathize with Ravi who is miserable after Anisha’s departure. In fact we can see that Dilki had vestiges of her feelings she had on the first day she met Ravi in conference hall (the day on which Ravi and Damayantha was arrested) and at the same time we cannot see any lapse of her love or whatever feelings she had towards Damayantha. The whole story therefore points out the intricate, profound, subtle, complicated nature of the phenomena called love. Love is indefinable for sure and is hard to distinguish with certainty by comparing the consistence with a certain predefined criteria. And the way it operates cannot be quantified and measured, cannot be theorized and is always mind boggling like quantum physics. Meanwhile the pursuits of charactors for better society also continue. Ravi reveals the astute plans minister had regarding the teledrama he acts which again reminds us that most of the things in this society which looks nice and awesome overtly, is not really independent from capital and horrendous plans and agendas of some invisible personals which make us recall the metaphor, Kafka’s world which is extensively used in this book. Meanwhile Nanda and Nayani together with Vajira reveal the rotten character of Prof. Ekanayake while taking part in many other social activities in a positive way.

As a whole the book is a very unique piece of work which cleverly discusses a variety of themes simultaneously and consistently which is quite similar to life itself. It make anybody who has a personal history, to go back to his nostalgic memories and recall about friends, soul mates, congenial companions, teachers and other people who are there in his/her life, and at its culmination, it makes the reader to perceive what life is, as a whole at once. This novel (especially the end) contains life, its profound philosophical depth as well as beauty and delight, which poets like Frost and Sekara saw.

Dileepa Karunarathna
karu_dr@ieee.org
30 August 2009

Note:
I almost could not observe weaknesses of the book which might be either because I was too much attached to the book and story which can affect the ability to think objectively and because I write this just couple of days after finished reading, or because the book is simply perfect.

[Boondi Lexicon - A Sri Lankan Lexicon for Cyber reativity.]


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