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â 2005  62 -                                                February 2005 Issue 62
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K.S.Sivakumaran's columns!
Gleanings!

Let's Begin Clean!
 

by K.S.Sivakumaran

K.S.SivakumaranThe enormity of the destruction - human lives in horrendous circumstances and vast damages to property and uncertainty of immediate future and the hapless homelessness and starvation - are visibly painful. It's us that should assist in whatever small ways to make life worthwhile again. From the ashes to rise again, we must start clean. A bitter and bigger lesson has been taught to us by nature, a driving force of the Almighty. But are we prepared to learn? Already evil elements are at shore to exploit even the dead.

Nature assists in balancing matter, mind and bring in the equilibrium. The good and young die early.  And the evil ones too might have perished, but a few of them would continue to commit crimes and will eventually meet their ends gruesomely. That's justice. Empires have tumbled because of arrogant rulers and unenlightened lot. All this we know and yet we don't have time in this ruthless world to think and reflect.

However, never say die. Life goes on. But the new life, the new attitudes, the new mindset, the new approaches to life, the shunning of preconceived notions, keeping a clean slate of mind devoid of prejudices against each other, the total disbelief in war and the fostering of human love are the need of the minute. So, let's start clean. Life is precious. Can we at least now realize that we are all dependant on each other and love of the humankind has no enmity. Perhaps I may sound preaching, but it is the business of all of us to preach and benefit from each other in such circumstances.

The Lankans have short memories. If we can't solve our problems of majoritarianism vs minority complexes and the arrogance of supremacy of the Aryan  descent myth and not willing to learn from past mistakes and set right the wrong done, mark me  even the remaining portions of our beautiful island is bound to be swallowed either by foreign nations or by nature itself.

There was a continent called Lemuria some 14,000 years ago extending from Madagascar to Down Under or  may be of 5000 miles in length that got submerged under the Indian ocean. A Lost Civilization encompassing the ancients now speaking a language spoken by 80 million people. Shouldn't we think about all this? The majority of the people that fell victim to this disaster on December 26, 2004 happened to be citizens from the northeastern part of the island. Ironically, people from Ruhunu regions and Thamilnadu in India have also dead and gone under swift Tsunami Great Tidal Wave with ferocity of more than 850 miles per hour and much more deadly than the nuclear bomb downed in Hiroshima.

There is an epithet in Thamil: 'Arasan Eppadi, Kudikalum Appadi ' meaning ' what the king (or ruler) is, the citizens too would be'. So it is our leaders and politicians who should be models for us ordinary citizens. This country or state has become rotten because of insincerity, corruption at a worse level, debauchery and loss of moral and ethical values although we speak of following the noble paths of religions. We are living in a world of hypocrites and stupid ultranationalists who live in a world of myths without seeking to learn about the true status of the others and this exposing to the outer world, not necessarily the Christian western world, but also the Buddhist, Hindu and Islamic world. They attempt to put the clock back through their lenses of seeing the world only through one language macros cope.

Let bygone be bygone. Let's begin from the beginning. Let's first love the neighbour irrespective of his language or anything else. Don't we know still that the Lankans all belong to one ethnic community but speak different tongues?

Waves

I am so sorry that the 'Beach Wadiya', the internationally known quaint eating place for exquisite Lankan cuisine owned by Olwyn, a man of goodness around him, has been badly damaged  by the recent Tsunami and it remains a wreckage in Station Road, Wellawatta. Worse still is the gruesome act of the looters who have ransacked and taken away all the valuable goods and documents that proved his stature as one who earned international acclaim. It's so sad that it happened to him.

The group of writers in Colombo that used to meet and discuss literary matters was regularly meeting at the Beach Wadiya. The magazine of The English Writer's Workshop titled 'Waves' was published in late 2004. This is the sixth edition of this group of writers. Sandra Fernando, who has gathered this publication on behalf of The Wadiya Group says that : " We meet to read our stories, poems, scripts, articles, essays and other literary offerings to each other...But the most important thing about our workshop is summed up by Jagath Kumarasinghe: 'For the first time I have an audience for my work'. It is that sympathetic, supportive audience that is actually an impetus and an uncompromising prod for each of us.'

The writer informs further: " Our work has been mentored by several writers of note: Pauline Hensman, Haig Karunaratne, Sita Kulatunga, Anne Ranasinghe, Punyakante Wijenaike, and Christine Wilson...our sessions have been enhanced by visits from such people as Dr. Yasmine Gooneratne and Gaston Perera..."

The contributors to the current issue include the following: Anthea Senaratne, Shireen Senadhira, Jagath Kumaeasinghe, Nafisa Thahirally, Sisila Cooray, Ranjanie Ellepola, Faith Ratnayake, Elmo Leonard, Fahima Rizvan, Wilfred Jayasuriya, Subha Ranaweera, Farida Haque, Deidre Cadiramen, Maliha Rajon, Asgar Hussein, Sandra Fernando, Sita Kulatunga, and Haig Karunaratne.

This 68 page magazine is interesting to read. The irony however is that some of the pieces reflect a partisan view or interpretation of contemporary and past events in this country. I refer to a contribution titled 'Ancient Lanka' and another titled 'Onslaught'. I found some of the writings could have been crafted well and pointed to the subject or theme. It is sometimes tiring to read lengthy exercises which are devoid of focus. However immense talent is exhibited by almost all writers. Who knows, there may be a potential literary award winner among them.

A Life Serene

Enver C.Ahlip has brought out a life sketch of Al Haj Dr T.B.Jayah,who was one of the respected educationists and politicians in this country. The present generation is not aware of great Lankans that have contributed to the nation building of this country. And they come from different communities in the island. Therefore this book in English is a valuable document to know and assess the contributions made by the late leader. He was a pioneer of Muslim Education in the country. We learn that he built up Zahra College, Colombo and established other colleges in Aluthgama, Gampola, Matale, Puttalam and Wekande. 'He introduced free education, teaching in the mother tongue, health care and subsidized meals at Zahira College long before the State realized its obligations
to the citizens..."

I would have appreciated if a little note had been added on the writer of this book.

Life and Death

When we think of life and death particularly after a catastrophe like the one us Lankans faced at the end of last month, reflections on the subject by other greats come to our mind. Here are a few:

Everyman's life is a fairytale written by God's fingers. (Hans Christian Anderson)

We come and we cry, and that is life; we yawn and we depart, and that is death! Cry (Lines in an album)

Life is a long lesson in humility ( Barrie)

Tell me not, in mournful numbers, /Life is but an empty dream (Longfellow)

As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is but how good it is, is what matters (Seneca)

Life is but a walking shadow (Shakespeare)

In the midst of life we are in death (Common Prayer)

Nothing can happen more beautiful than death (Walt Whitman)

When I have seen the hungry ocean gain/ Advantage on the kingdom of the shore (Shakespeare)

A life on the ocean wave, /A home on the rolling deep (Samuel J Arnold)

Mallikai Annual 2005

The 40th Annual of Mallikai, a Thamil monthly literary magazine released last week in Colombo has the editor's (Dominic Jeeva's) column, short stories, poems, articles, translations, reviews, letters,grretings etc. The following important  writers in Thamil have contributed to this journal: Dominic Jeeva, Theniyan, Anbumani, M.Basheer, Saba Jeyarasa, Kambvarithy Jeyaraj, Anu Vai Nagarajan, Chokkan, Kunthavai, Sae Yogarasa, Aasi Kantharajah, C.Susanthararajah, A.Kanthiah, A.Saanthan, K.Saddanathan,Ilaya Abdullah ,Arun Vijayarani, ShriPrasanthan, Memon Kavi, Thambiaiyah Thevathas,Vasanthi,Kurunch Ilanthentral, SengaiAaliyaan, S.Sutharshan,Logeswari krishnamoorthy, Dickwella Kamal, Annaladchumy Rrajadurai, P.Aabdeen, K.S. Sivakumaran, L.Murugapathy, Chellkannu,So.Pathmanathan, Yugadharman and S,Muruganandan. Martin Wickramasinghe's story 'Throwing a Stone to a Sinner" is translated byS.M.J.Faisdeen. Kushwant Singh's story Riot is translated by Sangaraparani.

The cover picture is by Ramani, an excellent artist, not thoroughly exposed in Colombo. The magazine is available at Rs150/-permcopy from 201-1/4, Sri Kathiresan Street, Colombo 13. The editor Dominic Jeeva can be contacted on phone on 2320721. 

The need to stress the commonality than the superficial differences amongst us the primary need today before be begin to strive for reconciliation and acting together if one nation is the goal. Good Luck all around.

Contact: kssivan19@sltnet.lk

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