writer in Thamil!
By K.S. Sivakumaran
of the pioneer progressive writers in Thamil was the Lankan writer,
K. Ganesh who passed away on June 5 this year. Born in 1920, he lived
in India in the 1930s and developed friendship and contact with Indian
left wing writers like Mulk Raj Anand, Premchand, K.A. Abbas and
the like. He was the first to translate into Thamil the stories of Abbas
and got them published in a popular Thamil weekly 'Kalki'. He also
translated into Thamil Mulk Raja Anand's notable novel 'The Untouchable'.
As his own contributions, he wrote short stories, poems and critical
pieces. He edited 'Bharathi', an influential Thamil magazine in Thamil
in Sri Lanka with the late K. Ramanathan as co-editor. His spadework
towards a leftist slant to writing, with his love for the humankind
and his translations of poems by Luzin, Ho Chi Minh, Barbara, Bulgarian
poetry and Russian poetry is noteworthy.
At a time when people did
not think that they were from ethnic groups, Ganesh with Ediriweera Sarahchandra
formed the All Ceylon Writers Society in the late 1930s. Do we know that
the world renowned Thamil scholar born in the east of Sri Lanka, the late
Swami Vipulananda, the first professor in Thamil in the then
University of Ceylon was
the President of this Society and the doyen of Sinhala literature, the
late Martin Wickramasinghe was its vice president.
Although, the late K. Ganesh
was identified as a Sri Lankan Hill country writer in Thamil in the same
way as the late C.V. Veluppillai was, the former was a pioneer thinker
in the whole area of contemporary Thamil literature, whether it was
produced in our country or in Thamil Nadu.
Only belatedly K. Ganesh's
contribution was recognized by local Thamil progressive writers and
he was awarded here in Canada.
Hill country writers Theliwatte
Joseph and Anthony Jeeva were two people who strove hard to spotlight
K. Ganesh's importance.
The important writer was
modest, kind and a patient listener. He continued to learn from anybody
he thought worthy of listening to. He used to encourage me to write
on subjects outside the Thamil circle. When I suggested that he should
read Colin Wilson's 'The Occult', he made a bee-line to the Lake
House bookshop and bought a copy of it almost instantaneously.
The late K. Ganesh was
a relative of another Thamil intellectual from the Hill Country,
the politician, P.P. Devaraj.
Among the four or five
airlines I travelled, easily the KLM are concerned and SriLankan
are perhaps the best as far as service, comfort and courtesy concerned.
On the 16th last I flew from Frankfort to Colombo by SriLankan.
It was a great relief flying
in the country's airline. The kind hostesses and in fact the whole
crew saw to the comfort of each and everyone without any racial prejudices.
I say this because the plane was full of passengers speaking Thamil.
They were all returning
with their small children to their native land from Canada to spend
their vacation. Being a Wednesday, I was desperate in reading the
Artscope supplement of the Daily News. I requested the young lady
who was attending to passengers to get me a copy of the paper.
Amidst all her chores,
she repeatedly searched for the supplement, but of no avail. The
circulation department has supplied the newspaper without the supplement,
perhaps thinking that the Artscope pages would not interest passengers.
What a sad idea!. In fact, this supplement should have been distributed
coming into our country
from all parts of the world to know about its culture and the arts. It
was sad that indigenous culture is not respected by our own people who
perhaps think only in terms of foreign culture.
A SriLankan cuisine in Frankfurt!
I arrived at the Frankfurt
International Airport in the early hours of June 16 having flown
from Cincinnati in Ohio, USA in the evening of the previous day.
The time difference between Sri Lanka and North America, the Eastern
Standard Time is that we are 10 hours ahead.
In the huge and sprawling
German airport, I was amazed to find 'Miris Hothi' with tamarind
flavour of spiced chicken and 'rotti' in a cafeteria, patronized
by people from all parts of the world. There were two scholars - women-
from Macedonia and Baghdad enjoying the same dish I enjoyed
thoroughly. After having tasted mild western food for more
than two years the hot spicy curry soaked in fine bread eaten
with your bare hands was truly Sri Lankan style.
And I washed it with 'plain
tea'. The owner of the cafe, incidentally is a former Sri Lankan
from the hill country. He spoke to me in faulty Thamil and Sinhala,
when I asked him whether he was from India.
A lot of people in the
west mistake Sri Lankans as Indians, although we may belong to the
same ethnic groups of India. This man, who lives in Germany for the
past 30 years has Lankan Sinhala and Thamil waitresses and also white and
black attendants who speak in German and English The cafe has a German
The purpose of this column!
purpose of this column is two-fold. One is to inform, report and
comment on my own experiences in my life, which form a part of the
Lankan literary and cultural history. Therefore it has a personal
note. It is even a sort of auto-biographical writing. The second is to
inform the uninitiated of what's happening in the local indigenous
languages and in English all over the world. So, it has some useful
purpose, I believe.
The editor of the Artscope,
R.S. Karunaratne, is doing a wonderful job in presenting varied viewpoints
and worthwhile subjects for the indiscriminate reader in English.
I had worked with RSK at
'The Island' and I know of his untiring efforts to keep updated on
Because, I write about
past memories, some readers might think that I am in the 80s, but
may I say that my biological age is only 67 and I strive hard to
be young at heart.
I am unconventional and
do not want to write in academic and formal style. This was a deliberate
decision. The style of many columnists have undergone several changes
in the recent past. So, please bare with me, dear readers, while
I write from Colombo beginning this week.
This week's column is relatively
short as I am yet to buy a computer to write my column. Presently
I am using the services provided by a Cyber cafe in Pamankada.
Readers' opinions are welcome.
Contact : firstname.lastname@example.org