and Lankan Writing!
'I' factor creeps into my writing when I attempt to be a columnist. It
may sound personal or seemingly an attempt to promote myself through these
columns. As opposed to the modest editorial 'we', I very often use the
personal pronoun. In fact, when I was editing the 'Culture' page for 'The
Island' in the 1980s, editor Gamini Weerakoon used to caution me on many
times to write impersonally. But I couldn't and cannot. The reason is this:
Using 'I' is more intimate, personal, objective and subjective, sincere
and most of all, it helps to record events or the history particularly
when you yourself is a part of the literary scene.
And if others fail to mention
your own contribution for some reason or the other (as the compilers of
'A Lankan Mosaic' did, one has to say things personal, if it is to be not
forgotten or denied. Hence reminiscences of the past is also important.
Further if the style is the man, writing in simple style with active voice
and connecting flow of related thoughts make it understandable and interesting
to the average reader.
After all, column writing
is not academic oriented. It's conversational, light and purposeful. It's
basically informative and on occasions analytical. Well then, who is a
Columnist in a newspaper or magazine? A columnist writes a regular column
with a title or name and a byline. For instance, 'Light Refractions' by
Often a photograph of the
columnist accompanies each column. In Sri Lanka, this is not being done,
but in neighbouring India, it is done. Many columnists become personalities
in their own right. Depending on the specific publication, the frequency
vary - daily, weekly, fortnightly, monthly, periodically.
I use to enjoy reading
William Safire's columns in the New York Times. Columnists write on a variety
of subjects, depending on their specialities. These columns could be serious
or humorous, analytical, literary, sundry etcetera. They develop their
own unique ideas for columns with interesting angles. They write and report
general news, represent the publication at social or press functions.
In the U.S., a columnist
can earn between $ 18,000 and $ 100,000 or even more annually. That all
depends on who writes for whom. It is estimated that Syndicated Columnists
in major publications might have earnings near $ 100,000 or more, annually.
A bachelor's degree, preferably
majoring in Journalism, English, Communications or related fields is invariably
Any type of writing experience
is useful. They must have excellent writing skills and a good command of
the language. They must also be able to write clear, crisp and interesting
copy with unique hooks and angles. Many columnists start as reporters or
other type of journalists, then move up the career ladder.
Film esoterica, formerly
consumed only by cineastes, is now aimed directly at, and snapped up by,
all of us claims Elvis Mitchell, a writer for the New York Times. Says
he: Sound changed the scope of movies, but it didn't really change the
way they were made, the way they were marked or the way they were watched.
The DVD is changing all those things. That's why everyone is a "Film Geek"
now. For more information, please read the paper of August 17 last year.
I liked the way film critic
Stuart Klawans for The Nation described the Polish film director Kieslowski'
'Decalogue'. Those who have seen this DVD in three sets would agree. "With
daunting technical mastery, and an artistry that went beyond technique,
Kieslowski crafted tantalizing, disturbing, alluring images, then made
them seem to dissolve into human situation."
A similarity between Sinhala
and Yiddish words are observed: Tatha (S) Tateh (Y). For parents, the word
in Yiddish is Tatehmama.
Terrorism - what does it
mean? The U.S. Law defines thus: "the intent to intimidate or coerce a
civilian population or influence the policy, conduct or activities of the
government through intimidation or coercion."
Two Asians as pioneers!
Did we know that Srinivasa
Ramanujam (1887-1920) produced many original results in infinite series,
and number theory? He is credited to have discovered over 100 theorems.
Abdus Salaam (1926) is a physicist who discovered a link between electric
magnetism and the week force of radio active decay. For this work he was
awarded the 1979 Nobel Prize for Physics.
Aspects of Maldivian
As we know, the language
spoken in the Republic of Maldives is Dhivehi. If I am correct up till
now only two Sri Lankans have written books on Maldivian culture. The names
are Subash Chawla and J. B. Disanayake.
I happened to teach at
the Majediyya School in capital Male' some 10 years ago, when Lankan educationist,
S. J. Samuel was the greatly admired Principal of the school. Rawalpindi
(Pakistan) born Punjabi Hindu Subash Chawla wrote a book titled 'The New
Maldives', which had colour photographs, maps and charts and an account
of the history, economy, education, constitution of the islands of Maldives.
In his book, the author says that the original settlers were Hindus 3500
Dhivehi is based on Ely,
an offshoot of Sanskrit Islam came to the Maldives around 1150 A.D. In
the pre-Muslim days, the local people were the Redi and then Hoin. Here
were Thamil predecessors among the pre-Dhivehi speaking people of Giravaru
They were called Tamila.
The writer substantiates his views by reference to the discovery of a Phallus
temple in Nilandu with many Sivalingams, and a coral slab in the National
Museum in Male.
There are some hieroglyphic
characters on the slab. This he says resemble the prehistoric script of
the Indus Valley Civilization that flourished on the banks of the Indus
river over 3500 years ago. He also admits that the Maldivians are more
similar to the Indo-Gangetic people than to the people of the Indus Valley.
A guide to Lankan Thamil
The late Kanaga Senthinathan
from Kurumbaciddy in Yaalpanam was a belle-lettrist and a writer nurtured
in tradition and yet adaptable to modernity. He wrote fiction and poetry
and wrote pieces of literary value in his columns. He had a huge collection
of newspaper clippings of Thamil writing especially in regard to Lankan
Thamil literature. Unselfish and charitable, he could provide information
on writers and their works, which he had at his finger tips.
He earnestly collected
such data and compiled a book titled "Eelathu Ilakkiya Valarchi " (The
Growth of Lankan Thamil Literature) in Thamil and gave a title in English
as 'A Short History of modern Ceylon Tamil Literature'. However, just as
much as the writing of 'progressive' critics was partisan, Kanaga Senthinathan's
book was also biased. Although he tried to incorporate a lot of information
on writing or writers between 1922 and 1963, one suspects that interpolation
in the form of prejudicial writing had entered into the printed book.
One suspected that a leading
Thamil writer and his friend who also wrote and published books had had
a greater influence in editing his book for publication. As a result biased
interpretation had crept in this book.
Truly, it was not a History
of Lankan Thamil Literature as envisaged. Basically it was a compendium
of what the author thought of Lankan writers of fiction, poetry, essays,
plays and critical pieces written in the Thamil language. He categorized
the writers as ones who were bent in erudite traditional writing, reawakend
(Maru Malarchi) writers and Islamic writers.
He also gave brief notes
on newspapers and magazines, special supplements and periodicals, the Sahitya
Mandalam, literary associations, folk songs and other features of writing.
The latter part of the
book revealed diametrically contrary views to the first part of the book.
Hence it was suspected an outsider has laid his hand into the project,
which was earnestly initiated by the late well-meaning Kanaga Senthinathan.
Kanaga Senthinathan was a walking encyclopedia of his times and an aesthete.
Some of his short stories deserve mention.
He was good in creative
writing, but lacked a basic understanding of literary criticism. However,
in the absence of any book on Lankan Thamil Literature covering the early
period of its evolution, his book serves a useful purpose to the uninitiated
Kenneth De Lanerolle!
The late educationist,
Kenneth M De Lanerolle was a Linguistics specialist and he had done comparative
studies of Sinhala and English. 'Southern River', 'Princes in All the Earth',
'Pale Hands', 'Towards Relevance in Education' are some of his books.
One of his statements was
"If only the confrontation between adult and child could be broken, if
only adult and child could face the future together, through renewed family
life, through schools which are homes of love and concern, and similar
structures of comradeship, then their respective human rights will complement
each other and Sri Lanka will have a fair chance of developing a lifestyle
that is the envy of all."
Here are some obsolete
words which we come across in our varied reading: caluminate (malicious
statements known to be false in an effort to harm someone's reputation
or character), inhume (to bury), halch (to hug), fleer (to laugh in a disrespectful
way), emacity (a fondness for buying things), brume (mist or fog).
Courtesy: Daily News,Sri