Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka
Describes the geography, history, government, economy, social life and customs, religion, culture, and more of this island country in the Indian Ocean. Includes a recipe for milk toffee.


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Village, our saviour


Admitting to a weakness at quotations yet I remember faint traces of them. One such is, "The person behind the book is as important as the book". Of course. It is almost a redundant statement for both are equally important. There can be no book without a person behind it penning it all. And unless the book is highly academic, in a creative work there is no obstacle for the writer's personality to creep into the book, especially if the writer chooses to do so.


Gam Saraniya
Author: Henry D. Kumarapperuma
Published by S. Godage & Bros.
Price: Rs. 600


I met the author, Henry Kumarapperuma almost accidentally at a writers meeting and never set eyes on him again. But as I read the book he gifted to me I could see him peeping through every page. Calm, relaxed, contemplative, unpretentious.


And of course the marks of the Do-Gooder stamped on him for good, has been living out of the island for many many years. But chooses not to speak in the Bard's language. Not because he detests it but simply because he loves his own language. He loves the country of his birth and its rural culture in which he was lovingly nurtured. In fact he seems to have got obsessed by it as time effluxed. There is nothing like catharsis, if you tend to get obsessed by something. So he has ventilated all his memories back home via "Gam Saraniya".


Of course he is no novice to the writing field as he has authored three other books but he contends that this is his most significant work so far into which obviously he has put in his optimum expertise not only in the field of writing but in observation and recapitulation of events.


Not knowing the writer's initial background I am unaware whether the coastal belt is his home area but he does present a graphic account of life on it among the coir weaving community which sets the stage for a good part of the book. The poverty, the resultant squabbles, yet the communal spirit pervading it all, the hopes and aspirations of its younger generation are all brought into play here.


The blurb introduces him as a double degree student of Colombo University which he has not forgotten in all its ramifications. The society he experienced there too is a tale to be told. So it needs a little ingenuity to bond the two themes together. With much effort a few of the more intelligent boys and girls find their way there. And that opens the curtain on the lives of young men and women just past their adolescence, experiencing the campus life. Their trials and tribulations, the varied vicissitudes they face, their romances all are related in a steady style that has a fascinating equilibrium of its own. There is also the cry of the missionary and the visionary. He has rosy plans for his country in the future and here he draws encouraging examples from the country he lives in. Attitudes have to be changed, new approaches have to be experimented and boldness should replace timidness - but all this to suit the framework of a rural society. For him the Village of Sri Lanka is uppermost and was uppermost. From ancient times through the medieval period it was so. And the tradition is worth continuing. City can be the nexus of many things but to the village we must return.


Hence Gam Saraniya, "Village, our saviour".


Contact Mr Henry Kumarapperuma-