Friday, December 30, 2016

Bridging Connections: A Collection of Sri Lankan Short Stories.

Edited by Rajiva Wijesinha, Bridging Connections is a collection of twenty five short stories penned by Sri Lankan writers. The book has representations from all three major languages of the country. Eight of the stories are English translations of Sinhala stories, seven translated from Tamil and ten are stories originally written in English. There are stories written in different eras- right from 1940s to contemporary ones.

The first story of the collection, titled Diversion is written by Martin Wickramasinghe, who is acknowledged as the father of modern Sinhala fiction. It is about the remnants of colonial attitudes still showing its ugliness even after the English left for good. Going Back is about a retired head teacher visiting her school nostalgically with her son who doesn't care. The Dancer very beautifully portrays a psychological aspect of married life. A Latrine For US Too establishes how a new habit is formed. Initially all are sceptical about building a new toilet, but are forced to make one by the law. Later one by one the family starts using it and it becomes a norm. This story, I feel has significance in the current Indian situation of digitalisation.

Today My Son Comes Home is a dark tragedy as the name indicates. The Teacher is about how desires can veil our humanity. SMS is a heart felt story about the interactions between a consultant and mine searchers in a war zone. Akka is a family drama about a divorced sister.

The Tamil stories starts with Chastity, which mulls about the importance of life over chastity of a lady. Satisfaction has a very personal narration about a boy selling wares to feed his family and to educate himself. Among the Hills starts as a romance and then by the end take an abrupt turn.

Thousands of Directions is about ethnicity and the ridges created by politics. It Could Happen Anywhere, Anytime is a tragedy of lives altered permanently by war. Thanks is a mini story that's interesting due to its sharp anti-Indian twist in the end. The Door of Infatuation is a hilarious retelling of an old mythological tale.

Stories that are written in English are more interesting because they are not translated and comes directly from horses' mouths. Also, absence of the strong ethnic divide seen in the previous two sections make it an interesting read. Notable are the satires Professional Mourners and The Doughty Men of Purantota. No State, No Dog is a story of sudden and drastic change in life, so is The Colour of Life. Home Coming contrasts expectations and reality. Reunion is a black comedy about extreme situations tearing the mind apart.

The Drummer is perhaps the most modern of the stories. The Price goes back to the theme of parents' inability to raise their children as individuals. The Rabbit's Retreat treads a nostalgic path of reminiscing about school life. The last tale Monkeys is like a wise Buddhist fable.

Title Bridging Connections signifies the attempt to unify the two ethnicities that are perpetually at loggerheads with each other. But the stories given in the book showcase the stark difference between their views and attitudes. It is interesting to observe how one party tries to avoid or sugar coat the issue while the other constantly brings it up to the verge of propaganda. One tries to induce restraint and a feel good factor in its stories, while the other tries to stoke the emotions.

1 comment:

  1. All stories seem intriguing. Specially,'Among the Hills' and 'The Price'. Wish to know more about all. Have to read it!