‘Behind The Eclipse’ | Sunday Observer

‘Behind The Eclipse’

Not many of us are aware of the struggles of a survivor of Ebola, nor do we know of the stigma attached to patients who have suffered and survived the disease. Being a psychologist by profession and a mental health specialist who acted in response to the disease, Pramudith Rupasinghe was able to penetrate the inner thoughts of both, the Ebola patients and survivors. He listened to their stories and difficulties and one which attracted him was the story of Thumba. Meeting Thumba inspired Rupasinghe to dive into this semi-fictional novel, where he describes the struggles the protagonist went through, while at the same time adding a literary, fictitious factor to it. Rupasinghe hides Thumba’s true identity in the book by using a different name in order to protect his privacy.

Set in West Africa, the book follows Thumba’s journey as he matures into an adolescent while living with a tribe and then being displaced in the city. He finds religion and becomes a nurse, treating Ebola patients and subsequently contracting the disease and surviving it.

The book reveals that African tribes living in the forests in the late 1900s were exposed to optimum conditions for the Ebola disease and many had died after showing symptoms similar to the disease; however this has not been documented. The book further explores the hierarchical system in place in such tribes and their way of life. Furthermore, it shows the transformation of Thumba’s tribal mindset. The book also highlights the spread of Ebola. The reader bears witness to the struggle of treating an Ebola patient to the suffering of one, after which we are shown the irony of survival as they too must suffer with the ostracism that comes from being an Ebola survivor.

More than a million copies of “Behind The Eclipse” have been sold around the world so far and books of Rupasinghe have been translated into more than 20 languages. “Pulse” magazine has selected “Behind The Eclipse” among 10 best novels written by Sri Lankan authors all time. “Minsara Publishers” in Gampaha has publishing right to “Behind The Eclipse” and “Thimiren Ethereta” the unabridged translation is also available island wide as a “Minsara Publication”.