Winds and Waves of Desire | Sunday Observer
Book review:

Winds and Waves of Desire

28 February, 2021

Winds and Waves of Desire (published by Punaivakam) is the first attempt at a fictional story written by VTGP Lingam, a Naval Marine Engineering Officer. The story is based on the relationships among various members of a close-knit family in Sri Lanka.

As the title suggests, it is about the positive and negative desires of each character in their lives and how they achieve them or fight to overcome them. Various desires are described in the book, such as lust and virtue. Kulan and Sabathira are both examples of characters that give into lust “…get drowned as a steel ball immerses in an ocean. Such is the dangerous tendency of carnal waves in human desire.”

The argument proposed by the author for giving into such desires or fighting them is shown in a conversation between Sabathira and Kulan “….consciously I fall from grace and I am ashamed of”…”Sabathira ...As long as natural urges are there amidst cultural and legal restrictions, there would be always errors and omissions of values of free exercises.”


Packium is an example of a character that fought and withstood such desires and remained virtuous. “My mother had been one of the victims of such eventualities throughout but she weathered well the winds and vagaries of human desires”. Kulan’s wife Ranjitha is also another example of a character that fought the waves of desires that engulfed her husband. She remained devoted to him despite his repeated relationships with other women throughout their marriage.

The author’s writing style is unique; a combination of fictional story telling with factual information injected in many sentences.

While this is useful for the foreign reader and the third generation Tamils who are unaware of the daily life in Sri Lanka or of its history, at times this can interfere with the story.“It is also a sort of custom and tradition that the visitors to Colombo residents…carry a pot of curd…wrapped in banana leaves or banana tree sheaths which retain the contents cool and preserved.

These small gifts reflect the friendly concern...of the visitor to the visited.” This paragraph says a lot about the warm-hearted traditions among Sri Lankans. Not only do the following three paragraphs express the importance of pottery and curd but a deeper held meaning of showing love and being considerate to thy neighbour is also taught.

In contrast, the author goes onto express the importance of free education following the introduction of the retired translator and his family of teenagers in chapter nine. While the facts presented are interesting to know, they do not go on to add to the story in anyway; a condensed paragraph would have sufficed. At times, factual information is injected into the story and written in a way that seems more rigid rather than entwined into the plot.

Enthralling the reader

The pages that describe Rajan’s journey in the train are written eloquently and make readers feel like they too are on the train ride accompanying him and enjoying the view. The description of the countryside, arable fields and wildlife is a pleasure to read as well as the description of the events occurring on the platforms. It makes the reader wonder why the writer did not continue to use his adjectives throughout the book.

The author expresses his opinion on a range of topics that are close to his heart. The production and wastage of plastic in the world, the education system that makes a child compete for higher marks instead of more knowledge and the role and impact of agriculture in modern days are all examples of topics briefly mentioned.

Rajan is noted to reminiscence his youthful days as a time when each person tried to better himself and his neighbour. “The environment that existed then could condition us being harmless, care for and share with others around for peaceful and harmonious co-existences in society”.

As nostalgic as this may be, it does not seem a true reflection of a time gone by. Rather this is a view of the past through rose-tinted glasses. The problems faced by Rajan (or the author) may be slightly different to those of current times, but many of the problems of the present times are those that were hidden or not dealt with from the past. Inequality, social and economic problems, caste barriers and educational reforms were all problems of the past as they are of today. It is difficult to believe as a young reader that these did not exist. More likely they were never seen. Is it possible that due to the growth in technology and wider knowledge that people of today are more aware of such problems and increasingly vocal?

As a writer, it is important to keep true to the story and ensure there is no confusion to the reader on the plot. Characterisation is also key to ensuring a story is true and its characters are believable.

“…Malathi and I were made guardians by my late parents with the consent of the victim who shared and sacrificed her life for our family.” When Rajan states this it gives the reader the impression that Mano’s mother is dead, but towards the end of the book she is alive and well!


Similarly, Kulan throughout the book is made out to be a man who is obsessed with lust, had undergone many treatments to fight this desire and failed. Despite the advice from his family and well-wishers, he continues to pursue his desires. However, when he encounters Mano’s mother, he explains how he failed to search for her on the single wish of his late mother.

The pages of characterisation created by the author are diminished in these paragraphs. As a reader, this is questionable and not likely to be believed; a man who has been described close to a carnal craving creature does not follow orders or listen to the advice of others easily. It brings a question to the mind of the reader: If he listened to his mother and did not search for his former lover, why did he not listen to his mother and stop his lustful behaviour as well?

How likely is it that Ranjitha, a cancer stricken wife, who has already endured so much discomfort due to Kulan’s disgraceful behaviour, can go onto suggest that he should marry his former lover upon her imminent death? As a reader and as a woman this is simply folly. As virtuous as she may be, a woman no matter how much she may love or put up with her husbands’ ridicules would not suggest let alone wish for such an ending.

Abrupt ending

The story is finished abruptly leaving the reader with questions and yearning for a better ending. The reader reaches the ending hoping that Mano and Kulan will unite. Instead Mano, as the ever-intelligent child, states that she simply knows who her true parents are and does not appear to be disheartened in anyway for the sudden knowledge. She simply seems to take this information and states it in factual terms as though mentioning the weather.

Would it not have been a more righteous way for Kulan to redeem himself from his waves of desire by confronting Mano and discussing her birth? Surely the questions she would have asked as a child would have made him realise his errors and help him learn, rather than meditation (something that the author stated he had tried in the past and failed at).

Overall, the story is a good attempt for a first-time story. The underlying moral is expressed throughout the plot and is understood by the reader. As with all first-time stories, there is plenty of improvement at hand to ensure that future writings are of a better standard.

A story is not something simply that has a start, middle and ending. It should consist of believable characters, a plot line that does not alter and each sentence written should be to improve the story and move it forward.