Eva Luna’s style captivated me – Sashini Ariyadasa | Sunday Observer

Eva Luna’s style captivated me – Sashini Ariyadasa

12 July, 2020

Shashini Ariyadasa is a bookworm, aspiring writer and a dentist. Today, she joins the Youth Observer to share her views on the book she likes  best and her reading habit. Shashini started as a journalist  at the Vidusara newspaper, entered the Dental Faculty  at the University of Peradeniya and now works as a dentist  at the National Institute of Mental Health in Mulleriyawa.

Excerpts from the interview:

As you are an enthusiastic reader, which book has moved you the most up to now?

A: The book  which moved me most was Eva Luna by Isabel Allende. Allende, a Chilean writer, lives in America and writes in Spanish. It was published in 1988 and the original Spanish book was published in 1987. I read it in 2001. Eva Luna received the American Book Award in 1989.

Why did it move you so much?

A: I mostly like American and English novels. This is my first introduction to something beyond that and I was  mainly captivated by its style.

How  would you describe the storyline?

A: The novel is based on a girl, named Eva Luna, who grows up from girlhood to adulthood. She is the narrator and related her life story in the first person format. The novel takes us through  Eva Luna’s journey  of life. Actually,  the main story presents the life of the  protagonist and the other story deals with her love life.So, one chapter is dedicated to Eva’s story while other chapter is dedicated to her lover, Rolf Carlé’s story. There is the geopolitical turmoil of Latin America during the 1950s-1980s too.

Is there any kind of connection or relationship between Eva’s life and yours?

A: Not at all. Eva’s life is more adventurous than mine. The narrator writes about the present moment very intensely. For example, if I am cooking now, though it is not an exciting thing,  the narrator makes it very exciting which is why the  reader is attracted to the story.

How did you find this book?

A: When I was  at the  University of Peradeniya, books were very hard to come by, especially English books.

But there is a  large library in the university?

A: Yes. But our studies  at the Dental Faculty were so intense that we had hardly any time to go to the library and get a book for casual reading. However, books were  circulating among the girls,and once I got an English book from a girl to read.

Though, I had  got used to American books, this is an English book, A Gentleman’s Property by Catherin Jaskin, which is a semi classic .  Reading this book, I was  encouraged and attracted to read English books. You know there are old bookshops or bookstalls  on Darley Road, close to  the Gamini Cinema in Maradana you can borrow books too from there and in return you have to deposit some money.

So, when I went to those  bookstalls , I entered a stall called Premadasa Books. I asked them for English novels. A person  who was there, picked up a book, named Cathedral by Nelson De Mille, and gave it to me. Later, I found it  was an American book. Thereafter, I couldn’t go back to Premadasa Books or  the other Darley Road bookstalls  as I was busy with my job. However, at that time my husband went to that place to buy me books and eventually, he found this book, Eva Luna from that place. So, this is how the book came to my hand.

Before you entered the University , how did you find books?

A: My mother is a writer as well as a school teacher, so we have a home library too. But I got used to borrowing  books from the Colombo Public Library as I was a member. My school was Musaeus College, Colombo up to Grade 9 and thereafter, I  moved to Devi BalikaVidyalaya in Borella.  Therefore, it was not difficult to go to the Public library.

After passing out as a  dentist from the University of Peradeniya, how  did you keep up with your reading habit?

A: My reading habit decreased drastically after I started my profession and later became a mother. I had to fulfill duties as a doctor as well as a mother of two children. In my opinion, when you are a woman, you have little opportunity to read and write after marriage, especially in Asian countries.

Did reading help you to  reach the place you are in now  and  help to express yourself?

A: Definitely. When you read about  other peoples’ experiences and get  a close  understanding of their feelings, you automatically develop in your inner life. It is an emotional and spiritual development as well as a physical development. In my case, it helped me to express myself too. And as a Doctor,  the reading habit developed my language skills very much, especially tackling a foreign language. You can learn a language, but it is not  very helpful to develop the language skills  unless you  read books in that language. Reading is the base of my education.

Do you think that the reading habit has decreased in society today?

A: Yes. It  has decreased especially among  the youth.Reading is a slow process. If you want to read a book, you have to go  to a calm and quiet place and concentrate on it. But today people got used to fast activities. They prefer to watch Youtube or play games.

Do you encourage others to read? 

A: Definitely. As my mother encouraged me to read, I encourage my two sons to read. But if they are not picking up books to read, I cannot go beyond that. Reading is an inborn thing. You cannot infuse a reading habit to someone who is not interested in it.