A milestone in Sinhala short stories | Sunday Observer
Duwana Wattiya Ha Hinawana Tikira

A milestone in Sinhala short stories

21 November, 2021

Professor Amarakeerthi Liyanage’s latest book of short stories titled Duwana Wattiya Ha Hinawana Tikira opens a new page in Sinhala short story writing as it deviates from the traditional short story writing in style, use of language and presentation of characters. The author creates a wider canvas for the expression of the conflicts in characters and society. One may even call it an experiment in short story writing by looking far beyond tradition.

Most of the stories are real life in a language and style that makes it fiction. The complex hidden emotions, contradictions and the urge of the characters are presented to the readers through simple day to day behaviour of the characters. One may complain of the lack of realism on the surface of the characters, but it is that which makes it a story worth relating. We are reminded of the ‘absurd drama’ that came out some time back which in fact had nothing absurd.

Short story is short in time, but the story runs into generations of thought processes. It depicts the transformation of society, way of thinking and values with the development of science and technology which has led to domination of wealth and power. These characters bring to the forefront the passing away of traditional values and a lack of development of alternative values in keeping with the social transformation brought about by the developments in the field of science and technology.

The uneven development of society which has led to a wide gap between tradition and modernity are economic and social.

Therefore, these are a set of stories that needs to be discussed in the context of the development of short story writing in Sri Lanka.

The short story Kauruwath Nowe Api shows the values of two generations where the father is a paint bass and the daughter a music teacher. Similarly, the short story Wela Depasa where the 3 characters Ananda, Nilanthi and Jayanthi shows the struggle to break away from traditional values by their reactions on the night the lights went off.

In the short story Ali Midula the death of villager Bulathaiya and the reactions of the villagers shows the cultural conflict in society. In the short story Kalu Sudu Dawaswala shows through the political dialogue in the village the struggle to move up in society. In the short story Malawi Aragala sets out the conflict in its naked form where it is said in relation to one character Lingikathwayata Baya Wenna Epa Kiyala Uganwana Radical Viyaparayaka Adahas Ragena Duraka Colamba Enna Kale, Natya Kandayamwala Karakena Kale Hitapu Hinda E Karana Gana Dan Viurthai.

In the short story Wadak Nathi Minihek the character of Piyasiri brings out the frustration and confusions in present day youth. The story Rathu Neluma brings into focus the hypocrisy of modern day life. In Sakshikarayo the conflicts of the thinking of educated society on communalism and the working of their inner mind, the difficulty in forsaking communalism is highlighted graphically.

Duwana Wattiya Ha Hinawana Tikira shows the reaction of different layers of society when expectations are shattered.

In Kamathaka Pitapatha the submission to a drama world and how society reacts to the collapse of a dream world is picturesquely placed before the reader.

What makes these stories, and the presentation of characters, special is the deep understanding with which the author places the crisis in our modern-day society before the reader with lot to think about. These short stories will lead other short story writers to write many more short stories from other angles from which this development can be looked into.

Hopefully this will lead to a wider discussion of the issues facing our society which can lead to better understanding of the basis of the crisis which one may say is due to the breakdown of traditional values and the search for new values.