Lanka: Witness To History
The hardcover edition of Sri
Lanka: Witness To history - A Journalist's Memoirs, 1930-2004 by
Subramanium Sivanayagam was launched in London on February 12. This
700 page, hardcover edition traces Sivanayagam's and Sri Lanka's
history through some of its most colourful and politically active
phases. Given below are excerpts;
the foreword by Adrian Wijemanne:
". Ethnic nationalism is the
single pervading feature of 20th Century history.
Tamil nationalism is but another instance of the most
The state adversary it faces is but a
weak and fumbling foe dependent on outside help and so vulnerable to
international pressures of many kinds. Sivanayagam's experiences and
this book in which they are so eloquently recorded have the great
advantage of personal acquaintance with events whereof he writes and
also of alignment with one of the great transforming movements of
the contemporary world.
It is a combination, which makes for a
riveting read and one, which will reward an audience even wider than
that, which adheres to the Tamil national cause.
Sivanayagam's splendid book is a
melding of history and autobiography. One must hope that Sivanayagam
will not lay down his pen and will continue to dazzle us with his
brilliant exposition of the great cause to which he is
From the last chapter of Witness To
"It was late autumn 2004 when my
friend 'G' who went through the manuscript of my book pointed out
something that I had failed to realise myself. 'Look,' he said, 'you
have sub-titled your book - A Journalist's Memoirs. Won't your
readers wonder as to what happened to you from 1993 till now?' An
unexplained gap of 11 years! As it often happens in life, it was a
case of missing the obvious. 2004 was to me a year that was full of
anxieties. I was 74 and had fallen victim to Myeloma as well; cancer
of the bone marrow, the doctors said.
Cancer is a word that has an unpleasant
affliction anyway. Besides, I seemed to have developed, among other
ailments, what is known as writer's cramp. Having to live with
constant deadlines could be agonising, but living without them, rust
could settle on the mind. Life was getting torn between conflicts.
There was the need to see this book in print but there were also
immigration laws and visa problems to worry about. Above all, there
was a compelling yearning to escape from the synthetic life of the
West and its unfriendly winters. Get back to the land of your birth,
said my inner self, however sordid the state of the land is. A man's
life, after all, should end where it began.
The theme of a book that I had read
during my young years began to haunt me in my thoughts. It was
American author Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man And The Sea. The old
man had at last landed a big fish. A really big one. A fishing
Exultation! The problem was, he did not
have the strength to bring the fish ashore, so big was his catch.
With the help of a small boy, he laboured to drag it ashore. But all
his feeling of triumph became shortlived as sharks began attacking
the fish all the way. When journey was reached, all what was left of
the fish were mere bones. That story kept recurring in my waking
hours. As to why, I could not fathom.
The last time I took a conscious
decision and took control of my life was in end 1981. That meant
saying goodbye to Colombo where I had worked for 30 years to move to
Jaffna and launch the Saturday Review in January 1982. I cannot
remember any single occasion during the following 23 years,
unbelievable it would seem, when anything happened according to my
wishes or plans. "
Subramaniam Sivanayagam, born in Jaffna,
Ceylon in 1930 during British colonial rule in Jaffna had his
secondary education at Kokuvil Hindu College and Jaffna College,
Vaddukoddai. In Colombo, he had worked on the editorial staff of the
Ceylon Daily News and the Ceylon Daily Mirror. He also worked as
English language copy writer at J. Walter Thompson and later as
Editor (publications) at the Ceylon Tourist Board. He was founder
editor of the Jaffna based Saturday Review. While in India in 1986,
he edited the fortnightly Tamil Nation. In Paris in 1994 he edited
the newly launched monthly journal, Hot Spring which later shifted
base to London.
1956: A Jaffna-Colombo train journey and a taste of
1930: Jaffna, Bernard Shaw and the days of the Empire
Jaffan College: Getting educated outside the classroom!
Lake House, Sir John and his inauspicious Jaffna visit
1956: Bandaranaike sows the seeds of Tamil separatism
1957-1959: Broken Pledge, Riots and Assassination.
1960-1963: A woman Prime Minister and Tamil satyagraha
1962-1968: Ill-fated coup. India helps Mrs. B at Tamil
1964-1968: The Left capitulates: Sinhala racism
1968-1969: Tamil disillusionment. "Sinhala Only
1970: Mrs. B again. Austerity and a gallop in the
1971: Sinhala Insurgency, Terrorism and State
1972-1976: Stormy years of nascent Tamil Nationalism
1977-1979: Jayewardene at 71 grabs power and breeds
1981: Jayawardene inaugurates a dark phase in the
1982-83: Adventure in journalism. The Saturday Review,
1983: The pogrom as the outside world saw it :
September 1983 : Escape from Jaffna and a midnight
passage to India
1983-1984: Eelam activity in Madras, state of war in
1985: Rajiv Gandhi, Indian embroilment and failure at
1986: Sri Lanka sinks deeper into the mire of war
1987: Indian Army walks into northeast Sri Lanka:
Near-fatal attack on Rajiv Gandhi
1988: Peacemakers at war; Sinhala south rebels;
1989: LTTE- Premadasa talks and Assassinations
1990- Indian troops depart but the Sri Lankan war
resumes, Fall of Mankulam
1991-1997: The Rajiv Gandhi Assassination & a
1990-1993: Adventure in journalism II : The Tamil
nation and jail life!
1991-1993: More Assassinations and fall of army camps.
Death of Kitu.
1994-1995 : Chandrika in power, peace talks end in war
1996: Central Bank bombed: In the north, Tigers overrun
1977: Operation land route to Jaffna fails as planes
drop from the sky
1998: Kilinochchi falls to the Tigers. Operation
Jayasikurui called off.
1999: Wanni heartland in LTTE hands: Chandrika voted
back to power
2000: Elephant pass falls. Falls of Jaffna averted with
2001-2002: A Summary of major events
A Memoir 1993 - 2004: That unseen hand that dictates
By Risidra Mendis
songs such as Kandula, Sandalatha, Nil Upuli, Nil Ahase,
Warusawe, Ranthar- upayana and Kavikariye among others are what kept
his fans enthralled for many years. But today Keerthi Pasquel, the
man behind these captivating songs is to hold a concert with a
difference. Known as 'Keerthi Gee' Pasquel's concert is expected to
reach out to all the tsunami hit children.
According to Pasquel, the idea of
assisting the children in orphanages has been foremost in his mind
for quite some time. "My aim was to launch an organisation to
entertain children of various orphanages in the country, with the
intention of recognising the capabilities of these destitute and
orphaned children. I hope to name this organisation 'The Child.' The
purpose of this organisation would be to guide and nurture such
children, in order to make them an active part of our society and
culture," says Pasquel.
Pasquel hopes to form 'The Child' with
the support and assistance of various business organisations and
All monies collected from the
sponsorships and advertisements of 'Keerthi Gee' will be utilised
for 'The Child' and for the rehabilitation of the orphaned children
from the tsunami devastation. "By supporting these children
they will have a future to look forward to" said Pasquel.
Pasquel who is a household name in the
music arena began his musical career as a bass guitarist for the
group Galaxies in 1976. His original debut song was recorded in 1980
and his maiden audio cassette released in 1985. To date Pasquel has
sung over 300 songs and has succeeded in winning the hearts and
admiration of a multitude of music lovers the world over.
Pasquel who happens to be a play back
singer for films and teledramas has strummed his base guitar for
over 10,000 song recordings. He has also composed music for films,
teledramas and for leading singers in the country. Pasquel has even
taken on main roles in teledramas such as Charulatha, Gawwen Gawwa,
Tharu and Sara.
'Kerthi Gee' - his own one-man show
commenced in 1988. At present Pasquel has performed around 100 shows
in Sri Lanka and abroad. However, important landmarks in his career
are his visits overseas. He enraptured audiences in Abu Dhabi,
Dubai, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, Doha Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Japan,
Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, France, UK, Canada and the
USA at more than 110 shows.
In 1983 he reorganised Fortunes and was
with the band for several years. In 1989 he formed his own group
'The Super Fortunes.' The band made a great impact in Sri Lanka and
overseas. But on his return to Sri Lanka after a stint of four years
in New Zealand, Pasquel formed a new band called 'Sonic' which is
currently performing under his guidance and leadership.
Pasquel has also won many awards in Sri
Lanka. In 1996 he was honoured with an international award from the
World Science Council in Japan where he competed with musicians of
repute from 13 countries.
At Keerthi Gee, Pasquel will sing 26 of
his popular songs that include Kandula, Sandalatha, Nil Upuli, Nil
Ahase, Warusawe, Rantharupayana, Kavikariye, Tharudahasak, Dasamasa
Oba Ma and Sinhala Rajakale. Pasquel's songs for the concert have
been written by lyrists Dr. Ajantha Ranasinghe, Hemasiri Halpita,
Sunil Sarath Perera, Saman Chandranath Weerasinghe, Chandradasa
Fernando, Mahinda K. Premasiri, Stanley Peiris, Donald Ivan, Father
Linus Mendis and Upali Dhanavalavithana. The music for Keerthi Gee
will be provided by popular musician Sarath De Alwis and his
Deviating from the normal practice of
selling tickets Keerthi Gee concert will be held only for invitees.
Nevertheless Pasquel has not forgotten his numerous fans. His fans
can attend the show by making a request to Pasquel by email firstname.lastname@example.org
or by posting their request to 22/1 Old Kesbewa Road, Nugegoda to
get a special invitation for the show. According to Paquel,
invitations will be issued on a first come first serve basis from
Keerthi Gee will be held on February 26
at the BMICH at 6.45 p.m.
Streetcar Named Desire
The Russian Centre in Colombo will be
screening the movie A Streetcar
Named Desire (1951) on February 26 at 5 p.m. at Russian Centre, Colombo.
A Streetcar Named Desire is directed by
Elia Kazan, the main cast is by Vivien Leigh and Marlon Brando. It
is an honoured film and winner of four Academy awards (1951).
Set in the French Quarter of New
Orleans during the restless years following World War II,
A Streetcar Named Desire is the story of Blanche DuBois, a
fragile and neurotic women on a desperate prowl for someplace in the
world to call her own. After being exiled from her hometown of
Laurel Mississippi for seducing a 17-year-old boy at the school
where she taught English, Blanche explains her unexpected appearance
on Stanley and Stella's (Blanche's sister) doorstep as nervous
This, she claims, is the result of a
series of financial calamities that have recently claimed the family
plantation. Belle Reve, suspicious, Stanley points out that
"under Louisiana's Napoleonic Code what belongs to the wife
belongs to the husband."
princess in Sri Lanka
Famed as the 'Indian pop princess'
Susheela Raman will be touring with her four piece band
inclusive of a guitarist (Samuel
Landell Mills), bass
guitarist (Hilaire Hega Penda), percussionist (Carols Djanuno) and
tabla player (Aref Durvesh). They will be performing in Colombo on
February 21 at 7.30 p.m. at the British Council Garden while the
Kandy performance will be on February 22 at the Mahaweli Reach Hotel
at 7 p.m. Blending Western music with a mix of ancient and modern
flavours their music can be described as fusion music spiced up with
a taste of both jazz and Karnatic.
Born in London to South Indian parents
Susheela moved with her family to Australia when she was very young
and grew up singing South Indian classical music. She began giving
recitals at an early age but as a teenager branched out into more
blues-based music, which demanded quite different voice techniques.
The question then was how to bring
these streams together. In 1995 Susheela came to India to study with
Shruti Sadolikar, one of the greatest living Hindustani vocalists.
This was a challenging experience as she had to let go of what she
though she knew and find a new, more insightful approach to her
craft. Susheela won the Best Newcomer Award in the BBC World Music
Awards 2002 and was short-listed for the UK Mercury Prize in 2001.
Aref Durvesh, the young tabla player
has played with Joanna McGregor who is one of UK's top contemporary
pianists. He has also performed with Nitin Sawhney and has recorded
with Sting, John McLaughlin and Pink Floyd's Roger Waters.
Tickets are available at British
Council offices in Colombo and Kandy and Mahaweli Reach Hotel. These
concerts are held in support of tsunami-affected children.
By Dhananjani Silva
It is apt if we say that
the young lass Menaka in Raththaran Neth, is not just a single
individual but also a representative of the women victims in society
as a whole. Falling in love with the Bank Assistant, Nissanka,
Menaka desires him to be her partner, but fate denies him as the
marriage between Menaka and Piyal, a lawyer, is already being
arranged by Menaka's parents.
Cruel enough, her parents were to give
their daughter in marriage to 12-years elder Piyal against her wish,
they had a very noteworthy position where Nissanka's transfer was
concerned - they were the invisible hand behind this unexpected
move. But how they did it is unkind, hence interesting and amusing
to find out!
Menaka's problems don't stop there.
Obediently but reluctantly, Menaka gives her consent to the marriage
- but ironically it is a marriage that consumed her. The life after
the marriage for Menaka becomes impossible as she is dragged into a
pit of misery from there onwards.
Menaka's rendezvous with Nissanka after
long years of marriage is unexpected but significant as the real
story begins to unfold from here onwards. Menaka's husband Piyal
appears to be pleasing to both Menaka as well as to the viewers when
he wanted Nissanka to be quite friendly with them - Piyal really did
not mind Nissanka frequenting their home, but why? Can we ever
expect this kind of behaviour from an ordinary, loving husband? Then
what was the purpose behind this generosity?
The answer, the truth lies underneath.
Piyal's deceptiveness will then be revealed to both Menaka as well
as to the viewer, and Menaka will begin to face the real problems in
her life with her marital life confronted with a sudden blow -
something that she never expected at the time she decided to let go
her much-loved Nissanka.
But as the saying goes, 'every cloud
has a silver lining,' would Menaka ever lead a cheery life, a life
sans worries in time to come? The day that you would overcome this
curiosity is a long way off!
Starring, Damitha Abeyrathne, Pradeep
Senanayake, Sanath Wimalasiri, Grace Ariyawimal, Wijeyrathne
Warakagoda, Nilanthi Dias, Dilani Nikahatiya and many other talented
actors and actresses, Raththaran Neth will soon be screened.
The teledrama Raththaran Neth is
directed by Titus Ranasinghe and produced by Aruna Fernando, Nelum
Peris and Titus Ranasinghe.