Creative and artistic
In the recent past, any topic as the cynosure of a discussion,
whether a novel, short story, poetry, cinema or teledrama, is mostly
related to the ethnic conflict.
Nihal P. Jayatunga
“Ruhiru Pooja” has been written taking the ultimate result of the
ethnic conflict as the base. I wonder whether it has drawn the attention
of the reader. Has it deviated from other books written on the subject,
and directed towards a new angle recreated by analyzing the issue more
widely and in depth.
Nihal has made a great effort and dedication to emphasize the element
in the characters in “Ruhiru Pooja”. Hence the main characters in the
story, Colonel Siridasa and Prof. Devaki and all other minor characters
become alive, like live beings with flesh and blood who could endure
pain, sorrow, shock and joy. The author has been able to formulate the
personalities of men and women to be real and drift away from the mode
of black and white pictures.
The book consists of 499 pages.
To create a story to interest the reader, and grasp it effortlessly
is a feat the author has achieved skillfully, without getting lost among
complex matters, writing in a delicate pattern, a simple text, flexible
and in an attractive style.
The story of “Ruhiru Pooja” wraps around the ethnic conflict that we
all know, which lead to the bloody armed struggle causing death to many
thousands, on both sides. The author has gone deep into the issue, and
recreated every incident with a sense of reality which enhances the
confidence of the reader. Similarly, it is presented as an artistic text
to establish the value of the story.
The main male character, the hero, is Colonel Siridasa, an army
intelligence officer, as well as an active participant in army combat
operations. On many occasions he commanded these operations. The heroine
is a professor named Devaki. She is a Tamil and is against terrorism who
hated the LTTE and the ethnic war.
Prof. Devaki’s two sons were killed while training in an LTTE camp in
an operation commanded by Col. Siridasa. Devaki knew it. On another
occasion Siridasa’s twin brother was abducted by a white van, mistaking
him to be the colonel, and was never found.
Author: Nihal P. Jayatunga
A Fastpublishing Publication
Price: Rs. 600
Col. Siridasa and Devaki meet each other at the Wellagong University
premises. Devaki recognised him and looked at him with hatred in her
eye. It was the first time they come across after 30 years. Eventually,
the rift was patched up and they became friendly as Sri Lankans on a
The story flows with her reminiscences of the past. To expose the
ultimate result of the armed struggle and depict the ruthlessness of the
war, the author strategically uses the two main characters in the story.
Only the soldiers realize how tough the war is. This army officer is law
abiding, disciplined but sentimental. He did a lot to reform the
surrendered terrorists. Similarly, a writer with human kindness. He
leaves the armed services, cursing racism and the armed conflict.
Because of the spiteful politics, not only the army but the whole
country lost a national treasure, such as, Colonel Siridasa.“Ruhiru
Pooja” is a socio- scientifically and politically created novel mixed
with war literature. However, a glint of romantic inclination between
Siridasa and Devaki, especially, in Devaki appears and disappears
throughout the story. It is because they were both on the same stage.
Siridasa, then an army captain married, and Devaki a teenage student.
Not knowing he was married she sent him some letters. Unfortunately, he
did not receive them.
After three decades, they meet on a foreign soil by accident. All
these years, Prof. Devaki lived with the sweetness of the past
reminiscences, but Col. Siridasa realized it only at the end of the
story. It appears that the author has built up this affiliation to grasp
the interest of the reader. In the story, on the occasions they meet,
the subject never comes up. However, hidden memories in Devaki’s mind
and the fragrance of affection lingered on.
Maithriya or loving kindness towards humanity is the only remedy for
wars, armed struggles and ethnic conflicts. Loving kindness is very
rare, like diamonds. Glass splinters too shine like diamonds. But they
are not diamonds. Nihal Jayatunga successfully presented this virtue
through “Ruhiru Pooja”. It is a creative and artistic novel.
I have to say, although we reject racism, there are a few sentences
and words in the book which rouse these elements.Finally, it is a must
read for politicians, as it touches the sensitive pros and cons, the
tragedy, frustration, treachery and hardship of an unwarranted civil
strife of 30 years, which we all have experienced.
- Sarana Sri Mendis