Thursday, May 11, 2017

Reviews in Progress: Dehi: Suwanda, Rasa Saha Katu



Dehi: Suwanda, Rasa Saha Katu

     DSRK by Himali N. Liyaanage looks at the war primarily from the point of view of Suhani, a Sinhalese woman, but brings in the point of view of the Tamil, too, through the family members of Ramesh Jayabandara, her husband who was brought up by his Tamil mother and pro-separatist grandfather. Liyanange’s narration receives a certain amount of objectivity due to the distance between her subject matter and herself due to her diasporic location. Hence, when the Tamil undergraduates of Peradeniya celebrated the Central Bank blast with high-fives both Ramesh and Suhani are disturbed (41). War as a whole is depicted as something destructive that affects the entire nation (42). It is a “feast for the international community” who benefit from it in various ways (157). Suhani at the beginning is apathetic towards the war. Later her own liberal humanist father becomes a victim of a suicide bomb. Subsequently, towards the end of the novel Suhani begins to see the then ongoing war as a war against terrorism (158). 

     Ramesh criticizes his grandfather Sella Thaththa’s extremist views and identifies himself with the youth of the country (54). He resents the fact that the Army disregarded him as a suspect due to his race during a search for JVP activists. Ultimately, torn between two races he decides to leave Sri Lanka. His materialistic nature makes him a victim of Professor Mayuran, an LTTE kingpin who uses him as go-between in a money laundering scheme. Mayuran ruins Ramesh and rapes his mother to fulfill a personal grudge. 

     On the issue of nation-building and reconciliation, inter-racial marriages are on the surface depicted as having negative consequences both in the case of Ramesh’s parents as well as in Suhani and Ramesh’s (115/6). Yet, in both cases it is other more individual issues such as lack of communication that lead to the break up of the two marriages. Hence, the novel highlights need for communication as a vital step in the process of reconciliation.          
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