In a world where enlightenment is considered to be observed only in calmness and in solitary environments Lahiru Kithalagama time and again questions if it is so. Starting with the very same questioning within the foreword itself the writer takes you into the reality and day-to-day lives of people who found meaning to life within that struggle itself.
Starting with the lines in the poem ‘Tharaha Na Man Amme’ (Mom, I’m Not Angry) writer embarks on his journey in to dimension of reality. How a single mother moves in to another relationship and this dilemma is viewed by a child from the view point of understanding the desires, loneliness mother is facing in her daily struggle through life. Child sees this from a higher level of perception going beyond the understanding of a child.
Narrator conveys that she has no grudges over the mother and understands her mother’s needs as a woman, not in the perception of a child. This is one of the masterful techniques the writer uses throughout the collection. Understanding of all living, nonliving objects through different dimensions.
In a world where technology has taken over the environment and the destruction is inbound towards the heart and soul of the narrator transcending in to the environment itself
Writer observes night and day in an opposite manner in the poem ‘Raathriya Niwennata Kaliyen’ ( Before the Night Ends). Narrator observes love and desire at night hiding from the prying eyes. Starting lines itself is contradictory of what we perceive as day time. Day time is a time filled with darkness inside all that light and it is blinding for the narrator, where night is soothing for the soul. His love arrives at his door step with the dawn of a dusk and leaves with the first rays of sunshine. Symbols and metaphors used enhance the effect of the poem. Narrator views a lonely spider playing with the web as if it is a violin to soothe the heart of its lover. Just like the narrator himself playing music in the human landscape. Desires of love are woven with the sighs of the lovers and bathing in the moonlight they soothe their souls by passing weariness of life with the wind. Philosophy of letting go is a concept running throughout the poetry collection and the poem ‘Raathriya Niwennata Kaliyen’ (Before the Night Ends) highlights this. Narrator and the lover are again separated with the dawn and for them it turns in to a night filled with work, loneliness the rush of life. This questions the reader as well; are we not the same? Enjoying the best of times with our family at night and the day time filled with all the mundane of life.
In a world where technology has taken over the environment and the destruction is inbound towards the heart and soul of the narrator transcending in to the environment itself ‘Soundaryaka Weedanaa Ridum’ (Pain within artistic beauty), paints the sighs of the nature in a magical way. Most of the time it escapes our minds that nature might be tired of doing all the duties just like us. Writer brings in this view to power play through all living and non-living in nature. Bees been too tired of collecting honey and resting on flowers, trees shedding old leaves to give room for the new ones, wind bringing in soothing feeling in the summer resting for a while, rivers after making music and painting the landscape resting on the river bed, sea taking care of all those who play on the shore and how trees wait for the fruits to bloom are few of the symbols used by the writer to convey the deep philosophy of life.
Philosophy of letting go is a concept running throughout the poetry collection and the poem ‘Raathriya Niwennata Kaliyen’ (Before the Night Ends) highlights this
It leaves the question on the reader’s mind, aren’t we all tired of life and don’t we all need a bit of rest once in a while. With these questions in our mind writer shocks us with his next poem ‘Galkaiye Goluwa’, (Mute man from Galkatiya) a murder is brought face to face with the opening lines and the justification follows with the rest. Waves of shock pass through the reader as the poem proceeds.
How a mute guy took care of his family and even though unable to recite the sutra in thripitaka he tried his best to do merit. Always been there for his neighbours we see a man struggling through life with a resilient spirit. At the very end of the poem reader finds the reason why a mute guy who was caring person turned in to a murderer and the reason strikes like a bolt of lightning bringing the poem to its very end as well to its peak.
A father making a living out of selling chickpeas at a street corner dying with an accident at the same place is recalled by his child in the poem ‘Kadala Karaththaya’ (Chickpeas Cart). Recalling the past where the narrator’s father took him along with the chickpeas cart to sell chickpeas so that their daily bread will be filled. Yet all their simple dreams are shattered over the passing of their father due to an accident. Writer uses a skillful technique of conveying this story to the reader in an undirected manner through the object of a chickpeas cart. This makes the poem even more closer to our hearts. This is one of the techniques used by the writer bringing in incidents through objects related to the narrator.
Landslides occur due to structural displacement and weather. Yet the writer absorbs in a landslide as suffering and pain of the people working on tea estates crashing with the environment. Writer takes us through a story of loss and suffering of the people working in plantations. Uniqueness of the writer is in these viewpoints of a situation otherwise observed as a common day to day moment. ‘Atthatama Wunee Mehema Wennathee’ (It Really Must Have Happened This Way), poem does justification for the writer’s storytelling skill which takes you in to another dimension of looking at the day to day struggle of people in a unique manner.
“Ou Mage Hitha Kalu Galak” (Yes, My Heart is a stone), is where the narrator accepts the judgement passed by his girlfriend has been man made of a stone heart where no flowers bloom and no dreams arise. In a world where we never accept such a judgement passed by another narrator accepts fully that yes, his heart is a stone. He questions back that a soft heart would not be withstanding the rough weathers of life and a soft heart would be so flexible can such a heart be trusted to be standstill in time. He also questions that a heart rough as a stone is actually the byproduct of love long lost, a collection of sighs and tears. Heart of stone is smoothed by the tears of the one he loves; a heart of stone will be a standstill in time.
When relationships end most of us tend to return the gifts and all the keepsakes, fearing these will recall the memories of the past. This is where the narrator contradicts us with the thoughts, we all fear to question. Even though the gifts are returned can memories be erased? Aren’t we all prisoners of our own memories hidden beneath the depths of our hearts. ‘Man Asai Andanna, As Piyagena Thaniyama’ (I Like to Cry on My Own, Eyes Closed) is where the writer brings in these questions to the surface.
Lahiru Kithalagama continuous to torments us within his collection of poetry through deep understanding in to human emotions. His masterful techniques of bringing day to day incidents colored with the tender human emotions makes him a writer in his own making transcending time. ‘Apith Partiyak Gamuda Amme’ (Mother Shall We Also Take a Party) is such a poem where the poverty of the people is brought in to canvas of poetry in a raw yet shocking manner, leaving the reader to questions the very essence of life.
When the poor girl meets rich guy, concept is commonly used within poetry, writer contradicts this theme via the opposite concept been used. In the poem ‘Iruru Katu Gahapu Jeewithe Heena Aragena Yanna’ (Take Away the Dreams of this Torn Up Life) is where the poor guy meets the socialized rich girl. Within this main incident writer highlights poverty, shame and the suffering it brings in the end. This is one of the techniques used by the writer, conveying several stories within one story. Layers of dimensions within one dimension. Softening your heart and bringing tears to the eyes of the reader ‘Jool Thawamath Ambulai da Suddiye’ (Is the Wood apple still Sour), brings in the nostalgia of a love long lost recalled through a wood apple tree. Writer uses this masterful technique of using one symbol or a metaphor in to recalling past and to beautifully craft a story, plunging the reader in to a world of despair.
‘Man Nikma Yanum Heen Amme’ (I will leave Heen Amma), contradicts the norms of the society. When love is found outside of a marriage usual reaction would be to hurt each other through verbal and physical abuse. Narrator contradicts by leaving his wife in grace, giving his blessing and with one question as to if all the years spent together was it just a mirage.
Becoming a voice for the voiceless Lahiru Kithalagama pulls the strings of our heart and leaves us in a state of shock in to feeling different paradigms of life. ‘Kawulu Asa Paamula’ has marked a millstone is Sri Lankan literature in transcending time illustrating the philosophy of life.