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‘Charumathi’: A novel portraying the realities of modern life

23 March 2022 01:19 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Charumathi is a novel by Rodney Vidanapathirana and his first venture into the world of novel writing. In addition to his life as a journalist spanning several decades, Rodney is a filmmaker, scriptwriter, lyricist as well as someone erudite in both Sinhala and English literature. 


Apart from his wide-ranging experience in cinema and arts, Rodney rendered yeoman service as editor of the tabloid weekly Tharunaya. This experience has given him valuable insights into the nature and problems of youth. In constructing his debut novel Rodney has drawn upon that wealth of experience along with his own life experiences writing in a style attractive to the reader.


The family saga of Suren Gunawardane, Nalin and Charumathi isn’t just their own story. We can see in it the universal life experiences of people spanning many generations. ‘Puththa vaththu massanang’ is a Buddhist saying which means that children are the parents’ precious possession. The author employs the intricate relationship between mother, father and daughter in this story – their thoughts, conversations, conflicts and tenderness – to portray the realities of modern life as experienced by us. Conversations are an important element in his story telling and what happens in both Sri Lanka and the UK are presented 
equally well in the narrative. 

 

Rodney Vidanapathirana

The novel is portrayed from Suren’s point of view. The narrative is in the first person. One gets the impression that imagery is more important than words in the narrative. Rodney as a creative artist has amply displayed his natural tendency and talent for the cinema, a visual art. As a writer, he is able to portray with great feeling the polarity of emotion, swinging between good and bad, and highs and lows, in the husband-wife-child relationship as the narrative flows amidst descriptive passages, dialogue and incidents. The language he employs here becomes a vehicle which facilitates the narration and the latter defines the slim margin between humanity, decency and human failings.


Various theories and ideas have been presented in the past regarding the novel as an art form. But one should be able to enjoy what is offered as a work of art. Charumathi is a novel with this quality – the story is told with feeling, and the reader can reciprocate. Contemporary life is a mix of the tradition-based previous generation with their inherent respect of civic rights and social values and today’s consumerist, highly commercialized mindset. The author succeeds in conveying to the reader even so slightly the result of that mix and its flow. The reader may already be familiar with some of the incidents and experiences in this narrative  as a matter of hearsay. Rodney’s stature as a novelist lies in his effort to transform such material from mere news to something more substantial and literary. As such, I can say that Charumathi is a novel which one can read with 
much interest.


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