By Lal Medawattegedara

Can you Hear me Running

Can you hear me running is a collection of short stories that locates itself in the bitter ethnic strife of Sri Lanka and people exposed to ‘violence’ from means other than the war. In these stories, at times they are structurally radial, the author explores the human psyche responding to natural and unnatural vicious conditions around them: a Coffin-maker in a prison is unable to account for his tears at a symbolic funeral for a Tsunami victim; the Tamil class did not come to school after the last cricket match; three pieces of flesh undiscovered after a bomb blast engage in an existential debate. As the critic Michael Meyler says it is the empathy for the suffering of the people that makes this collection of short stories memorable.
“Sarath lit the small wooden pyre that held the coffin. The orange-red of the fire mingled with the fiery twilight and the smell of burning wood and nylon fabric mixed with the stench if the dead. Sarath sat silent and calm throughout the cremation. After some hours he threw some water upon the cinders and collected the ashes. As he walked into the sunset, I felt an unfamiliar tightening in my throat. To my horror I felt teas forming in my eyes: they remained there undecided for a few seconds and rolled down my cheeks.”

(Quotation from the short story Tears of a Coffin Maker)

Insight into complexities of Sri Lankan life
Sunday, 17 August 2008
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