By Lal Medawattegedara
The Window Cleaner’s Soul
short-listed for Gratiaen Prize 2002
The Window Cleaner’s Soul is a collection of short stories. As the title suggests, the stories in this book focus on those who live on the periphery of society. The stories freeze-frame them in tragic-comic moments in their lives: Athma, the window cleaner is unsure about what he just lost—his job or his dignity?; Sumanasiri is dead scared that his son might be a burnt stain on the road—like many other youth in the village; Ajith desperately needs to separate his slum neighbors from his elegant office crowd at his wedding. As the critic Jayadeva Uyangoda suggests, these stories explore the human condition which Lankan literature is hesitant to explore. This book was short-listed for the Gratiaen Prize in 2002.
“While Athma ate in silence, Rani sat in the opposite chair lost in her thoughts. One of her elbows pivoted on the table as she turned away from Athma and stared at the bustling Galle Road. She would frequently turn around to say something to him and go back to her thoughts once again. This was typical of Rani on a working day. She would lose herself in a world of her own, but would be at the same time mindful of things going around her.”
(Quoted from the short story The Window Cleaner’s Soul)