In This Chapter

The Bhikshu Ward

Authored by: Eric Illiyapparachchi

The Routledge Companion to Sinhala Fiction from Post-War Sri Lanka

Print publication date:  September  2022
Online publication date:  September  2022

Print ISBN: 9780367554682
eBook ISBN: 9781003094708
Adobe ISBN:


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This short story comes in the collection Vishramika Pemwathiya (The Retired Girlfriend) and deals with one of the biggest incidents of violence since the ending of the war, the Easter Bombings of 2019, in which Muslim extremists blew up several bombs in churches (and some in high-end hotels) while the Easter service was going on. The Sinhala–Muslim ethnic tension that had been simmering for quite some time came very much to the surface after that, and the main character in this story being a Buddhist monk is symbolic of the fact that much of the vitriol against Muslims had come from groups that had Buddhist monks at the helm, even before these attacks had taken place. The particular fear of Muslim doctors performing illegal sterilizations on Sinhala women is what is highlighted here. The story becomes multilayered because this particular monk does not seem driven by any political force, and seems to react to the anger of the moment; gossip and rumour that often ignites it, being described as a devil who stood at the door of the maternity ward, growing bigger and louder by the day.

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