In This Chapter

Five Years

Authored by: Ajit Tilakasena

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 is the title story from Ajit Tilakasena’s only short story collection after 2009, Pas awuruddak 1 (Five Years). Tilakasena’s resistance against power is probably the oldest, from those collected in this anthology – though his had been mainly against the rules applicable to the written form of the Sinhala language. His disregard of the writing conventions of Sinhala cannot, unfortunately, be caught in translation. From the 1970s Tilakasena has been challenging realism, and the streaks of surrealism are powerful in this story for the small and sudden ways in which they are crept in. Dynamics related to the war is captured here in the way he speaks (very briefly) of the fate of soldier wives – they get money to build a house with the salary but may lose the husband and then complete the house as a war widow with the money given as compensation. There is also the uncertainty of knowing what happens to whom in a city in which two bombs can explode between one phone call and another. Even though it’s a story about two generations of women who have lost their men – one walking out, while one was left behind – by dealing with the uncertainty of life that allows many dead bodies to come under the category of “ unidentified ” after violence in civilian spaces , the sense of loss and alienation that pervades a society after war, has been caught well here.

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