Buddhi gives yet another
Buddhadasa Galappatty, the well-known name in the field of arts, always sported a smart beard. When I last met him, I noticed the beard was graying. He told me a few days ago he is no longer a full time employee (he was a senior manager at Holcim Cement) and I realized that Buddhi had reached retirement age. His youthful looks still remain, however. So is his work.
Best known for his creative efforts on stage (back stage really as a make-up artist), he continues to be in demand both among Sinhala and English theatre producers. In recent years, however, he is getting more and more interested in creative writing. His most recent effort is an anthology of poems titled 'Nim Neti Tunyama' (Endless Night). Readers are bound to enjoy his simple compositions. Not only the poems which mostly are the 'nisades' type, they will also enjoy the fine sketches by talented artist Shantha K Herath which accompany each topic.
As I was just thinking what the English readers are missing, comes the good news that Buddhi's poems are being translated into English.
Buddhi is working with Malini Govinnage, whom readers would know as a journalist, in doing a selection of his poems for translation. Buddhi's is an impressive collection over the past four decades. He has published nine anthologies so far. They would possibly select thirty to forty poems for translation for the initial volume.
Buddhi has also published three collections of short stories as well as a collection of the popular column he writes to the 'Lankadeepa'. He is busy selecting a few more of the column 'Sahurda Satahan' for publication.
Coming back to the recent book of poems, Buddhi has touched on several topical issues very forcefully. In 'Montage Kaviya', he dreads the dawn of a new day for he is not sure what horrible events he may hear of during the day. He recollects the Kebithigollewa murders turning a whole village into a graveyard, attack on the refugees who were taking shelter at the Pesalai church, General Parami bidding goodbye as well as whether Mahela and the boys would be able to beat the 'suddas' for the fourth time. An English version of a section of the poem reads:
On this new day
whether it be a claymore mine
or the sound of a Kafir jet
the fear created is the same
the signal given is the same
it is the signal of death
the claymore bombs nor
the bombs that Kafir jets drop
do not know
that the targets are the innocent people
In 'Kandulu gas' (Tear gas), he has a message to "the khaki-clad, brass buttoned, star striped brigade armed with batons and shields and weapons to face an unarmed batch of men and women". He reminds them that "the tears that would be shed by them along with their parents and brothers and sisters would be sufficient to drag the brigade away to the seas and hide them in a corner of the ocean."
In 'Shapaveeva' (Let them be cursed) Buddhi responds angrily to a story highlighted in Rupavahini about the death of girl in a blast at an illegal quarry. He describes the reactions of the girl's family and poses the question as to why the Grama Sevaka, District Secretary, MPs, Police bigwigs and Environmental officials were sleeping allowing the quarry owner from the city to have fun at her mansion while the innocent villagers were suffering.
'Singanni' (Beggar woman) is the sad tale of a filmstar who was once the queen of cinema and has fallen to the state of a beggar woman pleading for a role even as a beggar in a film.
His portrait of 'Premakka', the tough one in Slave Island is excellent. Having established her physical characteristics, ("the red-lipped buxom one wearing a sleeveless black jacket displaying her muscles, wearing a heap of bangles always carrying a bundle of keys"), Buddhi vividly describes the power she wields in the Veluwana Lane taming the pick-pockets and the pimps, helping the needy with a quick buck, and controlling the mischievous youth.
The collection of 34 creations is a fine mix well presented - another feather in Buddhi's cap.
Buddhi insists that the poems do not belong to any particular class or society of poets. They are essentially his creations meant for one's entertainment and satisfaction. And for the benefit of many others, he better quickly give us the English versions.