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10th January 1999
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Of Tudor , Walter, Sudu or Sena - A South Side Story

 By Kesera Serasinghe. Reviewed by C.T. M. Fernando
Kesara Serasinghe, a southerner himself, imbued with an insatiable spirit of inquiry and adventure, characteristic of most southerners, has embarked on a mission of portraying the life as lived by the villager in the deep south, in all its vivid reality. 

Undoubtedly it is his boyhood experience of the stark realities of rustic life that helps to make such characters such as Tudor, Walter, Sudu or Sena mama much more than mere shadow characters.

The simple narrative style frequently interspersed with animated dialogue accounts for the interesting easy reading. The reader is pleasantly intrigued by the transitional perfection with which the author connects one story with another.

More than individual incidents it is the characters that unobtrusively slip in from one short episode to another providing a satisfying link. The characters merge singularly into the plot or the anecdote.

Facets of life of the villager in the deep South are bared to us in their true nakedness. The lot of the villager is not always a happy one. The comforts of nature, often contribute to their hardships. Illiteracy, ignorance, ill-health, borne out of poverty are capitalised on by ill meaning, well to do feudal leaders, politicos and corrupt bureaucrats. In short there is an aura of antitheses hanging over them like a pall all the time, giving rise to conflict situations. 

Kesara has deftly captured in simple episodes the essence of all this antitheses in his narration. His is a bold attempt to resuscitate the countryside and rural characters who for sometime had been alienated by the local writers of English and the Sri Lankan reader as well.

Kesara's pre-occupation is with human relations and human emotions.

Similarly rural society is depicted in all its variety-the village aristocrat, the Gambara, the astrologer, the bhikkhu, the village lad and lass, the virago, the beach boy etc. Their interaction forms the infrastructure for the plot in each story.

Kesara Serasinghe is essentially a story teller and "A South Side Story's" success bears ample testimony to that. He has mastered the fundamentals of the narrative style which augurs well for a bright literary future. I am confident his future efforts will go to fill that vacuum in Sri Lankan works of literary art written in English. 

US Senators invite Dr. J. Jayawardena

Dr. Jayalath Jayawardena, M.P., Chairperson of the Sri Lanka Parliamentary Lobby for Child Rights and Member of International Medical Parliamentarians' Organisation has been invited by United States Senators Richard J. Durbin, Ron Wyden and (Ms.) Susan M. Collins to participate in the International Policy Conference on Children and Tobacco. 

This landmark Conference will bring together legislators, parliamentarians, and other leaders, to identify key policies that nations throughout the world can pursue to reduce tobacco use among children. 

In addition this Conference will help establish an ongoing international network of policymakers committed to tobacco control. 

The Senators are sponsoring the conference with the American Cancer Society, the American Public Health Association, and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids with the international participation of the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the Organization of American States.

Thirty three year old Venerable Atharagalla Gnanaloka Thera from Bandaragama who is visually handicapped, is in need of financial help to purchase medicine. He requests the public's help for this purpose. 

The monk who suffered a fever in 1987 had been treated by a private practitioner who had advised a strong medicine. As a result of the medicine the glands in his eyes stopped functioning resulting in his eyes drying. With time his vision was weakened. 

Doctors have told him that he will not be able to regain his normal vision and advised medication daily to keep the existing vision. However if he does not continue the medicine he will go completely blind. 

The total cost of medicine per month is around Rs. 3500 to 5000 and the monk is finding it very difficult to collect the funds. Ven. Atharagalla Gnanaloka has made a urgent appeal to the public to make a donation. 

All donations can be made to A/C No. 9622870, Seylan Bank Bandaragama. 

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