Simple lines that paint a vivid and varied life

Kala Korner by Dee Cee

Age or failing health should not be a bar to one’s creative ability. One-time bureaucrat R.D.K. Jayawardena is in his late eighties. His eyesight is bad. He is not in the best of health following a fall which affected his movements. Yet, he continues to write. He paints too and is hoping he can soon have an exhibition of his work.

RDK, as we always called him, recently celebrated his 87th birthday with a book of poems. ‘Fingerprint’, a Sarasavi publication is a readable, simple collection of poems dealing with numerous memorable events in his life spanning over eight decades. His style is so simple one begins to wonder whether it’s prose or verse. The simplicity is its hallmark.

The poems remind us of the early days – the days when schoolchildren had to sing ‘God Save the King’. He began schooling in the days of King George V. Going back to 1926 he recollects the colonial era:

Backed by the Union Jack
was the picture on the wall
of an old man with a white beard
wearing a colourful hat
so funny but I could not laugh
because the Teacher began to sing
in rhythmic Sinhalese
asking us to repeat aloud;
“Long live our gracious King
who in the city of London lives
and to remember him always
let us behold this picture”

One year earlier, he had gone to see a play with his father. He vividly describes his reactions as a four-year-old seeing ‘Vessantara’.

The little prince was crying
and his sister even louder,
when the nasty beggar dragged them away.
but their father looked on unmoved

My first taste of theatre
(I had not yet started school)
and panicked: I feared
a similar fate for myself
The poem ‘A play within a play’ was awarded Honourable Mention and published in ‘Channels’.

At 13 he acted the part of Portia in a school play. It was not a happy experience:

Clad in lawyer’s silken robe
armed with an impressive book
I bravely faced the limelight
but missing the cue
rushed through my lines
while the unkind crowd
hissed and laughed aloud.

Lacking Thespian skill
it was not Antonio, but me
Who had to face the trial
and that loss of face
made me resolve
to win somehow, someday.

He did win. He became a playwright, produced, acted and won awards.

RDK remembers his dear ones through the pen.
Wife Dulcie, who is no more,
“made ours a happy home
guiding our two daughters
and shrewd but impish son
to fine-tune their skills
and reach their goals.
Now when the fruits are ripe
your absence is the saddest blow
but the memory of fifty years
of happy family life we shared
is treasured by all you loved”.

He also pays tribute to the numerous world personalities he met during his administrative career – from Nehru, Chou-en’Lai to Che Guevera and Luciano Maranzi, who saved the Sigiri damsels.

His experience in hospital five years ago is captured lucidly in ‘Endurance 2003’:

“Thank you, Anaesthesia
for casting your spell
of temporary death
while the surgeon slashed my flesh
to fix the fractured femur

His philosophical outlook on life is portrayed in two creations. In ‘Birthday Musings’, he says:
But as mine has been
a contented life
devoid of lofty dreams that failed
let me face age with myself
till the final Curtain falls.

And in ‘Farewell’ he admits he can’t
“take back any mementos
When I go away
except pleasant memories
of duties done and goals reached’.

Is this the last bell?
Is the curtain coming down?
Then a thousand thanks to you
My loved ones and friends
So long!


Top to the page  |  E-mail  |  views[1]
Other Plus Articles
Battered by tsunami, now by bureaucracy
Simple lines that paint a vivid and varied life
Magical and colourful, this book is a celebration of difference
Another fantastic journey from Sanjeewa
Much more than a literary adventure
Haddai exclusive for the fashion conscious
A’pura Renal Care Unit needs a theatre
First Lankan to be elected Deputy Chairman of RCS
Dr. Sudath Kumarasinghe Memorial Oration
Book launch
How I survived the tsunami
A lifeline from Verugal for water-starved tsunami survivors
It’s up to you
Train of Brotherhood building bridges between north and south


Reproduction of articles permitted when used without any alterations to contents and a link to the source page.
© Copyright 2008 | Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka. All Rights Reserved.| Site best viewed in IE ver 6.0 @ 1024 x 768 resolution