An Aspirant to the Throne of Hearts-Virajini Thennekoon
By Shenal Rajakarunanayake
As a pickle tantalizing taste buds, her writing relishes the readers with its sweet and sourness. Her work is refined, profound and magnetizing. Language is her playground where she plays all her tricks and satire is her necromancy through which she creates serendipity in the eyes of readers. She flashes her thoughts in a brief, sudden and intermittent way where the beauty of her craft could be dearly embraced, while replenishing the souls of her readers. Her stories have no end, but a beginning and undoubtedly it is a great achievement which expands the boundaries of literature. Indeed, she is an aspirant to the throne of hearts who drives the readers to a better world.
What made you to become a writer?
Reading was the major motivational factor which drove me to pen my thoughts. Books were my soul-food and I found my solace in flipping through pages. This had been further nourished by the exposure I gained from my college, especially as an art stream student where we were exposed to embrace the beauty of Sinhala language and ramble across to encounter the serendipity of literature. My home ambiance is also filled with avid readers; hence how could I refrain from writing? Yet neither was I in a hurry nor was I antipathetic and I was waiting till the right time comes.
When I felt that I needed to write, I wrote Chitta Waggaya, a short story and I sent to one of the leading newspapers.Surprisingly it got published and the comments I received were beyond my expectation. It was the start and inevitably Achcharu saha Thawath Katha (Achcharu and other stories) was born. However, I still wonder whether I am truly eligible to be recognized as a writer, because it is just the beginning and I know I have long way to go.
As a writer, you chose short story as your medium of expression. What was your thought process behind this decision?
Well, it came naturally because it was the perfect fit though there were some instances I could drag some of the plots into a next level. In addition to that I felt the overall essence of my stories urged a concise, less destructed narrative structure, hence I didn't have any other options. As far as I believe, in short stories, we try to nourish a seed of a big story manuring it with appropriate phrases, words, metaphors and similes without harnessing the real essence of the seed. It is more of a bonsai tree, which is growing under limited resources but displays a bigger picture. In theory, the medium of short stories is considered as mode through which a bigger story can be told in a concise manner.
Moreover, if we have a keen look on contemporary short stories, it is quite evident that the structure has been changed and more insights have been added compared to previous years. No longer is it an experience of one person, but a culmination of many. In such a context, the structure I wanted to use to deliver my story was only compatible with short stories. The impact I wanted to create in mixing the sublime and sub contextual meanings were mostly effective in the genre of short stories, so it went hand in hand adding more glamour and nuance.
Language has been one of your primal and core strengths in delivering your stories. Let's talk about language patterns you have used in your book.
Undoubtedly language is the only instrument through which we as writers can make wonders, especially in a context where a story has to be narrated in a concise manner. Therefore, each and every punctuation mark, word and phrase is crucial and has to be used consciously and precisely. Hence, it is needless to repeat the importance of language structures. The most admired beauty of short stories is the language and that itself rebels with all other genres of literature making it appealing and worth reading.
In almost all eight stories, I have deliberately tried to use different language patterns to bring authenticity and colour to the characters. Personally I believe, it is much important to create a space for the reader in every story so that he/she could get involved with the rest of the characters. This is a much important strategy that I personally would love to use, because I think it creates more assurance and trustworthy or rather the story becomes more realistic by such way. This practice was engraved as a result of being an ardent lover of drama and I think it will be influential throughout in my writing journey. Yet if I compare, unlike in drama where there are more auxiliary aspects to add glamour like costumes, make-up, expressions and gestures and music, in writing we do have very scarce amount of ingredients to deliver our craft, hence language plays a pivotal role.
In most of your writings, you have been tactful in mapping micro incidents to bring a novel experience. Let's talk about the importance of bringing real world experiences into writing.
Writing is a playground where you need many tools to play with. Experiences are one such tool, which is much vital because they shape ideology and thinking. As writers, our duty is to narrate a meaningful story to open the eyes of our readers and experiences are one such tool which is highly beneficial. Experiences could be personal or vise versa, yet in writing it should always let the reader to decide and understand. After reading my book, many wondered about the story behind achcharu, but achcharu could be a story of anybody's. It doesn't really need to be the Ramya's story, but it could be ours too. In short stories, as long as the story is hidden, a writer could create magic. Making the reader find his or her own definition and letting him/her to embrace the story by him/herself would be ideal.
In achcharu, I have used many dialogues to give vivid meanings to make the reader wander in hisher own thinking to find the real beauty of this story by their own experiences. As Asian women, we are compelled to adhere to many societal restrictions, especially in the constitution of marriage and the negative consequences of not adhering to so-called norms are clearly explained whilst letting the reader find the real essence of the story through rambling across. As a writer, that is the place where we need experiences, because irrespective of the nature experiences could be material for many thought processes. So does in writing.
You have often given a touch of satire in a subtle way to almost every story in your collection. What are your thoughts?
Well, as far as I believe, satire is essential in bringing more insight. Plus, it adds more vibrant glamour to the story. Personally I am much touched with satire because it could summarize a whole bunch of emotions in one or two sentences. Moreover, satire makes people not to laugh at other but to laugh at themselves. The art of satire is a must ingredient and skill that any writer should be equipped with and I personally believe it strengthens the bond between writer and reader. As a reader, I always searched for satire and cordially thrilled with its sarcasm because it gave me a wholesome reading. Having said that one can also understand the fact that satire cannot be deliberately inculcated into one's writing. It should be used precisely and concisely because it has many impacts. A good writer should be sufficiently strategic to bring the best out of him/herself through satire to make reader's reading broader and insightful. Hence, it is true that I have often used as well as given a touch of satire in a subtle way in almost all the stories in the collection.
As a writer who was nominated for Presidential Awards and awarded for the contribution made for the best creative writing during the last year in Godage Literary Awards for our first book, what are your thoughts about awards in general?
Basically, it is an appreciation of one's creative effort or rather an encouragement to write more in the future. As writers, we are exposed to two types of appraisals: one is the acclaims received from readers and other is from institutions. Undoubtedly, the first form of appreciation is more important because as writers our primal satisfaction lies in the hearts of readers, so what readers think is truly important for us. Having said that, I feel none can deny the importance of the second. As far as I believe, awards pave us a way to reach more readers and readers find it easier to reach us too.
Basically it bridges the gap between readers and writers. When it comes to me, I dearly consider the award that was given to me as an appreciation of the hardships I went through and also I consider it as an encouragement to contribute more to the society.
Further, as a newcomer who was awarded for the very first book, it creates some weight in a way, even though it could be managed if properly planned. Moreover, as far as I believe, none could get over hyped by just dragging an award because the award was offered not for the writer, but for the craft. Hence it is better to know the limits prior trespassing on the lines.
Having said that, I must also, state that it is truly a blessing to be acclaimed as a writer, for the very first time, because it has a very broad and deep impact to one's career, as a writer. Indeed, it will help me to be more cautious and be more authentic in my writing where ultimately the reader wins.
Finally, as a creative writer, what are your future expectations?
As I have shared with you previously, becoming a writer wasn't in my books, but life brought me to a point where I couldn't resist my calling. As a person who loves literature, reading and writing, I won't think I would ever be able to escape from this beautiful trap, hence I will probably continue to write in the years to come as well.
As a person, who respects humanity, cultures and religions, my sole motive would be to unite people through reading. Sri Lanka has a rich culture and our people value humanity, so I would love to write my thoughts to console them addressing the issues of the society in a more strategic and tactful, subtle manner. No matter how hard the question is the answer would be simple and I will be trying my best to answer the unanswered questions in the society with more nuance and empathy. That's what I want and that's what I consider as my calling.
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