Book Review: “Flamed Wings “by Sadarasi Sudusingha

In her compelling work, “Flamed Wings,” Sadarasi Sudusingha masterfully conveys empathy with a touch of sophistication. The narrative unfolds against the backdrop of a tragic incident that occurred on May 31, 1981, in Sri Lanka—the destruction of the Jaffna public library, a heinous crime orchestrated with government support. The author delves into this dark episode, providing a poignant exploration of its consequences.

Sadarasi Sudusingha, a talented young poet, was deeply moved by the destruction of the Jaffna Library, a repository of rare manuscripts and knowledge. Despite being born after the incident, her emotional connection to books, nurtured by her father’s small library at home, motivated her to express her grief through poetry. The destruction of this significant cultural institution haunted Sadarasi, prompting her to embark on a journey of exploration and research.

Driven by a profound sense of humanity, Sadarasi engaged with individuals, scholars, and institutions, unravelling the historical context of the incident. Her linguistic prowess allowed her to communicate effortlessly, transcending language barriers. The author’s upbringing, steeped in values of love and respect, influenced her deeply, making the destruction of the library a haunting memory.

Sadarasi’s exploration reveals not only the physical destruction but also the emotional shock and agony inflicted upon the community. Through interviews with key figures like Senior Journalist Anath Palakiththan and the librarian at the time, Rupawathi Nadaraja, the author brings forth the human dimension of the tragedy. Photographs and vivid descriptions enhance the reader’s connection to the events.

The poet employs skilful articulation, using metaphors, similes, and references to literature, such as ‘Subshithaya’ and Oedipus, to convey the profound pain and agony of the incident. The inclusion of Tamil words with footnotes adds authenticity and emotional depth to the narrative. The meticulous choice of words and metaphors weaves a vivid portrayal of the tragedy, with specific stanzas standing out for their evocative power.

Sadarasi’s underlying message questions the motivations behind such crimes, urging readers to reflect on the humanity lost in such acts. Her scepticism towards the efforts to rebuild the library at the same location adds a layer of poignant commentary. The metaphorical title, “Flamed Wings,” aptly captures the gravity of the crime, likening the library to wings that enable societal and personal ascent.

Professor Sunil Siriwardana, in his foreword, commends Sadarasi for her innovative use of a ‘cycle of poem’ style, effectively penetrating the reader’s insight. The author emphasizes the universal significance of the library, lamenting the lack of widespread condemnation of the incident within the country.

The cycle of poems compiled by Sadarasi stands as a commendable effort to immortalize the tragedy and foster a denouncement of such crimes. The book holds particular relevance for the younger generation, encouraging a rejection of divisive acts and promoting harmony among people.

Sadarasi Sudusingha, both as a poet and a human being, embodies values of friendship, love, and empathy. Her work serves as a tribute to harmony in Sri Lanka, transcending geographical, religious, and linguistic boundaries. She emerges not just as a journalist and archaeologist but as a true daughter of humanity, advocating unity and understanding.

Rishar .M.Saleem

About the writer

The literary work “Gini Vedunu Piyapat” by the esteemed writer Sandarasee Sudusinghe has been honoured with the title of the finest poetry anthology at this year’s (2023) Rajata Book Awards. Additionally, Sandarasee Sudusinghe clinched the accolade for the best poetry collection of the year at the Vidyodaya Literary Awards for her work titled “Flamed Wings” (‘Gini Vaedunu Piyapath’).

Beyond her accomplishments in literature, Sandarasee Sudusinghe, a journalist and archaeologist by profession, is widely recognized as a literary scholar.

“Flaming Wings” is published by Vidharshana.

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