Short stories, Travel and Health Information
It was the famous American historian and author Barbara Tuchman who once said ‘Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill”.
Sanjiva Wijesinha’s new book Not Our War is not just a collection of short stories. Most of these stories are set against the backdrop of our nation’s recent years of war. As such, even though this is a work of fiction, it adds not only to Sri Lankan literature but also to our social history – because these are the human stories of the people unwittingly caught up in the maelstrom of war and military conflict.
Stories such as ‘Doctor Uncle’ and ‘Sergeant Thabrew’s Story’ (which the author classifies as ‘Faction’ – somewhere between fact and fiction) contain some personal and touching events that relate to the time he was serving as a medical officer in the Army both at the battle front in the North and at the Military Hospital in Colombo. These are stories that are nostalgic and emotional, and reveal an aspect of war that those of us not actively involved in such conflicts would never have heard, seen or even believed.
There are other stories such as ‘Old Friends’, ‘Loyalty’ and ‘When Tiny got Lost’, that explore the human values of Friendship, Loyalty and Love – and tales from the Second World War and Britain’s Falklands War that remind us that Sri Lankans are not alone in suffering the human costs of military conflicts.
Like Barbara Tuchman, Dr Wijesinha provides his readers with a better understanding of what precedes and follows the men and women who are involved in war. His book will be of value not only to those who appreciate short stories but also to those who care to learn about how individual human beings are affected by war.
I highly recommend this book which is dedicated to the author’s friends and colleagues – soldiers as well as civilians – who lost their lives during our country’s recent years of conflict.
Not Our War – published by Vijitha Yapa Publications: Colombo 2013 (ISBN 978-955-665-207-9)
Available from amazon.com
Reprinted from the Sunday Island of 22 December 2013