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Saturday, 10 November 2001  
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Government - Gazette

Sunday Observer

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Book Reviews: "Student Days"

Buddhika Kurukularatne's "Student Days" is an immensely entertaining story of his childhood, 'passing schools' not necessarily exams as he puts it, from his village school in Ambalangoda through S. Thomas' College at Bandarawela and Gurutalawa and back to Dharmasoka where he ended his schooling as Head Prefect.

Born in 1943 in the rural South amidst the drama of the Second World War, Kurukularatne's turbulent passage through five schools at the insistence of his mother who wanted him to be a Loku Mahattaya, represents in vivid imagery and language the trials and tribulations of the village youth confronting the Kalu Suddhas in the classic public schools and winning more encounters than he loses.

This is a story that was waiting to be told. Now remembered in enchanting detail at the age of 57 years, with warmth and good humour, these are encounters with an alien world that must have hurt at the time. But they were borne with stoicism, patience and an infinite capacity to hit back as hard as he got. Summing up his school days at STC Prep Bandarawela, WT Keble was to write in a letter to Buddhika's father "your son will fail all the exams at S. Thomas'. But don't worry he will end up as a member of Parliament." As usual Keble was more or less correct.

Member of Parliament, Attorney at Law, social worker, orator and now author, Buddhika Kurukularatne is an ardent lover of the schools that "cut and polished him" and made him what he is today. "It is because of my Thomian upbringing that I could walk with kings and still be a representative of the masses. I have dined with the Queen of England and had tea with Maggie", he declares with obvious pride.

A collection of stories to be savoured and enjoyed. His avid and intimate recollections of a cherished childhood will surely resonate in the minds of all of us who have passed, not necessarily with the same ability and composure, through the traumatic but essentially magical act of growing up.

Crescat Development Ltd.

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