Bringing up of a daughter, a lady doctor
Sinhala novel: Yasawardhana Rodrigo's latest Sinhala novel *Sihinaya
Bondaviya*, a Dayawansa Jayakody 2006 publication, revolves round the
characters of a rural family consisting of three members: the father,
the mother, and their daughter, a medical doctor. The parents' sole
intention of the life and the struggles is shown as undergoing all the
hazards of a short span of life.
The daughter Sagarika later becomes the doctor Sagarika; from the
beginning this is shown as a kind of person aloof from the central
activities of the family leaving everything to be done by her parents.
Her mannerism is moulded in such a manner that she often disengages in
family matters to find more time for the concentration of her studies.
Her sole commitment to the studies, and the bookishness is her only
struggle path to climb the social ladder.
In her outlook, at times, she scorns her parents and anticipates a
change in their life style. This struggle culminates in the pawning of
their only property - the house and the land - to a trader called Saibu
and her father gets seventy-five thousand rupees for her higher
The father and the mother's fervent hope is that their daughter would
repay the amount later when she becomes a doctor; but ultimately it
becomes, as its title *Bondavu Sihinaya *itself suggests, a mere Hazy
Can this be a common generation gap issue? I don't think so. But
Rodrigo has something to say about a certain conflict between the
parents and children of a changing society. The reader is made to know
the father's struggles, as a small scale manual worker who earns a
meager sum of money for the day-to-day needs and the wife makes the fa‡ade
of the home neat and tidy, attending to the duties of a good housewife
and a mother.
The novel mainly centres round the parents, and a certain amount of
village activities to which they are involved making them being honored
by the villagers. The struggle of the innocent father is shown as an
upstream swim to the point that the both parents are shown as cut off
from the daughter's life in the development process.
However on the day the father hears of the daughter's marriage to a
Tamil doctor, it comes like a thunder-shock to him. He tries to make up
his mind to be as calm as possible in vain, as he is shown as a weak
person plunged between two forces: the money taken from the pawning, and
the daughter's disillusioned achievements. This reaches a climax when
the daughter and her husband visit the parents to pay their customary
The father undergoes a tremendous mental derangement and passes on
later. Just a few hours before the death pangs appear, Gunapala, the
villager close to them, rushes to the hospital in Colombo looking for
Sagarika. With great difficulty though, he finds her and informs her
about the last moments of the father.
The daughter's point is that the parents are stubborn and therefore
do not change their mannerism. Her only utterance seems to be that she
had tried all possible ways to bring them to live with them comfortably
in the city. She comes with much difficulty though, having foregone the
channel practice of her husband, just to see the father's funeral
Sagarika is shown as a so-called 'developed woman' or a 'modern
woman' torn between two worlds: the world of her own, and the world of
her parents, which to her is just an underdeveloped entity, and nothing
else. She invites her mother to join her and live with her in a
comfortable manner in this mood.
Rodrigo utilizes three ways of narrating a complex human experience
of the so called generation gap, where the victims happen to be, more or
The first technique is that he makes the reader feel that the death
of the father [Addin Bassunnahe]; this is the result of his dedication
to the family matters, where he feels that the daughter had unknowingly
betrayed the parents with the inability to fulfill their wishes.
The second technique comes in the second phase where the father's
profile is unfolded by the mother from whose side, the narrative
envelopes several characters entering into the interaction of the
This section is the profile of an isolated woman, who makes a
struggle to live alone forgetting the fact that she had a helpful
daughter born to her. This is the most vibrant and sensitive area of the
novel. In her isolation, the writer makes the fantasies and apparitions
roam around in the house, in the best manner possible.
The narrative technique as seen in the third phase is the extension
of the invitation of the daughter, who pays a visit to her mother and
takes her away to live with her with great reluctance on the part of the
mother. In this section, the reader sympathizes with the mother for her
mental agonies and the loneliness in the city surrounded by noises
peculiar to her and by various activities cut off from the life style of
The daughter wants to see that the mother is in a happy mood, despite
the fact that she is being looked after by a servant. A turn of events
enters her life when she is shown as missing from the daughter's house.
She is shown as entering into her last moments, but desirous of coming
back to rest in the house of her own, and ironically enough no longer
The villagers only see her dead body lying in the compound one
morning, and the resultant judgment is that she had paid her last visit
to her own place and died in a mysterious manner. Rodrigo however does
not conclude the novel in the conventional manner; instead makes the
daughter know that the mother had disappeared followed by a series of
comments on the part of the villagers, who were with her mother's
The novelist Rodrigo is well equipped with material closely linked
with rituals and folklore in a Sinhala village, and blends them
sensitively to enrich the narrative, especially when the mother lives
alone in the house which was once occupied by her husband and the
daughter, frequented by villagers.
As a reader, I felt that the writer had not paid much attention to
the development of Sagarika's character that centres around her husband;
instead makes her a mere cruel, disobedient and rustic being in her
mannerism unfitted for a doctor. Her husband is also a mere member of
another race, who has no direct bearing to the total experience.
Rodrigo, as a novelist, has a vision as far as the social morals are
concerned, and he is conscious of his creative expression.