Examining psychological and social extremes
“We feed on the pain that has caused us to wake up from the
nightmare, but do you not think that having a nightmare is better than
having a restful sleep where our worse fears remain dormant? Nightmares
wake us up and to be awakened is to let our light shine brightly.” Such
is the philosophical posture that Rozaine Cooray takes in her debut
novel ‘Colours of the Sun’. Through the novel she relates the
heart-wrenching story of a young girl, ‘Mariam’ who is trapped in a
nightmarish dilemma torn in between different psychological and social
extremes. The story revolves around Mariam; a girl of mixed blood
uprooted from Kandy and transplanted to Sydney to escape the escalating
ethnic conflict in the late 1990s. Rozaine touches the reader’s heart to
the core, as she relates the heartrending story of Mariam living a very
displaced and disoriented life battling against her own personal
Colours of the Sun
Author: Rozaine Cooray
Price: Rs 800
Publisher: Bay Owl Press
‘Colours of the Sun’ is more or less a psychological novel than a
social one. Rozaine portrays Mariam as a wretched soul trapped in a
complicated web of emotional confusion and trauma. She is traumatized by
the rejection, desolation and loneliness. The dilemmas that Mariam faces
are almost reminiscent of an adolescent going through the ‘Quarter life
But the depression and the kind of mental torment that Mariam faces,
goes beyond that of a young adolescent fighting against the complexities
of ‘quarter life crisis’.
Writing to her daughter Mariam says, “She was born on the same day as
me; had the same history as me, ate with me, slept with me and did
everything with me. She was silhouette in black; my sinister shadow and
her name was depression”. The depression and the mental trauma are
almost personified the in novel. Throughout the novel, the reader feels
the tormenting presence of depression hovering over her soul. The
depression is almost a tangible figure, a character in the novel, “my
sinister shadow and her name was depression”, Mariam says. Through the
novel we feel the eerie presence of this tormenting figure trailing and
chasing behind Mariam’s soul. And it is this personification of
depression as a character that makes the novel a very absorbing and
touching one to read.
As the novel goes on, the depression manifests itself and begins to
infect her soul like a plague. Yet it does not mean that Rozaine wants
her reader to dwell on the pain or the grief caused by the depression.
Instead she turns her book in to a therapeutic agent battling against
the mental torment. As the novel goes on not only does she soothes
Mariam’s tormented soul, but also the reader himself begins to feel a
sense of emancipation or a sense of liberation. The feeling is quite
contrasting to the depressing, disturbing scenes that she made the
reader experience in the earlier part of the novel.
Mariam is also presented as a rebel who wants to go against the
natural order of things. She is a rebel who doesn’t want to conform to
her parents or the society’s wishes. “Every Crime you commit against
your heart is a prison sentence. The prison time is indefinite and
depends on your subsequent actions to rectify and magnify what you have
gotten yourself into” Mariam says. However, it is her strong urge to go
against the order itself that makes her a figure entrapped in a
tormenting personal dilemma.
In a sense it is a story of a young women seeking for redemption and
the ultimate happiness in life. Amidst all the turmoil, it is towards
the latter part of the novel that she achieves a sense of enlightenment.
She writes to her daughter “This is a moment of truth as days blossom to
a very important juncture along the journey: the juncture of self
forgiveness and self love…. If you have accepted the worthiness of
self-love, you then enter another phase.
This is the most beautiful stage where you enter the meditative state
of appreciation. You begin to appreciate life for what it is and not for
what you expect it to be”. Therefore, in that sense the novel is a very
inspirational and enlightening one.