Tuley de Silva
Raj de Silva has been a very successful civil engineer, who has earned several international accolades for his contribution to some landmark civil engineering projects overseas. Lost in Retirement and Other Stories is his first contribution to the literary world.
Raj de Silva has skillfully assembled fifteen multifaceted stories, with diverse characters and incidents, encapsulating his personal experiences and imagination in Sri Lanka and abroad. Most stories portray the mindset of people in real life situations, immersed in their day-to-day life and subject at times to a twist in the tale. Some of them are open-ended and the dialogue used conveys emotions where desirable. Some local terms, with regional variations that are shown in italics, would direct the reader to the Glossary at the end of the Book. This Aid is useful, particularly for non-Sri Lankan readers.
Although some stories appear to have a sad ending, there is a tinge of childhood mischief in most of them.
Taking a brief look at a few of his stories, the first story titled ‘The Pot at the end of a Rainbow’ focuses on the plight of three good friends, in a desperate situation, trying to become rich overnight by resorting to desperate measures.
Raj has also stepped into the avian world in ‘Smokey’, which brings out the kind of fairy tale bond between a child and a bird. This story has been written and emailed, as his birthday gift to his granddaughter, who is in England, during his period of isolation in Sri Lanka during the Corona virus pandemic.
‘Living in Hope’ portrays the emotions of a disabled daughter, the youngest in the family, who tries to fulfill her old father’s wish, when other siblings had failed.
‘Good Samaritans’ offer you an exciting journey through the Southern coastal towns of Sri Lanka, while ‘Ramblers’ Club’ draws the reader’s attention to the glorious town of Galle. He has not failed to pay tribute to the southern coastal town that was his home away from home during his youth.
The story titled ‘King Coconuts’ is so vivid, and it appears to be a reflection of one of his own mischievous escapades with his playful friends during his childhood.
In ‘Unforgiven’, an innocent family learns to put up with an inconsiderate and ungrateful neighbour, who would take every opportunity to annoy and hurt them.
Although the author does not believe in ghosts or spirits, in ‘Audit Trail’ he has fabricated a nice creepy story, about ghostly experiences.
The story about the little blind boy titled ‘Fingers that see’ is quite emotional.
The stories focus on the normal and abnormal behavior of human beings, under different circumstances. All the short stories are quite interesting and alluring. They are thoroughly enjoyable, and I have no doubt that they will resonate with the readers.
A NOTE: Tuley de Silva is a Deshabandu Professor Emeritus
An ADDITIONAL NOTE from The Editor, Thuppahi:
Once upon a time I banged into one Tuley De Silva at the Oval — that in London not in Borella. He was immediately recognisable as a fellow Lankan amongst the swarm of Blacks and Whites at a cricket match pitting the mighty Windies against the bliighty Pommies. This chance meeting would have been in the 1990s but my memory is not precise. This faulty memory recalls that Tuley and I sustained contact for a while …. But we lost touch and I am overjoyed that Raj has brouht us back together so to speak.
In contrast, my connection with Raj is the result of a deliberate venture of a Mahindian reaching out to an Aloysian — on the foundations laid by the town of Galle and the many battles between Mahinda, Aloysisus and Richmond at “The Esplanade” in the mid-twentieth century. While covid-marooned in Sri Lanka, Raj de Silva and his effervescent wife travelled all the way down to Galle to rub elbows with me during my sojourn with Ranjit and Monnina Gunawardena in Parawa Street within the Fort of Galle.
If Raj is missing in the group picture snapped at a farewell dinner in the Fort whihc includes Richmondite “Kod,i” it is because he had slipped away in conversation with a Swedishman, Lech Dulny, who was also at this gathering. But I have caught Raj chatting with Roshan Samarawickrema of ECSAT.
Our initial meetingsat Unawatuna and the Fort were consolidated thereafter at dinners in Colombo. Raj is still ‘shipwrecked’ in Sri Lanka … but happily and frutifully so. Lost in Retirement reveals that all has not been lost ….; that restraint is opportunity…. and that a marooned moment in a land like Lanka can generate magical touches.