Indu Hewawasam & Anoma Gunawardena
Most of us usually find that we are distant physically & emotionally from disasters and crises that are reported from around the world. Early this year it seemed that was the case at first, with a new virus originating in a Chinese city, Wuhan, that many of us had not heard of until then. However, within a month or two, everyone around the world would be engaging with what seemed like a storm, or even a kind of Tsunami, with repetitive waves. The virus, soon labelled SARS- CoV-2, and its associated disease Covid-19, began to spread. Most of us focussed on its immediate impact on our little corner and concentrated on our selves or our family’s strategy for survival.
Fortunately, there are people who react to a crisis in other ways. The fact that it is a pandemic affecting everyone equally, irrespective of class, creed, & ethnicity, makes them focus even more on the oneness of humanity. Their empathy enables creative juices to flow. They are able to produce inspirational and uplifting work for everyone’s benefit. One such result is a book “Reawakening in a Time of Crisis” co-authored by Indu Hewawasam & Anoma Gunawardena.
All of the contributors are of Sri Lankan origin although they are now living in different parts of the globe. They are all good friends of Indu and some are from her family. Indu has lived in Washington, DC for nearly 40 years, but maintains close ties with her homeland, relatives and friends in Sri Lanka, visiting the country every year, except this year due to Covid-19. Anoma lives in Perth, Australia. She and Indu have been friends from their young days, being classmates in Visakha Vidyalaya. They have maintained their friendship for over 50 years.
Sardha, a contributor, lives in Washington, DC. Indu met Sardha when she first arrived in Washington, DC as a graduate student. She is like family for Indu. Sardha is always interested in joining in initiatives which are charitable. Dhushy, a contributor, lives in Bedford, UK and she and Indu have been friends from the time when they both worked in the Attorney General’s Department. Dhushy is also like family, and they maintain close ties. Padmamali, a contributor, lives in British Columbia, Canada and she and Indu were friends from Law College. Vineetha, a contributor, lives with her family in Washington, DC and is Indu’s older sister. Dulari, a contributor, lives in London, UK, and is Indu’s niece and have known each other since Dulari’s birth. Naamal, Indu’s daughter, was the inspiration for Indu’s decision to write this book. She reviewed the final draft and provided comments both on the poems and structuring of the book.
Indu started writing about the pain of society, suffering from Covid-19, when she lost a friend and colleague to the disease in February 2020. She was traumatized when she learned of his illness and grieved at his passing in a short time. She felt the despair of the family but was unable to comfort them, since they were in quarantine. Indu herself had some symptoms of the virus in late February and perhaps had a mild case of Covid-19. Once she started writing about the anguish in the country through the spread of the disease, she shared her idea with Sardha and Anoma. Later Vineetha, Padmamali and Dulari joined the initiative when they learned about the project and became interested. Indu coordinated the work of all contributors and Anoma contributed paintings for the design of the front and back covers and to illustrate the contents. The book was self published and produced by Antara Corp. in Washington, DC and released in September 2020.
Focusing on the United States of America, some of the poems describe the inaction and failure of the government to contain the virus, resulting in its spread like wildfire across the different states. The crisis is exacerbated by episodes of racial injustice, sparking widespread protests, [actions that are] echoed in other parts of the world. The book aims to ease the pain and desolation of those suffering through an insight into how this despair may be eased through greater understanding and caring for each other, working together, and an appreciation of nature as a solace to ease the torment and suffering. Accordingly, Royalties from book sales 100% go towards the work of Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders).
What is remarkable is that the time taken from concept to book release is only seven months! During a time of pandemic, with contributors spread in different parts of the world, this was quite an astonishing achievement.
The book is available globally via Amazon and is bound to uplift & inspire readers.