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Eye


The treaty that betrayed a nation

By Mallika Etulgama
John D’Oyly, who was later to become Sir John D’Oyly, was the ace spy who set the ball rolling for the ‘capture’ of the Kandyan Kingdom.
But, during the last years of his life, he remained a recluse and seldom came out of his residence, which was the Palace of the King, which is now known as the Old Palace.
The Adikaram who chased out D’Oyly was the Adikaram of Nuwara Wewa, Nuwara Wewa Mudiyanse. He was also in charge of Atamastana when D’Oyly went there to take over Nuwara Wewa. The Adikaram said he would not sign the document given to him and refused to allow D’Oyly to take over. The furious D’Oyly virtually annihilated the entire family and ensured there were no survivors.
In fact, the Kandyan Treaty has been somewhat an unanswered question for years till now. It was not signed on March 2, 1815, but was signed in sporadic moments.

It so began with the discussions with the Kandyan Chiefs and the promise to give a position to Maha Adikaram Ehelepola. However, by the time the Treaty was read on March 2, Ehelepola realised that he would not be given any position. While the Kandyan Chiefs and the Maha Sangha of Malwatta were present at the occasion, the Asgiriya Chapter was kept out from the event.
Mahanayake Kobbekaduwa who was the Mahanayake of the Malwatta Chapter at the time arrived at the Audience Hall with other members of the Chapter when the Treaty was read and translated by Muhandiram Saram.

At the conclusion of the reading and after the exchange of the nicecities, the request of the Mahanayake to be led by the Army Band was also fulfilled. The Treaty was signed on a later occasion according to documents available in the country and elsewhere.
D’Oyly arrived in the country as a 27-year-old Cadet of the Civil Service and was sent to Galle and Madras as a Revenue Officer. Sir John D’Oyly was the second son of Rev Matthias D’Oyly, once the Archdeacon of Lewes in Sussex. He was born on June 11, 1774 and died on May 24, 1823 in Kandy at the age of 49.
He met Venerable Koratota Dhammarama Thera and a host of others from the Kandyan Kingdom. D’Oyly recorded information about the Kingdom and the lives of the people from those whom he met. He also recorded information of the administration and the life of the King.
D’Oyly met Gajaman Nona during one of his rounds to the Temple of Karatota. He went as far as to offer her a piece of land, an issue which was raised in the British Parliament. In fact, he seemed to have developed a soft corner for Gajaman Nona and the both of them had become the talk of the town.
It is also stated that the people too did not show any enthusiasm in the Treaty, as they looked at it as the end of their freedom.

The Government Gazette Extraordinary, issued by the British on March 5, 1815 noted that there was a solemn ceremony at the Audience Hall at the Palace in Kandy. It does not mention of an agreement or the signing of a document.
The reason behind this issue was said to be the failed discussion D’Oyly had with Ehelepola and Molligoda within the quadrangle of the Sri Dalada Maligawa. Ehelepola had known D’Oyly was evading the issue of him being appointed as a Sub-King.
There is also documentary evidence at the Government archives indicating that the signature of Ehelepola is entirely different to that of the Kandyan Treaty. The signature of Ehelepola in his letter requesting the Kandy regime to hand over his lands to his sister is in flowing handwriting. There were also speculations that Ehelepola had signed in Tamil, which is far from true.

It has been recorded in historical documents that Pilimatalawa, Ehelepola and Galaboda signed the Document on March 18, 1815, contrary to beliefs that it was signed on March 2, 1815.
The pulling down of the Kandyan Flag and its connection with Wariyapola Sumangala Thera has been and still is a matter of dispute. Some say that the incident was fictitious and was said just to arouse the feelings of the people. Others say that the flag was pulled down by Sumangala priest. But, it should be noted that the only flag that was available in the Kandyan Kingdom was only used within the kingdom. It was taken to Colombo by the British after the capture of King Sri Wickramarajasinghe in Bomure, Meda Maha Nuwara on February 18, 1915. Therefore, there could not have been a flag around the Audience Hall, which could have been pulled down.

The original document of the said Treaty was taken to Chancery Lane record office, Downing Street and was presumed lost. It resurfaced at Gampola Case and was misplaced again. But, the document was recovered by the Director of Government Archives.
The whole episode of the fall of the Kandyan Kingdom, according to writers, is due to the intrigue of the Court and the greediness of Pilimatalawa to become King or to gain control of the Kandyan Kingdom.
After the death of Rajadhi Rajasinghe on July 2, 1798, Pilamatalawa ensured that usurper Kannaswamy or Sri Wickramarajasinghe was made King and not Muthuswamy. Pilamatalawa thought that he could control the new king.

The king’s mother Subamma was said to be from India and was believed to be the most beautiful woman in Kandy at that time. She was one of the thousands of women who came to Sri Lanka in search of marriage or employment. Sri Wickramarajasinghe waited for the right time and beheaded his own benefactor Pilamatalawa. Therefore, it is believed that the king got back what he deserved, according to the teachings of Buddha.

 

Weaving words of tragedy

Author Lucky de Chickera muses over his writings

By Sarasi Paranamanna
“The smell of rotting flesh was overpowering and the bedlam of human voices was cacophonic, as the two made their way slowly along the left corridor. Bodies lay all over the floor, as the living looked for their loved ones amongst those dead, prodding, moving crying, sobbing but still searching…”
This extract immediately tells us of a tragedy. From times immemorial the world has faced tragedies but as Sri Lankans it was the most horrendous natural disaster we have ever faced. The extract above is from Lucky de Chickera’s Poseidon’s Wrath. He has not just captured the tragedy that took place but Chickera has skilfully weaved in intricate social issues through his portrayal of how people reacted differently to the tsunami.
After the success of his second book, Lucky De Chickera is once again busy as he is occupied with his third novel which is to be released in the middle of this year. Amidst his busy schedule Lucky de Chickera had a chat with The Nation about his musings and plans about writing.

Being an energetic persona, one can hardly tell that he is a retired official who had worked in the private sector. One might even wonder how came to become a writer as the author not more than several years ago had been busy with his illustrious career in the corporate sector. However his love for literature and writing had churned in his spirit right from his school days and he says that even though the nature of his work did not allow him to devote time for writing he was always interested in literature. At the age of nine when young Chickera was still in the Primary section of Royal College he had written his first short story which carried the title Stop thief. “I have to thank the superb English masters we had during my years at Royal College. They really made me love English and English Literature,” he says nostalgically.

However after retirement, Chickera has complied all his works which he had completed over the years and the short story collection A Tigress of Kilinochchi came into limelight last year. While he had been working on the publishing of his debut novel he had started working on his second, Poseidon’s Wrath. Asking him about what led to the portrayal of the protagonist in one of the short stories in his first work A Tigress of Kilinochchi he says that he too felt for the people who suffered from the ’83 July riots. One short story in A Tigress of Kilinochchi narrates the story of a Tamil girl who experiences the July riot and the psychological analysis and the consequences of those experiences are brilliantly weaved into the story with such realism. “Our family has had a lot of Tamil domestics over the years and I have heard their stories, how they suffered. I really felt for them. Sometime they would lament and mourn when they are telling the stories. I think these experiences made me write the story in the sufferer’s point of view,” he says. Likewise the short stories in A Tigress of Kilinochchi are based on some type of happening in his life.

Poseidon’s Wrath talks about the biggest natural disaster which hit Sri Lanka. Chickera has embedded Greek Mythology to explain about the Tsunami. In the epilogue Chickera says how Greek ancestors use to blame the natural disasters on Poseidon. From the title itself he manages to give a vivid picture of the Tsunami by relating it into Greek Mythology. But the story is not a mere portrayal because it analyses social system and questions honesty the while exposing the attitudes and reactions of people towards the disaster. “My hometown; Hikkaduwa was affected by the Tsunami and I did a lot of reading about the disaster including the Peraliya rail accident, and that’s how began writing the book,” he says.

Poseidon who is angered by humanity unleashes his anger. This is the imagery Chickera paints in the readers’ minds and this is somewhat literal as well because as he says “Poseidon is angry by the way people use his domain. The oil spills, interference with nature. It is like he is taking revenge. Of course it is all fiction but I mention in the book that he will take his ultimate revenge in the future.”
The book indeed leaves us wondering whether we are angering the Gods and whether the ultimate revenge will be upon us. The message he gives through his books is clear as he exposes the corruption of civil servant. The character of the OIC who wants to work honestly finds him in a conflict that makes him join the international mafia. Through these characters he criticises the social system. He tells the readers to not only to be aware of these mishaps but to act against them.

His latest book talks about the slum areas in Mumbai. While on a visit to India he had come across this area and he says, “I was affected by the condition of those areas and the people who live in them. 60 % of the products in Mumbai are churned out of waste and the women and children in these slum areas, work as rag pickers. They produce various products which are churned out of the waste but still their conditions do not improve though they have so much innovation and capacity in them. In my third book I relate that situation to the Sri Lankan context and I question why they remain in the same condition. Is it because they do not care or is it because others do not want them rise from that state,” he muses.

Apart from his writings, Lucky de Chickera uses his free time for various other interests. Being a globe trotter he says he enjoys travelling and he has an eye for photography too. His hobbies and diverse interests tell us that he quite an interesting personality. Though many say that collecting picture cards are for kids Lucky says he is still not too old to collect picture cards. He already has about three stamp albums plus a coin collection which has coins dating back to the period of Julius Caesar.
He proudly says that he has about 30,000 coins in his collection. “I enjoy pursuing these hobbies apart from writing for which I do not have a particular time. When the thoughts come into my head I type it on my computer. Right now I have about thirty stories in my computer but when I am not writing these hobbies keep me busy. The collections are left to my grandchildren now. They can be proud of it and use it when I am gone,” he says with a sincere smile.

(Pix by Rukshan Abeywansha)

 

Sooththara Puncha launched

Sybil Wettasinghe’s much loved newspaper series Sooththara Puncha was compiled into a book, which was recently launched at Kiyawana Nuwana Bookshop, published by Visidunu Publishers.
The occasion was also marked by reprints of her other famous work such as Linde Yaka, Kuda Hora, Ravana Revula, Poddai Poddi and Weniyang Kalu Weniyang.
An exhibition showcasing the acclaimed illustrations of Sybil Wettasinghe is currently out at Kiyawana Nuwana Bookshop, Nugegoda.
By popular demand, the exhibition is extended to March 15. The exhibition and sale of illustrations and books is a wonderful opportunity to be seized by all lovers of Sybil Nenda’s work.

(Pic by Ravindra Dharmathilake)

 

Penguin Books India republishes Carl Muller’s Children of the Lion

Carl Muller’s Children of the Lion was first published by Viking­-Penguin India in 1997. The publishers have decided that in keeping with the first part of City of the Lion, which was printed this year, it would be best to have the entire series appear as a new and more reader-friendly set making this book fit in with the rest in soft cover.
There is no variation whatsoever from the original Viking issue but being reset it still occupies 975 pages of copy plus acknowledgements (2 pages), Foreword (1 page), A Note about the book (1 page) and Author’s Note (1 page) as well two pages giving lines by Matthew Arnold and a dedication by the author.
Penguin Books India are now preparing the three other books in the set that will offer The Grandeur of the Lion by May this year; The Intrigues of the Lion by August and The Decline of the Lion with the abandonment of Anuradhapura, by the end of this year, to bring an end to the series involving the City of the Lion.
Muller is now working on the next in his series which takes the entire set further from Polonnaruwa onwards. This will also be divided into about four parts and will thereon move into three final parts bringing the entire series to an end with the end of British rule. All in all, there should be a complete set of 25 books.
Muller had the opportunity to talk of and read a section of City of the Lion at this year’s Galle Literary Festival before a packed audience.