Just think about a twenty year old youth, spending a prison term of six years and collecting all his experiences and memories during that period, and finally bringing all such notes into a book when he matures into a sixty year old man! I cannot remember reading any Sinhala book of this type, which gave me so much reverberation in my body as well as mind.
I imagined this book of 169 pages comprising 22 chapters including 30 drawings done within the prison walls, gave me the impression that Charles Dayananda as a person possessing high competence of a great novelist and a fine artist.
He says thus at the beginning of the book:
“I have drawn not about the agonizing and excruciating painful characters of a cursed society, but about the momentarily withering humanity inside the prison walls. This is neither a biography nor a literary work, but a true story and definitely not an imaginary work.”
However, I must stress that this is a great work of expression of interminable humanity and truth.
The author observes in great depth about the series of dissimilar characters in the prison expressing some as bad, others dreadful and many more who demonstrate shocking personalities.
Charles Dayananda, who was an artist, was involved in a youthful uprising in the 70th Century, had spent six years in Bogambara Prison with 1000 other convicts. You shall never find such a series of drawings expressing the genuineness of life such as those sketched by him.
Try to understand the physical and mental agony of several prisoners who will be squeezed together into a prison cell of 10×8 feet, spending in darkness all day and night. This book specifically criticizes the appalling administration of the prison administration. No wonder if this book was proscribed for sale within Sri Lanka, however, fortunately for the interested readers, it did not happen.
Please reads and try to imagine the following characters illustrated in this book; such as: “a quick bath within two minutes – prisoners jump up and down near the barbed window to view the trees in the free world – a rationed plate of rice – prisoner Bazeer, who fights with handfuls of feces taken from the toilets – Prisoner Chegu Pereira, who consumes faecal matter (instead of normal rice and curry) – measuring a live body to assemble a coffin – and finally carrying for eternal rest!” Could you believe the author is talking about living humans or otherwise?
Dear reader, you may have read very interesting and unbelievable stories written about the life in the prisons of the Western world. I you have not read at least the third edition of this book, please stop reading Sinhala Novels.