Trans-realistic unconventional narratives | Daily News


Trans-realistic unconventional narratives

The latest Sinhala collection of short stories or short narratives by Anurasiri Hettige, the award-winning writer, is titled Marine Drive. The collection envelopes six stories of varying types with varying degrees of digressions of transforming the central experiences from the mere realistic plane of human experiences to those of supra-mundane planes of fantasy, myth and legend that could be deemed as detouring from the mere plane of realism and/or naturalism.

Having read all the six narratives, I felt that Hettige is more a visionary than a mere storyteller. He attempts to interpret some of the day-to-day human experiences in an elevated pattern of expression giving full vent to the introspection of the behaviour of his characters. I wish to select the very first narrative where the writer or the creator Hettige is detached in the creation of his two characters, Nalinda, an administrator in a government office and Achala, a female office clerk cum secretary. Nalinda is haunted by a certain telephone call from a female voice that encircles a mystic touch paving the way for Nalinda to become a victim of the psychosomatic situation.

Creative nuances

This more or less is either understood or tends to misunderstand Achala’s mind to the extent that she too is portrayed as either harmful to Nalinda or torturous to him in another respect. Like a fairy-tale, the situations develop where the reader finds that the day of retirement approaches Nalinda. But he continues to come to office to check the mystic telephone call. The reader too feels that an invisible hand is attached where a ghost-writer records the visible events from several points of view. What happens as the last item too is hidden in mystery. The protagonist Nalinda is seen as committing suicide by hanging in his own attic. As a reader, I felt that the inner layer of the narrative is much more sensitive, penetrative and provides a series of insight to the human existence. A multifaceted creative nuance could be visualised in these narratives.

On reading the rest of the narratives, my impression is that this is a series of exercises on the necessity to deviate from the mere realistic plane of expression of the age-old but modern expressions that elevate the short story from the convention to the unconventional levels of expression. This perhaps is a switch-back to the bringing of a new narrative form from the mythological expressions as found in folklore legacy.

The best example comes from his narrative titled Imrange Bhavantara Charikava. The writer, once again, detaches himself to express a series of events in the inner situations of a person namely Imran, who is shown as a person belonging to a cycle of lifestyles encircled in fantasies, dreams and even hallucinations. But he is not such a person. Hettige is born to find or explore a mind that needs impulses and/or insights to living as a person who knows the meaning of the cycle of birth or existence.

More explorative than experimental

In many ways, the narrative too transcends the levels of expression as seen in the conventional short story pattern. Hettige is more explorative than experimental in the content as well as the structure. This, I feel, as a gravely felt need in the teaching of creative communication forms in cultures.

I feel that I have to agree with those scholars who insist that it is impossible to define what a short story is. The genre has not only changed from its tradition-bound form and content but also has spread and mixed with other forms of narratives like the parable, allegory, fable and tale. Although the fact and fiction are interlinked in the teaching of narratology, perhaps the human creative mind has transcended these barriers of creativity.

Some creators make use of facts drawn from human case studies, while some others depend on an intermix of fact and fiction as varying factors, that need closer scrutiny. All in all the creator Anurasiri Hettige is bold enough to surpass the mere linear dimensions of creativity to reach a higher plane of creative thinking.

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