My father ends his brief autobio, presented in this volume, with the words, “‘Sauris Silva who put to the lie the line ‘One in the world excels [only] in one thing” (lovin ekek eka deyakata vey samata). It is with unbounded pleasure, then, that I present this Chapbook on Taatta, my father, at my own ripe age of eighty. It is a rich life that you will not want to miss.
I call this volume a chapbook because I can’t think of a better label for it - a smorgasbord of material, both written by him but mostly by others in honour of him - in newspapers, and journals, honouring reporting on such honours, as e.g., when his dance costumes were donated to the National Museum, and attended by Ministers of the Government. Added to the mixture are my own words, both published and unpublished, not only on him but my mother, too. If she is the proverbial woman behind the illustrious husband, what you will see is the real person. Finally, there are the two pictorial sections, one covering my father’s visit to Canada when he appears on Canadian Television (1981), and the other on his last journey in Sri Lanka (1982). Although I had the pleasure of accompanying him on a visit to India, unfortunately we had no camera with us.
This, with apologies to Taatta, is a long overdue publication. In a letter sent to me in 1977, he writes: “Son Sugunasiri, I am sending you this docket on the state-sponsored event relating to me. It is not colorful enough, but I’ve done the best I can. It would be good if it could be dressed up to serve as a family historical treasure.… (Please see the original of this letter
in his own handwriting in the Sinhala version). And so, it is in honouring this request of over four decades ago that this publication comes to light. At long last, I say, with a sense of some guilt that it wasn’t done earlier. It was, of course, my own busy schedule that had not allowed for my obligation, happy as it is, to show up on life’s screen. But when in retirement, it did appear on screen, I looked high and low. I knew he had written something about himself, and made careful arrangements to be kept safely. But where? Hunting for it in Sri Lanka from 10,000 miles away proved futile. But then came the discovery, when rummaging through my own basement shelves in Toronto. Lo and behold, there it was, as it had been with me all this time. The folders shone on me as I smiled with glee. So here it is then, a little peek into a glorious life, a model of which, as you will see, would be rare to find. So this publication is presented not only because it is about my father, but a sentient being that can serve as a role model for anyone in any culture. The sheer diversity can be mind-boggling, but mindbody elevating, as you yourself will see. Reading my father’s written words about himself after all these many years, and wondering how on earth he could have done so many things during his life time, what comes to my mind is a line shared with me by a Yugoslavian colleague in Canada. It goes, ‘If you want something done, go to the busy man’!. Indeed. But then, I should know. Now I know where I got my own flexibility as well as my multiple interests and successes.