Author Dr Sanjiva Wijesinha produces his seventh publication, a collection of 14 short stories written over a period of two decades. Not Our War contains within its pages, stories ranging from the poignant to the humorous, igniting a host of emotions within the reader.
Words Prasadini Nanayakkara Photographs Indika De Silva
Having served in the Medical Corps of both the Sri Lanka Army and the Australia Army, the author draws from his experiences to weave tales that delve into the human condition. The stories unfold for the most part with soldiers and ex-soldiers as the protagonists. However, the collection is essentially a work of fiction based upon real life incidents and experiences. Some of the stories can thus be dubbed under the Carl Muller coined term, ‘faction’. This is with the exception of the first and last essays, which are the author’s personal reminisces and opinions.
While the stories are not about the civil war that transpired over 30 years, they spring from touching events and experiences to explore close bonds that prevailed and triumphed over trying times.
Currently a practicing medical doctor and Professor at the Monash University of Australia, the author reflects on a time when he first dabbled with his penchant for writing. “I have been writing since my school days, initially articles for the school magazine and later articles that were published in the newspapers,” he says.
Subsequently short story writings submitted to competitions have earned him several awards including the BBC Commonwealth Short Story Competition. And many of these stories have found their way to Not Our War. “The book is not only a collection of short stories, but is also a reflective of the experiences of those who quietly endured the war,” says the author on the elements of reality. Incidentally the title for the collection Not Our War is in some way a fitting tribute to his father who first persuaded him to join the Army. “Not Our War comes from a story my father once told me, about one of his friends, who went to fight in the Second World War in England and it was the first time I saw him cry,” he says reminiscently. It is indeed a story that unfolds in evocative detail as the author has captured the incident within the confines of the pages.
Published by Vijitha Yapa, the series of short stories infused with romance, drama and humour often carry a twist in the tale. And as Brigadier Moresth states in his foreword, “For those of us who “once were warriors”, these stories will bring back many memories… For those who have never faced the spectre of war, these poignant tales will provide some understanding of the human cost of military conflict.”