ASSESSMENT OF PEACE ATOP A BUILDING
By Dr. Tilak S. Fernando
“Full many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear:
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen
And waste its sweetness on the desert air"
When Thomas Grey penned the above mentioned four lines, perhaps he would never have imagined in his wildest dream that in a tiny island called Sri Lanka, in a far away distance across the Indian Ocean, a rare & tranquil gem will be unearthed from a tender age in the future from an international school at Ratnapura, an equally renowned zone for the real gemming industry.
This ‘screne gem, Hashini Gayanga Wijesekera, a grade 12 young school girl currently studying at Lyceum International School at Ratnapura was exposed to the public appropriately after becoming the winner of the Poem of the Year Award at the Annasi & Kadalagotu Literary Festival held on 14th and 15th of May 2016 at the Western Province Aesthetic Centre Colombo 7.
Literary Festivals are generally regarded as a rendezvous for both readers and authors, particularly to authors, to feature and demonstrate a variety of their stimulating and inspiring work in a specific environment pertaining the destination where it is held, ideally to promote authors’ prose and verse in cultivating and fostering admiration towards writing and literature.
The AK Literary Festival in their 2nd year anniversary came up with a novel concept to expose talented 6-12 grade school children out of an English language poetry competition. The organisers received 60 entries from schools around the country out of which ten competitors were short listed and afforded the opportunity to each one to read out their own poem on stage prior to the panellists decided on the winner. Finally, Hashini Gayanga Wijesekera received the Poem of the Year Award for her mastery titled “Unconscious in Peace” which reads as follows:
Unconscious in Peace
The buzz on the roads
The ever present honk of vehicles, and
I looked out the window,
From the top of the building,
I could see one lasting chain of vehicles and lights
The ordinary sight of one exhausted nation
Heading home…hopefully for a goodnight’s sleep.
Watching from above, I couldn’t help, but think
‘Isn’t this one small world….?’
The vehicles and their occupants all waiting, waiting
For the light to turn green.
They just wait, with hope,
Feeling safe within the vehicles.
The light would eventually turn green,
There was nothing that could stop it.
That conviction was strong enough
To keep them all waiting
Without fear, without doubt
They were unaware, yet
The routine of daily life had
Unified them in a simply oblivious act,
Of waiting, together;
And I too, waiting, watching them,
With a spontaneous smile on my face.
Being the omniscient observer
At the top of the building,
I noticed a calm blowing through
The chain of vehicles, a peace of mind
Surpassing the noisy honks of buses.
An unshaken faith of waiting
For the same reasons.
The satisfaction that safety overrules the traffic,
The pleasure in mutual exhaustion….
The moment’s worth was indefinite.
It was not at the top of a mountain,
Enjoying the peace and beauty of nature
That I realised the worth of peace.
It was indeed, at the top of a building,
In the heart of the city,
It dawned upon me, that peace comes
At the most exhausted moment of the day,
When you know, for sure,
That you’ll get home safe”.
Hashini is currently concentrating on her GCE (A.L) examination in August this year, opting Accounting, Economics and English Language & Literature. She embarked on creative writing while she was in Grade 3 in school.
Her initial poem presented to the ‘Fulbright International Natural Awareness Programme on Natural Disasters in 2006 on the theme ‘Tsunami’ was chosen as the first in the Junior Poetry Competition. She always gives credit to her parents, teachers and her school for the incessant courage extended to her at every turn.
Such moral support and encouragement motivated her to pursue on more and more inscription that ended up by one of her poems getting selected for publication in the UK for Young Writers Anthology.
More practice made her writing ability to sharpen and spread her tentacles towards short story writing that ended up participating in a short story competition held by the Ministry of Justice and Law Reforms on Tsunami Rebuilding Efforts in 2008, which was funded by the Asian Development Bank
With the continuance of her unearthed refractive talents she won the 1st place in the island wide essay competition conducted by the Centre of the Study of Human Rights, University of Colombo, in collaboration with the Swedish International Development Agency held to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the UDHR.
In 2009 she was acclaimed under Class D at the 2009 Commonwealth Essay Competition. In 2011 and 2012 her essays were recognized as insightful composition in the International Essay Contest for Young People organized by The Goi Peace Foundation and UNESCO respectively.
GCE A.L Examination Board makes it compulsory for candidates sitting for the ‘A.L’ examination to submit a creative project as a pre-requisite. Hashini has chosen her creative work encompassing poetry, short stories, a drama and essays on a myriad of themes.
Her versatility extends further by actively engaged in many extra curricular activities. She had been the Head Girl of her school for the academic year 2014/15, and won the best Sinhala and English debater (2014/15), learnt music and speech and drama.
She has a methodical plan for the future after sitting her A.L. Examination in August this year that includes compiling of all her prose and verse into book form and get those published whilst continuing to write. Hashini Gayanga Wijesekera believes that writing is akin to sharpening a pencil all the time to prevent its pointed end getting blunt!