Our Childhood In Ceylon:1950


 Author - Beeta Rajapaksha (translated and illustrated by Deepthi Horagoda)

Publisher - Vijitha Yapa Publications

Our Childhood In Ceylon:1950 is the English version of Beeta Rajapaksha’s recollections of life in a village in Ceylon in the 1950s.

The book was originally written in Sinhala and published by Vijitha Yapa Publications in 2015 as Ap? Lam? L?kaya:1950. According to the author, the decision to publish an English version was made partly to help non-Sinhala literate children of Sri Lankan expatriates to learn about the childhood era of their grandparents.

The book contains 35 stories, all of which according to the author are true. They range from Going to School with Our Pets (the first chapter) to Our Games on Rainy Days where the author describes how she and her siblings made a steam-powered toy ferry.

Throughout the book, the traditional way of life in a village where the main livelihood was rice paddy farming is ever-present. Children reading this book will be surprised to learn of the many household chores done by virtually all children living in villages during the author’s childhood. They will also get to know what it was like to have no refrigerator at home, leave alone electric lights for studying at night in the chapter titled Life in the Dark Ages.

In her foreword, Beeta has stated that, ‘In a world where children no longer have time to smell the roses and sharing and caring are considered burdens’ that she hopes ‘through this book they will learn to think differently’. She goes on to state that, ‘Even the animals whom we grew up with taught us many a fine lesson about coexistence’.

As part of her efforts to provide a clear idea of the era around which the stories revolve, the author has included many illustrations in colour as well as in black and white. These have been done by her daughter under her direction. Prospective readers will also be interested to know that Beeta has wound up the stories in the book with a special chapter titled Our Village and Family:Then and Now.

Here she not only describes the origins of her village, family and their current status but also shares photographs for comparison between ‘then’ and ‘now’.

According to the author, the original book in Sinhala was enjoyed by both the young and the old: the youngest reader being seven and the oldest, eighty-four. This English version too will no doubt interest and entertain many readers, both here and abroad alike.

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