Lost in you
Author: Dr. Noel Nadesan
A Vijitha Yapa publcation
Reviewed by N Ganeshalingam
Although Dr. Noel Nadesan is a Veterinary Surgeon, he is neither a stranger nor a novice to the Tamil literary scene. In addition to contributing innumerable articles to magazines, newspapers and websites, he has written two novels. The second novel Lost in You is the English translation of Unnaya Mayil Kondu originally written in Tamil by him.
The protagonists in the novel are Shoba, Chandran and Julia with a host of other characters contributing their share to the theme of the story.
Shoba is a girl from a Tamil middle – class family in Colombo and she was brought up like a princess. Her life was such that she did not have a care in the world. All those good things came to an end with the outbreak of riots in 1983. She and her friend Meena were the victims of a brutal unruly mob, as they were Tamils. The riots in Colombo erupted following the killing of 13 soldiers in a landmine explosion triggered by the LTTE in Jaffna.
It was only providence that came in the form of one Ratnayake that saved the lives of both girls.
Refugee camp Ratnayake, a retired army officer who was trained in the best traditions of a disciplined force, took them to a refugee camp. It was to his credit that he had helped the girls despite the odds against him. Shoba saw her parents and brother Karthik at the camp while Meena came to know that her parents were with a Muslim family.
Shoba, her parents Rasanayakam, Rasamma and Karthik went to Jaffna in a ship to lead a safe and peaceful life. Karthik in a fit of rage over the sufferings and humiliations he and other Tamils underwent in Colombo and other areas joined a ‘liberation’ movement called TELO to fight for the rights of the Tamils. He went to India and got trained by the Indian Army in North India. Karthik’s dream of contributing his share to the struggle for the Tamils’ rights did not last long as he was killed in the clashes between the LTTE and TELO. All what his parents saw of him was his half burnt corpse.
Then, it was back to square one as the Rasanayakam family came to Colombo. Those tragic incidents had left an indelible mark on Shoba’s memory from which she could not recover for years. It was around this time that her marriage to Chandran, a distant relative was fixed and she came to Sydney. Chandran had come earlier on a scholarship to do his Ph.D. Although their wedded bliss saw the birth of a son, Suman, within a month Shoba developed post natal depression. Later on, medical examination revealed she was suffering from bipolar disease.
Chandran and his friend fellow researcher went to the Gold Coast to present research papers to a conference attended by scientists from around the world. The papers on environmental studies were presented on behalf of the University of Western Sydney where both were students.
One day, to while away the time , Chandran visited a hotel with a casino where he met Julia by chance. She was also from Sydney, but had come to Gold Coast to visit her daughter. Their meeting later blossomed into a clandestine love affair and as the days rolled by it reached a crescendo by way of frequent extra-marital relationships between them.
Chandran who was dejected by Shoba’s behaviour and her conduct unbecoming of a humble wife found some solace in Julia’s company. At the same time he was gripped with a feeling of guilt for having an affair with a woman behind his wife’s back.
Chandran could not conceal his secret love affair with Julia for long as Shoba has stumbled on a letter Chandran had written to Julia. Extremely distraught Shoba attempted to commit suicide but prompt medical attention saved her life.
Confession When questioned by Shoba, Chandran confessed to having a love affair with Julia and tendered his apologies to her. Julia had developed intimate relations with Charles, a great painter and widower. When Chandran became aware of Julia’s new found relationship with Charles his gut feeling was Julia had jilted him.
But Julia’s intimacy with Charles turned out to be a blessing in disguise to Chandran as it had given him an opportunity to sever his relationship with her without any hard feelings. Around this time Chandran had got a job in Victoria.
Before moving over to Victoria Chandran visits Julia during which he speaks to her about his feelings frankly. His parting message to her was that he would never forget her but remember her as a good friend. He also pledged to be in touch whenever time permitted.
The novel is very readable and the language flows easily, especially in conversations. On reading it one would not say it is an English version of a Tamil novel. The narrative too flows swiftly gripping the reader with the emotionally charged turn of events and incidents. The English is poetic. Normally, much is lost in the translation. Dr. Mrs Pavathy Vasadeva’s translation has retained the original spirit of the novel with the use of simple English.