By K.S. Sivakumaran
(Septmeber 01, Colombo, Sri Laka Guardian) Pillai Alutha Kaneer (Tears shed by the child) is a play written in Thamil by S Jeyasankar senior lecturer in drama and theatre arts, Eastern University. Jeyasankar who engages in theatre and research activities is also a traditional theatre (Koothu) performer. A poet in Thamil and English he writes essays on literary subjects, is a coordinator of Third Eye Local Knowledge and Skill Activists’ Group and Third Eye English Forum, and is the co-editor of the literary journal Third Eye. This journal also comes as Moontravathy Kunn in Thamil.
Jeyasankar who prides himself as a man born in Yaalpaanam is married to a painter of repute, Vasuki.
The book can be obtained from 30, Old Rest House Road, Madaalakalappu at Rs 75/- per copy. Susiman Nirmalavasan has illustrated the inside pages and the cover. The book is dedicated to Meikandan Saravanamuththu the “pioneer theatre artiste who engaged himself with school children and practiced the art of theatre as an educative and entertainment medium.”
The play is based on Paalukku Paalahan (A Baby for Milk) written by one of the most successful playwrights and producers of Thamil plays, Kulanthai M Shanmugalingam which relates the original story of Antonio Gramsci. Jeyasankar’s play is translated into English by S M Felix.
Jeyasankar has this to say in his introduction: “The play tries to depict the importance of self-consciousness of men about their living environment....the modern knowledge system made by men had constructed that the men as the centre of the universe and failed to recognize even the role of women in history.”
The book consists both the Thamil and English versions. Readers who cannot read Thamil can read the English version. Of importance is that this play is written as a drama script for performance.
For instance the opening scene has this direction :
The story of the play is simple. A mouse has drunk the milk meant for a baby, regrets and goes in search of some milk to be given to the crying child. It first asks the goat but the goat says she is all dried out of milk because of the drought. If the mouse could bring her some green grass then she would be able to give the much needed milk for the baby. So the mouse goes to the field to get some grass.
Here again it’s the same story. The field wants water to wet the grass. What can the mouse do now as the child keeps on crying? Its next move is to run to a pond. But there is absolutely no water in the pond as the frog and the stork that flew over the pond endorse. The pond advises the mouse to bring a mason to build a reservoir or something like that.
The mason is approached fast but he again says he has no cement, stones, timber etc to build a bund. The tired mouse gets irritated because the frog and the stork are making noises. The mouse then runs to the mountains to get some stones.
After a long harangue of retelling what had happened so far in pursuit of milk for the baby, the finale comes when all of them get together planting trees and collecting the material that is needed. In the process they succeed in working together to obtain milk from the goat to feed the baby.
The Thamil version is more explanatory than the English version. The dramatic element is aptly incorporated. The dialogue is written in Yaalpaanam speech patterns. I would have liked if the drama had been written in Maddakaalappu speech particularly when it was staged in that city.
-Sri Lanka Guardian
By K.S. Sivakumaran