Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Friday, April 13, 2018

“Rock Temple”. - A Short Story by Amanthi Harris- 2012, in Five Degrees

The collages images are of UNESCO World Heritage Cave Temples in Sri Lanka.  The most spectacular is The Dambula Cave Temple, constructed initially about 100 BCE. In addition to being of great historical importance importance they are pilgrim sites.  “Rock Temple” takes place on a visit to a rock temple.  The images hopefully will give us a better feel for the events in the story.  For sure they made want to take my wife on a trip to Sri Lanka.

As “Rock Temple” opens a couple, not married are in Sri Lanka. The woman is Sinhalese,  the man English.  They are visiting her parents.  Her mother is very vocal about her disapproval of their relationship, suggesting her daughter is degrading her values by sleeping with the man before marriage.  She compares her to a white girl.

The couple are on their way to visit a Rock Temple.  This does involve a lot of walking and the woman thinks the man is insisting they go just to annoy her.  She suggests he is unhappy with her for not being as sexually free as western women he has known. He insists he wants to go.

Normally when she goes on an excursion in Sri Lanka, they stay at trendy resorts.  They hire a driver to take them. When they get there it is vey calm and serene not full of people with gadgets.  It is like a trip back to simpler times.

The site is overwhelmingly beautiful.  The Temple is structured in five cave levels.  The first view of the exquisite art work and the array of statues of the Buddha would nearly overwhelm me and I think many others.

As they advance higher in the Temple we learn a priest, friends of the family since the woman was a child has been made to live way up in the Temple as a punishment for some kept hushed up sin.  The priest seems a man of wisdom and kindness.  He can see the love in the couples relationship.  Unlike her mother, he does not judge them.

“Rock Temple” is a very interesting story. I look forward to following Harris’s literary and artistic career for years to come.  This is the third story of Harris upon which I have posted.  I see her as a very talented and perceptive writer.

“I was born in Sri Lanka and  grew up in Colombo. Later I moved to London where I have been ever since, with an escape now and then to Paris and to Sint Truiden in Belgium, to Goa and Cornwall and currently the Sierra Nevada mountains in Spain where I am on sabbatical.

“I studied Chemistry then Law at Bristol University, and far more usefully, Fine Art at Central St Martins. I’ve been a terrible trainee solicitor, a very bored editor of law books and a blissfully contented bookseller, writing and making art along the way. I’ve had short stories published, one of which, Red Sari is taught in schools in Sweden and I have also had stories commissioned for and broadcast on BBC Radio 4 as Afternoon Readings. I won the Gatehouse Press New Fictions Prize 2016 with my novella Lantern Evening which is published by Gatehouse Press.

I have a Fine Art practice using drawing, painting and 3D and am with the V22 artist collective.
I also run StoryHug an Arts Council England funded project using art and stories to inspire creativity and community.” From the author

Mel u

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