My life that is not entirely mine
Ajith Perakum Jayasinghe with Praja Team (Read in Sinhala)
This is the first of a series of writings on our life. We all like alike to peep into others lives through wicket gates. I like to watch the inside views of houses on roadsides during my evening bus rides. We cannot see the house interiors during the daytime due to light contrast. In the darkness outside, the illuminate open houses expose the family lives to curious people who sit near tall windows of buses. I am not particularly eager to put curtains to cover the doors and windows of my house, but my wife insists on them.
According to my rough estimate, as a professional writer, I wrote over 500,000 words in 2021 in Sinhala and English languages as content creations, translations and blogs etc. Writing is no more penning for me. I think I write only one letter by hand to be sent to a child’s school. All the other letters were typeset. Handwriting is now an artistic thing to me.
Man evolved to a typesetter because he, or she, freed hands from walking. When I touched a computer keyboard first, my age was more than four decades. I first freed my eyes from the keyboard. I learnt touch typing and soon became a fast setter of Sinhala Unicode, Sinhala non-Unicode and English type, switching between them without confusion. I type Sinhala using Wijesekara keyboard directly. These things are essential for a professional writer to survive now.
When I was starting as a translator, I wanted to build expertise both in Sinhala and English languages to do it both ways. I am a man who was born in a remote village. I still live there. Having studied in a village school up to Advanced Level, today I am the partner and Chief Editor of a small company that provides translations even to international organizations. All these were possible because of skills I self-developed gradually. I self-learnt coding too but could not keep pace with the trend because I did not want to hold all the oranges, as Sinhalese idiom says.
Last year, I learnt mainly from the original text given to me either to edit or translate. The majority of such documents were related to economics, advocacy, media, sexuality education, gender and development. Due to the heavy workload, I had less time to read books. Still, I prefer reading to watching videos or listening to podcasts. Reading is a speedy way of gaining knowledge. However, I mostly read Facebook last year. One of the principal aims of this note is to thank my friends who shared terrific things with me. I have tried to comment and appreciate whenever I read something important. A Facebook Like is like a smile. We can do it with less effort, but our ego does not let us to show that we had read and learnt from some people.
I post normal photos on social media that we have tried to capture artistically. They are less edited and therefore, they preserve our natural ugliness. Social media have provided us space and facilities to imagine our own life and present it to the world. However, we are not genuine if we do not try to make that imagination true. We try to tell the truth in our life in our posts.
Meanwhile, I write certain things on life, art and politics etc. Some of our friends never ‘like’ them. However, I feel they read my posts, and I continue writing. Those who comment encourage me. Never mind, I write for personal satisfaction. I visit Facebook often to release stress while working.
I am jubilant because I could write a few poems by the end of the year. I spent a lot of my time last year building a new house, for family and job. I had a decent income as a professional writer. However, all these things grabbed much of the time I wanted to invest to achieve my ambition of becoming a creative writer or a storyteller. I have some stories to tell, and this year, I will try my best to write them.
I have now spent six years after fifty. This is high time to think to share the knowledge if we have gained anything valuable from our lives with society. Therefore, we plan to start a small non-profit educational academy this year. We hope to establish it in my old house. We are trying to provide facilities to ten persons like me in the past to come and learn some skills. They can be men, women or children of any walk of life who belong to any community. They may have fewer opportunities in life due to various reasons like poverty. About ten persons will have the facilities to stay, cook their food, enjoy and learn some brief courses such as English language, communication, entrepreneurship, advocacy and design thinking.
Although an ‘I’ write this about ’Me’ we are a small team. Praja team tries to look at the social responsibility from an entrepreneur perspective.
Dawn of a new year is a time to look back and renew future hopes. Praja.lk is the space we discuss life. Meet us there. We are primarily old school writing people. Build your reading skills. It is fast learning.
(The guy in the photo is my friend from childhood, Rajendra Wijesinghe, my business partner and the bossy-not-boss.)