Chitha Laxmi Singhe Arachchi, The Untold


This is a translation of the original note written by Sayumdi Randara based on a note written by Prof. Sarath Wijesuriya. We have edited and omitted certain parts of the note in order to summarize the post and avoid certain comments.  The main reason behind writing this to acknowledge the world about one of the greatest writers in Sri Lanka who was not given due recognition. Though late, may this post be a token of gratitude to the service she has rendered to the field of Sri Lankan literature.

Chitha Laxmi Singhe Arachchi is a writer who rendered a paramount service to the field of Sinhala Literature. Though lived far behind the curtains of fame- obscured, she translated and gifted a number of universally rich written pieces of literature into Sinhala language. She left the arena without making any flutter in the field of media.

She translated some great writings written in Wanga, Urdu and Hindi. Though translating from English to Sinhala is common and frequent, it is a rare thing to translate books from such languages in Sri Lanka. Therefore, she can be introduced as a unique personality in Sri Lankan field of literature.

She is a teacher of Maths in profession working in a small rural school while leading a simple life not chasing after any fame nor glory. She is said to be appeared on T.V. or radio only once. She learnt languages like Hindi, Wanga and Urdu only by herself, tried several times to brush up her knowledge in India, failed mainly because no officials recognized her true potentiality and not giving her any support. As revealed, she spent her pension to go to India to learn about those languages further.

Her first translation was Apu’s trialogy written by Vibhuthi Bhooshana Chandopadyaya. (‘Mawathe Geethaya’, ‘Aparajitya Jeewithayak’ and ‘Apu ge Lokaya.’) However, it took around ten tedious years for her to produce the translations into black and white courtesy to the bitter obstacles laid upon her way. Had those restrictions not been made, she could have rendered more valuable works to the field of Sri Lankan literature.

Chintha Laxmi’s second attempt was translating the novel ‘Sri Kantha’ by one of the greatest figure in Wanga literature, Sharathchandra Chattopadyaya. It was translated in two volumes as ‘Sri Kantha’ and ‘Sri Kantha Ha Raja Laxmi.’ The first part itself got the National award for literature. She always urged to translate a rich book rather than a famous one. Her Urdu translation ‘Isiwaraya’ is a great example for her efficiency as a translator. One of the milestones of her literary career was translation of ‘Aranyak’ by Vibhuthi Bhushana Kandopadyaya as ‘Aranakata Pem Banda’ which could amaze the Sri Lankan readership immensely.

This greatest writer’s life came to an untimely end when she reached the best maturity as a translator. She became ill when she started translating the novel ‘Ghora’ by Ravindranath Thakur. It was a depth analysis of human lives which could enlighten a country battered by a long term war. After returning from the hospital after a surgery, she completed the novel. Her audience swelled further after those two masterful productions. She again fell ill while translating ‘Godhana’ by Prem Chand. Though she completed translating the novel, she was not lucky enough to see the printed version of it.

Twenty years out of her fifty-three years of life were dedicated for translating career. However, ten years were wasted or rather stolen, or else, the Sri Lankan readers could have been fortunate to read novels written by Wanga, Urdu and Hindi languages which any reader can never experience even in English language. As a nation our country could not have that blessing.

Chintha Laxmi dedicated a fresh and wonderful literature for Sinhala readers. All her books enlighten the reader about the depth of human relationships-just like a religion. She highlighted issues like relationship between man and woman, love towards own fleshed children, the plight of women in male dominant society and virtue of spiritual love. She taught us the valuable lesson of loving human beings and the greatness of it. As an artist she rendered her responsibility to the society.

Though many responsible authorities failed to give her due recognition, she had been able to touch the hearts of many readers of Sinhala literature. Though she left the world, she has left unmatched collection of human experiences which most translators could not even touch their feet of. We should be grateful for Mr. Sarath Wjesuriy and his Wijesuriya publications for supporting her career and providing quality series of books for the readers to read.

As a lover of Chintha Laxmi’s books, I dedicate this attempt as a token of gratitude to her and her great service. The tears fallen out of my eyes after reading the sad experiences of human life, still pour through the eyes of my heart. No book nor any language could ever touch the sensitive faculties of my heart other than Chintha Laxmi’s books, specially the trilogy of Apu.

If you are a reader of Sinhala book, no doubt, her books should be in your reading list. Share the post to spread her name around the globe though it is too late. Leave a thoughtful comment about your experiences about her books.



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