Keerthihan's Kite - Foreword by Michael Meyler
Keerthihan was a small boy from Batticaloa. One day on a visit to Colombo he drew a picture of a kite. Dinali Fernando brought the picture to our Tamil class. We learnt the word pattam and the colours sivappu, manjal, pachchei and neelam. As far as our limited knowledge of Tamil permitted, we talked about Keerthihan and his kite, and the seed was sown for the idea of a trilingual children’s story called Keerthihan’s Kite.
The seed remained dormant until I mentioned the idea to Sandi Titus, an Australian primary school teacher who was living in Colombo and teaching English at the British Council. She is half Sri Lankan, and has a Masters of Education majoring in children’s literature. Sandi offered to write the story, and we asked Thilini Ranasinghe and Niruba Pushparaj to translate it into Sinhala and Tamil. Thilini is a medical student at Sri Jayawardenepura University. Niruba works in media: TV production and presenting, and NGO communications work, as well as Tamil translation and teaching.
The translation process was a team effort. Our idea was that this story should not only be read by children in their first language, but that it could also be a tool for learning a second or third language as well. The four of us worked together to ensure that the Sinhala and Tamil versions remained as close as possible to the simple colloquial language of the English original. As part of this process Niruba and Thilini also made suggestions which were incorporated into the English text.
Keerthihan really came alive when Anura Srinath drew the pictures. Anura is a painter, illustrator and cartoonist; his work can be seen on the website www.anurasrinath.com. Nelun Harasgama, artist and designer, was responsible for the design of the book, together with Prem Kumar on the computer.
For anyone who is not familiar with Sinhala or Tamil script, phonetic transcriptions of the Sinhala and Tamil versions of the story appear at the back of the book. These are written in the Sinfonetic font – a font which I developed myself to write Sinhala and Tamil phonetically.
The book is accompanied by a DVD of the story being read in all three languages, with animated images of the pictures from the book. Thilini Ranasinghe reads the Sinhala version; Niruba Pushparaj reads the Tamil and English versions, and also produced the DVD.
Part of the proceeds from the sale of this book will go towards the production of a low-cost edition which will be given to Sri Lankan children through schools and NGOs.
Sandi and I are indebted to Anura Srinath, Nelun Harasgama, Niruba Pushparaj and Thilini Ranasinghe for the enthusiasm they have shown for this project. We would also like to thank the following people for their help: Rohan Titus, Dinali Fernando, Prem Kumar, Shehan de Silva, and of course Keerthihan from Batticaloa ...