Chiranthi Rajapakse is a Sri Lankan writer. She grew up in Kandy and now lives in Colombo. She studied law and has worked as a journalist, communications officer, and researcher. She first qualified as a dentist, but realized that she didn’t want to pursue a career in it, worked with a human rights NGO and then studied law. She currently works as a project coordinator in the development sector. She currently shares a house with two dogs and one demanding cat and finds it impossible to answer questions like ‘Where do you see yourself in five years time’.
Chiranthi is the author of one short story collection Names and Numbers which was shortlisted for the 2017 Gratiaen Prize. Her writing has also been published in New Ceylon Writing and City, a quarterly journal of South Asian literature. Her miscellaneous writings can be found at https://chiranthi.medium.com/
Q: What is the first book you remember reading or having read to you as a child?
A: I don’t remember being read to, it wasn’t something that we really did in our family. What I do remember is trying to make sense of a comic with pictures of a small man in brown trousers and yellow shirt jumping from brick to brick in a flood. My grandfather had a collection of old Tintin comics and when I visited I’d trying to make sense of the stories from the pictures. This was before I could read properly, and since I couldn’t understand the story I tried to fill in the gaps. Maybe that’s what started the writing itch.
Q: Do you have a lucky writing talisman? If so, what is it?
A: Not as such. But Tess my dog likes to sit under my table when I work, the feel of warm fur against my feet is a great comfort and a reminder that there is a world outside the writing.
Q: Is there a book that you keep going back to, and if so, how many times have you read it?
A: It’s hard to name one book in particular. But in difficult times I tend to reread my Terry Pratchett collection. I love the books for the way it takes you away from reality and keeps you in it at the same time.
Q: What is the least interesting part of writing for you?
A: I find working out the plot the most difficult. Even though I keep trying I can’t seem to get the plot down beforehand. Once I start writing, if I keep going long enough, usually a story forms itself.
The room was a small box full of colour. As they entered, Mohamed was standing behind the counter cutting cloth. Lalani liked the way he cut without cutting, holding the scissor, and running the cloth against it, so that the pieces of silk fell smoothly to either side. ‘Sari jacket?’ Lalani shook her head. Hasitha …