Nothing’s ever forgotten, is it?
It was past midnight, and three of us middle-aged women, (yes, I suppose I can definitely call myself one), were working on a translation, Sinhala to English. The word was ‘ranketi’.
My mind scurries back about 25 years in time. Emotions are hard to keep down when it’s past midnight, so I blabber it out. I don’t quite intend to be heard by anyone.
“The word reminds me of a story I heard as a kid. It was in this audio cassette called Kathandara and there was one story in it about a mother bird that mistakenly kills her little one, and then she sings this unforgettable song..”
Mee pup ladimi – daru noladimi
Ranketi putha ko ko
Nadya jumps. “Gosh, I was thinking of the same thing.”
So there. One word. One memory. One emotion. I have only known her for a few months.
“I have never met anyone who knew this cassette” says Nadya.
I don’t recall knowing anyone who grew up listening to it either. The audio tape is called ‘Kathandara by Upali Attanayaka’. If you have kids, I highly recommend it.
We recall the tales told in it, and the emotions associated with it. Suddenly there’s a bridge between us.
Common memory. Shared experience. Kindred spirit.
I need to find a better word than ‘nostalgic’ to describe the feeling.
The next day, in between translations, we waste a lot of time youtubing ‘Dosthara Hondahitha’, a cartoon we grew up on.
Muhuda mage goda bimai – Newa mage niwasata samai
Siyalu sathun mage thami – Dosthara honda hitha mamai
The next day, we find out that Titus Thotawatta has passed away; the man who brought us, Dosthara Hondahitha, Pissu Poosa, Haa Haa Hari Haawa, Surangana Katha Karaliya, Situwara Monte Cristo, Manuthapaya,Oshin, Rasara and forever true to the very words Nothing’s forgotten; Nothing’s ever forgotten’ the greatest ever, Robin of Sherwood.
Ruwa recalls the moment when Robin of Loxley shoots his final arrow. For a fantasy moment, in which she relives that memory, she actually draws the arrow in space. We all know that drawing. We have all drawn that arrow as kids. We’ve all played Robin Hood. We’ve all worshipped Michael Praed and Jason Connery.
Those were the days before reality TV swamped the channels; with people-dying-to-become-idols made themselves idiots in front of the camera, and the viewers actually called that entertainment.
Of course, I didn’t quite know words like cinematography, or scriptwriting or casting. But Sherwood is still evergreen in my memory. I still recall the mist rolling over the river bank, the light seeping through the branches, the curly beauty of Marion’s hair. (Judy Trott, ah, she’s the best Marion ever!) And the haunting sound tracks of Clanned. The unforgettable words…
Now is here, Here is now…
(Hey, that’s what I try to live by now!)
Robin: “I’ve lost my aim!”
Herne: “Then aim again.”
Robin: “To what purpose? To what end?”
Herne: “There is no end and no beginning. It is enough to aim.”
Isn’t that mindblowing?
And decades later, I still want to know the words. I would still take time to search, so those celtic whisperings become real words.
Is it the best TV series ever, or am I just nostalgic?
I really want to know. So I google and youtube. (The few things of worth the world introduced after I grew up!)
It’s the same the world over. The HTV series Robin of Sherwood, 1984-1986, was what the kids in the 1980s grew up on. And all of them think it’s the greatest ever. It actually is one of the best takes ever on the legends of Robin. Mysteriously, that work of art set the standards for a generation. The Music by Clanned, the irreplacability Marion… ( Googling, I found out that Lady Marion, actually ended up marrying the camera operator of the series Gary Spratling, in case you, like me, are glad to know.) And it was also one of the few TV series that actually did away with it’s lead and successfully replaced it. Even when most girls in my class loved Praed as Robin, I loved Jason Connery in the role. It was absolute magic.
Every once in a while, great people come together and make great art. And it is remembered forever. Robin Hood is superbly written, superbly casted, superbly directed and acted, superbly cinematographed, superbly laced with the most haunting music ever, that nothing about it is forgotten.
And other great people dub them, subtitle them and take them to different audiences across the boerlines. People like Richard Carpenter, writer of Robin of Sherwood, Titus Totawatta, our Ti Mama and Upali Attanayaka of the ‘Kathandara cassette eka’ are people whose work is never forgotten. Because their art transcend barriers. They bring people together.
They have made us who we are, not by the virtue of memories, but by what they have contributed to our personalities. In the end, we are, what we remember to be. In sociological terms (ahem…cough…cough…) this is our cultural history. Our memory is the books we grew up reading, the cartoons we grew up watching, the songs, the films, the TV series we got hooked onto. If you are upto it, read Umberto Eco’s ‘The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana’. He definitely says it better than I do.
These words and images are the poetry and the mystery of our lives. And thirty years later, or more, they make us recognize another human being, as kindred.
This is my tribute to Titus Totawatta.
Nothing you did is forgotten.