The Cook’s Joy begins with the narrator on a journey which has taken hours. Mister Salgado is the driver. The narrator describes to us the geography of the land through which they are passing. I understand they are passing through a coastal area. The narrator also explains how they occasionally overtake a smoking bus or a lorry, and this shows the high speed they are traveling at. I also noted that the narrator’s voice sounds as if he is tired of the journey.
When they arrive at Mister Salgado’s bungalow, the narrator starts doing what he usually does. His chores are what get me thinking that the narrator is a female. The narrator then describes the bungalow. He also explains his feelings about the sea at strong tide at night. She is afraid of it. Salgado’s tool which according to him, might save them from the sea is a gridded and numbered stick, which he does not believe in, though he had never raised the issue.
Dias is not also convinced that the tool works. During their meal, Dias mentions the tool and it became the topic of discussion during the meal. They talk about how a small sample of information can be used to obtain a lot of meaningful information. Meanwhile, the narrator is working on curry rings, “… scrubbing my heart out…”
Pedalo is a story in which the main characters are two close friends, Damian and Kamal. It begins with Kamal commenting that he is worried about a third friend, Anthony, who is a preacher. At this time, the two are pedaling a pedalo. This is an activity the carried out every evening after work and drove for forty-five minutes. It was Damian’s idea of exercise which he said was crucial if one wanted to live long.
They are concerned about Anthony because of the new anti-conversion law that threatens his freedom of converting people to is faith. It is clear they leave in a country without freedom of expression. They compare their country with London where there is freedom of speech. Damian loves to keep telling Kamal to pedal, and when Kamal asks why he has to drive more, Damian tells him its because he has more fat.
Damian suggests getting a four-seater so Anthony could join them, but this would require a fourth person. Kamal indicates Sumita, who is a lawyer. They would then try to explain to Anthony that he now had to choose his words wisely to avoid jail.
Roadkill.In this story, Gunasekera is talking about the long civil war in his home country, Sri Lanka. He narrates, as Vasantha, a taxi driver. He is driving a rich man and his pregnant wife to the north to inspect a property. They stop at a hotel in Kilinochchi, where the violence has stood. Here they get into a conversation with the hotel manager, and she seems to be of a different view with Vasantha about the war. However, the two seem attracted to each other.
The manager thinks they should bery the aftermath of the war while Vasantha believes that it’s a wrong idea because this way, they would never know what had caused the war. Vasantha also explains how Caolombo feels to be so dark nowadays. He also adds that he could handle a prison-like feeling in the air. He compares their situation with living in the U, S.S.R before perestroika. He even smokes, even though he is not much of a smoker; if the damage is there, better to invite it in.
The next morning, as they have breakfast, Mrs. Arunachalam complain about her husbands snoring although Vasantha understands the situation in their room well. After breakfast, they get ready to continue the journey. Miss Sarawati asks Vasantha to keep bringing his clients to the hotel as they could cater for all of them.
Gunesekera uses an exquisite style of writing. He uses beautiful imagery, vivid descriptions and starks honest about the worlds the characters live in. In Cook’s Joy, he critically describes the environments that the characters are in. In Pedalo, he uses an in-depth conversation between Damian and Kamal to describe the religious difference that exists in their country. Likewise, in Roadkill, he describes the situation in Kilinochchi very critically by telling us what the characters think.
I can’t help to notice also, how Gunesekera tries to form a perfect picture or the real world using his literature. Especially in Pedalo and Roadkill, he describes the situation that exists in Sri Lanka. That of religious differences and war.
Perera, Walter. “Images of Sri Lanka ThroughExpatriate Eyes: Romesh Gunesekera’s Reef.” The Journal of Commonwealth Literature 30.1 (1995): 63-78.