Grateful Sri Lankan writes Bermuda history book
A history book about Bermuda sits on the shelves of libraries in some Sri Lankan schools.
Its author, Nirosha Fernando, believes it is the first account of the island written in Sinhala, his native language.
Called Bermuda, he wrote it to express his gratitude for all that he has received in the 15 years he has lived here.
“And the other reason is, in my country a lot of people do not know about Bermuda. They have only heard about the myth of the Bermuda Triangle; there may be some people who know about Bermuda shorts.”
His hope was to share with them just how “beautiful” Bermuda is, all round.
“I want to tell them there are nice people living here, they have a culture, they have traditions and they have a social life. And there is nothing to be scared about the Bermuda Triangle.”
Writing has been a pastime since school days. Mr Fernando entered and “won some competitions” but was always more interested in poetry than prose.
Since he moved to Bermuda from Ja-Ela, a suburb of Colombo, he took to writing poems on Facebook “because I am far away from my home and my language”.
He learnt of the island through a friend who had come here to work.
“When he came home for vacation I asked more about Bermuda. So that is how I heard about it the first time and then I started searching for Bermuda. I was Googling and, in those days information wasn’t as much available as it is nowadays. All I could see was the white roofs in Bermuda, the nice beaches. I was curious to know more.”
He is extremely grateful to Tredick Gorham, the president of Supermart Ltd, for giving him the opportunity to work at the company’s Front Street grocery.
“[He] gave me the golden opportunity of working and living a stress-free life in Bermuda. I owe him much for making me a part of this beautiful island of Bermuda.”
Mr Fernando was peppered with questions by whomever he shared pictures of Bermuda with on his journeys home.
He took it all on board when writing his book.
“They wanted to know what is it like? How are the people? What do they drink? Those kinds of questions. So I tried to answer their questions directly.
“They had heard about the Bermuda Triangle and they believed that there's such a place that exists and they're too scared to fly to Bermuda. They’re wondering what happened to the ships. My book argues that there's no such thing.”
He started writing Bermuda in 2017 and finished it last year.
“It was a long process,” he said. “It’s a long time for a small book but my first priority is my job. Otherwise, if I had enough time I would have finished it in maybe six months. But the writing process was also not easy. I wrote and then I sent it back to Sri Lanka to convert it into the Sri Lankan language. So it took a few months for that also.”
The book has attracted interest from some of the 100-odd Sri Lankan residents here but Mr Fernando wrote it mainly for the people living in his country. It includes information on how Bermuda was formed, its weather, slavery and the contributions made by Africans and, of course, the Bermuda Triangle.
“There’s information about language, religion, population density, the economy back in the day and today and our culture in Bermuda - especially Cup Match, the Gombeys, Easter and kites and how the cricket team qualified to play in the World Cup [in 2007] and played in the same group that Sri Lanka was in,” he said.
Birds, the Crystal Caves and cedar trees also rate mentions.
“Those are the main things in the book so whoever it is who reads the book has a clear picture. It's not a big picture, but they have a clear picture about Bermuda.
“First I thought that this would be a book for schoolchildren but now I see a lot of other people - elderly people, people [with an] academic background… they all want to know about this book. And they keep buying the book.”
Mr Fernando submitted the book to Sri Lanka’s Department of Education, which approved it for school libraries.
“The feedback is very nice,” he said.
Apart from that the book fits in with Sri Lanka’s “travel culture”.
“We have very rich people who would take the opportunity to travel to New York, to America - some people have come to Bermuda. Also, if somebody is interested in other countries in the world this book gives them a lot of information about Bermuda. There is a lot of misinformation about Bermuda and there are a lot of things in Bermuda that we never experience back home.
“It’s like a handbook for somebody who wants to visit.”
His next project is a collection of about 40 of his poems that he hopes to publish this summer.
“I’m working on it right now. After that, I don’t know.”
To purchase a copy of Bermuda message Nirosha Fernando on Facebook. The book is also available at graphicarebooks.com