With everything going on in the country right now, we all feel downhearted. What if, though, we decide to look on the bright side of things? There are numerous things that we Sri Lankans should be proud of, such as young, talented children whose works of art deserve recognition.

Scribbler talks to one such talent Sayumi Wijesooriya, the 11-year-old author of Treasured Memories.

Treasured Memories

Born and living in Sri Lanka at present, Sayumi had her nursery education in England and is currently schooling at Lyceum International, Gampaha. She was just 10-years-old when her first book, Treasured Memories, was published. It was launched in January at the Colombo City Centre. “It was an awesome experience,” she says with joy as her book was already a hit at her school by the time it came out to the public, “I got really positive feedback.”

If not for COVID and lockdown, we wouldn’t have been able to break the creative block within us, “it was the negative atmosphere during COVID that prompted me to write this book. Due to lockdown, I was at home and had a lot of spare time on my hands, so I started writing this book.”

“I was at the end of grade five when I started this book and completed it by the second term of grade six.” It took Sayumi around half a year to finish the book after she put a lot of effort into time management and handling everything else that could make the book a win, such as the artwork and other details.

“My inspiration is myself,” Sayumi says, when asked who inspired her to write it. “I am an inspiration to myself because I trust myself and I believe in myself in doing anything. I am passionate about myself and I know I can achieve anything if I strive hard enough for it”.

Practice makes perfect

Having taken part in creative writing competitions outside school, Sayumi believes that it’s what sharpened her writing skills. She also had won English and Sinhala Best Speakers’ competitions in and out of school. “I love reading,” she says, “I think reading is good for kids because it widens their creativity and helps them see the world in a different perspective. They can develop their understanding and create a world of their own.”

“I also play piano and sketch in my leisure time. I am not a very sporty person, but I try my best to participate in sports and give it my all,” she shares.

The journey goes on…

In a matter of 10 years, Sayumi hopes to see herself as a successful, best-selling author and screenwriter, “though I’d love to pursue my dream of becoming a famous actress as well.”

She goes on to share about her second book in line, “I am writing my second book as well. It’s called The Diary of a Detective (The Adventures of Malleus Goldwing) which is totally different from my first book. It is about the royal detective King Charles II, who is a singled father of an adopted blind little girl. It revolves around sacrifice, dedication, the difference between right and wrong and the value of one’s family.”

Sayumi extends her gratitude to her parents, mentor Ramith Dheerasekara, and “all my friends and my beloved school,” for helping making the book a success.

A piece of advice

Sayumi talks on how technology addiction, “screen time is good for relaxation and for enjoyment but too much never is good. I think a many children are more or less addicted to smartphones these days. That should never be so. Learn to read books or interact with your friends more often.”

Sayumi’s statement, “When you do something you love, it never feels like a chore” made it obvious that she was passionate about writing this book and that nothing else really mattered to her. When asked what she thinks is necessary for success, she says, “Dreams, passion, dedication, and lots of hard work. If you have all these then success is just a doorway away.”

Through Treasured Memories, Sayumi intends to convey that, it doesn’t matter how dark your situation may seem to be, keep your hopes up, just like how you can still find the silver lining in the dark clouds. “Most importantly never be afraid to dream, because dreams are what this world is made of”.

By Khalidha Naushad