Asmita by Senaka Abeyratne

“There is a hint of sadness in my eyes. It never goes away. Happiness is something that has always eluded me”. 

Told through the eyes of a Sri Lankan call girl, Asmita offers its reader a glimpse into a darker side of the city that is not normally exposed. Every part of this novel is tinged with melancholy, as it takes us through the life of 23-year-old Asmita, what led to her choice of career and the cruel reality she eventually has to face. 

Nods to Sri Lankan Culture, such as belief in past lives, make this novel truly Lankan. Written in simple, descriptive language, it creates the perfect setting to be able to picture the life of a high-class sex worker in Colombo. Cracks in an idyllic world filled with comfort and riches unearth deeper roots into the sadness that seems to follow Amita everywhere, with the shocking twist from the past snatching away her only chance at happiness. 

The story is kept a little too short and brief with an ending that is a touch too abrupt for a plot that has much depth. It would have been interesting to gain more insight into the other characters of the novel. The sudden conclusion of the novel after Asmita faces unexplainable trauma feels more like a stepping stone to a greater story. 

Asmita’s narration is peppered with descriptions of her life and amusing recollections of past clients, which keeps the story engaging and light to read. The cloud of sadness hovers small at the beginning of the novel and gradually looms larger, rapidly spiralling towards a dark disturbing climax. 

Asmita is filled with a myriad of emotions, from sadness to humour and from blissful happiness to terror. A great read if you want something different yet easy to read.

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Author: Anuki Seneviratne
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