Eight-year-old Dhiren Fernando, from British School in Colombo, has written his debut book. “I didn’t know that I was actually going to write the book till two or three months ago. It’s a book of poetry,” he says.

Titled, Of Dragons, Nightingales and Other Tales, it was launched on June 30 at the Kularatne Hall of Ananda College, Colombo. The chief guest Malinda Seneviratne said that he wishes Dhiren nothing but an extended childhood.

He also commented on the importance of bilingualism. “Sinhala is a far richer language but the reason we learn English is different. In our rise as a Nation with self-respect and dignity, English is used as an instrument of suppression. It makes sense to acquire that skill not for anything, but to show our element and to fight.”

coverWith the aid of sponsors, the book has collected about 1.3 million rupees in funds. “All the money will be sent to the Language Improvement Centre at Ananada College, so that they can teach junior school English. I feel it’s a better cause to donate the money to them as we don’t really need it. It’s good to be able to help children learn English. I love reading in English and I feel that I should share it with others,”
says Dhiren.

Talking about the response of his immediates, he says, “My friends have told me that I am their only friend who has written a book. My parents Lakmal and Buddhika Fernando, and my teachers are really encouraging about the fact.

He learned how to write poetry in Year Three. “I wrote my first poem when I was in Year Two, but it was not really appreciated. So far, I have managed to write about 60 poems,” he says. His first poem was written as homework in Year Three. Named as Pluto’s Pockets, it speaks of Pluto, the Roman god of death and wealth. “My poems vary a lot. Some of my poems are sagas, and they are very long,” he says.

His topics for poetry vary from emotions such as jealousy, love, anger and sadness to what he sees and what reads. Swan Song is one of his many creations. “It was inspired when I was in Iceland. My mother says it’s like a masterpiece before
someone dies.”

Talking about his poem on oak tree, he says that first he wanted to write about a pine tree. “I realized it’s a little hard to write about a pine tree. There is nothing rather poetic about a pine tree. So, I changed it to an oak tree.” The book that inspired him to write most number of poems is the Inheritance Cycle series by Christopher Paolini. “I find inspirations from his lurid descriptions, he says. I sort of use Paolini’s style. I make up names for towns and names.”

His gift is not just for poetry. “For the first time in history, I got a under 11 plus piano scholarship for Guildhall School of Music and Drama. I hope to be a musician, a poet or an author or perhaps all three rolled into one,” he shares.

He is exceptional in many ways. “I watch movies that are not cartoons and anything that’s PG 12 onwards. I don’t mind things like Fast and Furious and James Bond that’s normal PG.

I am depressed at the fact that Mission Impossible series stopped in 1982.”  His favourite books include Martian by Andy Weir, Alex Rider Series and Harry Potter series. “I won’t
recommend Martian to anyone under the age of 12, as it has bad language in it,”he opined.