'Tales of Fish and People of the Ceylon Estuary', June 2014
I dedicate this post to my father, J.A.R. Grenier, and wish him a Happy Father's Day!
My father, John Alfred Ronald Grenier, or 'Ronnie', as his family and friends called him, was born on 19 November 1912, in Kegalle (about 50 miles east of Colombo), and was raised and grew up in Ceylon, now Sri Lanka. He was a gentle man with an outlook on life heavily influenced by the philosophies of the East that left him with a keen sense of humour, and an unsophisticated and easy-going outlook towards life and its various complexities. He was an avid line fisherman, or “Angler” to use his term, and loved the ocean, its fish, and especially the fishing folk of Ceylon.
He also had a talent for story telling and spent a great deal of his time writing about these two loves. A number of his short stories and articles on fishing were published in the 'Ceylon Sunday Observer'. He also had two books published in Ceylon, the first in the mid-fifties, and the second in the early sixties. Due to his own couldn't-care-less attitude about money and, I am told, an unscrupulous publisher, my father received no compensation whatsoever for his two published books, 'Tales of Fish and People of the Ceylon Estuaries' (a ‘how-to catch fish’ and several short stories), 1954, and 'Isle of Eden' (21 short stories), 1961 - the original book covers are shown below. My father ended his life by drowning, under tragic circumstances, on 29 July 1988. He was 75 years old.
In 1997, in order to honor my father and give him the recognition he so richly deserves as a writer, I decided to embark upon a project to republish his book of short stories, 'Isle of Eden', by painstakingly scanning each of the 116 pages of the original book, from the only copy that I am aware that still exists today. After several futile attempts to find a publisher of my liking that would do the book justice, as well as being sidetracked by life’s demands and limitations on my time having to hold down a full-time job, I gave up the search but not the dream or the original intent. Fast-forward to March 2014, I found myself on a journey back to the ‘home of my birth’, Sri Lanka, a full fifty-five long over-due years after the departure from the country that was then known as Ceylon.
I am still processing the many facets of my journey back to Sri Lanka. It has had a profound effect on me and brought back memories of my beginnings, and reminded me of where it all began. It has also rekindled my original goal of honoring my father, and I have now begun the process again of looking for a publisher. This time I am searching for someone to work with and publish the book in Sri Lanka. I am pleased to say that I am encouraged by my initial efforts and have my fingers crossed that this time I can actually accomplish my original goal - honor my father and have his book made available to readers in Sri Lanka, Australia and eventually in the USA.
On this Father's Day 2014, I would like thank my father for his insight and his efforts to capture the spirit of the people of Sri Lanka, that are the essence of the stories of his books. My father was a very special man and had a significant influence in my life, for which I am eternally grateful. I am certain his love for the people of Sri Lanka has somehow influenced me and I think it shows in my recent portraits of people during my visit, two examples shown below. My only single regret is that I did not have the opportunity to get to know him more closely, unfortunately, because our time together was prematurely cut short.
Dad, wherever you are, I wish you well and hope you have found peace of mind - I will always love you and thank you for all you did!
Happy Father's Day, Dad!