In Sirisampige, the tragedy occurs at two levels. In the story of the Prince, one part of the self, possessed by a vision of ideal and perfect beauty, rejects all approximation real life can offer. In true monkhood, a destiny to which the Prince was very close, a similar obsession occupies the mind wholly and compels renunciation of everyday life, but if the Prince fell into the alternative fate of delusion and death, it was because of self-love. His own reflection in a pool became, for him, the image of the perfect beauty he had been seeking. According to the account of Jawali, the witness, “Until the play of the water was finished he remained still, and then again he looked at himself in the water. His reflection came up there like a floating corpse. The moment he saw it his face shone. Tears of happiness came to his eyes. In his ecstasy, no word came from his mouth. As if silently talking with that corpse, he sat there, still. “As the Prince himself says, “What come floating in the water…. Was not even my reflection …. It was may corpse. And that was what I held daily on my lap and ate of.” At one level, what Kambar shows is that self-love is as lifeless as a corpse and all it can give is its own sterility and not the fulfillment of mature relationship; at another, he would like us to believe that every person has these two traits in him – self-love, and capacity to relate himself meaningfully to others – and that while an excess of the first has tragic consequences, it is actually a case of lack of harmony which should be viewed compassionately. Like the twins Awali and Jawali, the Prince and Kalinga are one person and death occurs because they fail to look into each other’s eyes, to recognize their oneness and reconcile their separatenesses. It is the Prince’s failing that he allows self-love to be the dominant element in his psyche, but Kalinga is all libido and it is impossible to prefer him to the Prince. In the ideal personality, there is a balanced blending of different psychic urges; this, to my mind, is the play’s basic theme and import.
Sirisampige is a tragedy, not only because the Prince and the double die, but because Siri Sampige lives. She was the only one capable of giving and receiving love. The world around her, unfortunately, abounds with freaks who are incapable for rising to her moral level but who have power enough to defraud her of all meaning in life and inflict on her a future of loneliness and calumny.
Whatever we have understood is sufficient to convince us that, in Kambar, we have a superb artist of fusion. He fuses deep pain with banter, wit with purpose, modern insight into the mind and into social reality with archetypal symbols, idiom of the past with idiom of the present, high poetry with bawdy speech. How many writers of comparable achievement do we have? Not many, I am sure.