Matters of the heart

Ryle Moldrich with his novel Shanthy. 199167_04 Picture: GARY SISSONS

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

After major cardiac arrest, a long-time Dandenong TV and radio presenter has penned a debut novel on ‘matters of the heart’.

Like the famous Romeo and Juliet play, Ryle Moldrich’s novel Shanthy tells the tale of forbidden love set during the recent 30-year Sri Lankan civil war. In this case, love strikes a Sinhalese woman Shanthy and a burgher male Lobo.

Marriage between burghers, who hail from traders of the Dutch East India Company, and Sinhalese people was a social taboo in Sri Lanka, Mr Moldrich says.

But fatefully, Lobo was bowled over by Shanthy at a cricket match. The lovers’ families were not pleased, with Lobo banished to the UK and Shanthy paired off in an arranged marriage.

Twenty years later, they reunite.

The story is loosely based on a Sinhalese friend who fell in love with a female burgher.

“Her brother beat the daylights out of this guy.

“He went to Canada and was pretty high up in the police.

“I wondered if it would nice for him to arrest this girl’s brother one day.”

In this case, his friend didn’t couple with his true love. He died two years ago.

The book title was sparked from an unlikely place – when Mr Moldrich had a heart attack and was admitted for major surgery in 2012.

“It was during that time that one of the hospital staff members said I looked at peace. And I was thinking ‘More like pieces’.”

The conversation stuck with him as he was “bored out of my brain” in post-op recovery. Shanthi is a Sanskrit word for peace – and it became the name of the title character for his novel.

At that point, Mr Moldrich retired from real estate work and wrote his book.

It’s the latest in Mr Moldrich’s varied communicative pursuits.

In the 1984 Federal Election, he stood as a Liberal candidate for the seat of Holt. He was nominated for Australian of the Year in 2008.

He hosts a segment on Casey Radio 97.7FM on Wednesday nights, and has been a Bail Justice since 1990.

He also presents a show Chat With Ryle on the Melbourne-based Sri Lankan internet station Vishvavahin TV every Tuesday.

His guests included radio commentators Neil Mitchell, Derryn Hinch and Philip Brady, as well as talkback callers.

“I’ll chat about anything to anyone. My only request is they don’t swear.

“Everyone has a story to tell.”

Shanthy is published by the Flying Pony Press. It’s available at Colombo Impex, 3 Clow Street, Dandenong.


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