Fluke by Romesh Gunesekera
In Fluke by Romesh Gunesekera we have the theme of trust, privacy, conflict, independence and prosperity. Narrated in the first person by a man called Vasabtha the reader realises after reading the story that Gunesekera may be exploring the theme of conflict. Throughout Mr Weerakoon’s journey to the conference centre and when he is in the conference centre there is a sense that he is in conflict with himself. It is as though he is continually playing catch-up. Something which may be normal in light of the fact that he has to give a marketing presentation. However one would expect an individual who is to make a marketing presentation to be confident and Mr Weerakoon definitely lacks any sense of confidence till the conference speech itself begins. What is also interesting about the speech given by Mr Weerakoon is the fact that Vasabtha discovers that he is learning very little form Mr Weerakoon. This may be important as Gunesekera may be suggesting that Mr Weerakoon is in reality attempting to sell others something that they do not necessarily need. However the important point is that the same people do not appear to realise this. If anything there is a sense of naivety when it comes to Mr Weerakoon’s actions. Losing his phone being an example.
As to why Vasabtha would go through Mr Weerakoon’s phone is also difficult to say. There is no doubt that he is invading Mr Weerakoon’s privacy. Though he may be looking to advance his own business and as such Vasabtha sees nothing wrong with doing a little marketing of his own. It may not be on the same scale as Mr Weerakoon’s marketing. However the results could be just as fruitful with Vasabtha getting new customers. It is also interesting that Vasabtha is able to engage in conversation with some of the people at the marketing course. The retired navy man Lucky being an example. It is possible that Lucky is a military representative and with the Sri Lankan Civil War over there is not as much need for a naval fleet for military purposes. His idea to see whales is an interesting idea as it suggests that the military knows that they must adapt to their new circumstances. Though it might also be important to remember that the only real independent person who is non reliant on marketing advice at the conference is Vasabtha. He may be a small entrepreneur but he does sufficiently well to survive. All others at the conference appear to be trying to learn how to attract customers. Something that Vasabtha does not need to do. Though with the help of Mr Weerakoon’s phone does manage to do.
It would also appear that Gunesekera is suggesting that out of conflict comes peace. Apart from Mr Weerakoon losing his phone and being apprehensive about the equipment in the conference hall. Everything appears to run smoothly. Metaphorically Gunesekera could be suggesting that after the Sri Lankan Civil war things did eventually get back to normal and allow others the chance to prosper. Hence the marketing conference. Something that may not have been possible during the war. If anything apart from Lucky who is trying to market whale sightseeing trips. There is very little if any military presence in the story. Which may suggest that times have and are calmer for Sri Lanka. During the civil war there would have been very little need or necessity for marketing conferences and there would have been very few if any visitors from outside Sri Lanka (Chinese women). It is for this reason that Mr Weerakoon can view the marketing conference to be a success. Some seats might be empty but he has an attentive audience.
The end of the story is also interesting as Vasabtha feels confident that he can offer Mr Weerakoon advice on marketing. Simply from some facts that he has learnt that afternoon. This may be important as the reader is already aware that Vasabtha has gone through Mr Weerakoon’s phone and may feel like suggesting to him that a secure pin number on his phone may be appropriate. However this may be a foolish thing for Vasabtha to do as it would result in Mr Weerakoon being aware that Vasabtha has gone through his phone and as such can’t be trusted. It is as though Vasabtha is oozing in confidence and as such wants to relay some of his wisdom to Mr Weerakoon. However by doing so Vasabtha is only affecting his own business and may not be marketing himself in the proper manner. If anything it is better for Vasabtha to keep what he has learnt to himself and use it to his own advantage. In that way he is not burning the bridge that exists between Mr Weerakoon and himself. A bridge that Vasabtha can easily build on if he is careful with his words.