On display (L-R) a Tabla, Hand Rabana, Bummadiya, Thammetama, and Geta Bera
The hands and fingers seemed to work to an inner beat, to a pulse, only the drum-maker himself could hear. As wood was smoothed, leather cords tightened, and cowhide stretched, they would be periodically tested, plucked, tapped, thrummed by the fingers, searching for a quality defined by sound. Ironically, in the gloom of the small stall that doubled as a workshop, there was no music whatsoever; not even a transistor radio. The only sounds were those of the tools, the muted conversation, underlined by the tapping.Nimal Wickramasiri is an artist. And his art is the beat. Nimal is not a musician, but the drums he makes are sought after by musicians all over Sri Lanka. Now middle-aged, Nimal has been making drums all his life. His father, awarded by three Presidents, had done the same, as had his grandfather, and for generations before, now lost in the rhythm of time. Nimal’s son, Kasun, is a skilled drum-maker in his own right. The beat in this family’s blood shows no sign of drying up.