“Tabula Asiae” by Michael Ondaatje

“Tabula Asiae” by Michael Ondaatje is an essay concerning the influence of colonization on Sri Lanka. The author describes the changes Sri Lanka has seen during the periods through which it was ruled by different European states which eventually left traces of their cultures and languages.  

1) The essay is written in two forms, namely descriptive and reflective. It is descriptive because it creates imagery in the reader’s mind while evoking emotions. Secondly, this is a reflective essay because Michael Ondaatje utilizes his historical knowledge about Sri Lanka and examines it. Ondaatje’s intended audience contains mostly people that are not from Sri Lanka.

2) The purpose of this paper is to inform emigrants who have left Sri Lanka for a long time and are disconnected from their colourful history. He achieves this by explaining the illustrations seen on maps from different times in Sri Lankan history. The second purpose of this paper is to enforce the hardships faced by the Sinhalese people in Sri Lanka and also the integration of foreigners who came to Sri Lanka for sole purpose of ruling it but later on came to settle there permanently.

3) The essay is organized in four paragraphs. The first paragraph describes all maps hanging on the wall, while the second paragraph describes the hardships faced by the Sinhalese during the British rule in which they worked like slaves. The third paragraph illustrates the changes in Sri Lanka’s name as it was invaded by various European countries. In the last paragraph the author describes the integration of foreigners with Sri Lankan people. Michael Ondaatje uses a wide variety of transitional phrases such as “In order to” (line 25) and “Consequently” (Line 35).   Transitions aid in continuing the flow of ideas from one paragraph or sentence to the other. It also help the reader to recognize the connection between ideas and helps in following the progress of the argument. Moreover, lots of personal opinions and facts...