I had decided not to visit Deyata Kirula exhibition though it was held in my area (Oyamaduwa, Mahawilachchiya) not because that I am against it but simply because I don’t like to mingle with large crowds. But when my wife said that my 3-year-old son, Abilash is interested in seeing it, especially because of the train and the airplanes he saw on TV at Deyata Kirula, I decided to take him there.
I saw Abhilash after a month! At first he snubbed me but in few minutes after I carried him in my hands, he again became friendly as ever. The exhibition was held in a 400-acre extensive land. Carrying Abhi all over the place was very difficult since he is growing up fast and heavier than he used to be. But he wouldn’t go to anyone else. (We were with Abhi’s mum, grandma, aunts and little cousin brother too.) Abhi insisted that ONLY I carry him. I felt proud but it took its toll on my body as we had to walk from 10 am to 7pm carrying him. Abhi can walk and run when he pleases but that day was one of those days he refused to move an inch on foot.
First we went to see how oil is drilled but it didn’t impress Abhi much. He spotted the airplane at Civil Aviation Authority exhibition premises and insisted he would see that. Since the queue to get into the plane was too long, we thought of being content with by only looking at it and touching it. We went inside the exhibition stall and Abhi could sit on an airplane seat inside the hall. I promised him I would take him on a real airplane some day. He enjoyed this exhibition stall a lot as he could see airplane engines, fans, etc.
Our next stop was at an aquatic resource related exhibition stall. Abhi loves fish. (He loves to eat fish too. When he misses it at his meals he complains to his mother, “Achchi (grandma) didn’t give me fish today.” He enjoyed pictures of fish here but there weren’t real ones. (But later we came to know that there were real fish in another stall but we missed it.) There was a huge fish-shaped construction that one could enter inside the body of it but we didn’t go inside since the queue was too long.
Abhi loves ice-cream. He ate a full ice-lolly at the age of 6 months! Just after he started foods other than breast milk. Whenever he sees an ice-cream van he says, “Appachchi (dad), there is ice-cream.” He won’t stop till I buy one for him. His mother likes ice-cream more than he does. So I have to oblige both.
Abhi wanted to go on merry-go-round. He and his little cousin brother were taken in it by Abhi’s mum and aunt. To Abhi’s disappointment, they didn’t give him sufficient time since there were too many kids in waiting and they reduced the time for a ride to accommodate other kids. Cannot complain.
Next we went to the exhibition stall maintained by the Civil Security Force. There was nothing much for Abhi to get excited and we all were hungry at that time. CSF had a cheap but good food stall but they had only fried-rice. We wanted rice and curry since we were excessively hungry. Besides, carrying Abhi everywhere made me even hungrier. We settled for a food stall elsewhere and Abhi’s uncle and aunt volunteered to queue up for the food. We sat on the grass under the shade of a huge tree and were waiting for food packets. It took a while for them to reach us as there were thousands of people in the exhibition. Food was more to the disappointment of us. Curries were tasteless. There wasn’t sufficient pepper and salt. Food tasted more like water!! We in the Dry Zone are used to hotter food and this food was quite unacceptable but since we were very hungry we had to gulp it down. I am a fast eater and finished it in an instant. Abhi complained. “Abhi wants more chicken…” He had finished his mother’s chicken portion and grandma’s as well. I felt very sorry for my fast eating habit as I couldn’t offer him my chicken portion. Next time around, I will wait till Abhi finishes his food. I want to see him growing big and strong to be able to play rugby, a game I myself never played.
After lunch we went to transport related exhibition stall. Abhi liked it a lot as he loves buses and trains. (Abhi’s maternal grandfather has two buses and he has selected the older but brighter colored bus as Abhi’s bus and the newer but white colored bus as his cousin brother’s bus. He recognizes the difference between the two buses by just hearing their sounds. When Abhi’s grandpa comes home in the evening after the day’s work Abhi goes to him and helps him count the money. He gets a coin or two as his fee and he puts them in his piggy bank.) Abhi enjoyed the miniature trains and buses in the exhibition stall. Next we took him on a real double-decker. He must have wondered how on earth a bus can be on the roof of another bus.
We next took him on a mini-train. It cost us 10 rupees per ride but it was worth the experience. It is Abhi’s first time in a train. He was over the moon. (Must take him on train to Nuwara Eliya or Matara soon.)
While walking to the Air Force exhibition premises he suddenly heard a sound of a helicopter. (He is very sensitive to the sounds of helicopters and airplanes as he lived the first two years of his life in Ja-Ela, quite closer to the Katunayaka airport and the Air Force base.) He yelled, “Appachchi, there is a helicopter!” It flew few times very low and Abhi was very happy and suddenly it went very high up in the sky (the PA system announced 10,000 feet) but Abhi could still see it. Then the airmen started jumping out of it with parachutes. Abhi enjoyed the various colors of the parachutes but I wonder whether he knew that there were men in them. It was a spectacular scene for him though.
Next we went inside the Air Force exhibition stall and Abhi was thrilled. That is his pet area, the aircrafts. I took him to closer to a black helicopter and had my chance to show him the difference between a table fan and helicopter fan. Earlier when at home, while looking at his picture book, he usually asks me the names of the parts of the helicopter. When he shows the fan of the helicopter and asks what it is, I used to say it is the fan. Then he says, “Ah! Daadi fan. (Fan to get rid of the sweat.) I tried to convince him that the fan in the helicopter is for some other purpose but he never seemed to understand it. But here I am in front of a real helicopter and I had my chance to show the difference. He understood it quite easily. “This is not daadi fan. This is helicopter fan,” he said. How quick the kids learn.
I took him into another Air Force helicopter and seated him there for a while with the help of airmen. Abhi refused to get off. Airmen had to take him off as there were other kids waiting and Abhi refused and almost hit an airman. He was laughing. We took him around the exhibition area and he saw many different types of aircrafts and helicopters and this is the area he enjoyed most. By the time we finished the Air Force stall, Abhi started leaning on my shoulder and fell on sleep. We decided to leave the exhibition by then.
The pain in the whole body due to excessive walking and carrying Abhi around lasted few days. After few days the pain in the right foot still existed and when I checked there was a trace of a small wound just under the nail of the big toe. I went to a surgeon and he said the wound is infected and the nail has to be removed immediately. I got it done at the government hospital in Anuradhapura. That is Deyata Kirula for me! I don’t complain. I enjoyed every bit of it with Abhi and the family.