Madol Doova – Martin Wickramasinghe (Translated into English by Prof. Ashley Halpe)

Madol Doova Book Cover

Madol Doova Book Cover

“Madol Doova” is a Sinhala children’s novel written by Sri Lankan writer Martin Wickramasinghe. It was first published in 1947. There is some similarity in the approach of the novel to R. K. Narayan’s Swami and Friends which was written prior to this. I read both the Sinhala Modal Doova  and its English translation by Professor Ashley Halpe.

The book tells us about the misadventures and escapades if Upali Giniwelle, a village trader’s son who is motherless and his friends in a southern coastal village. The book is a page turner for the young adolescents. Upali and his friends play a lot of mayhem in the village. One of the mischiefs the group does is dressing up as veddahs (a type of indigenous tribe) and shooting girls with arrows who come to a pond in the corner of the village to fetch water. One girl gets hurt and the boys take her to the nearby jungle and treat her wound with indigenous medicine. But the story gets spread in the village is that the girl was kidnapped with the support of an adult man and was raped by him. Upali’s father thinks that the son will become a good-for-nothing if he stays in the village and he is sent to a headmaster of a school in another village. But Upali’s mischiefs don’t stop there. Without being able to correct Upali, the headmaster asks Uplai’s father to take the boy back to his village.

Upali, with the servant boy of the house, Junna run away from the village and settle in a solitary island called Madol Doova which is believed to be full of snakes and haunted by ghosts. The two start a farm and reap a good harvest as well.

They find out that there is a stranger living in the island and manage to catch him. Later they learn that he is a fugitive and lives in the island due to fear of police. The two parties agree not to disturb each other.

Another man called Punchi Mahaththaya arrives on the isalnd. Though snubbed at first, later he becomes friendly with the boys and learns to help in the farm work.

Meanwhile Upali learns that his father is ill and goes to the village to see him and helps his stepmother and stepbrother and goes back to Madol Doova.