Day 4 – Tissamaharamaya to Yala Wildlife Park and back and to metropolitan Mount Lavinia along Sri Lanka’ coastal route A2. (310 Km) – This is my longest motorcycle ride in a day.


nanda-wanninayaka-motorbike-2

On August 11, 2016, Meer Ali and I woke up early and headed to Yala National Park. We hired a safari jeep and traversed the park. Didn’t see as many wild animals as I used to see in Wilpattu National Park which is close to my village, Mahawilachchiya. A couple of wild elephants, wild boar, wild buffaloes, deer, crocodiles, big and small types of lizards, birds, etc. were seen but, to be honest, I wasn’t impressed with what Yala had to offer me. Maybe because of my first love is with Wilpattu.

Kirinda beach was beautiful and so were the makeshift huts that sold seashells, etc. We spent quite a time on the beach taking pictures. We left Kirinda around 11.30 am and again it was riding on dead straight newly repaired roads and a rider is naturally tempted to break the speed barrier despite the highway patrol present or rather hiding in ambush in hidden spots every 10 km or so.

There was this place which a lady sold kirala juice (kirala – Sonneratia caseolaris)  and I stopped the bike just out of curiosity. It was found to be a very tasty drink and I had two glassfuls while Meer was contented with one. It was cheap and organic too. I do not know why we don’t promote coconuts, wood apple, kirala, orange, etc. juices instead of carbonated drinks. I can understand people drinking the carbonated drinks in the countries where there are less local fruits but in Sri Lanka, you get seasonal fruits from different terrains of the island no matter what season. Unfortunately, soda makers have been able to advertise in a way that the youth indulge in these unhealthy carbonated drinks.

On the way through the Galle Road we spent some time at a naval monument at Tangalle. I first thought this was a monument to remember the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami but it was not to be.

Meer Ali was excited when I took him to Matara beach as he was a fan of the legendary cricketer, Sanath Jayasuriya who was christened as “Matara Mauler” by the sportswriters and cricket commentators due to his hard-hitting batting style which made Sri Lankan team a formidable unit that could beat any cricketing nation during his time. Once, former Pakistani cricketer and the present cricket commentator, Rameez Raja used the word “carnage” to describe Jayasuriya’s batting. Whenever he went for a big score, it was just a ritual for the rest of the match to end up Sri Lanka winning. Jayasuriya was a product of Matara. Meer paused for a few shots on my motorbike on Matara beach.

When I passed Weligama, it was impossible not to remember Rekha, a pretty Nightingale whom I worked with at Asiri Hospital, Colombo 05. Hers was the sweetest smile I had ever seen. I could remember that she was from Weligama, this small coastal town but didn’t know any contact details of her. Besides, I had last seen her some 20 years ago.

It was around six in the evening when we passed Weligama and riding at night through Gall Road was not fun as most Sri Lankan motorists don’t use the dipped beam or the traffic beam of their head lamps and in an inconsiderate manner, almost always use their country beams to dazzle any oncoming fellow motorist. They simply drive with headlights on and you get mad when you get those high flash lights directly on your face. This is not considered as a serious traffic offence by the police, too. I get very irritated when the people do so but it will take eons for the Lankan motorists to learn this and become cultured motorists.

We stopped several times on the way to have tea, but my favorite was coffee. Coffee is my cup of tea 😊.

snacks (2)

Riding some monotonous 150 km bracing myriads of non-dipping main beams of oncoming traffic, along the island’s south western coast we reached the metropolitan Mount Lavinia and were put up in a small hotel for the night. Usually riding such a long distance on a motorbike could be strenuous to a rider but when you have a companion like Meer who was a rare sort of guys when compared with most Indians, you don’t feel the discomfort of the journey. We both sang Hindi songs on the way and he was surprised that I knew more Hindi songs than he did. He said he never felt that he is away from India with Hindi songs being played in almost all small towns we passed. I find both Hindi and Spanish languages are very lyrical and this is why I love them. I had a chance of securing a lucrative job opportunity in Japan if I were ready to learn Japanese but if I will have to learn a second language other than English, it would be Hindi or Spanish. Not Japanese and not French at all even if I am to contest for the post of General Secretary of the United Nations!

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Recounting the Five Lucky Misadventures in My Two-Score-and-Ten Years of Bike Hikes in Sri Lanka


Nanda Wanninayaka on Bajaj Pulsar 200 (A file photo)

Nanda Wanninayaka on Bajaj Pulsar 200 (A file photo)

I have been riding motorbikes for over 30 years now. It is the most fascinating pastime for me, maybe next to horse-riding. (It is too early to take horse-riding a pastime because I don’t own one, not yet.) I started motorbike riding with a Honda C70 model motorbike my eldest brother bought for the family and then went into riding other models the friends use too. I bought my first motorbike, a stunning Bajaj Pulsar 200, made in India, the talk of the town those days and then kind of downshifted it to Bajaj Pulsar 150 in a folly without a valid reason. That unlucky Bajaj Pulsar 150 is now rusting away in a garage after it faced its second terrible accident. (First one happened by my brother-in-law.) I am hoping to salvage it by spending another 30,000 (195 USD) to 40,000 LKR (260 USD.) Let’s see how it goes.

What follows is the narrative of the five major bike accidents I met with still lived to tell the five successive stories.

First Misadventure

The first mishap took place when I was still in my teens and had not even been licensed to ride a motorbike. I was riding my eldest brother’s Honda C70 with my younger brother, Aruna as pillion. We were riding on the Suriyadamana Road.  I was as thrilled and free as a bird as this was a time I could enjoy daredevil things away from the watchful eyes of my other elder brother (Upali Aiya) who was hot-tempered and would be mad if he saw how fast I rode. With both Aruna and I frenzied with the new-found freedom, I was on the top speed and was singing “Zindagi Ek Safar” (the famous Bollywood song superstar Rajesh Khanna sang while riding the bike with his screen sweetheart on the pillion in the movie Andaz) as this was the song that surrounded my mind whenever I sped on a motorbike. The Sinhala language song of the same tune was also popular with charismatic Sri Lankan superstar Vijaya Kumaranatunga as the lead role.

The frenzy did not last that long. There was a sharp bend when you passed the public cemetery and I had no control at all when I tried to negotiate the corner and the bike got almost airborne and the rider and his pillion unceremoniously landed up on a heap of coconut leave decorations that had been used for decorations in a cemetery ceremony a few days earlier. I knew I was unharmed and was not sure if my younger brother was. He was not to be seen. It was then he, too, emerged from the heap of coconut thatches decorations and found to be unhurt. Maybe we both were saved because the heap of coconut thatches absorbed the impact and cushioned us. The bike’s front was damaged a lot and we could still manage to ride home the disfigured bike. I was waiting to see my elder brother going into a rage and barge at me but au de contraire, a calm elder brother told us just to be careful next time. This was the first big accident I had with a motorbike.

Second Misadventure

Nanda and Gayani

Nanda and Gayani (A file photo)

I was newly married and the nuptial couple were proceeding from the hilly and cool Badulla, or in other words, my better-half, a small-time beauty if I may classify her so, and I were on my younger brother Aruna’s Bajaj Pulsar 180 bike. Road from Badulla via Mahiyanganaya and Polonnaruwa was not in an acceptable state of repair those days but we so far had no problem even though I rode at top speed. We stopped several times on the way for snacks and meals and it was a beautiful sunny day with a gentle breeze – ideal condition for biking. Road was long yet I wasn’t tired and my better-half, too, enjoyed the ride in the pillion. I had been advised by several people not to take such long bike rides and instead use the public transport which was less expensive and less risky. But I was (and am) not the one who pays heed to others, especially in things related to my favorite hobbies. We started early from Badulla’s salubrious hills and it was around afternoon when we reached Habarana, the lush monsoon jungles. From Habarana to Anuradhapura, the marvel of ancient civilizations besides being my native territory, we came even faster because the desired destination, Mahawilachchiya, my native village, was closing in. We thought of taking the road passing Anuradhapura Air Force Camp (aka Northern Camp) and there was a bend of which no notice was taken by me as the corner materializing ahead seemed insignificant compared to the large number of bends we had just been negotiating all along the winding stretches I took from the mountainous Badulla to Loggal Oya on the plains. So, I misjudged that this was something very simple and too small to be treated as a noteworthy bend but the bend thought otherwise. It gave such a resistance and bike took its own control as gravity dictated, and not my frantic anti-gravity inputs to control the machine. It somewhat veered and a kind of careened and dragged itself on the tarmac and my precious cargo, the pillion passenger was thrown asunder from the bike first and me next. When I collected my senses in a rather dizzy way, I first looked at my wife to see if she were unharmed and beheld she was sedentary on the middle of the road and laughing out loud as she used to be. We both were all right saving some bruises in me and the bike was only slightly damaged. One has to be really in the good books of the providence above, to be able to walk away unharmed from such a grave mishap caused by sheer disrespect for Sir Isaak Newton’s laws of gravity.

Third Misadventure

Abhilash Wanninayaka

Abhilash Wanninayaka (A file photo)

The other day, in 2010 I was riding my own Bajaj Pulsar 200 Rocket and I was impatient as I was to see our one and only son, Abhilash after some time. My being emotionally overly eager to be with the child eclipsed my thoughts focusing solely on the bike’s controls and the traffic on the road from Isurupaya, Battaramulla in the metropolis to sub-urban Ja -Ela where my son lived with his mother. I was day-dreaming how to take the child in my arms, take him on the bike, tell him bedside stories at night, and so on. But I was still riding between Borella Junction, a principal roundabout in Colombo city, and the Welikada signal lights. All of a sudden, the bike back-ended a car and it was all my fault as I was behind the car and lucky for the car, nothing much happened as it had a strong buffer. I fell off the bike and could not get up till the driver in the car stopped it and came and gave me a helping hand. I explained to the driver my reason to speed and he being a, considerate man let me go without making a big fuzz out of it. It was a drizzly evening and I should have known better how to ride in such a wet weather condition. Besides, roads in Colombo are perennially greasy due to constantly leaking fuel from vehicles and one should be extremely cautious when riding or driving on Colombo’s metropolitan roads.

Fourth Misadventure

Real Michael Jackson, till I find a photograph of my friend "Local Jackson" I will use this for this post.

Real Michael Jackson, till I find a photograph of my friend “Local Jackson” I will use this for this post.

This was the most bizarre accident I met with. It happened in 2016. To begin with this episode, I could safely say that the great greedy Greek divine, Bacchus has failed to impose a bacchanalian lifestyle upon me. I partake in intoxicating spirits very rarely, and only if a good company is found at that, and I possess enough courage to say no to any drinking party if I am not in the right mood or if I think the company incompatible with me as far as imbibing is concerned. But on this particular day I was silly enough to drink with Sampath (aka Michael Jackson, due to his Jackson mania and Jackson imitations in his youth) during the bright day light, and that is a thing I never do. He brought some strong alcohol and I am a person who hardly get drunk even with the toughest stuff. I hear this is not something to brag about when it comes to drinking and the ones who do not get intoxicated easily have stronger livers and kidneys to filter away the toxic material that is alcohol various denominations of which were apparently invented and made use of among warring peoples. Despite its somniferous medicinal quality of inducing sleep, its misuse can make imbibers go berserk with its narcotic characteristic anesthetizing the drinker to commit inhuman acts, and it is what the wise say and I, am one such. (Once, at my nephew’s wedding I drank a little more than half of a bottle of hard liquor at Ranorawa, a small hamlet in Anuradhapura, and had a lavish meal and followed by a good shower to cool down the stuff running in my circulation and rode my Bajaj Pulsar 200 up to Kahathuduwa, Piliyandala via Puttalam road, some 220 kilometers and did not have any hiccup on the long ride since I was as fit as a fiddle even after gulping down such a big amount of tough stuff.) However, after the drinking session with ‘Jackson’ he implored me to have lunch with him but I declined and started to ride back home, Mahawilachchiya. It is said that one should not drive without having a meal and get exposed to the wind after a drink as both the acts catalyze the intoxicating process. I brushed off such talks and continued riding. I started feeling sleepy while riding but was okay till Oyamaduwa Junction and took the roundabout properly and all I could remember from there was that the speedometer marked a lot more than 100 kmph and I was on a daze. Bang! I heard I was hitting something big and hard and I was thrown off onto the right side of the road and the bike was on the left side of the road. To make things a comedy of errors, I fell asleep soundly just after the accident. Then I could remember a Buddhist monk coming and helping me to stand up and asking if I needed any medical attention. I said no and thanked the monk for helping. In fact, what had happened was that there was a used-up barrel of tar, filled with soil and placed on the middle of the road to prevent vehicles getting into trouble by falling into the big pot hole created in the middle of the road, during floods. It had been marked with yellow stripes but I was in a differently luminous world by that time and did not have the sobriety sense to see it. I broke my collarbone (which had already been fractured by another silly fall while riding inside a garden at a speed less than 5 kmph) and still I am deprived of playing cricket, my favorite game, for two consecutive years due to this fracture.) After this, I decided never to drive drunk even if I feel totally comfortable. It is putting others’ lives in danger than that of mine. Moreover, I decided not to drink alcohol except Wild Apple beer, which was introduced to me by a foreign friend of mine which is quite harmless and not bitter like other brands of beer. Thus, I have said goodbye all other alcoholic beverages.

Fifth Misadventure

Nanda Wanninayaka on Bajaj Pulsar 150 (A file photo)

Nanda Wanninayaka on Bajaj Pulsar 150 (A file photo)

The fifth and the most recent accident was inevitable and it happened on October 22, 2017. I knew it even before I mounted the iron horse that fateful day. I wanted to go to Colombo to submit my visa application for the then impending trip to Ecuador. But I was never ready for this as I did not feel fit enough for such a ride. You could say that I should have taken public transport if I was not comfortable with it but even if I did, I would still have knocked down by a vehicle even while walking that day as I was never fit or ready for this day. I wanted a good night’s sleep but my elder sister, who worries about me much more than I or anyone else on earth does, kept nagging me that I should come back from Ranorawa the previous evening and go to Colombo the next day. I was annoyed as I wanted to rest at Ranorawa with my other sister and her children and the cute grandchild but it was not to be due to constant coaxing from my sister. So, I had to forget everything and retrun to Anuradhapura the same evening and without a good rest or sleep had to ride to Colombo, 200 km far down, early morning the next day. I passed Dambulla (64 km), Kurunegala (110 km), Alawwa (132 km), and I was surprised why I didn’t still have the inevitable accident! Because I knew it would happen and it was inevitable. Passed Warakapola (147 km,) Weweldeniya (148 km) and Nittambuwa (157 km), still I was riding but knew it was imminent. Opposite Imbulgoda (168 km) fuel station, I saw a small sign board on the road side saying that they sell Katu Anoda (Prickly Custard Apple) juice and I went ahead, turned to the other side of the road and came back to the fruit juice stall by turning the bike the proper way. Bang!!! That was all what I heard and the thud was so strong it made me deaf for a while and I felt I was rolling with the bike several times round by round and then it stopped right on my chest. (While I was rolling, all that came to my mind was if I died or got crippled, what would happen to my son?) I could not move a muscle as the whole weight of the iron horse was on my body. People around later said that they thought I was done for! Anyway, I gathered the strength and tried to move the bike off my chest and then a few people who gathered there helped me. They were furious about the school bus driver who hit me from behind for the simple reason that he could not control his speeding and they were trying to harass him. I told the people to see if the kids in the school bus were hurt first. Luckily, they had survived the jerk and were unhurt. Having heard the news, the owner of the bus also came to the spot and asked if I should be taken to a hospital. I told him that I was not that hurt at that moment and there was less pain but the pains would increase by the evening for sure. Scruples notwithstanding, I rather let them leave the scene of accident or rather a traffic crime (where in fact both parties were guilty) because if this case were to be reported to the police the poor bus driver (his wife had just delivered a baby a few days back according to the driver) would have to lose work for a few days. Besides, I was to go to Ecuador and the last thing we both wanted was a court case dragging sine die. Therefore, we settled the case amicably and the bus owner gave me 20,000 LKR as damage – that was all what he could muster and I accepted it even though I knew already this would cost me a little fortune when I go to the repairer. A real gentleman, a Grama Sewaka (a village headman) called Mr. Wipula Jayawardhana who was extra helpful in assisting me after the accident took me to his home and gave me food and accommodation for the night. This is the typical Sri Lankan hospitality that is displayed anywhere in Sri Lanka. My condition worsened by the evening and I had to return home the next day and the bills of medical checkups alone cost me around 15,000 LKR (97 USD.) And the cost of replacing the digital meter of the bike alone costs 15,000 LKR (97 USD) and I am not sure when I would be able to afford to repair the bike.

The Sixth Misadventure – to be or hopefully not to be

This is yet to happen and let’s hope that I would stay alive to report it. Anyway, now I am extra careful in riding motorbikes mainly because I either borrow or hire bikes now. I am not too sure if I would have the same patience once I mount my own bike will be back after the repairs.

A selection of motorcycle safety URLs (Thanks Sunil Rutnayake for these links and editing my post.)

http://www.americanmotorcyclist.com

https://www.msf-usa.org

http://www.smf.org

msf-usa.org/downloads/mom_v16_GS_low_res.pdf

https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2013/04/10-motorcycle-safety-tips-for-new-riders/index.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motorcycle_safety

https://www.motorcyclecruiser.com/maids-motorcycle-accident-study-lessons-921-crashes

https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812148

https://one.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/pedbimot/motorcycle/safebike/anatomy.html

https://rideapart.com/articles/10-common-motorcycle-accidents-and-how-to-avoid-them

http://www.mcrider.com

https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/pdf/mc/motorcyclesafetyguide-a.pdf

https://dmv.ny.gov/driver-training/motorcycle-manual-motorcycle-safety-program

www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/publications/road…/helmet_manual.pdf

http://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/road_safety_status/report/en/

http://ridermagazine.com/tag/motorcycle-safety/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motorcycle_training

http://motorcyclesafetynews.com

https://www.msgroup.org/articles.aspx

මහවිලච්චියේ සූරියදමන පාර “රොබින් හුඩ්ගේ පාර”


මහවිලච්චියේ සූරියදමන පාර Suriyadamana Road in Mahawilachchiya

මහවිලච්චියේ සූරියදමන පාර Suriyadamana Road in Mahawilachchiya

මේ දැනට අලුත්වැඩියා කරගෙන යන මහවිලච්චියේ “හරමානිස් හන්දියේ සිට හැලඹෑව” දක්වා දිවෙන පාර. මේ පාරට සූරියදමන පාර කියලත් කියනවා. (හැබැයි අපේ සුමේධා අක්කා – ලොකු අයියාගේ නෝනා – නම් මේ පාරට කිව්වේ “රොබින් හුඩ්ගේ පාර” කියලා. ඒකට හේතුව තමයි කලකට පෙර මේ පාර සර්වුඩ් කැලයේ රොබින් හුඩ්ලා ගිය පාර වගේම කැලෑව මැදින් වැටීතිබුණ පුංචි අඩිපාරක් වීම නිසා.)

මේ පාර නම් ප්‍රාදේශීය සභා මැතිවරණයට අදාළ හදිසි සංවර්ධන ව්‍යාපෘතියක් නෙවෙයි. ඇත්තෙන්ම කිව්වොත් පසුගිය රජය සැලසුම් කරලා තිබුණේ මේ පාර 2015 පෙබරවාරි මාසයේ වැඩ අරඹන්න. ඒත් එම වසරේ හදිසි ජනාධිපතිවරණයෙන් මහින්ද රාජපක්ෂ මැතිතුමා පැරදුනාට පසු මේ පාර අලුත්වැඩියාකිරීම අළුත් ආණ්ඩුව විසින් අතහැර දැමූ බවයි අපි දැනගත්තේ. ඒත් මීට අවුරුද්දකට විතර පෙර නව රජයේ මහාමාර්ග අමාත්‍යවරයා මේ පාර ආරම්භ කිරීමට මුල්ගල තැබුවා. ඒ උත්සවයේදී මහවිලච්චිය ප්‍රාදේශීය ලේකම්තුමාගේ කතාවේදී විශේෂයෙන් සඳහන් කළා පාර සංවර්ධනය කිරීම ආරම්භ කිරීමේ ගෞරවයෙන් කොටසක් මහවිලච්චියේ අනුර බණ්ඩාර අයියාටත් යායුතුයි කියලා. කවුරුත් එයාට ආදරේට කියන්නේ “අඹුඩ අනුර අයියා” කියලා. ඒකට හේතුව තමා එයා ගමේ පොදු අවශ්‍යතාවයන් රජයන් මගහරිනවානම් අඹුඩයකින් පමණක් සැරසී අදාළ අකටයුත්ත වෙන තැනට ගිහින් උපවාස කිරීම. පාර හදන්න රජයට බලකරමින් අනුර අයියා කිහිපවතාවක්ම උද්ඝෝෂණය කළා. වරක් හිරේ ලගින්නත් වුණා ඒ නිසාම.

කොහොමහරි අළුත් ආණ්ඩුව ලොකු උත්සවයක් තියලා මුල්ගල තිබ්බත් (නැකත් නැති නිසාදෝ) පාරේ වැඩ ආරම්භ කිරීමට වසරකටත් වඩා කල්ගිහින් මේ මෑතකදී තමයි අලුත්වැඩියාව පටන්ගත්තේ. මේ ඡායාරූප කිහිපය ගත්තේ පසුගිය 14 වැනිදා.

මේ පාරෙන් මහවිලච්චියේ සිට අපේ අම්මගේ ගමට (අඹගහවැව) කිලෝමීටර 35කුත් අප්පච්චිගේ ගමට (රනෝරාව) කිලෝමීටර 30කකුත් විතර තියෙනවා. ඔබ විශ්වාස කරනවද අවුරුදු 10කටත් අඩු වයසකදී මම (සහ මගේ සහෝදර සහෝදරියන්) අප්පච්චිත් එක්ක මේ සම්පූර්ණ දුර බොහෝවරක් වරක් පයින් ගිහිල්ලා තියෙනවා කිව්වම? ඒ කාලේ කලාතුරකින් වගේ හමුවුන ගොන් කරත්තයකින් සමහර විට ඉඩ තිබුණොත් පොඩි දුරක් වගේ ගිහිල්ලා දැම්මත් අපි වැඩියෙන්ම ගියේ පයින්. ඒක වෙහෙසකාරී ගමනක් වුවත් පාර දිගට හමුවෙන ලස්සන පුංචි වතුර වළවළුත්, කැලෑවත්, කරඹ, දිවුල්, පලු, වීර වගේ පළතුරුත්, පාර හරහා පනින නරි, මුගටි, වගේ සතුනුත්, සමහර විට වල් අලියෙක් දෙන්නෙකුත් දකින්න තියෙන නිසා ඉස්කෝලේ නිවාඩු දෙනකල් අපි බලන් සිටියේ අම්මාගේ හෝ අප්පච්චිගේ ගමේ ගිහින් කිරි අම්මලා හදන රස කෑම කන්නත්, කිරි අත්තලාගේ කතන්දර අහන්නත් වගේම නෑදෑයින්ගේ ළමයිනුත් එක්ක මාසයක් පුරාම සෙල්ලම් කරන්නත්. දැන් කාලේ වගේ ටුයිෂන් පන්ති නොතිබුණ නිසා නිවාඩුවට පහුවෙනිදා ගමට ගියාම අපහු එන්නේ අළුත් පාසල් වාරය පටන් ගන්නට ඉස්සරලා දවසේ. නිවාඩු මාසය පුරාම පොතක් පතක් අල්ලන්නේවත් නැතුව උදේ ඉඳන් රෑ වෙනකල් සෙල්ලම් කළත් අපිටවත්, දෙමව්පියන්ටවත්, ගුරුවරුන්ටවත් ඒක කවදාවත් ප්‍රශ්නයක් වුණේ නැහැ.

සුන්දර මතකයන් ගොඩක් තියෙන සූරියදමන පාර හැදෙන එක ගැන සන්තෝෂ වුණත් “රොබින් හුඩ්ගේ පාර” අතුරුදහන් වෙන එක ගැනනම් ටිකක් දුකයි.

Ernesto Che Guevara’s 50th Death Anniversary – Revisiting Che After 50 years of His Death


Ernesto Che Guevara

Ernesto Che Guevara

Ernesto Che Guevara, the Argentine revolutionary (fondly named as Che) was a big inspiration to me while I was a teenager. Though I was born into a family of conventional socialist communist values, I also admired Che more than I did Lenin. My late father being a member of the Communist Party of Sri Lanka  from its inception, our home was full of Soviet communist literature translated into Sinhala that were directly sent from the former Soviet Union. I grew up reading Soviet fairy tales as a kid and then I had the capacity of reading and comprehending hardcore communist doctrines that were sent in huge volumes as I was an avid omnivorous reader ever since I could read the Sinhala alphabet. (I could not read a decent English book till I was 25.) I had the luck of reading much-loved Soviet revolutionary novels and short stories at a very young age. Oh, I cherish those good old days. Being an inexperienced and immature kid in 80’s, I believed that all those propaganda literatures was 100% true and the Soviet Union was the Heaven on Earth. But within the next decade (to be exact between 1990 – 1991) I saw the great Soviet Empire collapsing and reducing into rubbles and a cake baked into the real size and the shape of the Founding Father of the Soviet Union, Vladimir Lenin was cut into slices and eaten by the Russians themselves.  My dad was lucky enough not to be alive to see such horrific scenes as he left the planet in 1989, a year before the great collapse of the Soviet Union started.

Coming back to Che, I read about him from some (mostly hidden) books my eldest brother Nayanasena Wanninayaka used to bring when he came home during his vacations from his higher studies. For me, Che was more attractive, charismatic and sexier than any of the other revolutionaries, be it Lenin, Mao or Fidel. But I did not find much to read about Che except for the few weekend newspapers articles published during his birth and death anniversaries. Che was not a welcome word in my village, Mahawilachchiya, where a big-time massacre of Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) cadres said to have taken place in 1971, a year before I was born. The dead bodies of the JVP cadres were dragged by police jeeps in ropes and put into public display during Rohana Wijeweera’s failed rebellion in 1971. The JVP cadres were commonly known as “Che Guevara guys” (චෙගුරා කාරයෝ) those days by the people. So, people were that scared of Che, whom Wijeweera (blindly) followed. The books about both the Argentine and the Sri Lankan revolutionaries (Che and Wijeweera) were usually burnt as soon as they were read since it could always invite troubles. To make things worse, late Rohana Wijeweera again attempted to topple the government during 1988-89 and the whole country came into a standstill when his then banned party, the JVP imposed “a curfew” in the country and Wijeweera was only a few steps away from overthrowing the government. So, me being a teenager during that time meant a lot of risks and I had to hide my admiration to Che, the revolutionary. Besides hundreds of both military and government sponsored paramilitary troops were haunting at night everywhere in the country and in the morning, one could see slaughtered young men and women by the roadside. Rohana Wijeweera was apprehended by the government security forces and killed and burnt -some say alive – in 1989. The then President Late Ranasinghe Premadasa brutally annihilated the rebels after the invitation for peace talks by the former was completely rejected and ignored by the latter.

I read Malini Govinnage’s Che Guevara (මාලිනී ගෝවින්නගේ – චේ ගුවේරා,) a Sinhala language biography of Che in 2006 which was short and sweet. Then I read Ernesto Che Guevara’s The Bolivian Diary in a year or two later which gave me more insight into this amazing man’s life. I also could watch the movie The Motorcycle Diaries during the same period which depicts as to how Che’s sympathy with the downtrodden people started. Much later, I watched the two-part 2008 biopic named “Che” by the director Steven Soderbergh. This gave me much insight into the man than any of the aforesaid publications I mentioned. I fell in love with this as it used both feature and documentary style that did not end with a “suckumentary” as it happens with most of the hero-worshipping genres.

I am yet to read the other books written by and about Che and hopefully I would get the chance within the next couple of months as I too am eagerly getting ready to go to volunteer in some South American countries during the next 5 years. No, I will not try to imitate him as I cannot make up my mind even to kill a venomous serpent creeps into my house and mostly, I would make it go peacefully.  So, killing is not my kind of revolution. It is more into educating the children and youth to make a difference in themselves and eventually, the rest of the world.

I am not in the right position to evaluate the place Che has been given in the history as I am not informed enough for getting into such a daunting task. All I can do as of now is to explore into the legacy the “Comrade Che” has left behind for me and the rest of the world.

Ernesto Che Guevara

Ernesto Che Guevara

Ernesto Che Guevara

Ernesto Che Guevara

Kularathna Rajapaksha – A School Principal Who Uses Facebook for Community Development


Kularathna Rajapaksha

Kularathna Rajapaksha

Many adults in Sri Lanka are against the use of social media, especially Facebook, as they see only the negative sides of it. Public school principals and teachers are the most vociferous among them. But today I am going to talk about a public school principal who does a yeoman service for the students and the community in Mahawilachchiya.

He is none other than Mr. Kularathna Rajapaksha, a social servant in Mahawilachchiya. He started his career as a science teacher since he was still a high school boy. I was one of his students while I was in Grade 11. We had no science teachers during that time as most of the teachers in my alma mater, Thakshila Public School in the village got transferred to their villages. So, we had no science teachers to prepare us for the Ordinary Level (OL) exam which is held to identify which students can go for high schools. Kularathna came to our rescue by teaching us every weekend. The best thing about his teaching was that he had this special talent to teach most complicated areas in science like physics and chemistry in a very interesting way. Usually experienced and trained regular science teachers dreaded to teach those parts in science and only taught biology parts of the subject while this schoolboy-teacher showed us how easy those subject areas were. Thanks to him, a lot of students in our classes got good results for Ordinary Level (OL) national level exams.

Kularathna Rajapaksha

Kularathna Rajapaksha

Kularathna is 50 now and recently was promoted to the post of principal in Seevali Primary School in Mahawilachchiya. I am not too sure if the promotion as a principal will hamper his talents as a teacher. Too much administrative work has affected many good teachers.

Kularathna started his Facebook account in 2014, much later than I did but mastered the craft in no time. I can still remember his first Facebook post which he posted about the need of library books for Thakshila Public School where he then taught. The post brought a lot of donors donating books to the school and today the school library boasts of having 4,000 odd books. He did not stop there and constructed a separate building to store and read the books with the help of his donors and the members of the Civil Defense Force who volunteered with their labor.

School Library at Thakshila Public School

School Library at Thakshila Public School

Kularathna spends about 3-4 hours with Facebook on a daily basis. He does all his work through his old desktop computer, recently acquired laptop and the smart phone while taveling. He spends around 3,000 LKR (20 USD) monthly with his own funding. But he works for the others in the village. This is a good example for most of the ICT teaches in the country who do not do much with government sponsored 24X7 internet facilities at their computer labs with 30-40 PCs connected to internet.

Kularathna does not stop his duty by just donating money or resources. He ensures that the money and the resources he collects and disseminates are properly used. He visits the people whom he helps and monitors if the money is spent on the intended purposes. He has to spend a lot for traveling too. (I think it is the high time his donors work on reimbursing his internet, phone and fuel expenses. Otherwise he will end up broke just like I did.)

RO filter installed in Thakshila Public School

RO filter installed in Thakshila Public School

Kularathna’s biggest achievements are building a school library, building houses for those who cannot afford them, providing scholarships for the needy students, and providing RO water filters to the village. He does all these through the funds donated by both local and overseas Sri Lankans whom he befriends through Facebook. He has won the trust and the respect from those donors as he spends the money frugally and monitors the result of these interventions.

house

A house being constructed

When asked how the teenagers and the youth should use Facebook, his answer was “Use Facebook in such a way you educate you and work for the social good.” This is easier said than done though. Teenagers and the youth tend to use Facebook mostly for time and money consuming fun and have romantic relationships.

Groceries donated by some donors

Groceries donated by some donors

Kularathna also says that the other teachers who use Facebook should use it in such a way that they improve their knowledge by subscribing to educational Facebook feeds and also changing the negative attitudes towards the social media.

Ongoing drought in and around Mahawilachchiya disturbs the villagers’ lives as they either do not have or cannot afford drinking water. Kularathna shared this with his Facebook contacts and they promptly collected funds and sent to Kularathna so that he could hire a small tractor with a plastic barrel and distribute drinking water totally free of charge to the villagers. Such is the trust he has gained from his donors.

Distributing drinking water in Mahawilachchiya

Distributing drinking water in Mahawilachchiya

When asked what were his biggest challenges with FB and his community work, his answer was, “Not yet.” That is the spirit.

Motorcycle Journeys – Trip to Mahawilachchiya from Koradekumbura via Nuwara Eliya and Kandy with Aleksandar Isailović from Serbia


Route to Nuwara Eliya from Koradekumbura

Route to Nuwara Eliya from Koradekumbura

Aleksandar Isailović from Serbia and I were woken up by Jayaweera Jayasundara in the morning of May 17, 2017 as we had asked him to do so to see how his “students” practiced physical exercises early hours of the day in the village playground.  Jayaweera arranged a three wheeler for us and I felt bad as to why we can’t walk while others in the village just walk or jog to the playground. But he wanted us to be comfortable I guess.

Jayaweera Jayasundara at the playground while his followers are doing physical exercises.

Jayaweera Jayasundara at the playground while his followers are doing physical exercises.

Jayaweera Jayasundara at the playground while his followers are doing physical exercises.

I was ashamed of traveling to the playground by a vehicle as there were 50 odd people – young, middle aged and very old – were already there and they all had walked to the place before 5.00 am. How many things do we take for granted when there is an initiative like this? (I will write a lengthier blog post on this later to do the right justice to Jayaweera and his followers.)

Jayaweera's family with Aleks

Jayaweera’s family with Aleks

Jayaweera’s wife took the pain of cooking us Kiribath and Katta Sambola for breakfast.  She was very caring for us and arranged two lunch packets also for us to have on the way. We said goodbye to the family and Koradekumbura.

On the way to Nuwara Eliya we stopped at Seetha Amman Temple to take few pictures. This is a temple which the Indians value and respect more than the Sri Lankans. The temple is situated in Sita Eliya and is believed to be the place where the King Ravana, the all-powerful ancient Sri Lankan king kept the Indian princess Sita imprisoned to take revenge from her husband Rama who insulted Ravana’s sister Shurpanakha . Read Ramayana to learn more details. This is just a legend than history.

Seetha Amman Temple, Nuwara Eliya

Seetha Amman Temple, Nuwara Eliya

Nuwara Eliya City from a distance

Nuwara Eliya City from a distance

Road to Nuwara Eliya City

Road to Nuwara Eliya City

We went to Nuwara Eliya and spent some time at the Lake Gregory which was a very picturesque site. Water level was low as Nuwara Eliya does not get sufficient rain in the summer. I wanted to ride a horse here but we did not have enough time for it as we had a long way to go back to Mahawilachchiya.

Lake Gregory, Nuwara Eliya

Lake Gregory, Nuwara Eliya

In Lake Gregory in Nuwara Eliya

At Lake Gregory in Nuwara Eliya

Aleksandar Isailović at Lake Gregory in Nuwara Eliya

Aleksandar Isailović at Lake Gregory in Nuwara Eliya

A vegetable stall by the roadside

A vegetable stall by the roadside

We spent some time to take pictures of spectacular extensive tea estates. The greenery and the intermittent fog with the mist made the place very romantic. I was lucky to spend the whole year 2006 surrounded by this type of stunning environment. I want to return to the hills for good. In fact, I was planning this since I was a kid and saw the beauty of Nuwara Eliya in Sarath Madhu’s comic ඉතිං ඊට පස්සේ (Ithin Eeta Passe) in the comic weekly සිත්තර (Siththara) where the story was wound around the hills in Sri Lanka. The only thing which prevented me settling down in here was my commitments to Horizon Lanka at Mahawilachchiya. But now I am planning to transfer the project to the safe hands of the youths in Mahawilachchiya who are being given responsibilities to run the place on their own. It will take time, but I am confident about them.

Route to Mahawilachchiya from Nuwara Eliya

Route to Mahawilachchiya from Nuwara Eliya

 

A tea estate in Nuwara Eliya

A tea estate in Nuwara Eliya

In Nuwara Eliya

in Nuwara Eliya

Aleksandar Isailović in Nuwara Eliya

1 Aleksandar Isailović in Nuwara Eliya

We had some tea at a small tea shop in Pussellawa and it was not hot enough. I complained the shop keeper and he apologized and waved off the price of the two tea cups. We paid for bananas we had there though.

A fruit stall in Pussellawa

A fruit stall cum tea shop in Pussellawa

We did not want to go via Kandy City as Aleksandar had already visited Kandy the previous week. Kandy is a congested city with a lot of traffic and I didn’t like to get stuck in there. The only time I loved Kandy was when I was in love, a long time ago. I loved to walk along the Lake Nuwara Wewa holding hands with my sweet ex-girlfriend. Those were the days….. Aah….

A jackfruit stall in Matale - Dambulla road

A jackfruit stall in Matale – Dambulla road

We bypassed Kandy and directly reached Katugastota via Gannoruwa. Had our lunch by the roadside and proceeded to Anuradhapura. We had some delicious jackfruits in a small village between Matale and Dambulla. Aleks loved jackfruits. He had earlier eaten cooked raw jackfruit as a curry and it was here he ate the ripe ones first.

Mahawilachchiya Reservoir

Mahawilachchiya Reservoir

We reached Anuradhapura by the evening and had tea at my sister’s house. Then we proceeded to Mahawilachchiya around 6.30 pm. The whole journey was a fascinating ride for me. But my friend was exhausted as he had to be on the pillion of the bike throughout the whole bike hike as he was not comfortable riding my bike model (Bajaj Pulsar 150) despite having an international driving license.  Thus we ended 630 km – 3 day- bike hike. The whole ride was a “chanceless” one. There was not a single බුදු අම්මෝ! (Oh My God!) moment throughout the ride. At least not for me. I don’t know about Aleks though.

Trip to Badulla from Mahawilachchiya with Benjamin Pages on My Motorbike


Benjamin Pages (Ben) was the first French volunteer at Horizon Lanka. I went on a road trip with him to Badulla via Polonnaruwa. It was a great ride as both Ben and I could take turns in the ride. To be honest, I did not think I would be comfortable when he rode the bike as I doubted his riding in a country like ours where other drivers do not drive that safe. But Ben faded my doubts away as he convinced me he was the best foreign rider I had rode with. He was very careful despite being a fast rider like me.

We started the trip after 6.00 am on April 16, 2016. As usual, we posed for a few photos on the bund of the huge Mahawilachchiya reservoir as a memory. We rode to Anuradhapura, the first kingdom (377 BC–1017 AD) of Sri Lanka. Ride was very smooth as we started early and it was fun to ride through morning rays of the sun. We stopped at Basawakkulama wewa, aka Abhayawewa reservoir, to capture the glimpse of the great stupas (pagodas) Mirisawetiya, Ruwanweli Seya, Jethawanaramaya and Abhayagiriya over the tree canopies in our camera phones. It was such a beautiful sight to capture in your cameras in the morning (and in the evening too.) Since visiting the great Buddhist heritage of Anuradhapura was not in our plan, we continued the ride without listening to our hearts (to visit the kingdom.)

Next we proceeded to Polonnaruwa, the second kingdom (from the 11th century until 1310 CE) of Sri Lanka via Habarana, the small touristic town. We visited my good old friend, Jayantha in Unagala Wehera on the way to Polonnaruwa and he offered us a very good meal. (I had jokingly told him that we will bring a Tiara cake for 200 LKR and will eat a 2,000 LKR worth meal at his place. This is a nuisance Sri Lankan families welcome during Sri Lankan New Year. We too happened to visit him during the same period.)

Jayantha was a very good computer hardware technician and used to repair our computers at Horizon Lanka for a long time. In addition to that, he is a great tabla (a South Asian membranophone percussion instrument) player and a singer in village parties. I wish we could stay at his place for the night but our plans to proceed to Badulla could not be compromised. So, we said goodbye to Jayantha and his family and next proceeded to Mahaiyanganaya passing Polonnaruwa. Mahiyanganaya is a fabulous plateau surrounded by beautiful blue mountains.

With Jayantha's family

With Jayantha’s family

Polonnaruwa

Polonnaruwa

Beautifully laid straight roads between Polonnaruwa and Mahiyanganaya. You can't help speeding in this type of roads

Beautifully laid straight roads between Polonnaruwa and Mahiyanganaya. You can’t help speeding in this type of roads

Our next destination was Dambana, the village where aboriginal Vedda people , an indigenous tribe in Sri Lanka live. First we went to Vedda Museum and saw a lot of interesting items on display. Whoever took the decision to build this museum should be praised. If you go to Dambana, please ensure you spend at least an hour in the museum.

Mr. Uruwarige Wanniya, the Chief of Vedda tribe is a good friend of mine since 2005 and he recognized me instantly. I had visited him several times in the past and was instrumental in taking the students of the Gurukumbura Primary School in the Veddah village on an aeroplane from Colombo to Dambana and back. But my contribution here was very minute as it was my friend Gamini Akmeemana and Duncan Jayawardane, a friend of his who were actively involved in that. So, I do not want to get an undue credit here. (Read more at http://www.horizonlanka.org/en/blog/2003/12/20/mountains-flew-daily-mirror-december-20-2003/)

Ben was fascinated by Dambana and its indigenous people and wanted to communicate with the Chief of the tribe. I became the interpreter and what followed was a very interesting discussion. I was mesmerized with the way the Vedda Chief answered Ben’s queries. In fact, we recorded the discussion but lost the sound file later. Vedda chief is the most intelligent and the most diplomatic leader I have met in Sri Lanka. It is a shame that we do not have someone like him to rule Sri Lanka but confined to a chief of a few hundreds of people.

He had some indigenous medicine to sell at his hut. We asked if he has medicine for various illnesses and he answered in the affirmative. But when I asked him if he has anything for diabetes, his answer was negative. “We don’t have medicine for diabetes because we don’t get diabetes in this village life with the kind of lifestyle we live.” was his proud answer.

We proceeded to Badulla from Dambana and the more we rode to the mountains, the more beautiful the environment became and the cooler the weather. It was a very nice experience to stop wherever there was some scenic beauty and take pictures. Ben was a kind of annoyed when I stopped the bike to capture some minute things in my mobile phone camera as it disturbed the ride. But now I feel I should have annoyed him more.

By the time we reached the hills it was too dark hence we missed the Dunhinda waterfall, one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Sri Lanka. Our yet-to-meet friend, Mr. Krishanasamy Khandeeban had prepared us a nice dinner and a motel room to stay at. We met him at night and after the dinner we went to the motel room by briefly discussing the next day’s work with Khandeeban.

A black magic (shanthi karmaya / ශාන්තිකර්මය) event in Mahawilachchiya


Last night there was a black magic (shanthi karmaya / ශාන්තිකර්මය) event in an old man’s house in my village, Mahawilachchiya​. These events are so rare nowadays but we have lucky Miss Nayab​ Rehman from Pakistan who gets to see the rarest of the scenes wherever she goes. So we got the message about this event by the evening and we went there around 9.00 pm with R. D. Kularathna​, her host in Mahawilachchiya.

We met some of our students (mostly teenage girls) and they were exhilarated to see their friend/teacher Nayab there. So girls stated giggling and a conversation started and continued between her and them.

Usually, the people who perform these black magics to cure a patient do not like being filmed or photographed. Once I tried photographing such an event at night and what the black-magician did was while he burnt camphor, by throwing it to a container of red hot charcoals he had in his other hand while dancing. He did not like me photographing him and he threw some camphor to the charcoal aiming my face. Burnt camphor hit my face and I could not open my eyes for a good 15 minutes. And that was the end of photographing the event.

But in Nayab’s case, she has a charming smile that makes even Adolf Hitler melt. She becomes friendly with anyone in the village, rich or poor, big or small and men or women. So her charm worked and the black magicians were more than happy to let her photograph and video at will. I too made most of it and took pictures and videos till both the batteries in the digital camera and the phone died.

Usually the black magics are done for several reasons. In this case, it was done to cure an illness of an old man (see the first picture.) This type of an event costs a big amount of money and preparations. Still you are not guaranteed a positive result. If things go wrong and the patient is not cured, the black-magicians have ready-made answer. They will simply say we did it the perfect way but you have done something not recommended (කිල්ලට අහුවෙනවා) – like eating beef or pork within three months of the event or walking under a clothes line or zillions of other stupid excuses and the enormous power of the black magic is null.

People still retort to such primitive ways of treating patients at a time we have a total free healthcare in Sri Lanka since one is conceived in a womb till the death inside a public hospital. If one wants to have better cure and facilities one always can seek help of a private hospital. The doctors keep saying on TV, radio and other media not to rely on these unreliable and primitive healthcare systems that have not been clinically proven and trust the western, Sinhala or ayurvedic ways of treatment for that matter. But ignorant people throughout the countries still spend much more money than the expenses that would occur at a public hospital and still end up getting nowhere. Sometimes, a patient would just be cured mostly due to the very thought that they get that they would be totally cured while the event goes on from early night till dawn nonstop. It will make a patient’s mind relaxed and he/she might just be lucky to get cured his illness. But there is no scientific basis for these age-old rituals.

Though the Buddhism doesn’t encourage these kinds of beliefs the black magicians start their dancing and drumming with worshiping the Buddha and the manthras (stanzas) they sing include a lot of singing in honor of the Buddha. I am not a researcher or a scholar on this subject and these are just my ideas and you can learn more on this subject if you read Nandadeva Wijesekera’s Deities and Demons Magic and Masks (Part I and II.)

We left around midnight and were dog-tired by the time we reached home. But it was quite an experience for all of us.

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Computers for Horizon Lanka, Mahawilachchiya


flyer-smallMahawilachchiya is a rural village 45 kilometers away from Anuradhapura town. It is situated in the boundary of the Wilpattu National Park. You would be surprised to hear that the children of this distant village excel in computers and English with the little resources they have with their educational institute, the Horizon Lanka.

Horizon Lanka Foundation www.horizonlanka.org has been serving the village of Mahawilachchiya, Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka since its inception in 1998. It has been able to produce software engineers and other IT professionals, English teachers, other teachers, professionals in government and private sectors, BPO operators, etc. Scores of other Horizon Lanka students are studying in universities and other higher educational institutes. After a lapse of 3 ½ years Horizon Lanka was again started in July, 2014 to teach English, ICT, mathematics and science to the village children.

Though we have a computer lab, we do not have computers yet. We need PCs, furniture for the PCs, a laptop, multimedia projector and a screen, a laser printer, a scanner and a digital camera. If you can contribute to any of the items in the list please communicate with Mr. Wanni, the Founder of the Horizon Lanka on 077-7702678 or 071-9184005. Email is wanni@horizonlanka.org and nanda.wanninayaka@gmail.com. We welcome even the used items.

In the past, Horizon Lanka had an interesting and innovative approach to ICT teaching. Both local and foreign volunteers helped students by coming and teaching computers in workshops, camps, lectures, etc. You too can do the same. The output was a large number of computer enthusiastic students who excelled in their careers related to computers and English.

මහවිලච්චියට මහ රෑ මුලින්ම කොටි ගහපුදා….


දෙමල ත්‍රස්තවාදීන්ගේ අඩවියට මායිම් වූ ගම්වලට ත්‍රස්තවාදීන් ඒ දවස්වල පහරදෙන්නට පටන් අරන් තිබුණත්, කෙළින්ම එකම දෙමළ ගමකටවත් මායිම් නොවුන නිසා (මහවිලච්චිය තුන් පැත්තකින්ම අදටත් වටවී තියෙන්නේ විල්පත්තු කැලයෙනි.) අපි හිතුවෙ අපිටනම් කොටි ගහන එකක් නැතැයි කියාය. හිත රවටාගන්නට එහෙම හිතාගෙන සිටියත්, රෑ උණාට පස්සෙ නම් ගහක අත්තක් කඩා වැටුණත්, කැලයේ මොනරු කෑගහනවා ඇහුනත් මේ නම් කොටිම තමයි සිතා නිදි වර්ජිතව ටික වේලාවක් හරි සිටින්නේ සැක හැර ගන්නටය.

එක් දිනක් පාන්දර 2-3 පමණ (1985 හෝ 86 විය යුතුය) මට ඇහැරුණේ වෙඩි සද්දත්, බෝම්බ සද්දත් එක දිගටම ඇහෙන්න වුණ නිසාය. මම කෝකටත් කියා සැක හැරගන්නට මිදුලට ගිහින් බැලුවෙමි. බෝම්බ හඬවල් මින් පෙර අසා නොසිතුනත් මේවානම් අනිවාර්යයෙන්ම බෝම්බ ශබ්ද යැයි මම වටහා ගනිමි.

මම වහාම ආපසු ගෙදරට ගොස් අම්මාට කතා කළෙමි. ඊට පසු අම්මා අනිත් අයත් ඇහැරවාගත් නමුත් රත්නේ අය්යා ඇහැරවන එක නම් අමාරු කාරියකි. මම ඔහුට ඇහැරවා කොටි ගහන බවත් ඉක්මනට දුවන්නට වෙන බවත් කිව්වත් ඔහු කට වහගෙන නිදා ගන්නැයි කියා අනෙක් පසට හැරී නිදා ගන්නට විය. කෙසේ හෝ පොඩි අය්යා ඔහුවද නැගිටුවාගෙන අපි ඔක්කොම වත්ත පිටුපස පිහිටා ඇති විශාල සියඹලා ගස යටට රැගෙන ගියේය.

ඉස්සරහා ගෙදර වසන්තලාගේ ගෙදර සියලුම දෙනාද අපේ සියඹලා ගහ යටටම පැමිණියේ හරියට අපේ සියඹලා ගහ බංකරයක් මෙන් සිතා ගෙනදෝයි නොදනිමි. සමහරවිට මරබිය නිසා කාගේ හෝ සංගමය වඩා හොඳ යැයි ඔවුන්ට සිතෙන්නට ඇති.

සියඹලා ගහ යට ටිකක් වෙලා හිටියත් වෙඩි ශබ්දත්, බෝම්බ ශබ්දත් වැඩි වුණා මිස අඩු වුණේ නැත. අපි සියල්ලෝම මීයට පිම්බාක් මෙන් සිටියත් ලොකු අක්කාගේ පුංචි ජීවනී දුව (අවුරුදු 3-4ක් වයසැති) සිංදු කියමින් සිටියාය. ඇයව නිහඬ කිරීම පහසු කටයුත්තක් නොවේ.

ටික වෙලාවකින් හෙලිකොප්ටර දෙකක්ද ගුවනේ කරැකැවෙමින් ඉහළ සිට පහළට වෙඩි තබන්නට විණි. මෙය ඉතා අනතුරුදායකය. ගස් යට හිටි අපටද සතුරන් යයි සිතා වෙඩි තබන්නට පුළුවන. ඒ නිසා අපි නැවතත් ගෙදර ගියෙමු. ගෙවල් වලට ගුවන් හමුදාව වෙඩි තබන්නේ නැත. එහෙත් කොටින් ගෙවල් වලට පැන අපව කපා කොටා දැමුවහොත්? එහෙත් වෙන කරන්නට දෙයක් නැත. ගෙයි සිටීම එකම විකල්පයයි.

දැන් නිදිමත එන්නේ නැත. මම ලාම්පුවක් පත්තු කරගෙන ඉස්කොලේ බිත්ති පුවත් පතට පෙරදා ලියමින් සිටි විද්‍යා ලිපියට අඳිමින් සිටි චිත්‍රය නිම කරන්නට වීමි. (මට මතක හැටියටනම් ලිපියේ නම “සෑම හඳක්ම රවුම් නැතිලු” යන්නය.) වෙඩි හඬ, බෝම්බ හඬ ඇහෙද්දිත් චිත්‍රය ඇඳීමට පුළුවන් වූයේ කෙසේදැයි දැන් මට සිතාගත නොහැක. ඒ කාලයේ අභ්‍යවකාශය සම්බන්ධයෙන් තිබුණ දැඩි ආශාව නිසා විය හැකිය.

එළිය වැටුණ පසු බෝම්බ හඬත් වෙඩි හඬත් අඩුවී ගියේය. ඒත් සමගම ගමේ “රොයිටර්,” ලියන මහත්තයා විසින් උණුසුම් පුවත බෙදා හැරියේය. ඔහු මරබියටත් වඩා ප්‍රවෘත්ති සැපයීමෙන් සතුටක් ලද ගැමියෙකි. එනිසා ඔහු සියල්ලන්ටම පෙර පොලිසියට ගොස් සිදුවී ඇත්තේ කුමක්දැයි සොයා බලා ඇත. පොලීසියට කොටි ගසා ඇති බවත්, කොටින් පිරිසක් මිය ගොස් ඇති බවත් පුවතින් කියවිණි. අපිද කොල්ලන් සමග පයින්ම පොලීසියට ගියෙමු. එහි ගමේම සෙනග එකතුවී සිටියහ. තැන තැන කොටි තරුණයන් කෑලි වලට කැඩී මිය ගොස්ය. පොලීසියට සීරීම් තුවාලයක්වත් නොමැත. මළ සිරුරු හත අටක් තිබුණි. පොලීසිය විසින් තුවාල ලත් එක් කොටියෙක් පණපිටින් අල්ලාගෙන ප්‍රශ්න කරමින් සිටියහ. ඔහුව රැගෙන මළ සිරුරු හඳුනා ගන්නට ගිය විටදී ඔහු එක මළ සිරුරක් බදාගෙන හඬන්නට වූ බව කියැවිණි. ඒ මළ සිරුර අජිත් නම් නුවර සිංහල තරුණයකුගේ බවත් සංවිධානයට ලොකු සේවාවක් කළ අයකු බවත් කියවිණි.

ඉතිරි වූ කොටි පිරිස පලාගොස් තිබුණේ තන්තිරිමලේ හරහාය. එහිදී ඔවුන් යුද හමුදාවේ පහරදීමට හසුවී තවත් කොටින් 10ක් පමණ ගියහ. ප්‍රහාරය සම්පූර්ණයෙන් අසාර්ථක විය.

එයට හේතුව දවල් වන විට ආරංචි විය. පැමිණ සිටියේ එල්. ටී. ටී. ඊ. කොටින් නොවේ. ඔවුන් එකල පැවති වෙනත් ත්‍රස්තවාදී කණ්ඩායමකි. ඔවුන් මහ රෑ කැලයෙන් පොලීසිය දෙසට පැමිණෙන විට කසිප්පු පෙරන ගැමියන් දෙදෙනෙක් හමුවී තිබිණි. ඔහුවත් අල්ලාගෙන ත්‍රස්තවාදීන් හොඳට කසිප්පුද බී තිබිණි. පසුව තමන්ව පොලීසියේ පිටුපස වැට දෙසට ගෙන යන්න යැයි ත්‍රස්තවාදීන් ගැමියන් දෙදෙනාට කියා තිබේ. ඔවුන් ඒ වෙනුවට ත්‍රස්තවාදීන් පොලීසියේ ඉදිරිපසට ගෙන ගොස් තිබිණි. ඉතින් සටන සිදුවූයේ මුහුණට මුහුණලාය. ත්‍රස්තවාදීන්ගේ බෝම්බයක් වෙරිමත නිසා ඔවුන්ටම පත්තු වූ බවද කියැවිණි. ගැමියන් දෙදෙනා සටන අස්සේම පැන ගත්හ. සූදානම්ව සිටි පොලීසිය විසින් හොඳින් ඉලක්ක අල්ලමින් කොටින්ට දිගට හරහට වෙඩි තබන්නටත්, වැලලූ බෝම්බ පුපුරවන්නටත් වූ බවත් ත්‍රස්තවාදීන් අන්ත පරාජයක් ලැබුවේ මෙම ගැමියන් දෙදෙනාගේ නුවණ නිසා බවත් පසුව හෙළිවින.