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

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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….


කොටි අඩවියට මායිම් වූ ගම්වලට එල්. ටී. ටී. ඊ. එක ඒ දවස්වල ගහන්න පටන් අරන් තිබුනත්, කෙළින්ම එකම දෙමළ ගමකටවත් මායිම් නොවුණ නිසා (මහවිලච්චිය තුන් පැත්තකින්ම අදටත් වටවී තියෙන්නේ විල්පත්තු කැළයෙනි.) අපි හිතුවෙ අපිටනම් කොටි ගහන එකක් නැතැයි කියාය. හිත රවටාගන්නට එහෙම හිතාගෙන සිටියත්, රෑ උනාට පස්සෙ නම් ගහක අත්තක් කඩා වැටුනත්, කැළයේ මොණරු කෑගහනවා ඇහුණත් 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 සියළුම 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) එක එක දේවල් කියවමින් 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.

එළිය වැටුන පසු බෝම්බ හඬත් වෙඩි හඬත් අඩුවී ගියේය. ඒත් සමගම ගමේ රොයිටර්, ලියන මහත්තයා විසින් උණුසුම් පුවත බෙදා හැරියේය. 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 පහක් හෝ හයක් 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 පළාගොස් තිබුණේ තන්තිරිමලේ හරහාය. එහිදී ඔවුන් යුද හමුදාවේ පහරදීමට හසුවී තවත් කොටින් 8ක් මිය ගියහ. ප්‍රහාරය සම්පූර්ණයෙන් අසාර්ථක විය.

එයට හේතුව දවල් වන විට ආරංචි විය. පැමිණ සිටියේ එල්. ටී. ටී. ඊ. කොටින් නොවේ. ඔවුන් එකළ පැවති වෙනත් ත්‍රස්තවාදී කණ්ඩායමකි. ඔවුන් මහ රෑ කැළයෙන් පොලීසිය දෙසට පැමිණෙන විට කසිප්පු පෙරන ගැමියෙක් හමුවී තිබිණි. ඔහුවත් අල්ලාගෙන ත්‍රස්තවාදීන් හොඳට කසිප්පුද බී තිබිණි. පසුව තමන්ව පොලීසියේ පිටුපස වැට දෙසට ගෙන යන්න යැයි ත්‍රස්තවාදීන් ගැමියාට කියා තිබේ. ඔහු ඒ වෙනුවට ඔවුන්ව පොලීසියේ ඉදිරිපසට ගෙන ගොස් තිබිණි. ඉතින් සටන සිදුවූයේ මුහුණට මුහුණ ලාය. ත්‍රස්තවාදීන්ගේ බෝම්බයක් ඔවුන්ටම පත්තු වූ බවද කියැවිණි. ගැමියා සටන අස්සේම පැන ගත්තේය. සූදානම්ව සිටි පොලීසිය විසින් හොඳින් ඉලක්ක අල්ලමින් කොටින්ට දිගට හරහට වෙඩි තබන්නටත්, වැලලූ බෝම්බ පුපුරවන්නටත් වූ බවත් ත්‍රස්තවාදීන් අන්ත පරාජයක් ලැබුවේ මෙම ගැමියාගේ නුවණ නිසා බවත් පසුව හෙළිවිණ.

Phalluses from Mahawilachchiya


This happened some 15 years ago. The government sent a bulldozer to clear and flatten the playground (Deepthi Grounds) in Mahawilachchiya. I was not at the ground when this happened. This is what had happened. While flattening the ground, some clay artifacts had been unearthed by the bulldozer unexpectedly. The children and the youth gathered there had taken them home and nobody knew what they exactly were.

I too saw some of them and checked them myself. They looked like images of humans. Some of them were with breasts and some were without breasts so that we thought that the items were images of men and women. I was worried that these items were being wasted and they might have an archeological value. So, I told the youth that we should inform the authorities and they would take necessary actions to preserve the items. The youth opposed it saying that if they found any archeological value of the items they will take the ground under them and start excavating and eventually the youth would lose the ground to play. This was fair argument but I thought that I might be neglecting a national duty by not informing the government. So, in secret, I took one of the artifacts to the Department of Archeology in Anuradhapura. The officer in charge thanked me for bringing the item and he checked it and smiled. According to him it was a phallus the ancient women used to worship in order to conceive children. Only after he told me that I saw the similarity of the item with a phallus. The face of the image had been made on the head of the phallus and the bust of the image was on the rest of the phallus. They did not have legs. The officer explained me that the images of men were offered to god by  those who expected sons and the others that looked like women were offered to ask for daughters from god. He further said that these artifacts belonged to an era before the Buddha was born and they had been found from some other locations as well. To prove it he asked a junior officer to bring a certain item. There he was carrying a huge phallus that was so heavy and big he could hardly carry it.

International Level Cricket in Mahawilachchiya


It was the year 1997 or 1998. We used to play tennis ball cricket in the evenings at the playground in Bogas Handiya, Mahawilachchiya. During our elder brothers’ days boys had cleared an abandoned plot of land and formed a sports club called Deepthi Sports Club. Sports club had once organized to show movies on a makeshift cinema hall to raise funds to the club. Unfortunately they hadn’t got the revenue expected and had been in debt to the shopkeeper in Bogas Handiya.

After we took over from the senior boys, I wanted to pay the debts as it had been a bad reputation for the club. So, I suggested the boys that we organize a limited over cricket series to raise funds. We decided to organize the match following the ‘international standards’ and collect an entry fee of 500 LKR from each team for participation. Many were pessimistic about the plan as no team would play 500 LKR to take part. But I was determined.

We cleared the ground neatly and started practicing hard. We sent invitations to the known clubs and expected around 10 teams would take part. We decided to keep neutral umpires to each match so that decisions will be as fair as possible. We also announced with loud speakers mounted on a van that we are having a cricket series and those who interested can join.

The day of the series dawned. We got a very bad news early in the morning. One of our players’ grandma had died at dawn the same day. The funeral house was close to the playground as well. Many suggested postponing the series but we did not have any mean of informing the teams. Teams would have already started their journeys to the ground by the time we met at the ground in the morning. Those were the days without telephones in the village. So I suggested that we go ahead with the series and display our sympathies with the family by observing one minute’s silence with all the teams present.

More than 20 teams took part and it was very difficult to arrange the match schedule and we calculated that we need at least 3 days to complete the series.

The series was a knockout one. This increased the excitement even more. Each team will be play 10 overs. We introduced the 30-yard-circle law and pinch hitting was allowed for the first 3 overs of the innings. There was a match referee, a former player who was experienced with the laws, to solve disputes that would arise during the matches. Not only that, we brought ball by ball commentaries with advertisements in the middle over the loudspeakers. There were few talented boys to bring Sinhala language commentaries. A friend of mine, a teacher called Yasarathna from Galle who taught in Mahawilachchiya did the English commentaries with me. Every two overs language changed in the commentary box. We got a few Muslim boys from the visiting teams to provide Tamil summaries as well. For the children and the youth this was an edutainment experience. For the people gathered, this was a new experience. There was the atmosphere of an international cricket series around the ground. Even the older people who did not like cricket gathered to see what was happeing. Our team lost on the way and the trophy went to a visiting team from Anuradhapura. Everybody was happy about the success of the series.

We paid the debts to the shopkeeper and even retained a profit for the club after the tournament.