Re-visiting Prince of Wales – II
Posted on August 23rd, 2012

Dr.Tilak Fernando

The response to my first installment on the series was instant. Kevin, who was an old boy of St. Sebastian College, wrote to me all the way from Australia reminding me of his experience with Mr. “ƒ”¹…”Daddi Bidi’ on a hunting episode.

The story goes like this. “ƒ”¹…”Mr. Daddi Bidi and friends returning from a hunting trip had confronted a wolf and a lion from two sides; he was left with only a single bullet. A panicked team mate had pleaded: “Machang! Do something quickly; otherwise we all are going to be dead ducks”!

There was hardly any time to think, and all he had was a single bullet, a hand gun and a Keththa (curved knife similar to a sickle) with long handle. As the wolf and the lion lazily relaxed, Daddi Bidi had fixed the Keththi-mita (handle of the sickle) on the ground and fired at the Keththa. Lo and behold! According to him, Keththa had flown to the right hitting the wolf and the bullet got the Lion! The Master was heard saying: “Boys, that’s what is called killing two birds with one stone”!

Our “ƒ”¹…”Yarn’ teacher’s story about “ƒ”¹…”killing the tiger on the rock’ is slightly different. Being pompous about his own home-made bullets he maintained that he always considered seriously about the type of ammunition he used – in this case not to take any chances with a fearsome tiger!

“So did you take Rata Pathuran (imported bullets ) Sir? “ One boy showed an interest in the story.

“What are you talking Putha, I always take my own Pathuran”; I can always depend on them rather than on imported stuff “.

Having said that, his countenance changed, looked suddenly very serious and somewhat excited and wanted the whole class to gather around him; the boys pretended to believe whatever he uttered.

“Putha, when the tiger came to the rock to sun-bathe I had no option but to get him in one shot”. He shrugged his shoulders.

“It’s frightening even to listen Sir, you have been very brave I must say,” one quipped.

Looking somewhat impressed he continued:

“It was a long wait Putha, and I was getting exhausted, famished and beginning to lose my control when the fellow arrived gracefully and settled down on the warm rock. Could I waste any time? No! In a jiffy had to decide what type of Pathuran I should use. Then again, I thought Putha, why should I worry? I am dead sure of my own Pathuran no! So quickly I broke the gun, loaded one of my bullets and fired, but then amazingly the gun appeared to be jammed to my horror!”.

“Then what happened Sir”¦”¦..?

“Bit concerned more than puzzled, I casually turned the barrel of the gun towards my face to take a quick look into the barrel. Oh gosh! What did I see then? The very bullet was about to travel! I saw it moving Putha “¦”¦., (Me enne “¦..! Me enne”¦”¦!!). In a flash I turned the barrel and aimed at the tiger and let the bullet fly like a rocket. Seconds later the fellow dropped dead on the spot.”

“A very brave act sir’! A student praised him with an ulterior motive to skip another drawing lesson.

Fearless somersault

Subsequently during a lesson a student commented: “That tiger story was very interesting Sir, I am sure you have many more experiences like that”¦”¦.”?

“Yes, Putha, once I was late (as usual) to join the hunting team, and they had already left leaving a message for me to join at a particular venue. It was all jungle, Putha, no roads but only a narrow path where only a bicycle could go. Elephants were rampant in the area crossing this path and going in search of water. What to do? I had to take a chance. I was speeding at a rate on my bicycle and would you believe what I saw?”

“What sir”¦”¦.?”

“Putha, an elephant stood right across the path munching some leaves. In a panic the only thing I could do was to ride the bicycle as fast as I could. Even when I was getting closer to the elephant it did not budge an inch.

I continued to paddle with all vigour and upon reaching the elephant at close range I let the bike pass under his stomach, did a somersault on to the elephant’s back and jumped again onto the bike from the other side and rode away. That saved my life that day”.

“Indeed! Indeed!! Very brave of you sir”¦. We got ten more minutes for a short story if you have anymore, a boy whispered”

Life saver

“Ok, then. Listen carefully. I had a good friend who was a pilot. One day he said to me “ƒ”¹…”Machan you have been a good friend for years but I have never taken you on a plane trip, what a shame? How about next Sunday?, he suggested”.

“Early Sunday morning Putha I went to the Ratmalana Airport. He had arranged a two-seater plane for the ride. While he sat at the controls I sat behind him. I could see mechanical devices moving forwards and backwards in between my feet as he maneuvered the plane.

At times I felt as if the plane was going to fall down and my friend said, “Don’t worry Machan I am just taking a turn, enjoy the view”!

“In moment, Putha, came a bolt from the blue. He said, Machan, very unusual, there’s a sudden engine failure and the plane is only gliding at present due to momentum; it could at any minute nose dive! What am I going to do with you? I am sorry Macho. I have the parachute to eject but I am worried about you”.

“I looked around and told my friend Putha, don’t you worry about me mate, you just jump out and I will find my own way to safety”.

“One thing I always do, Putha, is to carry my mamandiya’s (Father-in-Law’s) umbrella wherever I go. And it was sitting next to me right at that time. I simply jumped out of the plane, opened the umbrella and landed safely to the ground”. (bless his soul)

To be continued “¦”¦..

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