Author Archive for Arcadius

VILLAGE SKETCH (FICTION)—28, AVURUDDA BRINGS HOPE TO DAYDREAMER

Monday, August 13th, 2012

Arcadius The little boys screamed and fought as they played. This was their favorite game, a game of skill they played with cadjunuts. No little village boy knew to play quietly. They always shouted and they always fought. No game was complete without a fight. Piyananda was startled by the sudden noise. He sat in […]

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VILLAGE SKETCH (FICTION) –27-THE CURSE OF THE GODS

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

ARCADIUS “It’s the curse of the gods, this drought,” Kira said to his wife in listless tones. “It has never been like this.” It was an unprecedented drought. Caked and cracking soil, bare trees with dried up twigs making metallic noises in the breeze; intense heat, the fierce glare and the dead grass a withered […]

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Village Sketch–26, Wala Semba: Simpleton or Entertainer?

Saturday, July 28th, 2012

By Arcadius  Wala Semba (one who used a pot to empty a pit) was a well-known person in our village. He was a seedy, bandy-legged man sporting a bristling moustache. His face revealed the unmistakable signs of a quitter. Although the village folks had no knowledge of physiognomy, they saw cowardice wrapped up in his […]

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Village Sketch—25:Four Merry Gentlemen

Friday, July 20th, 2012

By Arcadius After my mother’s younger brother, Punchi Maama, left Pathegama, he settled in a village in the Northwestern Province. The new headmaster of the village school was an elderly man. But he was quite different from the common run of his confreres (fellow members of his profession). He did not care to be dignified. […]

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VILLAGE SKETCH—24, GHOSAKAYA AND GOLUWA

Friday, July 13th, 2012

Arcadius Ghosakaya, the loudmouthed, was not a big man. He talked big though. A swarthy man with graying hair tied in a small knot, he became famous for his propensity for Bacchanalian habits. Equally famous was his tone of voice. Apparently, he had an incredible degree of lungpower. It was the general belief that he […]

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VILLAGE SKETCH—23, KUNU NACHCHILE: AN HONEST ANIMAL LOVER

Friday, July 6th, 2012

Arcadius Only one lonely house was along the patch of road from Galkanda to Matthebokka. It was a very small thatched house built of wattle and mud. Facing it was a tract of rice paddies, across which the road meandered. The highland above it was vast expanse of cinnamon. A villager passing by this spot […]

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VILLAGE SKETCH—22, KANKANAMA MIXED PEELING WITH FEELING

Friday, June 29th, 2012

Arcadius Kankanama puts his right leg forward and involuntarily imparts a slow motion to it. Not that he is trying to shake something off his leg. That is his habit. Then, he puts his arms akimbo, implicitly warning everybody that he has something to say. However, everybody around him knows about that “something.” For, he […]

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Village Sketch—21 Seetha And Maggie Take Different Paths

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

By Arcadius How Seetha made her first appearance at our Maha Gedera (ancestral home) was rather strange. It was many years ago in the World War II era, when I was only a little kid growing up in the village surroundings of Pathegama. She, a young adult, was standing near the siyambala (tamarind) tree in […]

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VILLAGE SKETCH—20-DAVID AND GONIYA: HEROES OR VILLAINS?

Friday, June 15th, 2012

Arcadius David Mahattaya had no doubt that he was a brave man. Others, including his spouse (or, more aptly, his ball and chain), thought that he was a braggadocio. However, I must concede that this was only a difference of opinion. Wags said that if the neurons surrounding the cerebrtal cortex of his namarupa were […]

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VILLAGE SKETCH—19 -REDI NENDA: THE WASHERWOMAN

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

Arcadius Toting a big round bundle of laundry on her back, she trudges along the path leading to our house.  The load, apparently, is ponderous.  She has hunched a little to accommodate the weight because she is fairly old and frail. I can spy her through the bamboo-grove as she comes.  I am impatient to […]

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VILLAGE SKETCH—18, GRANDFATHER TRIES TO HELP

Friday, June 1st, 2012

Arcadius The Ceylon Agricultural Society, a private society of British colonists, established the first co-operatives around 1904. But it was D. S. Senanayake””‚minister of agriculture and land in the State Council, and prime minister (1947-1952) of independent Ceylon””‚who founded the island’s cooperative-society movement in 1923. After the Japanese attack on Colombo in 1942, Senanayake emphasized […]

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VILLAGE SKETCH—17-LOKU MAAMA OUTSMARTS ‘THIEF,’ PARTIES WITH PALS

Friday, May 25th, 2012

Arcadius Grandfather was fuming in a fit of ill temper. The top drawer of his escritoire was missing together with all its contents. Probably, it was the work of a clever burglar. A huge footprint was clearly imprinted on the wall of the front room where the escritoire stood. Grandfather had good reason to be […]

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VILLAGE SKETCH—16, SISTER AND I: GETTING (CASHEW) NUTTY

Friday, May 18th, 2012

Arcadius It is Bak, the first month of the Sinhala/Buddhist lunar calendar, according to which each month begins on the Poya (full-moon) Day.  Yet another day is about to break, and a throaty cockerel makes this break known with a well audible cock-a-doodle-doo. Although I am still asleep, I can hear mother say, “Get up […]

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VILLAGE SKETCH—15,SINGAPPURU BASUNNEHE: ‘HONEST’ GOLDSMITH

Saturday, May 12th, 2012

Arcadius “ƒ”¹…”Nor all that glisters, gold.’ When Thomas Gray (1716-1771) made this observation, he must have had some sort of prescience about the ornaments produced by the goldsmiths of our village, particularly those of the workmanship of Singappuru Basunnehe (Goldsmith from Singapore). He was called Singappuru Basunnehe not because he had the appearance of a […]

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VILLAGE SKETCH—14 PUNCHI MAAMA’S SALAD DAYS:LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON

Sunday, May 6th, 2012

Arcadius The early childhood of Punchi Maama, the younger legitimate son of the imperious village headman of Pathegama in the era of World War II (and, therefore, the younger brother of my mother), had a remarkable similarity to that of Pip Pirrip, the protagonist of Dickens’s Great Expectations.  For both were brought up “by hand” […]

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VILLAGE SKETCH—13, TESTING REAL LIFE ON A BIKE

Friday, April 27th, 2012

Arcadius A sense of modest pride overwhelms me when I recall how I learnt to ride a bicycle. I was just 9 years old then. I was a student in the fifth grade of the town English school. Though small both in years and size, I was rather big in my aspirations. I longed to […]

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VILLAGE SKETCH—12-KALU APPU ENDS HIS TERROR, VILLAGERS CELEBRATE

Friday, April 20th, 2012

Arcadius There was unusual festivity in the village.  As on any other festive occasion, the villagers partook of the traditional milk-rice and pastry.  The women played the rabana, the traditional goatskin drum, to rhyme with a good selection of raban sural (tunes).  The men played the card game buruwa (Blackjack) and talked endlessly.  They were […]

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CHAPTER—11 -VOTE FOR MENNA MAHATTAYA

Friday, April 13th, 2012

Arcadius Whether the proud possessor of a resourceful brain responsible for the origin of the idea that “politics is a dirty game” was thinking of those who directly took part in that magnanimous “sport” or of others who played the roles of henchmen and sycophants, is not clear. Considering how that “game” was played in […]

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VILLAGE SKETCH—10,MYNA LOSES HIS KONDE (KNOT OF HAIR)

Friday, April 6th, 2012

Arcadius As a community of very devout Theravada Buddhists, the simple folks of Pathegama professed to follow the pure Hinayana (Lower Wheel) form of the doctrine that the Gautama Buddha meticulously elucidated in his sacred suttas (the Pali discourses he delivered after his Enlightenment) that together with vinaya (disciplinary code for monks) and abidhamma (the […]

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VILLAGE SKETCH—9 RATAGIYA MAHATTAYA: A HALFWAY INTELLECTUAL

Friday, March 30th, 2012

 Arcadius The poor villager stood at the doorway of his thatched dwelling.  He watched the flowering medium-sized murunga (billygoat plum) tree, which he had planted in the front-yard not too long ago. He absorbed the elegant beauty of its small, creamy-white flowers that dotted the spikes of its leaves. This murunga tree provided the man […]

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VILLAGE SKETCH—8-VEL VIDANE: ‘LORD’ OF THE RICE-PADDIES

Saturday, March 24th, 2012

Arcadius It was perhaps the best of times. The best of times, I mean, for the Vel Vidane (Irrigation Headman). In a general sense, Pathegama was self-sufficient in paddy, and the Vel Vidane was more self-sufficient in the commodity in a particular sense. For this achievement was not the result of persevering industry involving his […]

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VILLAGE SKETCH—7 ATHA KOTA: ROBIN HOOD OF GALAGAMULLA

Friday, March 16th, 2012

by Arcadius Atha Kota (Man with Lost Hand) and his five younger sons lived a “primitive” life of hunting and gathering in an idyllic spot called Galagamulla on the foothills of Maligakanda. Kambura, the toddy tapper, was their closest neighbor. No wonder that the two families regaled themselves with a steady supply of toddy so […]

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VILLAGE SKETCH—6-KAMBURA: THE TODDY TAPPER

Friday, March 9th, 2012

Arcadius Legend has it that Andare, the court-jester who served during the reign of  KingRajadhi Rajasinghe (1782-1798), was once ambling along a footpath when he saw the village toddy-tapper guzzling a potion of liquor (palm wine) down his bulgy throat. Andare had smacked his lips and pleaded with the tapper for a draught to quench […]

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VILLAGE SKETCH—5, BANDARAWELA BAPPA TAKES ON MYNA

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

Arcadius Ceylon was a Crown Colony during the World War II era. The colonized subjects of His Majesty George VI (1936-1952) of the United Kingdom felt jolly good because the coffers of the colony were the responsibility of the British governors””‚Andrew Caldecott (1937-1944) and Henry Monck-Mason Moore (1944-1948)””‚who represented the Crown. Not having to worry […]

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VILLAGE SKETCH—4, MENIKE NENDA GOES TO THE ‘BIOSCOPE’

Saturday, February 25th, 2012

 Arcadius The fresh morning air they breathed, the sweet songs of the birds they heard, the beautiful flowers they saw, and so many other lovely rustic things that they sensed and felt, explained very clearly the cause of the health and happiness of the village folk of Pathegama. Just before the approach of the Sinhala […]

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VILLAGE SKETCH – 3-PUNCHI AMMA SAYS GOOD-BYE

Saturday, February 18th, 2012

ARCADIUS The World War II era was the time when my grandfather reigned supreme in thevillageofPathegama””…” liege lord of his territory, displaying a bearing as if to say “I am the king of all I survey.” The villagers, liegemen one and all, did not dispute that, though a degree of resentment against his omnipotence latently […]

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VILLAGE SKETCH—2-LOKU MAAMA MAKES THE BIG-TIME

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Arcadius [Note: A shorter version of this Village Sketch by Arcadius appeared in the CDN Saturday Magazine on June 12, 1965. Arcadius revised it in 2012. This is the work of a Ceylon-born rural lad who used his mastery of English to give the global literati direct access to the principal characters of his birth-village […]

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Village Sketch – 1-‘CANNIBALS’ INVADE VILLAGE

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

Arcadius  [Note: A shorter version of this Village Sketch by Arcadius appeared in the CDN Saturday Magazine on June 12, 1965. Arcadius revised it in 2012. This is the work of a Ceylon-born rural lad who used his mastery of English to give the global literati direct access to the principal characters of his birth-village […]

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