In a remote hamlet in Sri Lanka this incident happened
An unusual affair
The days went by.
The days of laughter.
Telling of old tales, walking in the evenings....
Before lunch we all went for a dip in the river.
Drinking Toddy after a bath....
"These days the current is at its lowest, so, don't worry Jenny", Harshana told my wife.
It was very cold water. The river is called Hulu ganga, a branch of Mahaweli, I learnt. We spent about an hour or so bathing & swimming and hurried home as I felt hungry after a long drive and a bath.
"Let's try some Toddy first, Jaye" He had brought a bottle of toddy and it was very sweet, I remember.
To reach the bathing spot we had to walk about a Kilometer and a half in the thick shrubbery passing a few thatched houses along the way. Far away on both sides I could see the paddy fields. When you go beyond the paddy fields, fruit trees like mango, jambu and butter fruit welcome you from both sides of the road.
When we got near the third house we saw a beautiful village damsel doing something in the open. When I asked Harshana who that was, he replied "Ah, that's Manel, Keerthi's wife"
"Who is Keerthi?" suddenly I wanted to know about them.
"The one with Dolomite industry you know?" Harshana replied innocently.
"Turn to the left passing the bus stand, Jaye" Jennifer told me in an exited voice. We had just passed Digana town & were rushing along Mahiyangane road to my friend, Harshana's home in the suburb called Gomagoda. It was in 2015 April, two days before the new year.
He lived in a hamlet near the river with his wife and 2 children. Harshana wanted me and wife there to spend a couple of days with them. As our children were not here,we had agreed to come there for the April holidays.
Dilhani, Harshana's wife greeted us with a big smile.
"Do you remember me?" I asked her.
"Though it is being a longtime since I last saw you Aiya, how can I forget your face with those birthmarks?" she asked.
"Yes", I replied. I have very distinguished birthmarks on my face. Actually, four birthmarks- two below my lower lip, one on the chin and the last one on the throat, all in a straight line.
"Like Irene's", Jenny used to tease me.
"Irene, Willi Abeynayake's wife in the movie "Nidhanaya".
"Oh" I nodded my head.
It was four days after the New Year, 18th Friday.
I have a habit of walking in the mornings wherever I am. Jenny was cooking with Dilhani in the kitchen and Harshana was attending to his motor cycle.
"Care for a bath?" I asked him. We would be leaving in the afternoon and I wanted a bath badly.
"No Jaye, some problem in the carb, you go ahead. On the way to the river don't forget to tell Piyasena Aiya to bring 2 bottles of Toddy".
"Sure "I nodded and left.
I took the normal route to the river and was in the water for about half an hour and suddenly saw dark clouds looming behind the hills.
Soon, I finished bathing & started my way back to Harshana's home.
The rain started to splatter heavily, suddenly it was like being hit with stones. I looked around to see for some shelter and my eyes went straight to a small house along the way.
I waited in the shade of the front door and suddenly heard a voice. "Please come inside, Mahattaya". It was the lady called Manel, whose hubby was Keerthi, who was away at work and....
It was getting cold and I was feeling chilly & I went inside the house and sat on a chair.
I had a cup of tea prepared by Manel which tasted fine.
"Where are the children" I asked her.
'No children mahattaya" she replied innocently.
"You are staying at Harshana mahattaya's place?" she asked with her dusky eyes staring at my face, searching for something.
"Yes". She has dark brown eyes, I thought. Very pretty.
"I saw you.... the other day". She held her head low.
"I used to work in his garden" she again.
Heavy thunder now!
"Some time ago" she looked at me inquiringly.
The lightning struck suddenly.
Together, we listened to the thunder.
Heavy rain now. It was unexpectedly very dark.
Suddenly, in the dark of that house, I felt a hand touching my chest....
It was December last year. Again, a trip to Digana.
This time my younger brother Manoj and his wife Rudanthi also came with us.
Same place at Harshana's.
Walking in the evenings.
To the morning mass at Digana church on Sunday.
One morning we all went for a bath in the river.
Calm river in the morning.
Crystal clear water and very shallow in this place, I thought.
There was no one bathing there at that time except for a man of around 60 and a boy of 3 years of age.
While bathing I asked Harshana "Who are those two?"
"Why, Manel's husband and their son "he said diving in to the river.
Rudanthi had a good look at the boy and said sharply, "Aiya, that boy has the same distinguished birthmarks just like you!"
My hand went to touch my birthmarks Instinctively.