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There are many who leave their villages, hoping to find luxuries in Colombo. In a villager’s eye, Colombo is a luxurious heaven with skyscrapers and modern vehicles racing along fine roads.

But in reality, Colombo is not a heaven. Only those who have walked along the tar roads in the hot sun know the trouble. This story is about a boy who was sent to Colombo by his parents, hoping that he would win the world. They hoped that sending their child to a prestigious school in Colombo will shape his future flawlessly.

Today, Krishanthan*, the boy who was sent to Colombo is a barber working at a salon in Borella. For a fact, his goal of coming to Colombo was not to become a barber and trim other people’s hair as they please.  Krisanthan grew up in an estate in Nuwara-Eliya.  His mother took care of him and his younger brothers and sisters since their father passed away. As a child, he dreamt of becoming the ‘dore’ (superintendant) of the estate he grew up in.
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This untold dream motivated him that he worked as hard as he can at school. As a result of his commitment he passed the grade five scholarship exams with flying colors. He was among the top five scorers in the Nuwara-Eliya district.

This was a milestone he was hoping for that he received the opportunity to get into a well-known Tamil Boys’ School in Colombo. Since there was no one he knew in Colombo he had to stay at the school hostel. His mother sent him money whenever she could with the innocent wish to see her son hold a good position today. She dreamt of her son, studying hard at school and doing new experiments at the school laboratory.

Yet, he says that the only experiments he did was with the drugs he got hold of through his friends. He lamented how his friends made him use drugs and how he became an addict eventually. He was not the enthusiastic studious boy anymore. His enthusiasm laid somewhere else. By the time he got into Ordinary Level classes he had already started an affair with a girl from a close by girls’ school.

Now he sees this relationship as the last chance he received to get back to the correct path. He never paid attention to his girlfriend’s advice as he was blinded by the bad influence of his school friends. It’s not that she didn’t try; she tried as hard as she could. But, it was a nuisance for him. He admired his freedom too much and said goodbye to his love.
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He recalled how he screwed up his OL exams and she succeeded in passing the exam with good grades. He envied his ex-girlfriend for choosing science stream and later getting into Peradeniya University. At this age, he did not regret his failure. With no qualifications to study for his Advanced Level exams, he had to find a way to survive. This is why he chose to became a barber to make a living.  First few years as a barber too were hard for him as he was still haunted by his old friends as well as drugs. He now regrets having engaged in fights and being remanded by police several times.

Now in his early 30s he recognizes his mistakes. Although he has pushed away most of his bad habits, he think it too late now to fulfill his childhood dreams. Time has flown too fast and he can’t correct the mistakes he made. The love he said goodbye to is also too far away from him now. Today, she is happily married with two kids and holds a high position at a prestigious media institution.

Translated by Kusumanjalee Thilakarathna
Pics by Ravindra Dharmathilake
*Name has been changed to protect the privacy of the individual