Illustration by Saranga Peiris

Young Silibiris had survived the night in Ambarawa.
The morning was strangely cool. He got up, lifted his sarong folding one end over his head like a hood, creeping outside to survey his surroundings.

He noticed the huge Kohomba tree in the front yard with some monkeys curiously looking on. Silibiris grinned…they grinned back. Silibiris scratched his head. They imitated him yet again.

Flocks of parrots whizzed around as if they were playing a game of chasers. A distant roar of some wild animal pierced the still air. Silibiris felt an urge to follow the birds.

Silibiris saw a Kadulla by a narrow dirt track going somewhere. He craned his hooded head to see where.

Life of SlibirisTheir hut house was in the middle of a cleared patch of land surrounded by scrub and tall trees.

Haramanis was already busy, digging the parched ground with a mammoty.  Siriyalatha was helping him to water a row of wambotu plants with a pot carried on her hip.
The sisters still sleeping inside.

He felt the urge to explore the neighbourhood
Silibiris realized the parents had not seen him standing in the midula.

He slowly jumped over the kadulla and quietly slipped out of parents sight, running along the dirt track in the direction they came from yesterday.

Within minutes he arrived at the Ambarawa Tank bund.

The scenery took his breath away
Golden sun shimmering on the vast lake, stretching into the distance,  as far as he could see.

Lotus flowers blossomed, jutting out of a sea of lily pads.

A lone woman was rowing a boat picking lotus flowers.

A man standing waist high in the lake was throwing a fishing  net.

Idyllic body of water contrasted the surrounding harsh dry land and a jungle full of wild animals.

He didn’t like the sounds coming from the direction of the jungle. He didn’t know whether they were roaring tigers, lions or even fire-breathing dragons.

Schoolchildren went by, chatting noisily, making fun of the new comer. They wore multi- coloured, non-uniform tattered old clothes. None of them wore shoes. They were distracted by anything and everything on the way, A dead rabbit, fresh elephant droppings, a fallen branch from a Kumbuk tree by the weva…just anything,as long as it delayed their arrival at the school.

A teacher wearing the National Dress stopped by and asked him his name, where he lived. The master admonished Silibiris to report to school without delay and moved on.

A bullock cart came, trundling by with sacks of flour, and other provisions heading towards a village shop
Silibiris lost track of time.

He got a rude awakening from his day dreaming when his panic-stricken angry mother appeared, to drag him away by his ear.

Silibiris resolved to explore some more of his new surroundings the next day.