People in Mandana Town were known for not attending funerals. The folks in this town were a happy-go-lucky community. They worked hard during weekdays and partied on Saturday and Sunday. Thusitha, a photographer, was an exception. He attended funerals. He had other reasons to be present at funerals. He always took his camera to such occasions and made sure to capture the moments. He was an expert in capturing grief in reel.
Just about a month ago, he attended a funeral in Jayapura, a small hamlet close to Mandana Town. The deceased was his close friend Saman’s father. They all called the old man ‘Samare Uncle’. His name was Samarakoon and he had two beautiful daughters. Saman was the eldest in the family.
Thusitha went to the funeral house the day following Samare Uncle’s death. He had always shown a lot of interest in these two girls. However, their response towards Thusitha’s gestures was lukewarm. The eldest of the two girls was Piyasaranee. She was pretty and she was a university graduate who worked in a bank.
Samare Uncle knew that Thusitha was interested in one of his daughters. He saw Thusitha as a wanderer, a man without a clear goal in life. He opined that photography should be a hobby and not the profession of a ‘man’. He always thought that Thusitha should get himself a decent job. When Thusitha got a job in Australia, in an advertising firm, Saman conveyed this to his father and he was very happy.
Thusitha was out of the country for two years. It was during this time that Piyasaranee gave her consent to tie the knot with a person who her parents proposed to her. The wedding was not given much publicity for obvious reasons.
When Thusitha saw Piyasaranee at the funeral, she developed a deep feeling towards him. She observed that she was not in control of her emotions. She was already a mother and her once lean body had gained flesh in all the right places. Thusitha couldn’t resist Piyasaranee when he saw her. He said ‘hi’ and they got down to talking.
Piyasaranee had married a planter by the name of Dulaj. He was not in town most of the time because the estate that employed him had provided him with quarters to live in. Thusitha and Piyasaranee exchanged pleasantries. She was very eager to talk to Thusitha and he realized this. She invited him to have a meal and Thusitha accepted the invitation.
Thusitha realized that Piyasaranee was warming up to him. He, too, didn’t stop himself from following his heart, which was racing in the direction of Piyasaranee. Their meeting was like bee meeting flower. When the funeral concluded, an illicit romance between the two had begun.
They often began to meet at cafes and up-market shopping malls. This was because their loved ones and close relations never had the habit of frequenting these places. By the third week of meeting neither of the two could disagree that this was love.
Piyasaranee, meanwhile, was making plans to open a garment factory which would specialize in the manufacture of tee shirts. One day when Thusitha called Piyasaranee she inquired whether he could tap his contacts, in the photography industry, to get business for her upcoming garment factory. He responded negatively. He told Piyasaranee that his contacts were strictly for official photography purposes and not to generate business for the garment industry. They argued that day. Piyasaranee told Thusitha that if he hadn’t had the habit of using his contacts for business purposes he should get used to doing so because she could benefit from it. Thusitha flatly refused to budge from his stance.
They didn’t talk for a few days. He thought that it would be unbecoming of him to make changes for a woman who he had met only the other day. Thusitha thought that had he said ‘yes’ there could be more requests to change even personality traits and habits. What had happened had made it very uncomfortable for him to continue his relationship with Piyasaranee.
When she phoned him, he didn’t answer and responded with a SMS saying he was busy. He later sent a message saying it was ‘over’ and suggested it would be better for both of them to return to their own ‘lives’.
Piyasaranee apologized and sent a text message through her phone. She said she could make it up to him and that they should meet again. She was glued to her phone for the next couple of hours, but she was continuously staring into a blank in box.