Illustration by Saranga Peiris

Haramanis hired other settlers to work the lands he acquired while he got on with vegetable collection and wholesale business.  Siriyalatha attended to the children and housework.

Silibiris was enjoying the life in Ambarawa. Going to school was something he had to do… reluctantly… but the girls in the class made the experience bearable. They teased him pairing him with this or that girl but it was all innocent fun.

Life of SlibirisWhile the girls were somewhat grown up at 13 with bumps and lumps in the right places, he didn’t even have signs of getting any facial hair yet.

But that did not stop him from sneaking a peak ‘horengli’ at them bathing in the weva or ela.

Most of the girls of that age went to the bathing spots with their mothers but some of them came with friends.

Silibiris always had some errand to run at the same times those girls came to bathe. He cycled by them on his father’s brand new Raleigh.

He would cycle up and down the tank bund as if he was the busiest kid in the village.
The girls giggled and waved encouraging him to stop by.

He would pretend to be in a mighty hurry but never failed to stop, lean his bicycle against the Kumbuk tree and sat on the water’s edge chatting with the girls.

These budding village girls were frisky. They would deliberately loosen their diyaredda to put soap in hidden places accidentally purposely showing off their growing lumps and bumps.

Silibiris pretended not to look but they all knew the game. The bathing girls added to the beauty of the weva with gentle waves, full of lotus flowers, herds of buffalos submerged in blue water, fish jumping out of water here and there, water birds diving in and out catching fish, flocks of white cranes sitting on dead trees jutting out of water as if serenely observing the goings on…but suddenly to take flight as if they remembered they had to be somewhere else.

He wasn’t always lurking around girls, he did have a life.

A life full of volleyball games, elle games, if not chakgudu games or simply roaming around the jungle aimlessly with a gang of boys. Nimal, Siripala, Chandare, Podda, Thilakaya, Gune, Pachaya, Kaluwa formed the core of his gang while other casual members would come and go depending of the activities.

They loved to hunt some small game in spite of getting into trouble at Daham Pasela when one of the rival gangs would snitch on them to Dhammaloka Hamuduruwo.