Haramanis grabbed Silibiris by the ear, tied him to the Siyambala tree in the front, beat him mercilessly with a stick.. and… for good measure, shook off a Dimmi Gotta (Red ants nest) over the boys head. The agitated ants ran all over Silibiris’ body biting him. Silibiris wailed and cried asking Siriyalatha to rescue him.
Ambarawa gang of boys was led by Chandare. He was older, tougher and wilder than the rest.
His brave and tough talking ways earned him the respect of the rest of the boys in the settlement. Initially, Chandare was the organizer of elle and chakgudu games, but later on they graduated to jungle games. Chandare was the commander of the jungle battalion. They roamed the jungle, after school and during weekends, imagining being a bunch of bandits hiding from the law.
Chandare would sell their bounty of fruits harvested from the jungle to Haramanis to take to the Pola (Fair). The money was spent at Velus Tamil shop in Bulankulam village to buy beedi (a local cigarette). The gang felt all grown up, smoking beedi in their jungle hideout.
Chandare’s gang comprised settlers children like Silibiris. The children of the original inhabitants of the village always made fun of them about their fathers’ illegal activities or their mothers’ nefarious activities in the absence of their husbands. These taunts invariably led to fights between Chandare’s gang and Danda’s gang.
Danda was a lanky boy whose real name was Ranamal. He excelled at most subjects and even games and sports. He was the son of the village headman. He walked as if he owned the village. The budding village girls were all competing to get his attention which he pretended not to notice.
The clashes between two gangs erupted often for no real reason either in the school grounds or at the bathing spot under the Kumbuk tree. Perhaps one boy would accuse the other for just looking at him threateningly. Or one would make up some story how Chandare’s gang accosted their sister at the bathing spot. On other occasions it might be over an elle game where one would accuse another of cheating by pretending the tennis ball missed them instead of branding them. What started as innocent school yard fights became more and more serious as time went by.
Haramanis got to know that Silibiris was cutting school and getting into fights. He also realized Silibiris was stealing beedi from his own bundle. Eventually, it was a visit by an angry village headman to Haramanis’ house yelling at him to control his boy that ashamed Haramanis into action.
Haramanis waited for Silibiris to saunter in at dusk after being out with the boys the whole day. Haramanis grabbed Silibiris by the ear, tied him to the Siyambala tree in the front, beat him mercilessly with a stick.. and… for good measure, shook off a Dimmi Gotta (Red ants nest) over the boys head. The agitated ants ran all over Silibiris’ body biting him. Silibiris wailed and cried asking Siriyalatha to rescue him. She knew Haramanis better than to interfere. She too cried in a corner.
When Haramanis was out of sight she went over to Silibiris and applied pol thel on the welts formed on his skin from the fierce canning.