It was all thanks to the school Principal who doubled up as the English Master, thanks to Kusumalatha who pulled him back to school with her coy smile and occasional granting of an accidental touch and thanks to Dhammaloka Hamuduruwo who took a special interest in Silibiris after Siriyalatha pleaded with the monk to admonish her son.
Nobody could help him with his arithmetic though, for which he achieved a spectacular F.
Silibiris did manage a result of Six-Three as the boys would say when inquired about their results. He obtained Credits for Sinhala, Buddhism and English while receiving simple passes for Art, Civics and Health Science. His credit pass for English was the first ever at Ambarawa School which made him just as big an achiever as Danda who had received distinctions for Arithmetic, Sinhala, Buddhism and credits for other subject except English, which he failed. Chandare had already dropped out of school. The rest of the gang failed the O/Ls, including Kusumalatha.
By then, Dhammaloka Hamuduruwo had become an influential person in the area, visited by many politicians and Heads of Government Departments. He made it a point to find employment for local youth in Government Departments or even the private firms which had commercial interests in the area. Dhammaloka Hamuduruwo made special mention of Silibiris’ credit pass in English to such visitors as a great achievement of a local schoolboy from a poor settler family.
After the O/Ls, Silibiris was at a loose end again. Haramanis wanted Silibiris to join him in his trading activities, but Siriyalatha wanted her son to find a Government job with a pension. Silibiris took advantage of the parents’ tussle and whiled away his time at the local tea shop playing Daam with the young unemployed men while telling tall stories, keeping an eye out for the village lasses that came to the tea shop cum grocery store to buy daily provisions.
He made it a point to be around when Kusumalatha came to buy bread every morning. After leaving school, they did not have the same opportunity to meet unnoticed.
Silibiris loved her sensual walk to and from the shop with her long pleated hair dancing rhythmically and dangling over her back beyond her buttocks which danced up and down to the same silent beat with every step she took sashaying her wide hips. She glanced at him from the corner of her eye secretly giving him a small inviting smile. She was only too conscious of the gossiping shop keeper who would make a mountain out of a mole hill of anything he saw or heard. Kusumalatha was at an age where she could do without gossip.
One evening, she noticed Silibiris at the temple talking to the Podi Hamuduruwo. She gave her mother the slip and dilly-dallied until he noticed her. She signaled him to come over. She gave him some of her flowers to offer at the Bodhi Tree, stood very close to him reciting the gathas. Kusumalatha hoped he noticed her fragrance, the young blossoming shapely body, never mind the thoughts of one’s body decaying like the flowers offered.
The meaning of Poojemi Buddham was far from the mind of Silibiris. He noticed her ample heaving bosom. He could smell her sandalwood soap fragrance. He heard her lilting voice. He felt her heat.
He made a wish.
She made a wish.
Unbeknownst, their wishes was identical.