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Saturday, April 18, 2015

A Short Story - By LA

At a time when the Sinhala New Year is being celebrated in Sri Lanka, I thought of posting this on our blog. This short story is set in the early seventies when the country was plagued by scarcities of all essential goods. It was also the era when professionals like doctors were leaving the country in droves seeking greener pastures.

(All characters in this story are fictitious).

Pamela's Shopping List

Pamela was a polished young lass born into a rich family living in Colombo 7. Very good looking at age 18, she was a bright all round student. But she was on the verge of leaving school as her doting parents didn't want her to go to the University. After all, they had grandiose plans to give her in marriage to an eligible young man hailing from an equally affluent family known to them. The prospective bridegroom was about to complete his own education in a prestigious university abroad.

The driver of the Mercedes Benz which Pamela's father owned was Piyadasa who had very little to show by way of education. Although he was a typical village lad by upbringing, he knew a smattering of English having worked in the big city for some time. He had started as a domestic servant in the household but his wealthy employer was impressed by Piyadasa's devotion to duty. The old gentleman helped Piyadasa to obtain his driving license and was soon elevated to the position of driver when the faithful Publis Singho had to retire due to old age.

The daily routine was for Piyadasa to drop Pamela at a very feminine sounding but leading girls' school down a flowery avenue in the morning and to be picked up each afternoon at school closing time. Many were the students from a nearby boys' school who were eyeing the girl seated in the rear seat of the big black Benz. They came from the same social background that Pamela belonged to.

However, fate was to play a role in transforming young Pamela's life. One thing led to another, and the driver and his employer's daughter soon fell in love with each other. "Head over heels" so to say, to signify the intensity of their love. The parents got to know about it and as expected, ordered them to stop the affair forthwith. The driver was sacked but the duo had found a way of secretly meeting each other during school hours. The inevitable happened with the young girl eloping with the former driver. Pamela sacrificed her entire future when she decided to enjoy marital bliss in Piyadasa's humble home in his village in Buttala.

The son of a poor farmer, Piyadasa helped his father in his day to day work. What he earned was hardly sufficient for the newly weds to have three square meals a day. Pamela had smuggled out some cash and that helped the young couple to tide over the most difficult period. To her credit, Pamela had adjusted herself well to fit into village life, sans running water, electricity or any of the modern conveniences she took for granted in her Colombo 7 home. With her meagre resources, she managed to effect improvements to her new home.

Then came Sinhala New Year time and Pamela set about the task of redecorating her humble abode. Running out of cash, she realised that a few metres of Long Cloth was all she could afford to cover the worn out upholstery of the old living room furniture. Moreover, in that austere period, even Long Cloth was not available in Buttala or Moneragala. Since she needed a few other sundry items as well, Pamela asked Piyadasa to take a bus to Pettah, especially to purchase the precious Long Cloth. Knowing that Piyadasa was unfamiliar with what headed her shopping list, Pamela gave strict instructions to Piyadasa to memorise the words "Long Cloth".

The long awaited day dawned at last, and Piyadasa boarded a bus to proceed to Colombo city. He found a seat at the rear end of the bus where he settled down for the long journey, but kept muttering "Long Cloth", "Long Cloth" to himself. He was practicing the key words as per Pamela's instructions. By the time the bus reached Belihuloya, as often happens when one tries to memorise words that don't mean anything, "Long Cloth" had changed to "Long Coloth". As the bus passed the Ratnapura bazaar, "Long Coloth" had become "Lung Coloth". Piyadasa however was pre occupied with his continuous narration of "Lung Coloth", "Lung Coloth" which by now came to him almost mechanically. The rickety old CTB bus arrived in Pettah and drew to a halt in the allotted slot. Piyadasa continued his manthram with his mission uppermost in his mind, but by that time, "Lung Coloth" had changed to plain and simple "Lung Kaloth".

He wasted no time and rushed to the nearest textile shop near the Bo tree at "Gas Paha Handiya" (turn off to Gasworks Street). He timidly walked up to a sales girl who was day dreaming at a counter and asked her in rustic Sinhala "Lung Kaloth keeyada"? Translated into English, it meant "How much is Lung Kaloth"?

What poor Piyadasa didn't know was that the sales girl happened to be a part time prostitute. Selling cloth in the textile shop was only a day time job for her. At night time, she was engaged in the more lucrative trade of selling her body to any man who came to her for sexual favours. When confronted with the question, the sales girl coyly but unhesitatingly replied "Lung Kaloth panahai. athul kaloth nang seeyai" (what she really meant was that just bringing it close costs fifty, but if you want to insert, it will cost hundred").


  1. "a very feminine sounding but leading girls' school down a flowery avenue" !!!!
    Sriani and Srianee, we need to watch this guy with his short stories !!!
    Besides- why the "but" in the sentence ?
    Cheers Lucky

  2. Rohini seems to be reading between lines as well.

    "But" in that sentence is a key word. There are many such schools in Colombo like Anula Vidyalaya, Ananda Balika, Buddhist Ladies etc. But they are not considered as "leading" schools for some reason.

    More importantly, why are "ladies" referred to as the weaker sex? Because gents lead and ladies follow!

  3. Lucky,
    Many thanks for clarifying the context in which "but " was intended.
    As for ladies being referred to as the weaker sex - this is only done by the opposite sex who think ladies follow them when in fact ladies are following their own dreams!
    All said Lucky- Your verbal camouflage in that sentence was very amusing. I enjoyed it - Thankyou.

  4. Lucky
    Thanks. So good to have some original thinking. Greatly appreciated. I dont know why we dont see me from you??

  5. I don't understand, why should going all the way after reaching very close quarters carry a 100% mark up?.....mark up, that wasn't a pun!

  6. Lucky, I love the part about "Lung kaloth"......good one.

  7. Speedy sounds so innocent (or is he pretending?) A 100% mark up may be quite reasonable from the viewpoint of a sex professional. Have you heard of "Hand Jobs", "Blow Jobs" and "Happy Endings" in massage parlours? They are much cheaper than a visit to a brothel for the real thing. I should know (you may be expecting something else!) because my first job after Internship was in the Central VD Clinic of the General Hospital, Colombo. Part of my job was to visit "Houses of ill fame" in Colombo for contact tracing (accompanied by Public Health Inspectors).

  8. I love this story and the discussion following it. But feel too shy to offer any worthwhile comments. I too like the Lung Koloth word. Thanks a lot for this story with an unusual ending. I rather expected Piyadasa to meet his former employer and get a hammering.