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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Another Unforgettable Gem

Badagini wela mama giya kala puthuge geta

Manala wee seruwak dunnayi mallakata

Gando nogando kiyala hithuni mata

Manalatha puthe, kiri dunne mang numbata.


When I visited my son's house once when I was feeling hungry

I was given a measured "seruwa" of rice into a bag.

I was in two minds whether to accept it or not

Did I ever measure the breast milk that I fed you with?

From Lucky (My own crude translation)

* In Sri Lanka, "Seruwa" is a common measure for rice.


  1. Lucky,This is fantastic-
    It brings back so many memories of my childhood-the wonderful Ayahs we had who played such an important part in the developement of my mother tongue.
    This is a Kavi I remember from my very young days,together with stories of Amal Biso and Andare etc which were recited over and over by these lovely Ayahs who cared for us so lovingly and kept in touch with us after they married,had children of their own and until they departed this world,leaving such fond memories. Thankyou

  2. Lucky, just as Rohini says, this brings back sweet memories of my childhood, for I too learned this "kavi" in my early childhood. I still remember all the lines.
    Getting on to the topic of "Ayahs" we will never see the likes of those described so aptly by Rohini. I was lucky that two of them who looked after me as a child, were still around when my daughter was a baby. Shari was lucky that she had another loving "Ayah" who spun so many interesting stories to get the food down her throat! Two of them came with their children and stayed for weeks with us when Shari got married. The modern ones are referred to as "Maids", have no loyalty whatsoever,and are more interested in watching TV and demanding their rights. My current "Maid" wanted short leave to go to a Beauty Salon in Nugegoda, to get her eyebrows plucked!!! Ralph and I freaked out, but Shari calmed and consoled us by saying that it is quite "normal" for a young maid to have her eyebrows plucked!
    Sriani B

  3. My parents had 6 children and my mother would have found it virtually impossible to manage without the help of our domestic consultants. One of them,Alice was loved and treasured by all of us and was with us till my mother passed away ( my father pre-deceased my Amma). Alice then moved on to her niece's house and was a valued and respected member of that household which included two growing up children. All of us visited her whenever we went to Sri Lanka and it was so heartwarming to see her as an equal in that house. She loved my mother unconditionally and was heartbroken when she died. There was a special bond between them. I often used to protest to my parents why these wonderful people are relegated as servants but in their defense, they treated them really wel, supported their families and educated them when they joined us when young, got them jobs and even helped them find partners! They never forgot us and continued to visit us and I gradually accepted that there were social norms in operation which needed to change but by evolution. I distinctly recall asking Alice to come and sit at the table with us and she was horrified and said "baby maththaya Pissu kathaksranawa - Api kohomada mahattayalath ekka Vadim wela kanne"
    Coming to the verse itself, I remember it well and I am sure all of you know that CT Fernando's song "Sandawatta ran tharu" starts with that particular verse..

  4. I don't blame Speedy for a minor lapse. Being away for so long has to take its toll some day. Anyway, you are close but yet so far. "Sanda wata ran tharu" starts with a similar verse, but not exactly the same.

    "Badagini wela goda vunu kala puthuge geta
    Ma yakinniyaka lesa penunai leliyata
    Daru senahasin anga le peraluni kirata
    Ammada birinda da wediyen loku umbata.


    When I stepped into my son's house as I was hungry
    I appeared to be a devil to my daughter-in-law
    With immense love for a child, my blood turned to milk
    Dear son, who is bigger to you - is it your wife or your mother?

  5. Lucky. You are of course absolutely correct and I stand corrected

  6. Lucky,
    Thank you for posting this "gem." I remember this Kavi very well in spite of being away for so long. (Now I don't feel so clueless. ) On the subject of domestic help, a few hours ago I met the daughter of one of our long standing ayahs, who had come to visit my sister-in-law. The mother , Karunawathi maintained a close relationship with my mother until they both passed way. Now their children stay in touch. I remember watching Karunawathi make pillow (Beeralu) lace in the evening after she finished her work. She would weave the thread wound on "Beeralu" in and out around pins which were fastened on something like a pillow, which she kept on her lap. I never learned the art of doing that from her although it was fascinating to watch. Fond memories as you all said...