Saturday, February 18, 2017
Sordid details of a true story
As related by Lakshman Abeyagunawardene
The year was 1966 and the annual Block Concert was just around the corner. We were carefree medical students then and it was probably the last fun event before we buckled down to serious study in preparation for our final examinations which were due in March the following year. By this time, we were senior students who nevertheless were expected to present an item at the concert.
The story I am about to relate was a well guarded secret up to a time. Then whenever the “boys” got “set” (to use local lingo) with a bottle, glasses and a bite, whatever Prof. Koch taught us about the different stages of alcohol intake began to unwind, with loosened tongues wagging unhindered. Today, the story can be told embellished with all the gory details. After all, we have been doctors for half a century, getting ready to celebrate in style, our 50th Anniversary since graduating with the MBBS!
Our batch was down to perform two items according to the concert programme. We had been specially trained by film actress Beulah Dias Karunaratne to present a ballet (an African dance). The training was conducted in the Men’s Common Room and we took it rather seriously because Beulah was a “no nonsense” woman. It is about the second item that I am about to write. There was no script and no training as such. It was to be a “bull hooch” free for all. The only “training” we had was a series of “rehearsals” about a week prior to the big event. We even had a small budget allocated by the MSU to do pre Block Concert shopping. Thus we spent one morning doing just that at Main Street, Pettah. I remember walking into Visakhamals and walking out with bagfuls of mainly what women need.
A small group of us used to assemble for "rehearsals" every evening in a small joint behind the Majestic Theatre in Bambalapitiya. It was the living quarters of Ganesh’s father old Mr. Vadivelu. Ganesh’s elder brother Siva who was also employed at Ceylon Theatres was the only other occupant. It was a bachelor pad and Ganesh and his pals had a free run of the place. It looked so different to what Majestic City looks like today.
Pimps and the prostitute
Ganesh, Yoga, HN, Mahesan and myself were the main “actors”. The so called “rehearsals” were only an excuse for us to have some fun before the Block Concert. In our unscripted item, I was to be a damsel dressed in Redda Hatte (cloth and jacket). One evening after dusk, I got into my kit, well padded in the right places and complete with makeup consisting of a hairpiece, rouge, lipstick etc. I walked down Station Road with burly Mahesan and HN on either side acting as pimps cum body guards. Ganesh and Yoga kept an eye on us from near the side entrance to the Majestic Cinema, just in case we got into any trouble. I must have looked quite attractive in the semi darkness because there were many motorists who slowed down as if to pick me up, for who knows what!
But as I said before, this was only a minor rehearsal. The main story is what follows.
An outing to remember
For our next adventure, we needed a vehicle. Yoga had borrowed his uncle’s Fiat 1100 for the evening. Being his uncle’s car, Yoga did the driving. Ganesh sat in front and seated in the rear seat with me were HN and Mahesan. I was dressed as usual in my Redda Hatte, playing the role of a dumb prostitute. The inability to speak was to prevent the victim from identifying me from the voice.
The task before us was to find a prospective victim for our planned escapade. We decided to visit Colla at Dewala Road, Nugegoda. I waited in the car with the other three while Ganesh went inside and spoke to Colla. He had explained the purpose of our mission and had asked Colla to join us. He further said that we were five rupees short and the woman was insisting that her fee was Rs 25 and not a cent less. Colla had caught a glimpse of the woman in the car and didn’t want his father to suspect anything. He preferred to continue his discussion near the car and walked towards it. We had a suspicion that Colla was keen to take a look at the woman anyway.
To cut a long story short, Colla didn’t bite. He had somehow suspected that it was a man dressed as a woman. The light falling on my face from a street lamp had clinched the issue. In order to clear any doubts that his father might have had, he was pleading with us to come in and show ourselves.
We were second time lucky and hit the jackpot. From Nugegoda, we drove to Colombo 7. On a road in Cinnamon Gardens, Yoga halted the car in front of a large upstair house. Two of our colleagues went in to meet our prospective victim. Let us from now on call him Dr. X. We would try to hide his identity even now, because he is a well known Consultant in Colombo today. But we will invariably drop a few clues, but that will be purely unintentional!
While we were having fun with our rehersals, Dr. X had been studying in his room on the upper floor. Unlike Colla, this man didn’t need much persuasion to join us. His contribution of five rupees was collected up front.
It was behind the SSC score board (where Yoga parked the car) that the real fun began. Unlike Vidya Mawatha of today, the road going past the SSC grounds and connecting Maitland Place with McCarthy Road was deserted 50 years ago. It was used by couples who were up to no good in their parked vehicles, even during the day time.
Dr. X was given a briefing by Ganesh who explained that the woman they hired is dumb and requested Dr. X not to embarrass her by talking to her. After all, flawless women don’t come cheap! He was also given strict instructions not to spoil the rear seat as the car belonged to Yoga’s uncle. He was advised to use the newspapers that were available at the back of the car.
It was agreed that Ganesh will have the first go and that Dr. X will be No. 2. in the queue. Ganesh got into the rear seat and pretended to be in action. All that he did was to have a good chat with me! Rest of us noticed that Dr. X was getting impatient and that he was glancing at the car with the corner of his eye. To make it look real, Ganesh rocked the car and even made moaning noises as he was supposedly reaching the climax. He then let go and got out of the car still meddling with the zipper of his pants.
My encounter with Dr. X
Impatient as he was, Dr. X opened the car door and almost tumbled in, in an awful hurry. He tried to bring his face near mine but I managed to push him away. He was out of his pants in a jiffy and was pulling at my cloth muttering “ussapang, ussapang” while ordering me to raise my cloth. Seeing the state he was in, I was about to burst out laughing but somehow managed to suppress the laughter. As I was pushing him away, Dr. X soon got tired and got out of the car as quickly as he entered, all the time cursing me and the “organizers”, mainly for not being able to get his money’s worth.
What Dr. X reported back
Dr. X was obviously in a bad mood when he went back to Yoga, Ganesh, Mahesan and HN. He had complained that it’s a hairy woman and that “she” was very uncooperative. He was duly pacified and having cancelled the rest of the programme, they all got into the car to drive away. No one spoke until Dr. X was dropped back at his home.
It was then that we all burst out in fits of laughter.
Well guarded secret
For a couple of years after we graduated, no one brought up the hilarious incident. But some time in the late sixties when both Yoga and I were working at Colombo South Hospital, Yoga passed the Primary FRCS. As expected, Yoga gave a dinner at Park View Lodge to celebrate his success at the exam. He had invited quite a few friends including Dr. X and it was after dinner that Yoga made an announcement and handed over to Dr. X a crisp five rupee note. In his short “speech” Yoga said that it was the contribution that they had collected from Dr. X on that eventful night in 1966. To his credit, Dr. X remained silent with an expressionless face throughout the rest of the evening. Often when members of our batch get together, we have a hearty laugh recalling this incident.