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DateLine Sunday, 17 February 2008





Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette


The five women

The story of Bull See Nidikira Cowya Para Vina and my silly wife

The time is about 9 p.m. in the night. I was returning home after a particularly strenuous day in office, thinking pleasant thoughts about the bath and the shot of "mellow water" waiting for me at my bachelor digs, and then the Kottu nestling in my bag, and, a book of Shelly's poetry to serve me as a nightcap, when I came across my neighbour and fellow "travailer" to the metropolis in private buses, Jayaweera, sitting on the parapet wall bounding his property.

Now, I had known this educated, well-read Advertising Executive from the time I moved to my present place of occupation, a large, rambling, old bungalow where the ancient caretaker, an elderly retainer of the family now living abroad, supports his living by letting out "rooms" for "single gentlemen working in offices".

Jayaweera used to be a fairly heavy tippler, a habit he had picked up in his younger days, The destructive habit did not abate after his marriage to Rajini, a pretty, dark executive working in the same office.

In spite of all Jayaweera's drinking, Rajini managed to bring up their children very well and educate them in Colombo schools, and now the eldest son is in the university. Both of them travel to office together in the morning, and whenever I meet them, she was always beseeching me to advise Jayaweera to stop his drinking.

I could not advise him as I also like my occasional drink, but, I used to tell him to stop destroying his own life, as well as the lives of others near and dear to him. He used to brush off my exhortations with a laugh.

Then, I moved on to a new job, which made me change my commuting times, and I lost touch with them, though, occasionally, coming home late at night, once or twice I met Jayaweera, sozzled to the gills.

But then, about one year back, I met Jayaweera at the bus halt. I could not believe my eyes. I met a Jayaweera, vastly different from the unkempt, unshaven caricature of a man, still smelling from the Gal he had last night, a clean shaven, well-dressed respectable office worker, a person every commuter would feel proud to associate with. "After the customary greetings he said, "Machang, I have stopped drinking. Now, for more than one year, I haven't touched a drop of alcohol!"

I told him, "Then, Rajini must be very happy!"

He replied, with some pride, that it was so. "When I return home after work, my wife starts talking about her day in office, I tell her about mine, our children come and speak about their studies, and then we will discuss various current topics.

And then, all of us have dinner, and go to sleep. Machang, it is great to wake up without a hangover, and not having to think what drunken blunders you have committed the night before. I think that I have wasted away over 20 years of my life with my addiction, but, as I am only 48 now, I still have time to build a good life for me and my family".

Then the bus came, and we were chatting all the way to Colombo.

Jayaweera told me how he met with a near-fatal accident just after marriage, and how selflessly Rajini cared for him. He went on to tell me that Rajini is a caring mother, and he spoke with pride of his children.

He praised Rajini so much that I began to regret my bachelor status. Above all I could not help seeing how happy he was. He radiated happiness, and it was a wonder to see his transformation. Then the bus reached Pettah, and my parting advice to him was "Keep up the good work!"

So, my first reaction after seeing this same man, seated dejectedly on a parapet wall in the dark still in his office attire, my first thought was that he had reverted to his former ways. But when I spoke with him, I realised that he was cold sober.

I asked him, "Hey, Jayaweera, what is the matter? Why are you sitting on this parapet wall without going home?"

"Ah, Lal, I didn't recognise you in this darkness. No, Machang, I can't go home just yet. There are four women at our house, and I am waiting for them to go."

"What? Four women? You mean that your mother-in-law and sisters-in-law have come visiting and you are waiting for them to go as you don't like them?"

"No, Machang, I like my mother-in-law and I have only one sister-in-law who adores me. Come, I know you have time to spare for a lonely man, being a bachelor yourself. I will tell you the story of the four women" so saying, Jayaweera patted the parapet wall next to him.

As the following day was Saturday, I sat down, and prepared to listen, "Machang, my life was bliss till my wife wanted to visit her sister and attend the first birthday party of her niece. I also let her go with my kids, but I didn't go, as I dislike these tamashas. Then, they returned after two days, and everything was back to normal.

The next day when I returned from work, I found my wife glued to the TV. When I came back after a wash and a change, she was still sitting in front of the TV, enraptured. When I stated to tell her about a humorous incident in the bus, she shushed me, almost savagely.

Only after 10.00 pm was she ready to listen to me, but , then I had to watch the news. By the time I finished watching the news, she was asleep. I didn't think much about this incident, and as I was tired, I also went to sleep.

The same pattern of things was repeated the next night. And next night. And next...and next. Then, after making some inquiries, I found out what is going on.

My wife had got hooked on to those dubbed Indian soap operas that are shown on one TV channel! She had watched them for two consecutive nights at her sister's place, and had become addicted to them!

When I tried to watch them, I found, to my disgust, that they are utter crap! How can one with even an iota of intelligence go on watching this baloney two hours a day five nights a week is beyond my comprehension! And, to top it all, my daughter who just attained age, is also watching those filthy soap operas with her mother! Now, almost imperceptibly, my two sons are dragged into watching them!

I spoke to my wife at length about the harm of continuing this practice, I argued,I threatened, I came home drunk once or twice, but to no avail. Lal, you should see them to believe what utter rubbish they are!

They are based upon mythical families, where the women are always dressed in expensive sarees and jewellery, and the men are always immaculately dressed. The stories are fuelled by hate, intrigue, adultery and jealousy, and the plots are impossible!

Now, I have found out that no amount of pleading or cajoling, arguing or threatening, is going to stop my wife watching these silly soap operas. And, I have noticed my wife also, changing from the loving, caring and dutiful wife and mother she was, to a woman full of suspicion, jealousy, angst and hate.

The whole set up of my home is changed for the worse, Lal! I don't want to go home before 10 p.m. and listen to the laments and drivellings of Bull see, Nidikira, Para vina and Cowya! So, I wait on this parapet wall till 10 p.m. and go home after that! I thought of taking up my old habit of drinking, but I can't destroy my life because of four silly women on TV and one silly woman at home! All over Sri Lanka, I think there exist, thousands of frustrated husbands and fathers like me! It is time the government or some other authority take some concrete steps to curb this insidious menace, that is crumbling the foundations of our society!"

I tried my best to console him, but he could not be consoled. I made sympathetic noises, and it being 10 p.m., we parted, Jayaweera walking towards his home dejectedly, and me thanking the Gods for my bachelor status!

Are you also in a similar situation? Then why don't you let us know!!!

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Gamin Gamata - Presidential Community & Welfare Service
Ceylinco Banyan Villas

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