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Sunday, 19 July 2015

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Compensation for guilt

Anula lay on the hospital bed, with her eyes wide open. She was in a critical state when she was admitted a week ago.

"Are you feeling well, my dear?" inquired the doctor and Anula replied to the affirmative. The nurse then gently stroked Anula's little head and walked away with the Doctor to check the next patient.

"Poor girl, her mother died on the spot, leaving her an orphan. Her father passed away when she was just a two-year old". Anula heard the nurse say. Tears welled up in her little eyes at the thought of the tragic accident that snatched her mother's life.

Accident

"Anula, we are getting late, come quickly", Somawathie yelled at her daughter, who was frolicking with her friends.

Waving at them, she ran over to her mother, who was standing at the school gate with her hands on her hips.

"After lunch, I have to take you to your tuition class".

"Ammi, I'm only eight. I've two more years for the scholarship exam".

"No...No...! You have to get prepared for everything at an early stage. So that you can easily get through the scholarship exam without any doubt."

Anula grunted at her mother's remark, and clinging onto her mother's arm walked out of the school premises towards the bus halt. They had to cross the road to board the bus.

"Ammi, we have to cross the road on the yellow line, not here" reminded Anula.

"We have to hurry, duwe. Besides there are less vehicles on the road today." On saying it, Somawathie lunged forward with her daughter on tow.

Adoption

Anula couldn't grasp the horrible scene that unfolded right in front of her.... A three-wheeler, from nowhere came racing and knocked both of them.... Anula was thrown onto the pavement, while the three wheeler ran over her mother.... Anula blacked out.

Anula was standing on the courts stairway, waiting for Somapala to arrive. Somapala was a short, stout man in his early fifties, who worked as a contractor.... It happened all of a sudden, when Anula was under the care of her father's sister, who ill-treated her. Her Aunt willingly obliged in handing over Anula to Somapala for adoption, as she considered Anula a burden.

Anula didn't know who he was, but Somapala claimed to be a distant relative of her mother's. Somawathie was from a well to do family, who fell in love with Martin, Anula's father, a Mechanic by profession and had eloped with him. Hence, Anula was unaware of her mother's relations.

"We don't have any children, no...so, shall we adopt this little girl." asked Somapala from his wife Premawathie, one day.

She nodded in agreement, as they were childless for more than twenty years. Anula was a bright student, who passed her Ordinary level and Advanced level with flying colours. But she was short of a few marks to enter a State University. So she enrolled herself in a private institution to follow a course in chartered accountancy. It was during this time that she met Piyal, a finance executive, who worked for a private firm, while following the chartered accountancy course. Anula was a beautiful girl with a radiant smile that could bewitch anyone at first sight, so Piyal was no exception. She had quite a number of suitors pursuing her, but she was reluctant in accepting their offers to have an affair with them. Anula's main aim in life was to look after her adopted parents. She didn't betray them after all that they had done in providing her with all basic necessities, showering her with love and kindness and most of all giving her an identity.

Proposal

"But I love you, Anula. Please try to understand my feelings" begged Piyal.

"Piyal, you don't know anything about me", said Anula, sternly.

"What is their to know about you? Tell me... or shall I come to your place to ask for your hand in marriage from your parents", suggested Piyal.Anula sighed and sat down on cushioned Sofa at the institution's lobby.

"Piyal, I have to be honest with you... I am adopted. My real parents have passed away a long time ago."

"Is that all, dear?"

Anula nodded abstractedly.

A few days later Piyal along with his parents visited Anula's house. Somapala was surprised on seeing them. But, nevertheless he invited them in. On seeing the agitated look on Somapala's face, Piyal's father, Seneviratne, a retired government servant spoke out in a calm tone.

"I know what you must be thinking, Mr. Somapala. Our son told us everything, about the fact that Anula is your adopted daughter. We have no issues about that. All we need is a good-hearted and a well educated daughter-in-law."

"What about the dowry, Sir?" asked Somapala meekly.

"First of all stop calling me, 'Sir.' Secondly, please be aware that you have given your daughter a proper education as well as having instilled good qualities within her" replied Senevirathne, with a comforting smile on his face. Satisfied, the two families spent the entire evening discussing wedding arrangements, over tea and biscuits.

Somapala couldn't believe that their daughter's wedding is over and that she is about to depart to her in-laws place. Wiping a tear from his eye, he dashed into the interior of his home. Anula, on seeing her father's hasty exit, followed him to his room. Her father was seated on the edge of his bed, sobbing.

Confession

"Thatthi, what's the matter?....Please don't cry... I will come every weekend to see you and ammi... besides we are living just 10 km from here. So don't cry".

"No..No..duwe.. for fifteen years I have kept a secret from you.. If I don't tell it now, I'll end up feeling guilty for the rest of my life... I understand that by only trying to look after you well is no compensation for it.... But had I told you the truth, I will end up being your enemy and I will also lose you."

Anula was stunned by her father's confession of things which she couldn't decipher.

"Please thatthi, please be specific in what your trying to say", she pleaded.

"Duwe, fifteen years ago you and your mother met with an accident... and the three-wheel driver who knocked both of you... is none other than ME... I'm a cold-blooded murderer, duwe.... I am a sinner."

Anula felt her head spinning; she quickly grasped the handle of the chair to prevent herself from collapsing onto the floor. The man she thought she would never forgive was right in front of her, with his palms clasped together, begging for forgiveness.... and this was the man who took her into his care and gave her a good life, when all her own relation's shunned her.... All the beautiful moments she had spent with him reverberated in her mind... and she felt the fire in her heart die down...

A gust of wind blew in through the window, startling her back to reality. Anula walked over to her father and kneeling in front of him, cradled his clasped palms in hers, spoke softly:

"What happened on that fateful day was a mistake.... it was not a premeditated murder.... On that day, you completely lost control over your vehicle, it's not all your fault. My mother should have crossed at the crossing line. And thatthi, I will always be grateful to you for giving me a good life." On uttering these words, Anula worshipped her father at his feet.

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