Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 27 September 2015





Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

Wilderness of life

The morning sun burst into our room when I opened the window. It was a very beautiful dawn with everything immersed in golden sunshine. This particular morning looked wonderfully enchanting because it was experienced in a sun kissed, misty, mountainous area.

My wife was still asleep and I kept on looking at her a few minutes.

What a beautiful young woman she is! I thought.

I was very proud to be her husband but at that time, I did not know that she would turn out to be a Pandora’s box for me. I married her yesterday and this was my second marriage. My first wife died in a road accident about one year ago. The youthful, pretty lady also married for the second time with me. She had stayed with her former husband only for a week and she returned to her parents leaving her better half in the lurch. Consequently, her marriage ended in divorce.

One of my very close friends invited me to spend a few days after our marriage with his family. At that time, they resided at Pathana, a small town close to Nuwara-Eliya. The Devon Falls is situated a little distance away from the house and I love to watch the falls again and again as I think it is the most attractive waterfall in our country.

The constant sound of cascading water tempted me to get closer to the falls and admire it to my heart’s content.

“Shall we go down and see the waterfall?” I suggested to my wife when she woke up.

“I can’t”


“Leeches must be there and they will cling on to the feet. Sometimes, the disgusting creatures climb up the legs..... eeya!

She shrugged her shoulders and made faces to show her abhorrence.

“No leeches there. I have gone down to the foot of the falls several times.”

“If you want, you can go alone. I won’t go”.

However, I also did not go down to see the stunning spectacle of the Devon Falls.

After spending a week with my friend and his family we returned home.


I had fallen in love with her head over heels because of her beauty and I was extremely happy as she had inherited a five acre coconut estate and a big old fashioned house with it.

With many gables, the protruding portico whose roof was supported by four pairs of fluted wooden posts, the house stood in the middle of the land which sloped down to Attanagalu-Oya and the bank of the stream fringed by yellow-stemmed-bamboo groves that arched down to the water.

I noticed that the roof of the house was leaking at several places and some portions of the valens boards with intricate fret-work were decayed and hanged loose.

The land looked like a nature-reserve with unwanted trees grown between the rows of coconut palms. This reminded me of the description in ‘Village in the Jungle’ that depicted a vivid picture of the Silindu’s abandoned hut invaded by the surrounding forest.


With my wife’s consent, I renovated the dilapidated house retaining the original appearance and the old structure. Moss-gathered local tiles were completely removed and the roof was covered with new tiles. The missing portions of the valens boards were replaced with new boards into which patterns were cut very similar to the original fretwork.

The old world charm returned to the house when the renovation work was over. Even my wife seemed to be pleased about the facelift given to her ancestral home.

At the beginning of our married life, my wife emphatically said that she did not want to have children; she proposed to adopt a child. I thought that she would change her mind in time to come. To my disappointment, she remained dictatorially adamant.

My wife was the only child of our village headman and all the villagers respected him and were afraid of him. He was a very strong and tall person. He grew his hair and tied it in a knot at the back of his head just above the nape. He sported a bushy moustache with ends turned up and it gave him a fearsome appearance.

My wife, Matilda was educated at a convent and she stayed in the hostel until she finished her schooling. I attended the central college close to our village. Most of the male students did not wear shoes and I was one of them.


Matilda got the gravest shock in her life when she came to know that she was pregnant. She behaved as if she were sentenced to death. For a whole day, she refused to talk with me; she even did not look at my face.

“Almost all the women undergo this experience. Why do you take it as a torture?”

“Stop your homily. I am fed up with all these things.”

She interrupted me impolitely and ran into the house, locked herself in her room and she remained there for a long time.

Matilda always grumbled about the ordeal she was undergoing because of her pregnancy which she never expected.

“I can’t sleep the way I want. I cannot even eat what I want. When I stand before the mirror I see a funny creature; just like a ‘nilame’ in Kandy Perahera”.

However, Matilda gave birth to a baby girl even though she had expected a boy. I am a very unlucky person,” she lamented.

I noticed that Matilda did not love her child as other mothers do. She breastfed the baby only for a very short period and the infant was bottle-fed with artificial milk. The mother did not like to see her figure go out of shape.

From the very beginning of our marriage, Matilda started looking down upon me and I ignored her ill treatment towards me as I was blindly in love with her in whose eyes I was a simpleton!


I did not get separated from her as I wanted to see our innocent daughter grow up under the care and protection of both parents. In my childhood, I had not grown up with my parents and I had been an orphan. My relations had brought me up. I did not want my daughter to go through an unhappy childhood as I did when I was an innocent child.

Before concluding this narrative, I would like to describe two events relating to our married life. At that time, our daughter was about six years old.

One evening she was playing by herself in the living room. I was reading a newspaper and Matilda was in her room doing something.

The girl lifted the big china flower vase that stood in a corner of the room and tried to move it to another place. Unexpectedly, she dropped the vase and it broke into pieces. Hearing the noise, Matilda came out of her room and dashed towards the child to hit her.


“Don’t beat her - don’t. She didn’t do it purposely.”

She ignored my request and hit the girl. The moment I saw her hit the child I pounced on her and slapped her hard across the face. She ran to her room and started crying noisily. I was pleased and triumphant about what I had done.

The frustration over my unsuccessful marriage, Matilda’s wayward behaviour, her cruelty towards the innocent child triggered me to hit her violently.

“I get beaten by persons who do not deserve to be servants,” Matilda bemoaned.

One morning, I found a piece of paper on my table with a note by Matilda and it said,

“After school, I have to attend a funeral. Sometimes, I might get late.”

That day she returned home around 8 o’ clock at night escorted by a handsome young fellow.

“Who is that person?” I asked her when the young man left our place.

“Why?.... He is a teacher on the staff of our school.” she replied blatantly.

“When other people see you with a stranger at this hour of the night what will they think of you?”

“Let them think anything they want. What does it matter to you?”

“It does matter to me a lot. You are my wife. I must know why you got late.”

“Don’t talk nonsense.”

She flounced into the house. I got mad with anger and dashed towards her. Our daughter emerged from somewhere and grabbed my hand which was visibly shaking.

“Don’t hit her - Don’t hit her thaththa.” Her pleading voice cooled me down.


Our daughter excelled in her studies. She entered a university and was awarded a government scholarship, and went abroad for further studies.

Between Matilda and me there was no mutual respect for each other although we lived under one roof. We have not been attached to each other emotionally but the law kept us together just like a cage keeps two different birds together.

Since the very beginning of our married life there has been a rift between Matilda and me that could not be mended. We have not been a very intimate couple but a male and a female leading an unhappy life punctuated by conflicts, bickerings, squabbles, no-talk-periods and so on.

I am an old man now; Matilda looks older than me with grey hair and a bulky body which she drags about with some difficulty. Our daughter will never return to her motherland. I feel that ultimately life brought me into the middle of desert where nothing can be expected, hoped for or done .... This is wilderness of life where you can find only emptiness and desolation. I suppose that the mental state of my life partner is no better than mine!

(The characters in the story are fictitious.)


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