By Nadeesha Paulis
Life in this remote village in Anuradhapura seemed to have remained largely unchanged. It had been two years since she left to attend the University in Colombo. Here in the village, unlike in Colombo you have to carry what you need. Water has to be brought from the stream in metal containers, there is no piped water, or modern sanitation and cooking is done in the ancient way on an open hearth fire. She was walking on the dry red road without noticing the beauty of the surrounding. To her left she saw buffalos submerged in the fields. To her right she saw the endless scrub jungle. She was tired, yes but the beauty of the setting sun and the evening sky, almost made her forget the exhausting journey from Colombo to her home.
The very thought of being back here gave her peace. Many memories of her past came rushing back. Like the amazing yet rather crazy things they did in the past. She was the eldest in the family of five mischievous kids and held the ‘oldest’ responsible sister position. With that position, came a permanent bond with each and every one of her siblings. It is that love for her siblings that made her come all this way, despite interrupting her studies.
Jayanthi, the fourth and much loved sister, had fallen ill and her parents had called her sister, Chathuri to come and console her. So here she was, back in her small village. No cars or buses are seen on these roads. Just the occasional bicycle carrying two villagers and one or two small lorries, that transported food. “Only half a mile more” She thought as evening merged into dusk. There was no reason to feel anxious about being alone on the road. This was her home town and she knew it well. It was close to seven when she saw a figure running towards her. The figure was of a girl of about 16. Her hair was undone and she seemed very scared. To Chathuri’s dismay she saw that the distressed girl was none other than her sister Jayanthi. Her blue printed frock was discoloured and she seemed almost ‘out of the world’ scared. It was only when she got close that Chathuri saw that the girl was saying something in between her sobs. Chathuri didn’t understand it at once. The girl kept saying “Amila mata pihiyen anna!” translated into “Amila stabbed me!”
Chthuri was speechless. After several seconds, she found her voice and she asked “What happened? Are you all right?” but instead of replying, Jayanthi collapsed on to Chathuri’s arms. Panic stricken, Chathuri quickly supported her sister’s weight and stumbled in the direction of their house as fast as she could. To her horror, Chathuri realized that her sister’s dress was discoloured not by over-use, but by blood.
Chathuri, now running on pure adrenalin and fear for her sister’s life, felt that her body was becoming more and more heavy with each step she took. Dusk was turning into night fall, when she was nearing her home. Strange as it sounds, her sister’s body was by now, far too heavy for her to carry, and it was eerily cold too. She could barely see her house. She laid the unconscious girl next to a tree and ran towards her house screaming at the top of her voice calling for help. To her surprise, instead of her mother and father, only her siblings and Mrs Jenna, a relation who was staying with them, appeared. Without asking “Who, where, when, what” Chathuri quickly told them what was going on, and rushed with everyone to the tree where she left her sister only to be greeted with the sight of….. No one.
She became speechless with horror
(to be continued next week)