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Sunday, 27 February 2005  
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Mihintalava - The Birthplace of Sri Lankan Buddhist Civilization

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Madol Doova : English Literature made easy

- by Martin Wickramasinghe

Chapter 3

'How I went to sea'

Upali makes friends with almost all the boys except one, and enjoys going to school. This chapter reveals the genuine characteristics of a village school headmaster and the usual practises in a village school.

The strict discipline that existed in schools at that time is also emphasised. Mr. Dharmasinghe's teaching of the five precepts is quite in contrast to modern teaching in schools. The episode of The dish of Live Frogs depicts sheer boyish mischief, and the humour involved. The elder folk never understand the mentality of children and believe that children should refrain from doing any mischief.

They try to thrust upon the child austere views and mental attitudes and the child refuses to accept. Mr. Dharmasinghe punishes Upali. He pulls his ears and shakes him violently and as he goes to get the cane, Upali runs out of the school, through the gate.

He then experiences the most thrilling and fascinating adventure a trip to the sea with the fishermen - He thinks the fishermen love the thrill of the sea more than a gambler loves his game. However Upali is afraid to face Mr. Dharmasinghe after this incident.

But the fishermen hands him over to the Headmaster with two tuna fish. The Headmaster asks Upali's father to take him out of school. But Upali's father makes a humble plea and Mr. Dharmasinghe agrees to keep him till the exams are over. Upali's father pays for two sarees bought for the headmaster's wife, and she accepts the money with reluctance depicting the true nature of a woman's attitude to accepting gifts.

Chapter 4

The Fight

Upali stays with the Headmaster and studies for the exam. The daily routine of work in the Headmaster's house annoys Upali and the negative commands of the Headmaster's wife irritates him Don't do that. Don't laugh noisily. Don't hurt animals.

The typical procedure of celebrating the Sinhala New Year is a distinct feature in this chapter. The mature folk celebrate the New Year with all the rituals in true, austere manner. The auspicious coins from a well to do person, the first meal given to a rich person and the traditional lighting of the brass lamp by a distinguished visitor are rituals strictly observed by village folk.

Class work becomes difficult as the examination draws near and the Headmaster tries to solve the problem of common mistakes made by the children in the use of dental and cerebral versions of 'no' and 'la'. The Headmaster uses a trick on the day of the examination.

I will scratch my head whenever you ought to write a cerebral letter and the dictation turned out to be wonderfully successful rousing subtle humour as well. For the first time, Upali accepts the truth that whatever he learns is due to Mr. Dharmasinghe and that he is a good teacher though he beleived Mr., Dharmasinghe to be a nuisance and made fun of him at times.

Chapter 5 The

Confidence trickster

A delightful account of the exploits of a confidence trickster is unfolded in this chapter. After the examination, Upali is sent back to the village school. During his stay at home he hears the exploits of a villager called 'Suranchiya' or 'Colombarala' and the boys imagine him to be a super bandit as he relates his stories about breaking into houses after muttering a spell.

Most articles like silver spoons, forks, knives and wristwatches are sold to the villagers and are taken back saying that the owners initials were engraved on them and that the police is after him, promising to return them after the police left. His adventures fascinate Upali and his friends and they are always behind Suranchiya.

They help him to advertise his play Magadi Natakaya and he promises them, that he will issue them, free tickets. The hall is full and as the play is about to begin, the actors create a commotion, appeals are made to the audience to vacate the hall immediately, saying that the actors are fighting with each other and that they are real desperados. 'Run for your lives' says the announcer and the audience start to leave immediately.

Some police officers appear on the scene and take Suranchiya and his gang into custody. The following day the villagers are aware that they were being taken far a ride.

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