Itipahan (Burly Lamp) Chapter - 14
(Translated by Ranga Chandrarathne and
edited by Indeewara Thilakarathne)
"I am a lamp burning on both ends
Known well that I cannot pass the night
See my friends
How powerful light
To dispel the darkness"
Daisy looked curiously at the fellow male and female students who
gathered at the King George Hall for the first lecture. Daisy noticed
from the enthusiasm of some students nearby that they had great
expectations to listen and learn from the first lecture in the
university. Daisy thought that the tall hall with external pillars had
been named after King George by the white Europeans. She understood that
the chairs with extendable hand-rests were meant to take down notes and
to keep books. When she turned back, she saw a large clock with Roman
numbers hanging on the wall. Daisy recalled having a similar clock at
Sirinatha's lounge room. Chatting with one another was like an uproar.
She saw senior students entering the lecture hall to perform their duty
of ragging as it has not been over yet. Daisy thought that her entire
life that was a torture, hence could not find it difficult to face
inhuman ragging. On the other hand, whenever she was subjected to
torturous ragging, a comrade would rescue her. Therefore, ragging was
not that rough for her.
Domingue Sir entered onto the wooden platform in the George Hall to
teach basic mathematics for the benefit of newcomers. Domingue Sir with
a handsome muscular body and a matching height did not even welcome the
student before the lecture. Senior students who had been inside went out
of the lecture hall one by one. Domingue Sir was thoroughly engrossed in
the lecture as if thinking that his only friend was mathematics.
Everyone wrote down what he was uttering with indifference. Daisy
took the pen hurriedly. She realised what was to be required was to
write down notes unresponsively. All of them took note as a new born
baby sucking mother's nipple as a reflexive action. While taking down
notes, Daisy looked at the face of Domingue Sir. His face was round and
he had a deep voice. She thought that only thing he knew was
mathematics. From time to time, student in couples walked up and down
along the corridor outside the hall. Daisy turned back at the sound of
each and every step of shoes. He was finding the value of X.
At the end of the lecture Daisy went out of the hall and walked
through the crowd with an intense sense of indifference. Along the
corridor were lovers huddled up and whispering to each other. They were
whispering like she had been with Sirinatha. Despite all her efforts she
was unable to erase that enchanting memory coming back to her like a
memory with a fragrance of the past. All of those who were learning
mathematics in the George Hall were heading towards Art Gallery where
the next lecture was to be held. Until someone stopped her at the rear
entrance to the Art Gallery, she was fighting with the memories of
"Soome, I knew you would come here for the next lecture," Sirinatha
said calmly. Daisy looked amazingly with wide-opened eyes as if she
could not quite believe Sirinatha to be present. She smelled the scent
of flowers in the Sal tree behind the Art Gallery.
"How do you know that I have enrolled at the campus?" Daisy asked
Sirinatha getting closer to him.
"I work in the College House and I knew that Daisy would come here,"
said Sirinatha handing over an envelope to her. Daisy shivered and
looked at Sirinatha .
"Go to the lecture. You will be late. If you need anything come to
the College House," Sirinatha said. Daisy thought whether it was that
enchanting memories of her and Sirinatha that tried to spring up from an
old tree producing fresh leaves and saplings as it was cut again and
"I am going," said Sirinatha and disappeared. Daisy sat on a chair at
the corner of the last row of chairs and looked at the female lecturer
who delivered the lecture. She had a mild but a sharp voice. She spoke
on American Short Stories. She passionately talked about a love of a
person named Kahana Wilasa. Daisy opened up the envelope that Sirinatha
There was no letter in it. Three ten rupee notes were inside. Daisy
placed the envelope containing three ten rupee notes into her bag made
of cloth without any emotions. Having her name in the time table, Daisy
recognised the female lecturer as Wasanthi Randeniya. Daisy thought she
had a certain style in her speech as well as in her mannerism. She
passionately talked about love and overwhelming feeling for life of an
American thief named Kahana Wilasa.
Daisy, who sat on a comfy chair in front of the Women's Common Room,
saw female students who came in and went out of the room. Thinking that
she was sitting there aimlessly, Daisy got up. She could not tolerate
the noise of the girls playing carom. Daisy went to the newspaper rack
under the cherry tree in front of the Common Room and began reading a
"Are you, comrade Daisy Suzan," a stranger who came to the newspaper
"Yes, why?" Daisy asked a question with her answer.
"Sister comrade, our comrade has come to meet you sister comrade at
Grandstand Canteen," said the stranger. Daisy, who did not stop to ask
any further question, ran into Reid Avenue accompanying the comrade and
reached the Grandstand Canteen. From a distance, Daisy saw a couple of
comrades on a common table drinking plain tea. Since she had never seen
party comrades smiling, she did not expect them to smile with her. Flies
were perched on the common table.
No one seemed to be interested in chasing them away. Crumpled papers
that were used to wrap Tala and crumpled Kenda leaves used to wrap
Halape were on the table and also on the floor. Daisy smelled a foul
order that emanated from the water and tea spilt on the table. Comrades
were engaged in an important discussion.
"The Leftist movement in this country could not and did not want to
apply Marxist ideology to our unique situation. At least, the Leftists
could not teach the masses Marxism in plain language," said the comrade
who led the discussion. Daisy thought that there was an element of truth
in that. The Comrade, who stopped his lecture in the middle, introduced
himself as 'Peradeniye Wimal'.
"Is the leader Comrade different to other Leftist leaders only
because of language?" asked an unknown comrade. Soome thought that she
too wanted to ask the same question.
"Very good question. Our leader is a person who is entirely different
from other Leftist leaders. Let's take Philip Gunawardane. He is from
Boralugoda Walauwa. N.M though is not from a Walauwa, is a person who
learnt from the white and leads a life as a White. Their mentalities and
life styles are different," said Peradeniye Wimal starting a lengthy
Leader was a man from an ordinary family. This country's leadership
should be given to such a person. Those who have positions do not know
how floods occur in this country or how erosion takes place. Brain
drain, is due to economic issues.
We who have a clear vision of the system should take over power,"
said Peradeniye Wimal looking at Daisy as if to seek her approval.
Since the discussion went on for over two hours, she could not attend
the next lecture. But Daisy thought that this lecture was more important
than the lecture delivered by Domingue Sir and finding the value of X.
Daisy thought of reading the biographies of Leftist leaders at the
library before deciding on whether the leader comrade was correct or
Daisy felt that her attraction to the SLFP led coalition with Leftist
leaders N.M, Colvin, Keuneman and Wickramasinghe was on the wane.
Keuneman was a Burgher. Dr. Wikcremasinghe married a white woman. N.M
had no sense of indigenous thinking. Philip changed his position and
joined the UNP.
"Do we support the coalition at this election?" Daisy asked comrade
Wimal at the next discussion. An immediate response was given. " If ther
is a separate path, why should we support United Front", asked a
"We should support the coalition and chase away this Yankee
government which supports the colonialists. In this journey, we must
identify the friends and enemies. The UNP which tries to carry on a
dictatorial rule should be overthrown."
"There is no readymade road for revolution. Every country where
revolution occurred has not gone on readymade roads." Wimale said.
Although that response did not provide an answer to the question, the
person who asked the question was satisfied. Daisy thought it would be
better if she could discuss matters with another comrade other than
comrade Wimal. Daisy had doubts that he had only readymade answers. She
thought Peradeniye Wimal had no answer outside the framework.
"Sirimavo had no political knowledge," comrade Wimal once said. Daisy
began to entertain the belief that political knowledge was not having a
university education on politics or acquiring a bookish knowledge of
"But Sirimavo is a political attraction", Daisy said.
"Political attraction is one thing and political knowledge is
Sirimavo is an aristocratic stem", Comrade Wimal responded hurriedly.
"Then, does comrade believe that the United Front would not be
successful? " Daisy asked. "Sister, the United Front is not a strong
force against imperialism. It is true that The United Front has
progressive ideas. But they do not have a political stance, a firm
foundation against imperialism. No strength. This country needs a
revolution. It is only by revolution that all the ties of imperialism
can be destroyed," said Comrade Wimal and took another half an hour to
explain why they should make a commitment for the victory of the United
As usual, mother went out in the early morning to tap rubber. Daisy
was sad that she had no idea about the forthcoming election.
"Mother, to whom are you going to vote this time?" Daisy who was
reading a book lying on the camp bed, asked Duleena who was weaving a
basket of reed.
Duleena thought that she should weave a basket of reed even without
sleeping during the night as Nanawathi Hamine wanted one.
"I do not know. I have no idea ", Duleena answered uninterestingly.
"Mother, you should vote for Sirimavo to defeat Dudley Hamu," said
Daisy putting down the article she was reading. Duleena looked at Daisy,
stopping her task.
"Isn't it Mathini better than Dudley Hamu? Is it better a male goes
to the parliament than a woman?," asked Duleena. Daisy looked angrily at
"Being a woman how can you say so. I lose my temper when you say such
things," said Daisy without attempting to control her anger. There was a
sign of a surprise registered in Duleena's eyes.
"Mother, to whom you are going to vote for?" Daisy asked Duleena for
the second time.
"I will cast my vote to any one if I have time," Duleena said
"No, you should vote for Mathini," said Daisy resuming her reading
Duleena thought that there was no difference in marking a cross
against Mathiniya, Dudley Hamu or any other person. Since the girl
requested, she had no hesitation in marking a cross against Mathiniya.
She focused on the task of weaving the reed bag.
Besides, everyone knew that the prominent personalities such as
Ralahamy, Kandegedara Mahattaya, Vidane, and Thapal Mahattaya would vote
for Dudley Mahattaya. However, Nanawathi Hamine said that she would
always vote for Bandaranaike Unnahe's party. Duleena remembered that she
heard over an Ambula during a harvesting paddy that country would have
progressed if Bandaranaike was not killed.
"Only he was there to help ease our plight. All others went to the
Council and spoke in English. We are expecting that we would get
something when a person dressed in national dress and spoke in Sinhala
became the chief of the Council." Duleena recalled Neris Goiya's words
the other day while he was wiping his hands with the loin cloth.
"There was a mammoth crowd at his cremation. It is amazing such a
crowd is present in this tiny country. He was killed because he helped
the poor," said Hendattha continuing the conversation. Now who else is
going for the vote other than his wife. Mathini had gone to the Council
previously. The group that came for harvesting paddy that day said that
Mathini had also come from a highly respected family similar to that of
Dudley Hamu. There is nothing wrong in marking a cross against such a
"Nanawathi Hamine has been sick for a couple of days. Why don't you
visit her?" Daisy was ashamed when mother requested her to visit
Daisy had not visited Nanawathi Hamine for a long time. Daisy thought
that she had nothing against visiting Nanawathi Hamine although she did
not have a desire to do so due to the absence of Sriyadari Akka and
Sirinatha. She was also very busy.
"Since our girl and boy left the village, you also did not visit,"
said Nanawathi Hamine leaning against the railing of the bed when Daisy
came up to the bed where she was lying down. Daisy tried to smile
getting away from the bed. Daisy thought that a smell of staleness had
pervaded the house and the room. The glass on the Nanawathi Hamine's
Almaira had been dis coloured.
Daisy looked at the spider in the cobweb between the Almaira and the
wall waiting for a prey.
"You should have taken up a job rather than pursuing higher studies.
There is unruly surrounding there. But neither you nor your mother
listens to me," said Nanawathi Hamine leaning against the railing of the
"Is it true that girls and boys in those university stage protest
marches? Sirinatha Putha had written to me that he had met you there,"
Nanawathi Hamine uttered disjointed sentences as if in a delirium due to
"Yes, I met Sirinatha one day and he gave me thirty rupees," Daisy
said smiling. Daisy saw a smile appearing in Nanawathi Hamine's face.
"He is pity for you. He likes you. But he did not mention that he
gave you money in his letters," said Nanawathi Hamine who started
'Kenda' leaves are used to wrap Halape which is a traditional Sri
Lankan sweetmeat made with flour and dark sugar.
Tala - Sesame
Mathini- Madam in Sinhala. In this context it refers to Mrs.
Dudley Hamu/Dudley Mahattaya - Mr. Dudley Senanayake
Ambula - A mid-day meal provided during paddy harvesting
The Chief of the Council - Chief Minister in the Legislative Council
Almirah - A wooden cabinet.