The Indelible | Sunday Observer

The Indelible

Making a sincere attempt to bring an unimagined and unexplored treasure trove of modern Sinhala literature to the English reading community, Montage is bringing Mahinda Prasad Masimbula’s award winning novel Senkottan translated by Malinda Seneviratne, veteran journalist, writer and poet. Senkottan (The Indelible), a remarkable creation of literature by Mahinda Prasad Masimbula was his debut effort in his literary career for which he won the State Literary Award in 2013 and short-listed in Swarna Pusthaka Literary Awards and many other Literary Award Festivals in the same year. The book has been published by Santhawa Publishers and ‘Senkottan’ has blazed the trail in the self-publishing industry as one of the best-selling books in Sinhala literature.


‘Tell me Podino, what is this hullabaloo all about? One of your women has been spreading a wildfire across the village….,’ Guna Ralahamy asked Podina.

By this time Garu Ridee had broadcast the story all over the village. Anger arose once more within her, but Podina quelled it because of Guna Ralahamy. She surmised that Guna Ralahamy had decided to intervene as a matter of duty.

‘Well, I can piece together what has happened from what’s been told. Such things happen. What bothers me is that you, who knows what is what, have decided to dance a merry jig here. Stop and think for a while. Your elders are away at this moment. They’ve gone far away so that they could acquire merit for all of you. It’s a journey that is indeed like a qualification to enter the pathway to nirvana. Your little girl should also be here for she must also hear the rest of what I have to say….Nambuwo….go get her that little girl.’

Nambu Henaya moved towards the house without taking his eyes off Podina. He knew that she wouldn’t object in any way. Little Baba Henaya clung to his sarong and accompanied Nambu Henaya into the house. When she realized she couldn’t keep quiet any longer, Podina spoke, but with great deference.

‘It is not like that Guna Ralahamy unnehe. What she’s done is vile. It will break Amma’s heart when she gets to know about it.’

‘It’s ok, Podina. Girl, I can understand what has happened. I do know something of this world. And I think what I know is enough to live on this earth. Although he doesn’t say much, your father is someone who understands such things. This is why I am close to him and to your family.’

At this point, Nambu Henaya came out of the house. Heen Ridee followed him to the verandah, clung to a post and began sobbing. Nambu Henaya returned to where he had been earlier. Baba Henaya went with him. Guna Ralahamy took a few steps towards Heen Ridee. Her sobs had given way to hiccups.

‘Just look at her. This tiny girl’s face all swollen. It’s at such things that villagers laugh from even their backsides! Listen! When something happens, you have to get used to being a little patient. You got the devil into you right at the start, Podino. I am not trying to say the girl was right, don’t get me wrong. She was dead wrong. It’s unbecoming for someone her age and standing. But neither have you weighed everything one hundred percent, Podina. You know this.’

He said this while casting a glance at Nambu Henaya and then back at Podina. Podina looked down. Nambu Henaya looked at Guna Ralahamy helplessly, then at Podina and then he too looked down.

‘So listen, everyone…it’s not possible to say such things are all wrong. Neither can you say it’s all good. There is however something called upbringing which teaches us how to exercise control. It is to acquire such qualities that we learn the letters. This is why we listen to our elders. We need to associate our religion, the dhamma.

‘Now Podino…you pick up an ilapatha and make a big song and dance. Tomorrow, this one will run away with whoever that man is. What can you do after that? You can’t really bathe and bring back home an unsullied girl who in a moment of heat creeps into the bushes with someone for an hour or so. Nothing can be done. You’ll have to give her to that very man.’

He turned to Heen Ridee once more.

‘Little girl, now don’t you go thinking that I’m putting ideas into your head. Let’s assume that you did something like that, perhaps on impulse, out of stupidity and not having considered the consequences. That would be the beginning of the end. You won’t have a moment to think about any life of your own once there are a bunch of kids hanging on to your arms and legs, screaming and whining. On the other hand, you would have nothing but happiness if you waited for the right time and did all this with the blessings of your parents. Your happiness will be like your maraketiya jak tree. That joy, children, is common to us all. Yes, to all of us. It’s the same for all people, all creatures and even for all plants, vines and trees.’