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The Two Men And The Bear
Minisün Dedena Saha Walaha

Gyan Fernando
Illustrations by Kumaran
Origin of this story: This was an original goody-goody story which appeared in the "Kumaraodaya", a Sinhala text for grade 1 in the 1950s. Our version has a goody-goody ending as well but the ending may be unsuitable for adults.
Once upon a time two men from a remote village in the Mahiyangana area were ambling along a jungle road talking of this and that (occasionally scratching their backsides) chewing Betel and spitting red betel juice all over the place whilst the women folk were busy working in the fields. This is rather typical of Srilankan villagers.
The two men were friends by the way.

If You Go Down To The Woods Today You're In For A Big Surprise...

Suddenly, they heard a low growl just like that of a Bear and the next minute a Bear appeared. Sound travels faster than Bears.
The two men panicked and would have nearly soiled their underwear except that they were not wearing any.
One man thought quickly, tucked his sarong into an Amude (thereby exposing his buttocks, but that's by the way) and quickly clambered up a nearby tree which unfortunately was full of red ants but red ant bites are far preferable to Bear bites.

The other man thought equally quickly and came up with the same idea but was handicapped by the fact that he couldn't climb trees. (This was the result of a bad childhood accident when he fell out of a tree and nearly ended up singing soprano.) He therefore abandoned the idea of following his friend's example. The friend was by now rapidly becoming an ex-friend for having abandoned ship!
He thought a little bit more.
Meanwhile the bear was advancing in slow motion like they do in wildlife films. "Jaws"-like Dum-Dum-Dum-Dum-Dum-Dum-Dum-Dum music was playing on the soundtrack. The man decided that the only thing to do was to lie down and pretend to be dead. He had read a story about two men and a bear.

Play Dead
He proceeded to lie face down on the ground. In his haste he didn't notice the freshly deposited cow dung but a faceful of steaming cow dung is better than being mauled by a bear.
In any case it could have been bull shit instead of cow dung which is the sort of minor technical detail that crosses one's mind when lying helplessly face down in the path of a charging bear.
The bear was a little bit confused because he had never seen these hairless apes behaving like this. He of course knew that hairy apes - the ones with tails - regularly climbed trees, exposed their pink buttocks and did crazy things like grooming each other. But to see the hairless apes climbing trees and exposing their disgusting non-pink buttocks or lying like that in cow dung was a new one on him.
The hairless apes are crazier than the hairy ones thought the bear. Maybe they should have stayed up in the trees as well thought the bear.

Under the circumstances he decided to approach cautiously and silently and having turned off the sound effects.

The bear sniffed around the man on the ground. Bears are fussy. Villagers don't wash often and there emanating from the man was strong body odour mixed with the strong smell of cow dung. The bear sniffed around the man's ears and was disgusted to note the accumulation of dirt behind the ears. These hairless apes are filthy, he thought.
"Bugger this!" said the bear to himself and disappeared back into the jungle. (Technical Note: Bears hunt singly and have no choice but to speak to themselves.)

So-called Friends!
Relieved, the man got up and refused to speak to his so called friend who had abandoned ship.
"Never mind that but what did the bear whisper in you ear?" asked the guy up the tree climbing down and releasing his Amude.
"I am not telling you!"
"Aw, c'mon now! No secrets between friends! What did the bear say to you? Kiyapang Yakko!"
"I am not telling you! Palayang Yako!"
"You've got cow dung on your face"
"I am not telling you! Palayang Yako!"
"Kiyapang Paraballa!"
"Palayang Paraballa!"
"I'll kick you in the balls!"
" Oh all right I will tell you. The bear told me to invest all my savings on the SriLankan Stock Exchange as it is going to be a Bull Market. "

Bull Market
This was an exciting bit of inside information. As everybody knows stock market performance is referred to as a "Bull Market" or a "Bear Market" and it therefore stands to reason that bears should be knowledgeable on market movements.(So are bulls but this story is about a bear.)

The next day the guy who had abandoned his friend and had climbed up the tree took all his savings and behaving in his usual sneaky, smarmy, furtive and oily manner took the 0800 bus from Mahiyangana to Colombo via Hunnasgiriya and Kandy without telling his friend or even his wife. He ended up in Colombo Fort and had some difficulty in finding the stock exchange as Colombo is full of touts and it is dangerous to carry a lot of money. Eventually, he managed to find the place and invested all his money.

Millions? Shillions!
Ahhh! he thought. Tomorrow morning I will be a millionaire.
That night he slept on the Galle Face Green and dreamed of millions, a Benz car, whisky and girls in mini-skirts.
The next day the SriLankan Stock Exchange plunged dramatically taking with it our friend's savings. Our friend took a plunge as well… typical stockmarket investor/broker fashion....from the top floor of the Ceylinco Building.

The falling part of it didn't actually kill him but hitting the ground at the end of the fall did. He had precisely 2.83 seconds to think of this which is how long it takes to fall from the Ceylinco Building.

1.Revenge is sweet!
2.Stockbrokers' advice is a load of bull!
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©Copyright Gyan Fernando 2001 First written on the 12th of November 2001
Chandrika and I | Erik Solheim & I | My Part in the Census | Census Again! | Not Cricket! | I Crossed The Line | My Part in my Funeral | The Gamarala and the Temple | Gamarala and the Puhul | Gamarala who went to heaven | Incense and Candlewax | Fasting & Feasting | My Father & The Devil

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