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SRI LANKA Zany stories.....Classics updated

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{short description of image} The Gamarala Who Never Went To The Temple
Gamarala Sil Gath Heti
by Gyan Fernando

Illustrated by Kumaran
Technical details: This is another classic Srilankan folk story. We recently came across a new Sinhala version of the story in a pulp book called "Sabé Gamarala" (The Real Gamarala) written by some prat calling himself Jayatissa Boralugoda (ISBN 955-652-097-X), who attempts to sanitise and politically correct the Gamarala stories with pathetic results.
Any Srilankan who remembers the original story will agree that the new version is totally sanitised, a travesty and has very little resemblance to the original which appeared in the book "Ran Kekira Saha Thavath Katha" in the 1950s.
The MadPage version is closer to the original. In fact the original was so hilarious that the Mad Page didn't really have to jazz it up as such…As usual memories were jogged by our MadSister Babs..
Once upon a time there was a Gamarala (village elder) who never went to the temple.
He had better things to do such as drinking arrack. This activity of course required a lot of advanced planning since liquor is not sold on Poya (full moon) days and the moon of course follows the Lunar Calendar.
Mrs Gamarala never touched alcohol like most Srilankan women do and went to the temple every poya day clad in spotless white to observe Sil.
She of course went on and on at the Gamarala, as women do, about his drinking habits and his non-observance of the Poya Day.

Sura Meraya
After all one of the Buddhist precepts is "Thou shall abstain from alcohol" (Sura meraya majjapama dhattana veramani sicca padang samadiyami) which ish not eashy to shay when drunk.
One day the Gamarala said to himself " Bugger this! I can't stand this anymore! I am going to the temple just to keep the little woman quiet." Anything for a quiet wife!
The Gamarala's announcement was greeted with considerable hilarity by his dozen or so assorted children ("Menna bolé Appachchi Pansal yanda hadanawa!"). He ignored them.
Mrs Gamarala took this business very seriously of course. Women are like that. They are fussy, lack a sense of humour but are nice!
On the appointed day she first hid the bottle of arrack behind the wangediya (mortar) and got the Gamarala to get into a white sarong. The Gamarala preferred his dirty old multi-coloured striped sarong but decided to grin and bear it.
Because of the children Mrs Gamarala could not accompany him.
"What do I do when I get to the temple?" demanded the Gamarala slightly irritably.
"Simple!" said Mrs Gamarala. "Just repeat what the priest says!"
"Repeat everything?" he asked.
"Repeat everything! " she said.

Gloom and Doom and Dadoriya
The Gamarala set off with a sense of foreboding. He didn't like this at all. He felt uncomfortable in the starchy white sarong. It was like wearing paper. The old sarong was much more comfortable. One could scratch one's nether regions when wearing the old sarong. This one was scratchy but you couldn't scratch yourself. Scratching oneself is a Sri Lankan past time.
The sun was up and shining but this didn't particularly cheer up the Gamarala. The sun always shines in Sri Lanka and therefore there is no reason why people should cheer up at the sight of the sun.

Very soon he ran into trouble in the form of "Dadoriya", a rather vicious dog belonging to his neighbour.
Relations were slightly strained between the Gamarala and Dadoriya.
As usual Dadoriya started barking, "Bow Bow" in Sinhalese. (Dadoriya could only speak Sinhala and could only go Bow Bow whereas English educated dogs go Bow Wow or Arf! Arf! American dogs bark in a broad Brooklyn accent like Spike in the Tom and Jerry cartoons.)
The Gamarala thought that this would be a good opportunity to practice observing Sil. Repeat everything his wife had told him. The Gamarala looked at Dadoriya squarely in the eye and went "Bow Bow" with predictable results.
"Bow Bow" said Dadoriya.
"Bow Bow" said the Gamarala.
Gamarala & Dadoriya This went on for a while and then without warning Dadoriya changed tack, bared his yellow fangs, let out a low growl and went for the Gamarala.
The main point of contact between Dadoriya's fangs and the Gamarala was the seat of the pants except the Gamarala was not wearing any. He was only wearing a thin sarong.
The Gamarala ran in the general direction of the temple muttering Srilankan swear words, which we decline to translate, as this is a family page.

Cross Talk
The priest at the temple was surprised to see the Gamarala. With a twinkle in his eyes he decided to tease the Gamarala a bit and greeted the Gamarala patronisingly and pompously but in the traditional Srilankan fashion "Kohomada Gamarala?" (Gamarala, How Are You?).
"Repeat everything" thought the Gamarala. That's what the wife said. So the Gamarala looked at the priest squarely in the eye, thought, "Well he can't bite me, can he?" and, with a patronising and pompous smile said "Kohomada Gamarala?"

The priest was a little bit taken aback and said "No!No!No!No! I said Kohomada Gamarala"
The Gamarala said "No!No!No!No! I said Kohomada Gamarala"
"I heard you the first time!" said the priest rather sharply.
"I heard you the first time!" said the Gamarala equally sharply.
"There is no need to shout" shouted the priest
"There is no need to shout" shouted the Gamarala
"Are you drunk?"
"Are you drunk?"

Voices were raised and very soon other members of the congregation had gathered around the temple compound to observe this amazing exchange of views. Observing that he had an audience and aware that he was having the micky taken out of him by this uneducated Gamarala the priest drew himself up to his full height (5ft 8 inches) turned to them and solemnly and majestically said,
"This idiot (buruwa) is drunk".
The Gamarala drew himself up to his full height (5ft 10 inches) turned to the audience and equally solemnly and majestically said
"This buruwa is drunk".
The Gamarala had a 2 inch advantage.
There was a gasp of astonishment from the audience to hear the priest being referred to in this manner and with a 2 inch disadvantage.
An old woman by the name of Kalapugamage Don Nimal Hamy, with recent cataract operations on her eyes and consequently not yet used to her thick spectacles, did not know what best to do under these unusual circumstances and said "Sadu! Sadu! Sadu!" which is of course the Buddhist equivalent of "Amen".
When he heard this, the Gamarala thought I must have been doing all right. That's why the woman said "Sadu Sadu" The wife was right! Just repeat everything.
Coincidentally, there was a dramatic drum roll. Drums are part of the temple traditions.
The Gamarala smiled pleased that this Sil business was fun and easier than he had imagined.

The sight of the Gamarala grinning like a half-wit so incensed the priest that he almost forgot his own teachings. He nearly burst a cerebral blood vessel. Turning to the gathering the priest pointed to the Gamarala and said
"Menna Bola Pissek!" ("This guy is a nutter!")
Gamarala: "Menna Bola Pissek!"
Priest: "Menna Bola Horek!" ("This guy is a cutthroat")
Gamarala: "Menna Bola Horek!"
Priest: "Mé Yaka Geri Kunak!" (This devil is a rotting carcass of a cow)
Gamarala: "Mé yaka Geri Kunak!"
Priest: " Mé Yaka ***$%&!1@#!"
Gamarala: " Mé Yaka ***$%&!1@#!"
This went on for a while. Srlankans have a colourful vocabulary and many insults were exchanged but we decline to repeat them.

Fun and Games
The Gamarala thought this was fun although slightly shocked by the language (he was only repeating everything) and a little bit taken aback to realise that this is what Mrs Gamarala was up to on Poya days. Must have a serious talk with that woman when I get back home thought the Gamarala.

At this stage the proceedings were interrupted by the sudden appearance of the dog Dadoriya.
Seeing his old adversary the Gamarala decided to run to the other side of the temple compound.
This so-called "tactical withdrawal" on the part of the Gamarala convinced everyone that he must be clearly at fault and clearly guilty of something. Why else did he panic like that?
So they set upon him with the highly excited Dadoriya leading the attack.

A battered Gamarala made his way home. He who fights and runs lives to fight another day. His sarong was torn. His bum was beginning to hurt from the initial attack of Dadoriya and his left eye was rapidly becoming a "shiner". He had had to creep through a barbed wire fence to get away from the temple mob. Not a very pleasant experience especially when in a hurry.

The bloody kids went about with barely suppressed mirth when they heard this account.
They started a new game of repeating everything the other said.
One of the kids started barking like Dadoriya.

"Bugger this," thought the Gamarala "I never knew religion could be so painful"
His only consolation was that he had given as good as he got in the temple fray.
He was particularly pleased with his left hook which KOed the obnoxious holier-than-thou Ratnayake Mudiyanselagé (Aiyo!) Sirisena who was always hanging around the temple just to impress everyone.
Bugger him!
In his excitement Dadoriya of course had forgotten his remit i.e. of attacking the Gamarala exclusively, had abandoned the original battle plan, entered freely into the spirit of things and had bitten anyone who got in his way.
The enduring memory of Dadoriya hanging by his fangs on to the bum of one of the temple elders brought a smile to the Gamarala's lips.

Mrs Gamarala did her best not to laugh. This was rather difficult as she was a naturally giggly sort of woman, like most Srilankan women are, and always held her right hand across her face when she giggled. Most importantly she was a good woman.
She went into the kitchen and got the bottle of arrack out from behind the Wangediya where she had hidden it, got a clean glass and placed them before the Gamarala.
Ahh! Good woman! Thought the Gamarala……

Moral: Arrack is safer than religion and less painful.
First written on the 8th of December 2001
© Gyan Fernando 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 | How The Gamarala Went To Heaven | Gamarala and the Puhul | Two men and the bear | Incense and Candlewax | Fasting & Feasting | My Father & The Devil | Nari Bena (GM and the Jackal)

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