Life at Ancestral Home


Hambantota a traditional port city is my birth town located 100 km south of Colombo. Malays found a safe heaven to settle down during the Dutch era when several families from the royalty were dislodged from the Malayan peninsular as a threat to their dominance. In 1796, our ancestors settled down as commoners to start a new life in a new country. I was fortunate and blessed coming from traditional Malay parents with a good social standing as explained in detail under a separate page "Journey in Life". I never went to a Montessori till I was 5 years old to attend Grade 1 at Roman Catholic Mix School in Hambantota. Distance from our residence in Indiwinna to school was approximately 1.5 km and daily for years till I reached Grade 5 trotting among healthy and fit set of young children was an acceptable walking distance without any grumble. My late father, Falick escorted me as any other responsible parent to join school, still I remember my First Day in School and First Class teacher incidentally a Revd. Buddhist priest from Nimbaramaya Temple in Hambantota. It was a mix school comprising Sinhalese, Tamils, Moors, Borahs, Burghers and Malays (some were of Indian, Pakistani, British, Sudanese, Arabian, Malayan & Maldivian origin) mainly the followers of Buddhist, Catholic, Anglican, Hindu & Islamic faiths.

House in Indiwinna was located little away from the town, in a rectangle land plot built as two set of twin houses and surrounded by a large coconut plot and a thick jungle patch. Plenty of coconut, kurumba water, daily tapping of toddy was a common occurrence by Ra Mama fully strapped carrying tapping tools and pungently smelly herbal paste to cover the cut flower taking the sap out as the end product. Toddy was a natural beverage at home not considered as drinking arrack to get drunk. Toddy was even used in lieu of yeast a rare commodity at that time to make plain, egg, milk, wandu hoppers at home. The poor who could not buy arrack hit the village toddy bar for a quick fix kick some even perform bumble bee (Bambara) dance way back home to the exasperation of the lady in waiting after a tired days of  work at home, noted few get hooted and booed by onlookers crossing their path but hear no say with the most indecent language heard in town. Jungle patch extended for few hectares even across the road was our favorite pastime after school, weekends and school holidays looking for different type of fruits mostly sweet and sour in thorny thick green bushes, eraminiya, karamba, siyabala, madam, weera. Wood Apple, Palu, Mara in deep jungles during occasional hunting sessions launched in a Bullock-cart with my late father Falick armed  in a 16 Bore Single Barrel Gun carrying a good stock of cartridges No, 4, 8, & 16 strapped in a shoulder worn belt. Customarily we were in the safe hands of our beloved family friend, relation and seasoned tracker, Uncle Baju Hareem (ex. Police). Uncle Baju with his cowboy olive green hat was a frequent visitor to our house riding a well equipped bicycle. He had a sharp eye for wildlife and game. We still keep in touch with Tito and Baba, his beloved sons and meet occasionally in family functions. Bird shooting in Arabokke was very exciting for us running and chasing behind wounded and some partially dead in clay ridden muddy brackish water was a real life adventure even though I regret now taking game as a sport. Red legged Partridge,  Ackkati and Siberian ducks were in plenty flocked together in surrounding lewayas (natural formation of salt lakes).

Hunting of birds with home made catapult and occasional spotting of wild rabbit, iguana, squirrel. lizards, geckos and reptiles, mostly rat snake, cobras, vipers, kraits and cat snake, depath naya (very scary movement to watch) etc. Even though, now I regret, repent and repel hunting these innocent wild animals, even slaughtering of animals for consumption is not advocated by me now. Different species of insects in astonishingly colorful metamorphosis were our day to day visitors to the surroundings, astonishingly beautiful butterflies, thumbi, largest was the pol kuruminiya, scary site to watch and some insect attacks were very painful, instant medication was found from preserved bees honey, ath thora leaves, kala madiri, margosa gum, eramusu etc. Hambantota being a port city, hugging the coast, a natural harbor, we enjoyed plenty of sea food of course very fresh from sea to the cooking pan and stomach in one meal. Fish in abundant, was free, if a helping hand is given to pull the boat and recovering Madela back to the shore with plenty of live fish. Rock fish and Seer fish was the choicest delicacy and other varieties especially blood and bone ridden fish were considered inferior to partake. At home, we never had a refrigerator and fresh food was consumed all the time. Including beef, plenty of village chicken, ducks and eggs at home as a routine jungle game. Rabbit as and when, Deer, Sambur meat on request through traditional hunters coming from peripheral villages and even plenty of Thullor Pingho (tortoise eggs) and dendeng (dried wild venison and elk) on selected days of the month. (To be continued ..)


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