Of Watches, Watch Dogs And Old Schools
Two good old friends of the Forward School for Backward Boys were meeting for their monthly pow-wow on local and world affairs but this time it was not at their common waterhole but at the newly built house of Nodath Pandithaya.
Nikang Sududath had arrived and was at the door of the spacious bungalow while Nodath was holding open the massive Mahogany door roaring the usual welcome: ‘Hallo, hallo, yakko, addo baddo-kohomada bung?’ Sududath who is usually as boisterous as his friend stood in silence taking in the surroundings.
He then muttered: ‘Kohomada?’ What for the telling laughing also coming! Chandeliers, wall-to -wall carpeting, paintings, antiques, sculptures.
‘Addo, yakko, ten years ago when I came here you were complaining about the NSB holding back on a housing loan for extension of the verandah. What did you do? Marry a minister’s daughter or rob a bank?’ “Don’t be J–lous machang. I did the correct thing and joined our party. You joined the other party. Now here I am and you are trudging daily in your Bata slippers to Siri Kotha to get nominations for the provincial council elections.”
“What to do Nappuru Kalata (bad times). Even now join the winning side. Kollo, bring the drinks trolley,” Nodath bawled and pulled out a Black Label scotch.
‘“Double-double Scotch? No arrack?” Sududath asked and without waiting for a reply poured himself a double-double Scotch like what he does with Arrack and then added a dash of soda. Nodath suggested that they speed up proceedings for he had an appointment and then looked at his watch. This time his old schoolmate saw real stars.
Something glittering with a dashing finish, out of this world was on Nodath’s wrist. ‘What the hell is that? A Sea Street bangle?’ queried Sududath.
‘No yakko; This is a custom built Brolex Gatellip first made in 1836, made-to-order. It costs $ (US) 35,000 in Geneva. It’s not from Sea Street.’
Sududath: How did you get it? Must have paid a hell of a duty bringing it in? Exxim Bank loan at Commercial rates on government account?
Nodath: Keep it to yourself machang. My sister-in-law’s brother-in-law presented it to me. Don’t ask me what he is doing – whether he is in insider trading on Wall Street, involved in the ivory trade, human smuggling or gun running, but he gave it to me.
“Lucky fellow; Don’t lose it. You can’t go to the cops if someone steals it. They will ask embarrassing questions: how you got it and whether duty was paid etc.”
“Not to worry machang. If you are in the right party and have the right connections, ‘no problems’, as they say.”
At this stage there was a hell of a commotion inside the household and a frightful sight – a growling ‘polar bear’ was dashing towards Sududath.
Sududath, no intrepid Safari hunter but incredible coward, vaulted over the drinks trolley, sprinted and mounted the dining table with the ‘polar bear’ hot in pursuit, shouting for his mother, ‘Anney Ammo’.
A smiling Nodath brought the situation under control. He got his friend to come down from the table.
“It’s my St Bernard., quite a friendly fellow,” he said, patting the giant canine on his head.
“St Bernard or St Thomas or any blessed saint, keep the fellow away from me,” Sududath pleaded pouring out another do ble-double Scotch for himself.
“How did you get the fellow down? In an Airbus A360 or A340 or what? There may be questions asked.”
“What questions? Don’t ask stupid questions. The fellow just strolled into our garden just like any stray dog. He liked us and we liked him and here he is. Come here Air Bus – we call him that ‘cos everyone in the neighbourhood calls him that,” Nodath said patting Air Bus on his head. “Ado, yakko, you thought I am a konde bandapu Cheena?” Sududath burst out.
(The term we are told originated in the World War II days when poor displaced Chinese in knotted hair were in Colombo selling anything for any price).
Next time a stray elephant will walk into your parlour… That’s the trouble bung. In Sri Lanka every one is j–lous if you are successful…
At this stage Nodath’s 10-year –old son burst into the sitting room waving a flag crying out “Loyal, Loyal, L- O-Y-A-L…”
“What has happened? Has the poddi eka got vallipuuwa?” – (an epileptic fit)
“No Yakko. Today is Bradbury Day. Big match day in Rugger. Former Suddha principal gave the shield 60 years ago…”
Sududath: I thought we were to chase the Suddhas out after Independence. “We will discuss that next time. I too have to go for the Bradbury. You take your time and finish the Scotch,” Nodath said getting up.
“Ado, you were not at Loyal. Remember we were at the Forward School for Backward Boys?” Sududath reminded.
“Before that I was at Loyal Prep. Failed to get into Loyal proper and ended at the Forward School. I am loyal to all my schools,” said Nodath, getting into his bullet proof BMW.