|When one enters the Aniakande district
hospital in Kandana one could easily mistake its gates for the Cancer hospital in
Maharagama. But the only cancer here is poverty.
From the main Negombo highway, the
Aniakande district hospital lies in a lane that turns abruptly near a nurses training
school. Inside, the hospital lies on a sprawling acreage. On any morning, though the
buildings are fanned with a soft breeze from the abundant foliage, the wards lie ailing.
Ramshackled constructions and darkened wooden benches speak for the development that we
all lack in the outskirts, as we hear bragging about the latest medical facilities in the
posh private hospitals.
Enter ward no. 3 and you see life in its saddest form - suffering in its most
heartbreaking form and poverty at its most desperate.
If you can eat thereafter, if you can take a swim and go to the club, if you can go to
the disco or go out for a nightly drink and still not have these people haunt you, then
you are really something.
The 14 people in this ward cannot walk. No one ever comes to see them and they have
never received any kind of gift, food item or donation.. "What I want most in this
world is..," 62-year-old Emmanuel pauses. I expect him to say " a car" or
maybe "a house" or maybe "to go overseas."
Emmanuel starts again, faintly. With difficulty he says it again, "What I want
most in this world is some sugar, and some tea leaves." He extends a palm. But I have
not brought sugar and tea leaves on this assignment.
"I can't walk," he goes on. His old eyes glazed with tears. "This is the
first time somebody talked to me," he begins to cry. It is impossible to stay where
he is. Old rotting mattresses lie all over the place. There is misery. There are flies and
there are tears, heartache and loneliness.
On the corridor is a man named Ackman. Anybody who can take a good look at him has
surely a strong character. Ackman's bones are sticking out. His knee has given way and
each time he moves the thousands of flies around him take a break and then resettle on
him. Nobody speaks to Ackman. He fans himself weakly with a bunch of polmudu. The flies
then settle on this bunch of coir.
What does Ackman want? He takes sometime to answer.
"I would like to die," he says slowly.
Besides Ackman sits Joseph. He is 66 years old and he has two stumps for his legs.
"He got caught to a moving train," a hospital worker explains.
Joseph seems tired after moving on his buttocks. He rests his hands on the ground and
stares onto the ground. "I want to be happy, miss," he says expectantly. But
there is little hope that he will ever be happy.
Nobody here had even a two rupee coin with them. They pull out their empty pockets.
They hold up their cups. Most of them want milk or malted milk or something nice to eat.
But these are mere dreams here.
Ward no. 3 at this hospital seems to be the unhappiest place. The broken beds and the
old soaked mattresses, the flies and the empty bedside cupboards are shocking. Just a
kilometre away on the main Wattala - Negombo highway, supermarkets shelves lay stacked
with malted foods and milk powders of every kind you can imagine.
And here sit 14 people on the brink of death, desiring many things - and they are all
things that they can eat or drink. Day in and day out they sit on their old beds eating
the red rice, watakka and mukuwenna and drinking the water off the tap. Each day their
bodies seem to be growing weaker and their minds unhappier. They expect someone to come-
but nobody does. The only kindness they get is from the hospital workers who seem to be in
a permanent state of shock at the lives of these men.
W.G Nimalasena is far too senior than the 52 years he claims to be. But in him is the
desire to be young - the desire to feel young and lie about his age. Nimalasena does have
the desire for life. Having worked as a labourer, he does not have a cent with him today.
"Nobody comes to see me. I have a brother in Matara, but he is too old and too poor
to come and see me. I don't want to stay here miss, please help me to have a better life.
Please help me to live a better life," he cries.
He shows me his legs. They are thin and worn out. His emaciated body is no different
from his legs.
Sixty-five-year old Newton who fell off a tree wants to go and live a better life.
"I want to go out of here and do something. But where can I go to? What can I do? I
don't have a cent with me," his desperate eyes fill with tears.
The powercut is no great misery to them.There is darkness for them day and night - all
year round. As mosquitoes feast on their dying limbs - they lay their restless heads on
the putrid mattresses. There are only six beds here but 14 of the patients sleep in this
From an old cupboard a compassionate Lord Buddha stares at them. A little apart is a
statue of Jesus Christ.
But before that they ought to try their hand at their fellow beings. For hidden in this
ward 3, few of us seem to know the miseries of these people. Sometimes things are not as
bad in real life, as they are when they are put down on paper. But here, their real
situation could be worse than what is put down on paper this Sunday.
District Medical Officer, Dr. Deniyage, is kind. He is also forceful and determined. He
wants to do the best for everybody in this hospital.
When asked about the people in ward 3 Dr. Deniyage said that the hospital is doing its
best for them. And it is true. This district hospital, with its limited amount of money is
feeding these people and cleaning them and bathing them. The hospital is also giving them
medicine. But this small hospital cannot give them more than it is already getting.
Should not these people be taken away and rehabilitated? Should not they be taken to
some home for the elders and given a better life than let them wait for death in a
ramshackled hospital ward?
"When they are sent here or when they come here, no address is given. They are
sent here 'for chronic management.' The poor come here to stay and eat a plate of
rice," he explained. Thereafter, they stay here. What they want is to have a meal and
a place to die.
But investigations revealed that this hospital does not even have a mortuary. The dead
are kept in a room which does not even have a proper roof. And at most times the patients
who die here have nobody, but the hospital has to keep the bodies for seven days, in case
there is somebody to claim the body.
Money is spent in colossal amounts in Sri Lanka today and money is earned in colossal
But if there are human beings experiencing so much heartache and suffering, then what
use to us is all the money in this world.
National security or national harassment?
By Hemamala Wickremage
- "This is absolute discrimination"
We are being harrassed endlessly in the name of national security. Roads remain closed
and vehicles have to go the full distance before being able to come on to the side they
really want to. Moreover, certain vehicles are not allowed to enter certain zones and
three wheelers most often transporting women and school children receive step-motherly
treatment. At the end it is the customers who have to pay.
The traffic law that was introduced in 1998, prohibits certain heavy vehicles from
entering parts of the city that are categorized as 'high security zones'. This law also
has made lot of people angry and unhappy. As we found out there are many who feel
victimized and suffer in silence. They seem to have no say at all with these laws. They
are left with no option but to comply with these laws in the name of 'national security.'
Nandana Kurunaratne in his thirties is self-employed. He owns and operates his own
interior decorating business Total Interiors, employing five staff. All young school
He is being penalized unfairly for no fault of his. His crime is owning a small truck.
This is his sole mode of transport. He is faced with a dilemma due to the prevailing law
which, restricts their movement within city limits.
Their businesses require them to use trucks within Colombo City limits frequently.
However, the authorities have unfairly restricted their movement and this has led most
people like Nandana to move their businesses elsewhere.
He is one of the fortunate who had managed to survive but a large number of others find
it extremely difficult to carry out their businesses under these trying conditions and are
facing bankruptcy. "We try to run a decent business and create jobs and help the
economy but this is how we are rewarded" says Nandana.
As a result not just him there are hundreds who face a similar plight. These
businessmen who support the country's ailing economy and also create job opportunities are
unfairly and unnecessarily harassed due to this ludicrous law which requires only trucks
to be stopped at check points for routine checks whilst other large vehicles which does
not fall in to the lorry category pass through freely without any hindrance.
"This is pure discrimination", said one truck owner who wished to be
anonymous. They are targeting us simply because we have larger vehicles. This is
ridiculous he said angrily.
"How come other vehicles such as vans and specially the up market four wheel
drives are allowed to enter these zones without being checked. Aren't they also potential
threats?" he asked.
Aruna, another driver recalled how explosives were taken to Torington Square in a
simple 'thambili' cart. Most truck owners we spoke to believe this law is ineffective as
explosive devices can be taken into the city in any type of vehicle not just trucks. It is
also possible for anyone to bring them in small amounts carrying on their person.
"We know this is a difficult task for the security forces to check each and every
vehicles that enters the city, but if we want to have a safe city that's the only option
they have" said Aruna.
Especially, people in the trades who rely on a truck to transport their goods such as,
furniture, soft drinks, flower pots ect. are affected by this law. Another group of people
who are hard hit by this law are the tradesmen who use these particular vehicles to carry
out various odd jobs including building maintenance work within the city limits.
Interestingly, the same vehicle can fall in to two separate groups as in the case of
Nandana. His vehicle a, Mazda Browney long wheel truck as shown in the photograph is
categorised as a lorry. Whilst, the same model with a roof is classed as a dual purpose
vehicle which is allowed free entry to high security zones. So when is a lorry not a
lorry? We posed this question to the authorities concerned.
A high ranking police officer who wished not to be hamed, told The Sunday Leader that
it is the job of the motor vehicle commissioner to categorise vehicles and the duty of the
police is to carry out the instructions. However he said, " if a vehicle which can
carry more weight, was used for the purpose of bringing in explosives, the damage would be
When contacted the commissioner of motor vehicles' office an official who also wished
to be anonymous told us that, "our role is to register vehicles on specifications set
out by the police." However there was no one who could explain how and why the same
model is catecategorised in to two groups, dual purpose vehicles and commercial purpose
ones. For example, a double cab type vehicle with seating capacity for six people goes
under dual purpose. Meanwhile, strangely, a single cab with seating space for three people
is classified as a lorry.
When asked why this is so, the motor registry official said, it was because the single
cab has the possibility to carry more explosives than the double cab. But as rightly
pointed out by Karunaratne, this ruling is absurd as the back seats can always be used to
transport explosived if and when needed.
We also discovered that, vehicles which are known as 'crew cabs' which has much larger
'cab' space falls in to the dual purpose simply because it has two seating rows and are
allowed unrestricted entry to the City. In fact, they are even allowed to carry anything
under the canvas covers.
When we visited one of the check-points, the security personnel on duty shared the same
view. They too admitted that bombs could be brought in any vehicle not in just lorries.
The current law is indeed only a smoke screen. Just by making life difficult for these
hard working contractors the authorities should not think the city is safe. It's not
necessarily the case. Therefore, the current laws should be looked in to thoroughly to
avoid future catastrophes.
Mother says police killed her son
By Risidra Mendis
Life is precious and sweet, for those who earn an honest day's living. But to Nandani
Gunawardene the turning point in her life was the day she gave birth to her three
children. From the day they crawled to the day they walked, their first day at school and
their growing up years are still etched in Nandani's mind where her children Malin
Nishantha (24), Pravin Nilantha (21) and Dulini Nimesha (18) are concerned.
However the close family life that Nandani and her children shared was soon to come to
an end. On September 4, 2001 at 4.10am, to the surprise of Nandani and her family, her
younger son Pravin was arrested by the Talangama police.
The small house close to the Thalawathugoda junction, belonging to Nandani's
brother-in-law is where Nandani and her daughter live today. The pain and sleepless nights
on Nandani's face is evidence that she still grieves for her son.
"I worked very hard to give my children a good education and make them useful
citizens in the country," Nandani said. Malin and Pravin completed their O/L's and
Dulini is studying for her A/L's. While Malin is a driver, Pravin drove a three wheeler.
"My son was an honest person who worked hard to led a decent life. But today he is
no more," Nandani said. Having driven a three wheeler for the one-and-a-half years
Pravin gave up his job on the request of his mother. "Driving a three wheeler on
these roads is not an easy job, and I was afraid for my son's safety. But Pravin earned a
living by repairing three wheelers and motorcycles," Nandani said.
On September 4 like any other day Pravin was at home. "There was a knock on the
door. Then we heard this male voice saying they were from the police. They asked us to
open the door to check if there were Tamil terrorists in the house. Once inside the OIC
told me they were from the Mirihana police," Nandani said.
However Nandani found out that the officers were from the Talangama police. "The
OIC was dressed in civil while the two officers were in police uniforms. They told me they
were arresting my son for the theft of a water pump. My son did steal a water pump from a
neighbouring house, but he returned it to the owners two days before he was
arrested," Nandani said.
From September 4 to 7 Pravin was kept at the Talangama police station. No charges were
filed and no statement taken by the police. "All they did was assault my son day in
and day out for three days," Nandani said.
Nandani who works at the Govi Jana Seva could only visit her son in the evenings after
work was over.
"I went to see Pravin around 3.00pm every day at the prison. On September 4 Pravin
was alright. He told me that he was just locked up. But when I went to see him on
September 5 Pravin told me that he had been assaulted by the police. He asked me to get
him out because he couldn't stay there any longer," Nandani said.
When Nandani asked the police officers why her son was held with no charges they told
her that investigations were going on and more suspects had to be arrested before
releasing him. "They also told me that my son was arrested for 40 robberies. How can
I believe the police when I know my son better than anyone else?" Nandani asked.
On September 6 when Nandani visited Pravin he was in bad shape. The soles of his feet
were swollen and he could hardly walk. "He was in great pain and begged me to save
him. But there was nothing I could do. When I went on September 7 around 4.00pm to the
prison the police officers told me my son was dead," Nandani said.
Unable to bear the shock Nandani fainted. A while later Nandani was taken to the toilet
of the prison where she saw here son lying face down on the bathroom floor. "I was
told that my son had hanged himself with a piece of his sarong. How could a person have
hanged himself and then fallen face downwards on the floor? I know my son had no reason to
commit suicide. Besides there is hardly any room in that toilet for a person to hang
himself. While still in shock I was asked to sign some papers by the police officers
too," Nandani said.
"When I visited my brother in prison he showed me the bruises on his right hand
from the assaults. He told me that the officers used to hang him up and hit him with clubs
and poles. My brother was then left hanging for hours," Dulini said.
According to Nandani the undertakers at the Udeni funeral parlour told her that her son
had a pierced wound above his waist and one leg was broken in three places. When the body
was brought home Pravin's face was swollen from the torture he underwent at the
prison," Nandani said. Despite the cuts and bruises on Pravin's body the coroner's
report says he died by hanging himself.
According to Nandani it was the coroner from Borella who gave the final report on
Pravin's death. "Why wasn't the coroner from theTalangama area asked to give the
report, and why didn't the coroner certify in the death report that Pravin had a wound on
his side and a broken leg? How can a mother live with these doubts in her mind,"
"We brought the body home on September 8 after 12.00am. But on September 10 the
day of the funeral we had to seal the coffin around 9.00am as the body started smelling
due to the many cuts done for the autopsy report," Nandani said. Pravin is gone but
to the Gunawardene's their problems are not over yet.
According to Nandani the Talangama police now say that Pravin was arrested on September
7 at 10.30am and hung himself at 12.00pm on the same day. "A friend of Pravin's was
with him from 10.00am to 2.30pm, so how can the police say that Pravin died at 12.00pm
that day? The police offered to bear the cost for the funeral of my son. We are not well
off, but to me money is nothing compared to the life of my son," Nandani said.
When The Sunday Leader contacted I T Abeyratne OIC crime of the Talangama police at
2.30pm on October 24 2001 he said he needed half an hour to give the details on the death
of Pravin. However half an hour later Abeyratne couldn't be contacted. An officer at the
police station said Abeyratne had gone out and wasn't sure what time he would be back.
When The Sunday Leader contacted Abeyratne on October 25, 2001at 9.45am an officer said
he had gone to courts and wouldn't be back till late evening, and that no other police
officer could give the neccessary details.
Keeping in touch
- Being visually handicapped has not stopped him from making a success of his life
By Marianne David
"I don't want my children to feel in any way that they have lost out by having a
father who is blind. I want them to have the best of everything and be happy. This is what
drives me on to do more everyday," These words reveal the driving force behind a man,
who having lost his sight at the tender age of six, went on to make a success story out of
His children and many businesses are testimony that he has fought his battles in life
bravely, and won. Speaking about his father who has overcome the odds, Manura said,
"We have never felt at a loss in any way because our father is not able to see. He
has done so much for us and continues to do so everyday. He has been a much better father
than other fathers have been to their children."
Born in the village Laggala, in Matale, Ekanayake Mudiyansalage Navaratne Bandara,
better known as Navaratne, as a child was seen coming home after playing with his friends
groping his way along the walls without running home like other children.
His father, an ayurvedic doctor, had then checked his eyes and seen a scaly growth, and
gotten him the best possible medical care. Unfortunately, his sight could not be restored.
"I think rickets, the lack of Vitamin A and D, is what went wrong with my
eyes," he says.
Having joined the Blind School in Ratmalana because of his handicap, Navaratne was not
interested in rattan weaving or making doormats, which were two of the few jobs available
in those days for people who had lost their sight. At that time, he used to learn music
from a man named Suriyasena, who in turn asked a man named Francis Perera to train blind
people in healing techniques such as Physiotherapy, Reflexology, Acupressure and Remedial
Navaratne was well acquainted with the rubbing in of oils and other medicines which
were used to cure his father's patients, which gave him from an early age, the healing
Having found his niche, Navaratne went on to become Sir John Kotalawela's personal
Apart from the Remedial Massage Centre at Adams Avenue, declared open in 1958 by Sir
John Kotalawela, there is also a branch at the Serendib Hotel in Bentota. He also started
two other businesses, these being an advertising firm managed by his younger son Manura
and a guest house in Bentota named Gallant Mount Rest managed by his elder son Tirath.
"I was lucky in meeting Sir John Kotalawela and several other VIP people from that
period onwards. Some of the top people in the country used to come to me. Some of the main
people in the current regime also come to me now.
"I think that this is a very successful vocation for any blind person as touch
plays a major role here. I can tell a lot through touch, and with my experience, its very
easy to find out when something is wrong. I am very much in demand for remedial massages
because of my experience," he added.
Navaratne is also the president of the Sri Lanka Federation of the Visually
Handicapped, and has been in this post for about 14 years. Having spoken to the president
for land in which to put up their building, she had provided them with a property at Union
Place, which has to be demolished because of a street line going through.
They have then been provided with a new land just across the old place because the
blind people are used to this area.
"In the new place we are going to have a Talking Book Library, Braille Library and
Prevention of Blindness Programme, where doctors will examine children to prevent
blindness, so that there will be a way out for children who are weak in sight." The
Colombo West Rotary Club, along with its Swedish counterpart, has given the funds for the
"My main aim is to find donors to help us pay our loan with Seylan Bank which was
taken to pay for the building, which will be declared open on October 29, 2001. From the
very beginning, I've been pushing my way up and people have been very helpful. With their
very encouraging and positive response, I have always been optimistic.
"We don't have enough people for the Talking Book Library and books are required
to be read out too. We are hoping to have musical shows, sell pens and do some other fund
raising activities to collect towards this fund and make our project a success," he
said. Volunteers who wish to help with the Talking Book Library or in any other way can
contact the Federation of the Visually Handicapped, No. 74, Church street, Colombo 2
Cirrhosis and alcoholism
Cirrhosis is relatively
common disease especially among alcoholics. Unlike with the case of kidneys where it is
possible to live when one kidney fails we have only one liver and when that liver fails,
the patient has to face life threating complications as the liver is responsible for
performing numerous vital functions. When the liver fails no other organ does its works.
Dr. Sarath Gamini De Silva consultant physician of the National Hospital Colombo spoke to
The Sunday Leader about Cirrhosis , alcoholism and prevention.
By Rashomi de Silva
Cirrhosis is a irreversible change that takes place in the liver due to various causes.
In Cirrhosis liver cells are destroyed and replaced by fibrous tissues. These tissues
gradually contract so that the liver decreases in size. However before this irrevocable
stage is reached there is a stage where further deterioration can be prevented by taking
What causes Cirrhosis?
Most common cause of Cirrhosis is consumption of excessive amounts of alcohol.
Different people have varying capacities of consuming alcohol without harming themselves.
The fact that one person remains unaffected by regular consumption of alcohol over a long
period of time is no guarantee that another person's body will behave in the similar way.
However no doubt at the vast majority of people consuming unlimited amount of alcohol
will end up with liver diseases. Most such people do not take an adequate diet as their
hunger is satisfied by the empty calories provided by alcohol.
There is a mistaken belief that wine and beer are less harmful than 'strong' drinks
such as arrack or whisky. A person consuming larger quantities of wine or beer ends up
doing similar harm to himself as a person taking lesser amount from stronger drink.
Although a small drink at irregular interval may not be harmful it should be emphasised
that alcohol is not at all essential for a healthy life or normal social activities.
The popular propaganda that alcohol is good for high blood pressure is also misleading.
Therefore it is wiser to advice a person who has never taken alcohol to get his blood
pressure checked rather than persuading him to take a small drink of alcohol even
There are few patients including females who do not take alcohol but still develop
Cirrhosis. Viral hepatitis B and C are the likely causes. The common hepatitis A never
causes a permanent damage to the liver. Patients are not likely to give a history of
having had hepatitis in the past. For this purpose there are several blood tests available
to identify the virus in the blood. It has been also found out there is an increased
tendency of developing liver cancers in these patients.
Other rare causes are hereditary diseases where the metabolism of copper and iron is
disturbed. And there are few more rare causes.
How to recognise Cirrhosis.
Patient develops swelling of ankles followed by distension of the abdomen due to the
accumulation of fluid. Complaints of discomfort in upper abdomen and feeling of general
ill health, lethargy, weakness, tiring out easily and unexplained weight loss are early
features. Some develop low grade fever which may be associated with other complications of
alcohol. Symptoms can be explained on the basis of disturbed liver functions. Insomnia,
numbness and tingling feeling in feet occur due to the affects or alcohol on the nervous
system. With time the patient become jaundiced (yellowing of palm nails and skin)
Other complications associated with Cirrhosis.
Burning abdominal pain are associated with gastro-enteritis. With fibrosis tissues
described earlier blood circulation through the liver get disturbed. This lead to blood
vessels inside the stomach to distend (similar to the varicose veins in legs.) These blood
vessels rupture easily giving rise to the blood vomiting and passage of blood in faeces
which are the most frightening symptoms of Cirrhosis. Many bleed to death.
Gastric ulcer is another source of bleeding in cirrhotic patients. Repeated vomiting
after alcohol lead to tearing of lining at the lower end of oesophagus or the gullet (tube
that carries food from mouth to stomach). Bleeding may occur from such tears. Bleeding
from varicose veins in the stomach may be stopped by tying them up or by injecting drugs
that closes them or by combination of both.
These are done through an endoscope. Very occasionally the bleeding may stop
spontaneously only to recur later. As the liver is responsible for the manufacturing
proteins, required for the clotting of blood when the liver is diseased bleeding will be
exaggerated due to the poor clotting of blood. The liver removes toxins or poisons
(naturally occurring ) which if allowed to build up could be life threatening. This
process known as detoxification, fails when the liver is diseased. When the liver damage
is extensive hepatic or liver coma results due to the accumulation of toxins in blood.
This can be precipitated by extensive consumption of protein, continued intake of
alcohol, constipation bleeding etc. Certain drugs used to get rid of body swelling and to
induce sleep are known to cause coma. It is essential such things are avoided to prevent
Another vital function the liver is removing bile products (by products of red blood
cell breaking down) and excreting them into intestine. When this function is impaired
patient develops the condition is known as Jaundice. The liver breaks down almost all
hormones. When this function is weakened hormones accumulated in the blood resulting
swelling of the body, enlargement of male breasts, shrinking of testes etc.
The message to the reader.
As always prevention is better than cure. In the case of Cirrhosis no cure is available
apart from liver transplant, which is of course beyond most people, and was carried out
few times only in developed countries. Avoiding alcohol is no doubt is the best possible
way of preventing Cirrhosis. Even after the onset of disease abstention is known to delay
the complications associated with the disease.
Apart from that an average healthy diet with adequate proteins, vitamins may have a
favourable impact on the outcome. Drugs are available for the relief of body swellings,
loss of appetite and other undesirable symptoms. But these things are all temporary
measures. Thus Cirrhosis though common and taken for granted by many, especially by
alcoholics, is a serious disease and causes death in matter of few years. Thus taking
alcohol is a way of committing suicide slowly but surely.
By Sonali Samarasinghe
Here is a delightful insight on adult life, based on recent interviews with Australian
kids, THAT I RECEIVED IN THE MAIL. I've changed the names but the content is all true.
When asked, How do you decide whom to marry? Ten-year-old Brett replied "You got to
find somebody who likes the same stuff. Like, if you like sports, she should like it that
you like sports, and she should keep the chips and dip coming. Ooops! I wonder if Gloria
Steinem heard that. Which reminds me, whenever I discuss with a particularly chauvinistic
(its just pretence to provoke reaction, and we all fall for it alas) male friend of mine
about launching a magazine called Ms. Very like the one produced by Gloria, he replies,
only if it can be renamed PMS. Witty no doubt, but silly. Anyway that's neither here nor
there, let's get back to the tiny tots. They don't say `out of the mouth of babes..' for
nothing now do they?
Here then is a terribly fatalistic view of tying the knot put forward by a knowing
little Kirsty also aged 10. "No person really decides before they grow up who they're
going to marry. God decides it all way before, and you get to find out later who you're
stuck with." Dearie me how very bleak for us all. The next question was tricky. What
is the right age to get married?
Ten year old Cathy thought twenty-three was the best age 'because you know the person
forever by then.' I suppose at ten, even twenty-three looks far away and ancient. Freddie
was a little boy after me own 'eart. With a steady look in his eye no doubt, he piped,
"No age is good to get married at. You got to be a fool to get married." Attaboy
How can a stranger tell if two people are married? "You might have to guess, based
on whether they seem to be yelling at the same kids," says Darran, age eight What do
you think your mom and dad have in common? "Both don't want any more kids,"
squeaks Lori, age eight. Well, I'm not sure if she squeaked, but it's very likely. Kids
make strange noises I have noticed, based upon long and careful examination and
observation of the truck-load of nieces and nephews in my possession.
What do most people do on a date? A very perceptive 8 year old Lori says that
"dates are for having fun, and people should use them to get to know each other. Even
boys have something to say if you listen long enough." Well it is rather optimistic
of Lori to think about boys in that way, pipes in my niece, who is seventeen. But what the
heck, let her believe in Santa and the tooth fairy and all that. One is only young once.
A smart little boy opined that "on the first date, they just tell each other lies,
and that usually gets them interested enough to go for a second date." Hmm. Familiar
anyone? And here's a trick question. What would you do on a first date that was turning
sour? The kids weren't fooled.
"I'd run home and play dead. The next day I would call all the newspapers and make
sure they wrote about me in all the dead columns. Steve, age nine When is it okay to kiss
someone? Seven year old Pam blinks. Not that I was there, but I have a gut feeling she
blinked. "When they're rich," she says sweetly. Now there's a smart girl.
"The law says you have to be eighteen, so I wouldn't want to mess with that"
says Barry, age seven. Guess who's growing up to be quite the little policeman? And
eight-year-old Greg explains the rules. "The rule goes like this. If you kiss
someone, then you should marry them and have kids with them. It's the right thing to
And on this loaded question, the kids were exceptionally calm. Is it better to be
single or married? Eight year old Ted said, "I don't know which is better, but I'll
tell you one thing. I'm never going to have sex with my wife. I don't want to be all
grossed out." And an independent little Anna, age nine thinks that " It's better
for girls to be single but not for boys. Boys need someone to clean up after them."
How would the world be different if people didn't get married eight-year-old Mike was
asked? "There sure would be a lot of kids to explain, wouldn't there?" He
replies. And finally the big one. How would you make a marriage work? Says the youngest
(10) most successful marriage counselor in the world. "Tell your wife that she looks
pretty even if she looks like a truck." Before I leave, I read an excellent quote,
which might come in handy for the many power hungry politicians now fighting tooth and
nail to regain power by December fifth. They'll do well to remember Napoleon's words,
"never interrupt an enemy when he is making a mistake."