Koluwa’s Story Part Five

Koluwa’s Story continues…

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Latha leaned against the counter as she peeled onion after onion, one eye on the TV screen, the other on the kitchen door. One eye followed Bugs Bunny as he munched on a carrot, and the other watched out for Manike, who would skin Latha alive for trying to multitask. She peeled onion after onion, the paper like peels collecting in the garbage bin. The potatoes were next and Latha dreaded them. They burned her fingers, and were messier.
“Putha, you better go clean your room without watching TV! Your cousins will be here any moment now,” Shereen Wickramatunga, the First Lady of the house, told her son.
“Wait, will you, Amma. Last five minutes only.”
His cousins, and many of the Wickramatunga clan were expected for dinner that night. Of course as is typical with Sri Lankans, they would start arriving around tea time.
“They are spoiling him. Now what will happen is the egghead will continue with the bloody cartoons, and then his cousins will be here. And Manike being Manike, will force me to clean that mess,” Latha said quietly.
“What are you mumbling about, you good-for-nothing girl? Still peeling those onions. Those potatoes wont peel them selves, you know.”
Since she had very little patience, and very little mercy, Manike shooed Latha out of the kitchen and told her to look into the chicken curry instead. Latha trudged towards the outdoor stove or the ‘dhara lipa’ where a chicken curry simmered in a large pot. The flames had died and the wood let out smoke, that wasn’t doing the curry much good. Latha, in her absent minded way, and to let out her anger towards Manike and the Egghead, blew out into the burning chunks of wood.
“Oh bloody hell,” she thought when the thick smoke blew into her face, making her cough and making the tears gather in her eyes. Exasperated, Latha looked into the pot and thought how her life lacked the spice and heat the curry had. She had always just been, going from one task to another, never doing anything worth telling people about. Even Koluwa had stories to tell, escaping death and leaving home to a house so far away. He had seen more than Latha had, even though he couldn’t and wouldn’t tell her the whole story. All Latha had as a memory worth treasuring was her bus ride to this house. That too she couldn’t remember much of because she spent more time trying not to be sick than noticing the out side world or dodging danger.
Also what was so adventurous about a five hour bus ride?
No, she wanted something more in life. She tried to make her father’s death more dramatic. But he had just gone, and she had cried, without knowing why she was so sad. She was too young to understand death. Her mother had gone about life as if nothing had changed. Not that she had a choice, Latha thought. Her mother could have let the grief take over and let her children starve, or she could have actually done something to get them out of the pit they were in.
Her father’s death had in some way or the other brought Latha here. Maybe it was a good thing. Her village didn’t have much to offer. Colombo though, ah! Such a great city. She could explore it and make a life of her own. Or she’ll end up like Manike, working for this wretched family until she was too old. And then what? She doubted the Missy would take care of her in her old age. Well, not that the Missy will be alive. The Eddhead. There was no way Latha could depend on him.
The faint smell of something burning brought her out of her thoughts. Before it was too late, before the chicken curry would be inedible and could only be used to brush their teeth, as Manike always put it, Latha added more water to it. “Maybe I am a good for nothing useless girl,” she thought.
The only good thing about these family gatherings was the food. There were always enough leftovers for Latha to enjoy. Not that Latha wasn’t given good food on all days, but she rarely got to eat meat. There were also the other kinds the relatives brought along. Food that they mostly threw away. The cakes had too much icing on them, and Latha would have to scrape away the sugary butter icing before eating a slice. Some of the desserts were inedible; they were either rock hard or tasted bad. Some relatives were kind enough, not that they brought them for Latha, to bring along pastries and other goodies. These Latha loved, even though the pastry flakes always stuck on to the roof of her mouth, making it itch.
She knew she was lucky to work for this family. Not all servants were given the luxuries she was allowed. Ah! That disgusting word. At first Latha had been too proud to call her self a servant. She had called her self the house-keeper, maid or help. Then she had realized she wasn’t here to help the Missie, but serve her. And now, she knew she was merely the servant of the house. Someone who could be easily discarded.
And this is why she yearned for some adventure. Anything was better than just growing old like Manike, doing the same thing every single day. Her eyes wandered around the garden, stopping at that forlorn mango tree that never bore any fruit. That was what she would look like if she didn’t leave. Yet, wasn’t there the comfort of having a roof above her head, food to eat and nice clothes? If she was to leave, then…

8 thoughts on “Koluwa’s Story Part Five”

  1. "Of course as is typical with Sri Lankans, they would start arriving around tea time." Now this line is actualyl pretty funny because it's true! And thanks for finally revealing the name of the First Lady of the house Shailee! Anyhow, so I believe the Egghead's a real annoying jackass of a kid…the stereotype annoying fat kid with a big mouth whom we all hate so much.But to continue, it's understandable how Latha believes that her social position makes her feel quite unfortunate in that she has no story to share. But what she doesn't realize is that she probably has, although she's been suppressing it for a long time.

  2. Many people tend to leave completely ordinary and boring lives. I mean, how many people walked on this planet and how many are remembered? Some people don't have stories to tell people. They go through each day without ever living.Also there's more to the Egghead than being the fat, annoying bully. His story will be given a chapter very soon

  3. This part was of a slower pace than the previous ones. The way you connect Latha's musings to ordinary things-for example, a chicken curry-is quite beautiful AND natural…Despite the negative feedback she gets from her superiors, she still has the adventurous spirit.

  4. Even I am quite saddened by the fact that billions and billions of people leave this earth unnoticed…(I believe that we have only one life to live all our dreams…)

  5. Even if we are given a thousand lives, we seem to be doing nothing with them. You don't need to leave a mark, you don't need to be famous, but you need to do something…

  6. Latha is adventurous, but she never gets the opportunity to do anything. Which could either work really well for her or backfire. I mean, she's that bird in a cage and the fact that her life is so routine, so passive isn't something she likes…

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