WWW Virtual Library - Sri Lanka
Sharp at the auspicious time his uncle brought the blade towards his cheek. He was going to have his first shave. He wore a grave look on his face, covered with the bristles of the first dawn of hair. He gulped once or twice and tried to stay still as his manhood was shaven off. He was seventeen. Tomorrow he would be getting married.
She stood on the pooruwa clad in the traditional Osari. Deep black eyes, young and innocent like the eyes of a doe, peered through the jewellery, worn to match those of the goddess Paththini. The black irises shone as brightly as the "thalla" on her forehead. As her uncle began to pour the water over their entwined fingers, she felt his arm brush against her. She glanced at him through the corner of her eye. She had not seen his face clearly yet. She only had a vague feeling that he was thin, had fair skin and curly black hair.
Lunch, called the "adara batha" (the meal of love), lasted for over three hours. The bride and the groom seated at the head of the table ate from the same plate. When he thought no one was looking, he pushed pieces of fish towards her. She took them timidly, but picked at her food. She found it an effort to mix the curries on her side of the plate and raise her hand towards her lips. The eyes of the entire table were on her, she thought.
The sound of the gunshots fired into the sky when she had first stepped onto the compound of her husband's house, still lingered in her ears as she was shown their bedroom. She sat at the edge of the bed and waited quietly for him. The black teak furniture gleamed in the light of the big kerosene lamp beside her. Outside, everything was quiet except for the never-ending chorus of a group of Citerns. He came in quietly and closed the door.
She turned towards him and saw his face for the first time. He had curly hair, a thin face and dark black eyes. He smiled down at her. She began to stand up. But he moved towards her, placed his hands on her shoulders and gently pushed her back on to the bed. Seating himself beside her, he raised her chin towards him. She looked into his eyes and saw the gentle sparkle in them. Her heart began to beat rapidly. Strange emotions began to engulf her. She buried her head on his shoulder. His hand moved towards her hair. Slowly he began to loosen the knot tied to the nape of her neck. She could feel his fingers tremble as they encountered the thick black stresses.
The chatter of two squirrels in the garden announced to the world a new day had dawned. The door opened and her mother-in-law came in. The girl lay on the bed, her thin, lithe body wrapped in a white sheet. She looked as radiant as the flowers in the sal tree outside. He stood at the window with his back turned towards the two women. She recollected the night she had spent with him, when he had known her as only a man could know a woman. Now she got up and began to get dressed as her mother-in-law held her clothes and the white sheets to the sunlight, and examined them thoroughly.
From the curve of his cheeks, she could see her husband was smiling to himself. And she knew the same smile would be on her mother-in-law's face as she took a coin from her bosom and tied it to the edge of the bed sheet. The coin meant the girl had proven her virginity. She would be accepted into the family as the wife of their youngest son.
WWW Virtual Library - Sri Lanka