Royal People

A dedication to those wonderful people who served Royal Primary School & Royal College, in Sri Lanka, since 1835, and, who will be remembered for their committment, sincerety and unselfishness.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

The 130th Battle

Sunday March 8th 2009.

There was unusually heavy traffic at 7.45 am on this Sunday morning down the quiet road leading to the Royal Sports Complex. Cars, Taxis and even 3 wheelers were plying down this road stopping near the 2 tourist buses parked beside the RSC. Getting down from these vehicles were men in their mid sixties, some with their spouses, others single. Looking at these men one was reminded of the Panopepton advertisement that used to air on Radio Ceylon in the mid 50s and 60s. Each one had that “aali maali dubala gathiya” worn out look on their faces. (Tired and listless feeling).

Stepping into that bus was like entering a time capsule; a time capsule not going Back to the Future starring Michael Fox, this capsule was going Back to the Past, Back to Royal
Happy land , happy land starring the Class of 56.

The middle aged men in their mid sixties were now transformed to teens of the Nineteen
Sixties. Each ones face was beaming with the exuberance of youth, naughty, impish and mischievous. Not due to Panopepton, but thanks to the Spirit of Royal, the spirit of the Class of 56.

As soon as the bus was on its way to Bentota Beach Hotel, the organizer “Par Excellence” Ana Joy de Silva , began distributing brown paper bags of “ Tiffin ”, patties, sandwiches , rolls, cutlets. ( Again my mind wonders back to the early 50s and 60s, when the visitors tent was served with these similar bags of Tiffin at lunch time ). With great enthusiasm he served chilled bottles of his pride and joy , the Joy Fruit drinks, from the cooler beside me. Although the label that read “Best Before” was altered to read “Best After” the drinks were tasty and refreshing. One wonders if this is a marketing strategy of the new Marketing director, Lal Saranapala.

Beside me in the last row sat one of the Abeya twins. No not the Abhaya twins, this set is completely different , they are the brown eyed Tissa and Du Abeya Singhe, or Du the Lion. They were not satisfied with Ana’s chilled pride and joy, they were thirsting for the cup that cheers. On my right sat the Tissa twin and on the left separating me from the lion twin was the Joy cooler. O! those pathetic looks on their faces, like infants with pouting lips when they grasp for the nipple and are refused. Finally after a little persuasion, the Bottle was opened around 8.30 am and before we reached Bentota the bottle was sucked dry.

Thursday, March 12th 2009, dawns to the sound of the beat of drums accompanied by the blaring of trumpets, sometimes off key, drowning the crackling sound of gun fire and the blast of grenades in the North. The battle in the North is temporarily forgotten, giving pride of place to the annual battle for the 130th year, due to start shortly. Oh! that rhythmic beat is like cancer, it eats into your body and without ones knowledge the feet are tapping to the beat. It eats into your veins, your blood stream and there you are on your feet dancing like a voodoo dancer in a trance.

I had the privilege of accompanying the very reverend Lionel James Peiris and Gamini
“Kalu Albert” Edirisinghe, born not with a silver spoon in his mouth but with verbal diarrhea, for the 3 days to the SSC grounds. This guy could not keep his mouth closed for 1 second. When the armed personnel were doing a body search before entering the grounds, he had his arms and legs outstretched and tells the officer frisking him “ ata deka gedera thiyala aawa, athana monowath ne allanna” ( left my nuts at home , there is nothing there for you to hold), the officer was so embarrassed he let him go.

First day of the match went Royals way and many were the predictions of an early victory. First 2 hours of play on the 2nd day left them saying “ I told you so”. Kito Dias was walking up and down the Mustangs tent, looking up at heaven and signaling to the Royalists that there would be a down pour. ( I am sure he was hoping for a Kariyawasam miracle like in 1970, when rain came down at the crucial moment saving him from his second defeat). A prominent member of the class of ‘56 walks into the tent carrying his bottles of refreshment pretty upset that the other side was all out for 99. His theory was that at all cost the match should go on for 3 days, displays the bottles in his hand and says what are we to do with all this stuff, if the match finishes today. And so a spell was cast on the Royal side and before long indeed there was a down pour. Kito’s prediction was correct , the Royal team could not hold down the runs pouring down from the Thomian bats, they were flooding the SSC grounds with boundaries, twos and singles. This torrent did not cease till the late hours of the final day when the Thomians decided to declare.

Thus ended the 130th battle with the Thomians stealing the honors.


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