25 May 2012

Dimensions of discipline and ways of punishing

Gihan Elikewala today
In 1978, the first time Ranjan Madugalle captained Royal at the Big Match, a sporting declaration by him responded to by positive batting by the Thomians almost cost Royal the match.  If I remember right, S. Thomas’ had to score 44 in 8 overs with 4 wickets in hand (a piece of cake these days) but settled for a draw.  This year, another sporty declaration by Royal was responded to as positively by the Thomians.  The umpires, unfortunately decided the light was too weak.   

In 1978, Ranjan’s team won the Mustangs Trophy, comfortably beating their arch rivals in the 50 over encounter.  What happened therefore is the subject of this piece.   

The Master-in-Charge of cricket at Royal was H. Nanayakkara, who was also the hostel warden.  He was affectionately referred to as H. Nana (to differentiate him fro D.D.R. Nanayakkara or ‘Bus Nana’ who handled matters related to the school bus service) and sometimes as Haramanis or simply ‘Hara’.  The following conversation is said have taken place between Hara and one of the coloursmen.  Hara, true to form had been disarmingly genial and good humoured. 

Hara: So you people would have had a big party after the match?

Coloursman: No, sir, it was a small party.

Hara: Ah, so all you would have got cocked (drunk)?

Coloursman: No sir, we just had a couple of beers, that’s all.

Hara: Only a couple of beers?  The whole team? 

Coloursman: No sir, just 5 of us. 

The five, all coloursman, were duly suspended. Royal had to field a team made of the captain and 10 freshers in the Excite Trophy tournament (the 50 over inter-schools event).  Royal nevertheless won the Excide Trophy.   

I related the story to a friend at this year’s Royal-Thomian and he responded with a story (big matches are about swapping stories of old times).  This was a soccer story. The chief protagonist was the soccer captain Gihan Elikewala, the naughtiest, most mischievous boy in our batch, according to some.  Gihan is said to have turned a teacher out of the class once.  The said teacher had said (in Sinhala), ‘Elikewala, either you go out or else I will,’ and ‘Elike’, legend has it, had said ‘then you go out sir!’  He had been hauled up to the Vice Principal (E.C. Gunasekera, aka ‘Kataya’) and is said to have successfully pleased his case, pointing out that he had been given a choice and had figured that had he gone out of the class, he might have got into deeper trouble if Kataya or some other strict teacher had seen him. 

Elike, according to my friend, had been ‘put on detention’ by Kataya.  This meant that he would not be allowed to take part in extra curricular activities for a week.  Sadly, probably for this first time, the Royal soccer team had made it to the finals of the inter-school tournament, thanks mostly to Elike’s individual brilliance.  Elike had broken the detention-rule and played in the final, calculating that Kataya would not be present at a soccer match. Kataya indeed had not been there.  Unfortunately, Kataya had tuned into the Bristol Sports News at 7.30 pm that night.  Royal had won.  Elike had scored the winning goal and therefore his name was mentioned.  My friend said that Kataya had summoned Elike the following Monday, congratulated him for the historic victory and duly slapped a punishment of 2 more weeks of detention.   

Elike lives abroad.  I sent him a message asking him to verify this story. Here’s his response: 

‘Yes malla, mara waday macho...everything went well in the match...next day Kataya called me around 1000 o'clock...had a nice chat, even shared a chinese roll and tea with me, asked about the match !!! I mumbled saying it was ok, and he told me it was wonderful that we had won the championship, wanted to know if I had a twin, because he was bemused as to how I could be in two places at the same time...of course he congratulated me, and then told me that since my twin was still at detention, to make it a family affair by sitting next to him for two weeks...of course he brought it down to three days, when his chinese roll went missing...heh heh...’ 

That’s the Elike of 1983/84.  A quarter of a century has changed nothing, I felt.  

I told him that this deserves to be written about because it illustrates several things. His commitment to his sport, team and the school at the cost of punishment; Kataya’s sense of humour, ability to be gracious, readiness to reward him for his efforts and the determination to ensure that Elike learned that other things are as important as a victory on the sports field. I told him also that the person who told me this story said that things like this moulded him, guided him when faced with tough decisions and that we learned more from such things and such people than from our school books!

Eleke was also easy going and despite his impishness by and large sided with the ‘right’ and ‘good’ in things that counted. He send a short response: ‘No worries macho...up to you malla, i have absolute faith in your ability....if i can do ANYTHING to develop someone to become better, then I'm your man...You take care, bro, and keep in touch when you can.’

Several decades after both incidents, my friend and I recalled how life-moulding they have been and perhaps not just for the two of us.  Both stories were prompted by a recent incident where two school captains representing a national Under 19 team were caught entertaining prostitutes in the hotel where they were staying for the duration of an important international encounter. Both were highly talented.  I don’t know if the relevant authorities chided them or put them on detention or spoke about twins over chinese rolls and tea, but neither were suspended from their respective teams.    

I am wondering what kind of conversation two random men in their mid-forties would have 25-30 years from now about discipline and punishment.  I only hope that there are as many Elikewalas and Haras as there are power-backed ruffians and arm-twistable authorities so that those two unknown individuals can speak in positive terms about school days and the lessons they learnt, of books and of men.    



Sujeewa said...


Another masterpiece.

Well done.


Anonymous said...

Story is absolutely beautiful. We are blessed to have you around to pick the beauty and share these stories. The society now are close to technology and not close to human being.So 25 years from now ,definitely you will not have twins, Chinese rolls and tea. Will there be a person to pick those delicate movements of human being and pen it down to read ? in fact do people posses those delicacies in their live ? I doubt .