I had no idea where Thawalama was. A widowed woman was struggling to keep abreast family needs and pressures said my friend. Can you reach out and help her?
Soon I found out that Thawalamawas not far away from Palindanuwara (off Mathugama) and is a quaint village tucked in between Kaluthara and Galle districts and bordering the Sinharaja forest reserves. As much as I wanted to assist the lady excitement arose within me for this was not an ordinary place judging from it’s location.
With more details of the location my first visit there was in November last year where I was able to pick up my friend, Mr Wanigathunga from Palindanuwara and go searching for the residence of the widowed lady. We took the Kurupitiya road and a good 12 kms along a winding path cut across tea plantation. The bump road churned the breakfast inside our stomachs. Relieved to get out of that at Meegahathenna we got onto a better road and traveled further interior until we arrived at the said milestone. The lady’s daughter was waiting for us there, we picked her and drove up a dirt road until we could go no further. After which we piled out and started walking a path lined with cinnamon, tea and taking a dip and a side road, passing a paddy fields we walked into the embrace of the lady waiting for us.
Ayesha (56) as much as we were waiting to see her was glad we made it. For her it was touching because we were total strangers her distant relative and niece of sorts had sent. For us we were happy we found her nook tucked away in this wonderful hamlet and was waiting to hear her story. But first as it must be with the village folk we were treated with sweetmeats and plain tea and introduced to her the younger children – two daughters and a son. Altogether she had five children – a daughter and son who were adults were married and living close by. Son who’s infact living in Palindanuwara will liaise with Mr Wanigathunga on the construction of the house. Other children although young were also very capable. They were schooling and excelling in sports we were told.
While the children took a liking to my friend who drove and started a game of cricket me and Mr Wanigatunga went to take measurements of the half-built house and draw up a house plan. Upon which we inquired of masons, carpenters and plumbers who worked in the area, of hardware stores and the availability of materials. These information was important for us to manage the construction.
Ayesha had more land she could acquire by using a dozer and a mature tree that could be used for window and door frames. More details were exchanged about the necessary steps in getting the documents in order. Now it was time for a sumptuous home-made meal, simple but lovingly prepared for us. What pleasure to savour the traditional cooking done on a hearth fueled by wood, a taste quite rare these days. Food melting in the mouth, soft and tender due to slow cooking. Not having quite enough of it but ending the meal with great pleasure we bid goodbye to our newly found friends.
Three months later I went there again to push the starting date for the construction and now things are slowly moving in the right direction. Unfortunately too close to April holidays the masons were not available to meet. However we manage to get other things done.
Helping the woman has given us opportunity to enjoy a day-trip to Thawalama twice. Linking up with this family in a gesture of goodwill has brought us together. Our hearts have lightened up with their warm embrace and acceptance. I am specially thankful to the various friends who have joined me in doing this project and to my friend who lives overseas who has agreed to fund it.
I am looking forward to complete the semi-built house by the end of the year. It will be a big boost of Ayesha and her children. To lend a little bit of help has been joy for us.