Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Patchaya & the banana

          Prof. O.E.R. Abheyaratna was our ever-loving dean. Whenever we encountered him he expected us to show deference and fear. We behaved according to his wishes, for he was the person who would get us out of any troubles we got into. He was a man with a good heart.
          Whenever he made his appearance in the canteen, the chaps playing poker for bets would vanish from the scene leaving cards and money on the table. “Patchaya”, wearing shirt and trousers held up by suspenders over an ample belly would walk upto the table and say “Ugh” and pocket the money. Then he would go to the canteen manager who would come running to him. Patchaya would pull out a cigarette and put it in his mouth and wait for it to be lighted by the manager who, with a lot of feigned excitement would search for a box of matches and light Patchaya’s cigarette. He would then look round majestically and walk out of the canteen. He would walk to the lift where the lift operator would be waiting to take him to his office on the first floor.
          The lift had a sliding aluminum door with frosted glass panes through which images were seen but were blurred in the seeing. One day when Patchaya arrived, there was no lift operator. He got into the lift and took off in a huff. The doors closed, the lift ascended a quarter of the cabin length and stopped, obviously due to stoppage of electricity. A big crowd gathered to see Patchaya caged in the cabin of the lift. He glared out through the frosted glass. One cheeky medical student in the final year, ran to the canteen, bought a banana, half unpeeled it and offered it to patchaya from outside, imitating the antics in a zoo. The red light on the lift door came on indicating a return of electricity and the cabin began to move. Every-one vanished from the scene and when Patchaya stepped out there was not a soul to be seen outside. They were all having a hearty laugh in the canteen next door.

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