A little learning is dangerous | Sunday Observer

A little learning is dangerous

3 September, 2023

The village astrologer who had read Pina’s horoscope said that he would be a nikama (a useless person). However, when Pina was growing up others did not allow him to idle away his time. He felt that he was a useful person in the village.

One day, Pina was having a nap after lunch when the Ralahamy (Village Headman) approached him. “Wake up, boy, I have found a nice job for you” he said clearing his throat. Pina got up and asked Ralahamy what it was.

The Sudu Mahattaya (Englishman) at the tea estate wants someone to do odd jobs at his bungalow. As he doesn’t know Sinhala he will teach you English first. Learn everything he teaches and you can spend your life happily. Now, come with me and I will take you to the bungalow.”

Pina thought that one of his dreams was coming true. He followed Ralahamy and approached the bungalow.

Sudu Mahattaya

The Sudu Mahattaya was seated in his easy chair. He was smoking a pipe. When he saw Ralahamy he raised his head a little to see who was following him.

Learning English

“Sir, I have brought a young fellow to do all the household work. As he does not understand English, you will have to teach the language,” said Ralahamy bending his body as a mark of respect.

“Oh, that is nothing. I will get my wife to teach him some English,” said Sudu Mahattaya. Then he called his wife and asked her to teach Pina a few words that would be sufficient to do his work.

She took Pina to the kitchen and taught just three words that would be enough for his job. He memorised the three words and was ready to serve his master.

Sudu Mahattaya looked at Pina and said, “I think now you know enough English to work in my bungalow.” Pina was waiting to use the three words he had memorised.

“Now, go to the kitchen and boil some water. I want you to pour me a good cup of tea. Do you understand?

“Yes, Sir” Pina said waiting to use the other two words.

“What are you doing there? I asked you to go to the kitchen and prepare tea.”

“No, Sir” Pina said meekly.

The Sudu Mahattaya was furious and thundered, “Are you mad or am I mad?”

‘Both Sir,” said Pina happily.