Once upon a time in Anuradhapura | Sunday Observer

Once upon a time in Anuradhapura

27 August, 2023

It was a hot day. I stopped my car right in front of a stall which was occupied by a couple of baskets full of oranges. I got out of the car and sat on a bench. The lady over there was busy with her business. I asked for a cool glass of orange juice.

“Be there for a while, Sir’, the lady said in a hurry. I had to obey hers. I looked here and there. There were no signs of water except the mirage. It was impossible to be outside. I felt as if I was being burnt. After a while the rush was over. I just went to the lady asking for my glass of orange.

“Sorry, Sir. I was a bit busy. Can I add a cube of ice as well?’, she asked me while she was offering me the glass.

“Of course. You can”

I just had a look at her when I was about to pay. Our eyes met. I was surprised to see her. She too could not believe her eyes.



We maintained silence for a while. It was a painful encounter. It was an unexpected encounter as well. She leaned against the wall made of clay while I was sitting on the bench next to her. I looked at her carefully. She was weak. Her beauty was no more, but her eyes were as bluish as before. I had a sip of orange juice.

“Aparna, hope that you’re doing good”, I asked her. She looked at me and treated me with a dejected smile. I could realize her situation, but I could not imagine what had gone wrong.

“Sir, I’ve been punished”

“For what?”

“For cheating a person like you”

“Don’t think so”

I was taken back to our past. It was absolutely mesmerizing. I was going behind her to fall in love with her. She rejected me, but I did not give up. At last I was able to make her mine. Since that moment of glory the two of us had been together. Her love towards me was absolutely immense and enormous. Of course, it was growing. The two of us could sense each other.

All of a sudden, she left me. It was unexpected. I did not know her whereabouts. I looked for her here and there, but there were not any signs of her at all. I cried for a decade or two. One could not imagine the sleepless nights I had as she came to my mind.

“Please forgive me, Sir”

“My forgiveness is always there for you, Aparna. Don’t have doubts over it.”

“I had to do it though I didn’t like it at all.”

“What do you mean?”

“My father had borrowed some money from a moneylender and . . .,” she could not proceed. Tears gushed along her cheeks.


“. . . the moneylender kept asking for the money again and again. It was a big amount. Thus, he couldn’t recover it. My father had only one option, it was . . .,” she could not proceed. She kept silent for a while.

“ . . . he decided to arrange my marriage with the . . .moneylende.”

I could imagine her situation. I could see a bald-headed man over there and he might be the person. He was a thin and weak person wearing a sarong. He came to the two of us. She wiped her tears and rushed inside.

“How are you doing , Sir? It’s too hot here. It’s unbearable. You seem to be a stranger here”, he went on in a very friendly manner.

“Yes, of course.”

“It has not rained here for the past two years.”

“Really? By the way, you’re lucky to have a wife like her,” I said while keeping the glass on the table. He treated me with a smile.

“How did you get to know her?”

“It’s a long story, Sir”, he went on repeating the same story as she had.

“It’s the biggest mistake I’ve made. Since she was beautiful, I had to demand her from her father. Now only realize how wrong I was?.” He maintained silence for a while.

“I don’t get what you’re saying.”

“She had loved a boy and still she’s looking for him though it’s been a long time. I could sense her love towards him. It’s so immense, Sir. The two of us can’t think of it. Still she’s a virgin. Alas! Poor girl. I’m eagerly waiting for him. If he ever comes, I’ll give her in marriage to him. Then only I can make justice to her father who passed away a couple of months ago. Why should a woman suffer over an unwanted marriage?”

It was unexpected. I could not control myself. I simply left the place and got into my car while she was glancing at me. I drove the car along the road with the words uttered by him haunting me.