Withanage

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I

The allegation was that
With a huge cement flower pot
You blew half the side of ref Fernando’s face.
You were in the stands, as a spectator,
Watching the spectacle of Pradeep’s refereeing

And of Kingswood losing in that Trinity game,
Though the pot was never sport enough
To justify defeat;
(Was it really you that threw it? We’ll not know)
But, for ref Pradeep it sure did a cut job neat.

And, then,
The rugby board appalled,
You were called.
“National Sevens skipper with a pot
Has had the gamesmanship stalled”.

In red they write the sentence, son,
2 years in the exiled avenues to run,
Go pack your bags go home and stare
At loafers dig the thoroughfare.

DIG Leuke held the disciplinary case,
You replaced the boots with cheap slipper.
Another Leuke, in due, replace you as skipper.

II

You return to the walks of Mulgampola Square,
Stand arms folded near Saloon Anusha.
I say, “So, what’s happening?”
“There’s an appeal going”
And you add that an appeal’s ain’t gonna get you good.

“In these cases there is always more”
Than the naked eye in its vision admits.
You sneer a thin jeer at the more
Powerful wits; and say “We’ll see, malli”.
Ask me am I still in campus or what.
Never thought that you knew; or would ask me that.

The appeal doesn’t work.

Perhaps, the most agile Center
The country’s produced, if properly groomed.
Not that the game will perish at your disposal.
It will solely be your riddance when you are doomed.
Carrying tacklers on the run,

Steadying your body as numbers
Crawl all along your body,
Pushing for a yard or two. Nippy,
Sidestepping, spinning around: just do it
Witha, like you Witha you do.

III

When you rise to the top,
When you come from Streets and Squares,
Not Boulevards and Crescents,
And shared your socks with the damp
And been cheered on by the rallying cry of peasants,

When you know that the worst they do
Cannot challenge you or the air
That tickles as it passes your forearm’s hair,
You know when they rate you as a wild horse lost:
You know that you’re nearly there of what they
Feared the most.

IV

I watch you line up, in 2010;
Upon your return, you’re heavy
After 2 years lost.
We sit at kick off at Nittawela Stand,
You, trying to relax like a rhino returned to Bronx.

Long ago, Witha, long ago,
As a school lad when with a ‘B’ Div team
You brought home the Trophy to an
Unexpected dream; you carried the ball hugged
Underneath your care

To touch down for the decisive try
And I remember, there
Was a hushed moment’s silence in the commentary box
And Brian Thomas at the mic peed down his jocks,
You got up, punched the air,

Jabbed with your forefinger lifted
And some pundit murmured — like of drugs —
That Kingswood’s skipper was fucking gifted.
That you, Witha, with scrum cap on,
Lining up for a return with time moving along,

The crowd’s pumping, they call out
Pradeep Liyanage’s name; Fazil Marija,
Saliya, Sanjeewa Jayasinghe — they call.
You pounce; on the pounce collect, off the gun,
Your shoulder jut out. Pump up the volume and run.

Ref Pradeep Fernando after being allegedly potted by Witha in 2007.

2011-06-03

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One thought on “Withanage

    Daminda said:
    June 7, 2011 at 7:17 am

    Well said. Nice one Vihanga

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