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18th October 1998

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Puppies are my favourites

By Wathsala Mendis

Kevin Francke of 'Les Miserables' fame is a man of many talents. An actor, a singer, a Kevincomposer...he's all these made into one. Well, here's what Kevin has to say about his favourite things...


'Little Mermaid.' An incredible story. Incredible songs. It's a combination of everything. Violence, romance, name it, it's there.


'True' by Spandau Ballet. From the first time I heard it ,I liked it. The words are pretty meaningful and it has a nice melody. The lead singer's voice is simply marvellous.


String hoppers, chicken, and koththu at 'Pilawoos' (nowhere else!).It's incredibly tasty and not too expensive, either. Besides, it's typically Sri Lankan.

TV programme

'The X Files.' It's well-written, well-produced, and is very realistic. It almost makes you believe in aliens.


Maroon. It goes well with black.(So?)


The way puppies smell just after their first milk. I've no words to describe it.


My mother. She's incredibly self-giving.


My keyboard. It helps me express myself musically.

Movie star

Dustin Hoffman. He's not just one of those 'good-looking' actors, but a brilliant one at that.

Item of clothing

Blue jeans. They go with anything, don't get crushed and, of course, don't have to be washed often. (I knew this was coming!)


'The Terrace' at Mount Lavinia Hotel. It's a nice place. The sea is there. The wind is there. And it's fairly private.


When my friends gave me a surprise party on my 25th birthday. (What a sweet surprise when he didn't even realize it was his birthday!)


Definitely Aravinda. I think he's the most consistent player both nationally and internationally. He's extremely talented and confident and almost always manages to come through.


The Trinity College Chapel. It's built according to ancient Kandyan architecture. There are no windows. The whole structure is just pillars. It's superb in the evening.


To see our group 'Deja Vu' get somewhere.


Puppies. (One thing that makes him go gushy!) They are cuddly. They make the friendliest pets. They acknowledge you.

Dear DaughterOur children are precious to us

My darling daughter,

Often your friends come to see me. Listening to their conversations I wonder daughter at the confusions we create in their young lives. Anil was here a few days ago, his friends complained that he goes out often and spends quite a bit of time drinking with some new friends he has got now and goes home rather late at night. I asked him whether his parents did not give him the telling off he deserves, after all he is only eighteen yet. He laughed, "They do not even know the time I come in. I have got the key and I let myself in." Surely, they must be worried, I said. He smiled sadly and said, "I can remember the time when you would wait up for Asitha and we would tease him, but in a way I guess we thought he was lucky too." 'Well' said I, 'since Asitha is not here now, maybe I will worry about you.'

Even as I spoke my mind went back to the time when I was so concerned when you stayed out till late and I waited up for you, much to your annoyance, but was I wrong to say that I could hear a note of reluctant pride in your voice when you explained to your friends that your mother was so old-fashioned that she waited up for you? After all it was my love and concern for you that made me stay up.

Anil's conversation also reminded me of the day your young brother Asitha asked for the key saying very importantly 'You don't need to wait up for me. I can come in by myself.' It was his eighteenth birthday - an adult, eligible to vote he told me. Well that did not bother me for I said, whether you have a key or not I'll wait up for you, not cause I don't trust you to come in at a sensible time, but the house is empty till you come, and I am not at peace to sleep.

He was rather annoyed, but I think he understood that it was my affection and concern for him that would always see that when he came home I was there and there was a light burning, waiting to welcome him.

I wonder whether parents today feel that children resent their care and concern, or is it that they are ashamed to show their affection. A child especially a teenager needs so much love and understanding. On the threshold of independence, a teenager reminds me of a wobbly toddler, afraid yet taking his first steps quite certain that somewhere around, his mother is there to catch him if he falls. I think that is the type of love teenagers need today, a love that will let them go but yet be there to concerned and caring. Anil felt that his parents were not bothered about him. I am sure they were but could they not have shown it in a more positive manner ? You will smile thinking of the many nights I would wait up for you and your brother, the annoyance I would sometimes show, but all of that was part of my love and concern. It is sad, daughter, the way we coop up our natural instincts, because a westernized world thinks it foolish. Why should we be ashamed that to us a child is precious and what he does affects us?


Number 3685

By Aditha Dissanayake

"SL 3685"

The Professor squinted at the number through his small spectacles. He was seated at his desk near the window. It was a beautiful afternoon. Whenever he raised his head the Hanthane mountains came into his sight. He glanced at the number again and turned a few pages of the answer sheet before him.

He recalled seeing the handwriting last year. Last year she had been a "first year special", which in University jargon meant a student following the English honours course in her first year. Perhaps from the handwriting, which seemed feminine, he had taken the student to be a girl. The Professor smiled to himself. He wondered from where he had learnt to identify a woman's handwriting, when he had tried to avoid them all his life. He knew that his own students were not exaggerating when they called him the stereo-type Professor, bespectacled, unmarried, a walking encyclopaedia of English Literature.

It was only recently that he had accepted the task of marking the English papers of other Universities. Even though he found this a drudge at times, specially when most answers had a tinge of uniformity around them he had carried on, curious to know how the younger generation reacted to the world's classics. What made things easy, however, was that there were very few papers to mark, there been very few who selected English as a subject to specialize in. The answer sheet in front of him was evidence of this fact. It was obvious that only one student was following the course this year in the University.

Leaning his back against the chair, the Professor began to read the paper leisurely. He corrected the grammar mistakes and the spelling, which he would ignore when he decided on the grade, for he knew that they were errors that sprang not from ignorance but from haste. Then he read through the answers again, this time taking in the content.

He remembered he had given her "A"s for her first year papers. They too had been filled with grammar and spelling mistakes. Yet through the hurried but legible handwriting he had discerned a fresh, unique tone. For the first time he had heard an individual voice speaking from the page. He had liked the way she had approached each of the questions, and was surprised at the manner in which she had quoted from Aristotle, Plato and the other Greek scholars to support her points. This year she was in her second year. He wondered if she had changed during the interval of a year. She had. Her grammar had improved. There was more confidence in the statements she was making. Yet somehow the enthusiasm he had detected in her first year seemed to have faded. She seemed to have become world-weary.

The Professor kept the paper on the table and stared at the mountains. He wondered what kind of a girl this student might be. She must be a loner, attending lectures on her own, studying in the library on her own. Probably a thin, diffident girl, but one with a mind of her own. Perhaps someone like Hardy's Sue Townsend.

He decided he would try to see her when he went to hand over the marking sheets. He knew the head of the English Department and thought by bringing up the subject of why very few students were specializing in English, he would manage to bring the single student for that year, into his conversation.

His strategy worked. And the charming lady who was the head of the department sent her secretary to the adjoining room where Pubudu was at a lecture.

"This is Pubudu," said the head of the department. The Professor did not see the student at once. He had lived long enough to realize that most things in life are not what you expect them to be. Within that brief second, before he turned his head to look at the student, a hundred thoughts seem to race through his mind. She could be a fat, bespectacled girl with several double chins, she might be a seraph of heaven, a kind of an all-rounder endowed with a hundred million gifts, or Pubudu might even be a boy. He was prepared to take in any of these versions.

Nevertheless when he turned his head he had to admit he was surprised.

Pubudu turned out to be the living replica of the girl he had imagined her to be.

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