“From love fond yearning springs for union sweet of minds;
And that the bond of rare excelling friendship binds” - Kural 74
Polgahawela is a small town located forty-five miles north of Colombo, the capital city of Sri Lanka. It is an important railway junction where the northern and the up country rail routes meet. The town is situated in a beautiful
natural environment surrounded by paddy fields. On the eastern side of the town, the hilly areas are covered with tea estates while the western side contains large numbers of coconut Estates. The name implies that coconut Estates surround the area. The town
is the meeting place for the major trunk roads from Colombo, Kurunegala and Kegalle. It is also a Railway junction for the rail routes to North and Upcountry. The area is predominantly a Singhalese Buddhist area. The people of Polgahawela are concerned about
Sinhala traditions and culture.
Kunawathy, the heroine of this story, was born as the eldest daughter in an average family. Her sister, Seelawathy, was two years younger to Kunawathy. Their father, Gunapala, has worked for
twenty years as a Postman in the local post office. Gunapla delivered letters to the entire town as such everyone in the town knew him. Gunapala’s wife, Muthumenike (Menike), worked as a teacher in a primary school. Kunawathy’s parents were highly
orthodox, religious minded Buddhists and more concerned about tradition and Singhalese culture. They respected the opinions of their community.
Kunawathy’s appearance and behavioral characteristics were more masculine
than feminine. Many people commented on her voice and the manner in which she walked. When she spoke, it was difficult to identify whether her voice was masculine or feminine. Her parents first noticed her different behavior when she was six years old. She
liked to play with boys rather than girls. The girls at her school also commented and ridiculed Kunawathy’s manly behavior. In school plays, Kunawathy would always play the part of a male character. If an issue erupts between the male and female students
at the school, the girls nominate Kunawathy to deal with the male students. Kunawathy's manly appearance attracted many girls. Some girls told her, “Kuna if you were born a man, we would choose you as our husband.” Kuna never replied to these comments,
indicating that it was a privilege for her to be manly; she welcomed their comments.
Kunawathy’s sister, Seelawathy, attained age at eleven before her sister. The parents were worried that Kunawathy did not reach puberty.
The people in the village started gossiping about it. Some even advised Kuna’s parents to take Kunawathy to a doctor and find out the reason for the delay in attaining age. As was customary, Kuna’s parents took their daughter’s horoscope
and showed it to the village astrologer, Sumanadasa, whose predictions usually come true. Even politicians sought his advice. The villagers trusted him and believed that he possessed yogic power. After analyzing Kunawathy’s horoscope, Gunapala and Muthumenike
were shocked to hear Sumanadasa’s predictions.
Sumanadasa said that the person who was born with these planetary positions should have been a male at the time of birth. Because of the karma of her previous birth, she
was born as a girl with masculine characteristics. The community will ridicule her. Some unexpected incidents may take place in her life, which will result in tarnishing the name of your family. You will have problems finding her a husband. She will not have
happy marriage. She will attain puberty very late.”
“Is there no solution to overcome this?” Kuna’s father asked the astrologer.
“I suggest that you both
go to the Maha Vihara and pray on behalf of your daughter. Also, give Dhana (alms giving) in her name and at the same time keep a watch on her activities.”
“How is her life span? Will she have a long life?”
“I do not like to comment on people’s life span. That is my principle. No one can change their destiny other than the gods. Go to the Raja Maha Vihara and pray to Lord Buddha to give your daughter
a long life”, the astrologer replied.
“Will she get married?” Muthumenike asked.
“She will get married but…” The astrologer swallowed his words.
At the age of fifteen Kunawathy attained puberty. This event took place four years after her sister Seelawathy attained puberty. When she was studying at the Advance level,
she met an attractive girl by the name Mallika from Alawwa, a village, 9 km south of Polgahawela. Mallika was a farmer’s only daughter. She was very studious and good in her studies. She had boundless ambitions in life. She was given a government scholarship
to study in a high school where Kunawathy studies.
When Kunawathy saw Mallika for the first time in the class, she had a feeling that she would have met her before. Mallika was given a seat next to Kuna. During the interval,
Kuna voluntarily started the conversation with Mallika.
“I am Kunawathy. I am a senior student in this school. I live in Polgahawela.”
“I am glad to meet you, Kuna. My
name is Mallika. I am from Alawwa” She shook hands with Kuna. When Mallika’s right-hand palm touched Kuna’s palm, she had a pleasant feeling.
“It is nice to hear that you are from Alawwa village,
which is not too far from Polgahawela. I have an aunt living there.”
“Alawwa is a small village. My father may know your aunt. What is her name?”
“She is the wife
of Alawwa Postmaster. Her name is Pathamwathy. We call her Pathma aunty.”
“I will ask my father and find out whether he knows her.”
Kuna enjoyed the conversation with
Mallika. She liked Mallika’s appearance and the way she spoke in a soft voice. Their first meeting quickly grew into strong friendship between them. It is pure chance that when the school staged the “Romeo Juliet” drama, for fundraising for
the school, the teachers selected Kunawathy to be Romeo and Mallika as Juliet in the drama. There acting in the drama gave the impression to the audience as if they were real lovers.
When Mallika joined the school, just
because she came from a small village, the students intimidated and started ragging her. Kuna could not tolerate students harassing her friend Mallika. She warned the senior students not to annoy Mallika. She rescued Mallika from ragging by senior students.
She also cautioned all students not to harass Mallika in the future. Kuna became the bodyguard for Mallika.
Whenever Kuna had doubts in subjects, she sought the help of Mallika to clarify the doubts. Clearing doubts in subjects
was an excuse for Kunawathy and Mallika to meet frequently after school in a classroom. They went on chatting for a long time. The headmistress was observing their behavior. One day their class teacher was shocked to see them embracing each other. She immediately
reported the incident to the Headmistress. The Headmistress called up Kuna and Mallika to her office and warned them not to stay after school. But both of them ignored her order.
Kunawathy could not continue the friendship
with Mallika as the headmistress called up the parents of Kunawathy and Mallika’s and complained about the friendship between the two girls. Kunawathy’s father was upset when he heard the complaint about his daughter from the Headmistress. He had
great confidence his daughter as such did not much care of what the headmistress‘s warning. He thought it was only a friendship like other girls
When Gunapala returned home, he complained to his wife about Kunawathy-Mallika
close relationship. Gunapala’s wife reminded him of what the Astrologer told them about two years ago. He and his wife decided that it is high time they stop Kunawathy from going to school. Both of them were worried that the relationship between his
daughter and Mallika will become the gossip in the town. He was also worried that his second daughter Seelawathy may get spoiled by the behavior of her sister. When the Post Master called him and inquired about his daughter’s relationship with Mallika,
he was more upset.
He called his daughter Kunawathy and told her “Kuna, I understand that Look you are not interested in your studies. Your headmistress complained to me about your indecent behavior in the school with
another girl who is studying with you. You are a grown up girl. You have passed your tenth grade. That much of education is enough for you. It is high time that you stay at home and help your mother”. Kunawathy resented her father. She was worried that
it is a plan by her parents to cut off her friendship with Mallika.
“Thathe (father) please allow me to complete my advanced level. It will help me to find at least a Teaching job.” Kunawathy gave many excuses
to get back to school. Her cunning reply did not work out with her father. Without her parent’s knowledge, she started meeting Mallika in a lonely old building located in a paddy field. The friendships between the two girls look a different dimension.
Secretly they started behaving like husband and wife. Mallika got attracted by the soft but masculine behavior of Kunawathy. Kuna enjoyed the touch of Mallika. At times, they could control their emotions and kissed each other. The resentment from the society
only brought them closer and closer. The chief priest of the Polgahawela Raja Maha Vihara came to know about the friendship between the two girls. He summoned both of them and advised them that their relation is against the Singhalese culture and the law of
the country. It will also be taboo for their families. The society is not approving their friendship. Both the girls were not prepared to listen to the warning given by the elderly chief priest of the temple.
his wife worked out a secret plan to fix a marriage for Kunawathy to Somasiri, the son of Gunapala’s only widowed wealthy sister Vimalawathy. She lives in Kandy with her a son. Somasiri is a soldier in the army. Although Somasiri is a young man with
a good physique, his behavior was like that of a woman. He walked like a woman and had a feminine voice. After Kunawathy had stopped going to school, her parents did not want to delay her marriage to Somasiri. One day it was a surprise for Kunawathy when her
parents asked her to get ready to go to Vimala auntie’s house in Kandy. She did not know her parents plan. Innocently she asked her mother the reason for the unexpected trip to Kandy.
“Kuna, Your aunt is a wealthy
lady. She is anxious to see you and your sister. Few years ago when she visited us for your sister’s age attaining ceremony, for the first time she saw you and your sister. She has no daughters except her son Somasiri. Moreover, she wants to write her
last will. She wants to give the ten acres of paddy land in Polgahawela to you and your sister,” Kuna’s mother explained.
“Kuna, you and your sister have never been to Kandy. It is a beautiful city. Kandy
is the home of The Temple of Buddha’s Tooth Relic. The Temple is called, “Sri Dalada Maligawa.” There is a beautiful lake built many years ago. The lake has an island in the middle. Peradeniya Botanical Gardens is not too far from central
Kandy city. You and your sister can see all the beauties of the hill country capital. We are going to stay there for a week”. Kuna’s father wanted her to know that their trip to Kandy is to see the aunt and sightseeing.
Kuna did not say anything. She knew that once her parents have decided to go to Auntie’s house, it is pointless she objecting to it.
With three days
of the arrival of Gunapala’s family in Kandy, Kuna never expected that arrangements are being made by her parents and Vimala aunty for the marriage between her and cousin Somasiri. Heart to heart, from childhood days Kuna never liked Somasiri. She could
remember ridiculing his womanly walk. Whether she liked it or not it was forced the marriage with few close relations attending the ceremony. After giving in marriage his daughter to Somasiri, Gunapala and wife were satisfied that they have put a stop to the
strange relationship between Kuna and Mallika. They left Kunawathy at her mother-in-law’s house. Gunapala returned with his wife and the other daughter to Polgahawela. He had a feeling that he has done something better to the family and prevented the
society talking further about Kuna and Mallika. They never expected that their plan will start misfiring. Vimalawathy complained to her brother about the arrogant behavior of Kuna with her son Somasiri. Their married life was full of frequent quarrels. Kuna
refused to sleep with Somasiri in the same room as husband and wife. She could not erase of Mallika from her thoughts. She frequently complained about Somasiri to his mother saying that he is not meeting her demand as a husband in their wife-husband relationship.
She wrote a letter to her father stating that her Mother-in-law and Somasiri started ill-treating her because they came to know from a relation of theirs who lives in Polgahawela about Kuna’s friendship with Mallika.
was happy when Somasiri was transferred to Palaly in the Northern Province. She contacted her school friends and inquired about Mallika. They informed her that she entered the University of Peradeniya and following a three-year degree course in Biological
science. She was happy to hear that Mallika has come closer to her, and it is pure fate that has brought them closer. She decided to meet her at the University and continue their relationship without her Mother-in-law, husband or parents knowing it. She wrote
a letter addressed to her Mother-in-law stating that she is very dissatisfied with the married life with her son Somasiri, and she is leaving home to find a better life. Vimalawathy was in a shock when she saw the note from Kunawathy. She immediately send
a telegram to her brother Gunapala and summoned him to come down to Kandy with his wife to find the where about of Kuna and settle the issue.
When Gunapala received the Telegram, immediately he knew that since Kuna did not
come to Polgahawela from Kandy, she would have gone in search of Mallika. Gunapala first went to the school and in inquired from the headmistress about Mallika. She informed him that Mallika got admitted to the Peradeniya University and continuing a degree
course. Kuna’s father did not expect that news from the Headmistress. Although though he wanted to keep his daughter away from Mallika, the fate has brought both of them closer. He inquired from his relations in Polgahawela whether Kuna came to their
home. They all gave a negative reply. He immediately went with his wife to Kandy. His sister was furious when she saw Gunapala. She shouted at him.
“Look malli (brother). You did not tell me the truth that Kunawathy
had an illegal love affair with a girl who studied with her. It was the gossip in Polgahawela town. An aunt of mine who lives in Polgahawela knows about it. She told me about the affair. If I had known about it before, I would not have agreed to the marriage.
I am sure she has gone in search of her lover. If we find her, I will file a divorce case. My son cannot continue to live with such a bad character girl.”
“Accai (elder sister) I thought that after the marriage,
Kuna will forget about her girlfriend and live a happy life with your son. But I never dreamt that my daughter will let me down. I am sorry for all what happened”, Gunapala apologized to his sister.
wife could not say anything. She was more interested in locating her missing daughter so that they could find a final solution to the problem.
“Let us first locate where Kunawathy is. Later we will decide on what action
we should take. I too am angry with her “; Gunapala’s wife exhibited her anger on Kunawathy to her Sister-in-law.
“I know where she has gone,” Gunapala said to his sister.
“Where did she go malli (brother)? You said that she did not come to Polgahawela”. Vimalawathy was keen to know where Kunawathy is.
“Where else she would have gone? I am sure that she would have
gone to meet her girlfriend Mallika at Peradeniya University. Let us go to the Peradeniya University and make inquiries”. Gunapala was determined to locate Kuna and give her thrashing. All three of them agreed to go to the Peradeniya University in search
Peradeniya is a suburb of Kandy and is few kilometers on the main A1 road to Colombo, west of Kandy city center. The longest Mahaveli River flows through
Peradeniya. In Peradeniya, the famous Royal Botanical Gardens and the second largest University in Sri Lanka are located. Its buildings are of mixed colonial and Indian style amongst the lush vegetation of the Sri Lankan hill country. Many lovers who failed
in their love affair committed suicide in the Mahaveli River. When Gunapala, his wife, and sister went to the University campus, they saw students rushing in a hurry towards the Banks of the Mahaveli River. Gunapala stopped two students and inquired the reason
as to why they all were running
“Ayah (brother). Two lovers have committed suicide. The bodies are lying on the river bank. The Police are inquiring the reason for the death. We understand that one of them who committed
suicide is our University first year student”, one student briefly explained the reason as to why they were running.
Gunapala and his wife were quick to suspect that the lovers were Kunawathy and Mallika. All three
of them hurriedly rushed to the river bank where there was the big crowd of students. A Sub Inspector and a Policeman were carrying out the investigation. They were questioning the University students.
When Gunapala, his
wife Muthumenike and sister Seelawathy went closer to the body and had a closer look at the two bloated bodies. They were shocked to see that that the bodies were that of Kunawathy and Mallika. There were wildflower garlands around their necks. Even after
their death both bodies were in an embracing position, proving how much they loved each other.
Gunapala and his wife Muthumenike could not control their emotions. They cried loud saying”Oh Kuna, why did you take this
decision. You have brought a disgrace to our family”. Gunapala’s sister Vimalawathy stood there in a shock. A Police officer who saw them crying recognized them immediately as the parents of one of the girls. They went towards them and questioned
“Are you the parents of one of these girls?”
Pointing out at the body of Kunawathy, Gunapala replied in tears “Yes sir. She is my eldest daughter Kunawathy. She
was missing from home for three days. Her husband is a soldier in the Army and now working in Palely Jaffna.”
Pointing out at Vimalawathy the police sub-inspector questioned, “Who is this lady? “ Gunapala
replied the officer “She is my sister. She is Kunawathy’s mother in law”.
“I see. Is your daughter married?
what about the other girl? Do you know her as well?”
“Yes, Sir. She is my daughter’s girlfriend from school days. She is from Alawwa. I know her father Piyasena, a farmer. Both our families were totally
against the friendship between these two girls”. Gunapala could not stop crying.
“Stop crying. Here is a letter addressed to you all by both the girls. We found the letter in your daughter’s handbag. Lucky
that handbag was not carried away by the river stream”. The Police officer gave the letter to Kunawathy’s parents. Gunapala started reading the letter.
My dear Parents, Relations and the residents of Polgahawela
The relationship between both of us may be a Strange Relationship, but it is a holy one. We loved each other. Our aim was not sex. The society wrongly estimated our relationship. Many of you are Buddhists. If you
all believe in rebirth, then our relationship is a continuation of the story of both our previous birth. The first time, when we both met in the school, an attraction that could not be explained existed between us. I had a feeling that we have met before.
But we did not know when? The society and the law of the country view our relationship suspiciously at a different angle. So as to break our relationship, Kunwathy was given in marriage to her cousin by her parents. The marriage was without her approval. She
never had a happy married life. It is again the fate that brought both of us closer when I got admission to the Peradeniya University. We know that legally we cannot get married. Let God bless us both after our death. We wish that we live as Husband and wife
in the next birth. Since you all rejected our relationship, we both decided to commit suicide. There is a humble request from both of us. After our death, please bury our bodies on the banks of the River Mahaweli. In the embrace of this holy river, let our
souls rest in peace far away from the hatred and gossip of the society. We wish that you all will fulfill our request.
Kuna – Mallika (Inseparable friends