Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Occasional Stories: Battle For ‘Territory’

Dr. Laksiri Fernando
I was in serious trouble when I tried to buy a piece of land to build a house to live at Peradeniya. That time I was working at the University of Peradeniya and had some money at hand after coming back from my first academic sojourn in Canada. This was not immediately after my return, but after two years. At the beginning, I or we didn’t care for having our own house being somewhat ‘socialist minded.’
Why do you need to accumulate money or property? That was our thinking. But when we were in Canada, we made it sure that we save enough money at least to bring a good car. All the ‘socialists’ in the university system used to have very good cars. A good car was an ‘intellectual symbol,’ but a house a ‘bourgeois deviation.’ We were rather comfortable in our university quarters. 
Things changed dramatically after the open economy in 1977. There was a mad rush to buy land and build houses and our juniors were more prone to this indulgence than our generation. Our seniors were more ‘socialist’ than us and many of them died even without a house and rather destitute.
Let me make the long story short.
No sooner than I passed the message that I am looking for a piece of land somewhere in Peradeniya, Wimaladasa approached me. He was a ‘hall servant’ so to say. Because of our working-class sympathies, we knew them very well. One Saturday morning he was at our door step. He was holding a file.
“Sir, good piece of land, Sir.”

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