The child, the chisel and the carpenter


The article by Capt. Elmo Jayawardene titled ‘WADU MADU – KUDE KUDU’ (Features column, The Island, 14-06-19) made me dwell a little more on the ‘carpentry and the carpenter’ that has occupied a unique place in our history and society, which in fact goes back a long way.

Then my eyes fell on the four-inch long scar that runs right across the ‘Mount of

Venus’ of my right palm, the remains of a painful experiment of an eleven-year old child playing with a razor-sharp chisel belonging to a ‘wadu baasunnahe’, who happened to be at his home. It is a vivid connection that is still alive, intangible and tangible, all in one, between ‘that chisel and that child’, who is now an adult amongst adults. And the images came rushing along, of a blood-stained chisel lying on the floor, my right palm dripping red, my screaming mother and that ‘wadu baasunnehe’ standing by my side helplessly with a face that was as pale as brown can become.

And then it hit me smack and squarely, when it dawned on me that the current ilk of my childhood ‘wadu baasunnahe’ is threatened and might even be facing extinction, in time to come, which may not be far away.

Mr. President’s answer that came out of the blue to stop illegal felling of trees, reminded me of the stories I have read as a child, of court hearings of ‘Kekille Rajjuruwo’, where the really guilty always got away somehow, escaping His Majesty’s wrath; and the innocents had to pay the price in the end. The judgments/verdicts were given by the wise king after considering, supposedly, all the evidence and the facts presented by both the accused and the accuser. Then he applied some peculiar logic of his own to his cases, probably with both his eyes and mind shut to the rest of the circumstances and the evidence that was presented.

This phenomenon of coming up with answers and solutions to the country’s burning issues with an inexplicable suddenness, as if delivered to them by a divine power, is quite common amongst our politicians and our president is not an exception.

It probably didn’t occur to him that behind indiscriminate felling of trees and large-scale deforestation, there is always someone, who has enough clout and power, both political and muscle, to go about doing it without fear. He opted to remove the user and leave the supplier alone, who would go on trespassing the boundaries of legality, regardless, be it tree felling or mass-scale deforestation, to make land for other purposes that may not be environmentally or country-friendly at all.

And the user is suddenly faced with ruin and starvation. The skills that he has mastered and fine-tuned as he learnt the craft and the tricks of the trade along the way, passed down to him through generations of craftsmen of yore, are about to die too.

The paragraph under the heading ‘Ban on chain saws and carpentry sheds’ in the

article by Dr. Janaka Rathnasiri titled ‘Celebrating World Environmental Day – Sri Lankan style’ (Featured in The Island, of 08-06-19) gives enough insights, quite succinctly, into how we can wisely handle the problem, while saving the carpenter and the trees at the same time. So I dare not be a boring writer, who repeats what has already been said and written by few concerned citizens, including the editor himself, on the matter.

However, I would like to say this to our president; cast your nets to catch the big fish, Mr. President. They are the vicious, voracious, wicked vampires, who keep sucking the lifeblood out of our nation!



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