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The response to my first installment on the series was instant. Kevin, who was an old boy of St. Sebastian College, wrote to me all the way from Australia reminding me of his experience with Mr. ‘Daddi Bidi’ on a hunting episode.

The story goes like this.

 ‘Mr. Daddi Bidi and friends returning from a hunting trip had confronted a wolf and a lion from two different sides; he was apparently left with only a single bullet! A panicked team mate had pleaded with Daddi Bidi saying:  “Machang! Do something and be quick; otherwise we all are going to be dead ducks”!

There was hardly any time to spare as all Daddi Bidi had was a single bullet, a hand gun and a Keththa (curved knife similar to a sickle) with a long handle. As the wolf and the lion lazily relaxed, Daddi Bidi apparently had fixed the Keththi-mita (handle of the sickle) on the ground and fired at the Keththa. Lo and behold! According to him, Keththa had flown to the right hitting the wolf and the bullet got the Lion! The Mr. Daddi Bidi was heard saying:

“Boys, that’s what is called killing two birds with one stone lads”!

Our PWC ‘Yarn’ Master’s ( Pachaya) story about ‘killing the tiger on the rock’ is slightly different. Being always pompous about his own home-made bullets he maintained that he always considered seriously about the type of ammunition he used - in this particular case not to take any chances with a fearsome tiger!

“So did you take Rata Pathuran (imported bullets) Sir?” One boy showed an interest in the story.

“What are you talking Putha, I always take my own Pathuran”; I can always depend on them rather than depending on imported stuff”.

Having said that, Pachaya’s countenance changed, looked suddenly very serious and somewhat excited and wanted the whole class to gather around him; the boys pretended to believe whatever he uttered to skip the lesson.

“Putha, he continued, when the tiger came to the rock to sun-bathe I had no option but to get him in one shot”. He shrugged his shoulders and raised his eye brows.

“It’s frightening even to listen to it Sir, you have been very brave I must say,” one quipped to make  him excited. Looking somewhat impressed he continued:

 “It was a long wait Putha, and I was getting exhausted, famished and beginning to lose my control when the fellow arrived gracefully and settled down on the warm rock. Could I waste any time? No! In a jiffy had to decide what type of Pathuran I should use. Then again, I thought Putha, why should I worry? I am dead sure of my own Pathuran no! So quickly I broke the gun, loaded one of my bullets and fired, but then amazingly the gun appeared to be jammed to my horror!”

“Then what did happen  Sir……..? Someone got him excited.

“Bit concerned more than puzzled, I casually turned the barrel of the gun Putha, towards my face to take a quick look into the barrel.

“Oh gosh! What did I see then? There it was,  the very bullet that had got stuck was about to travel! I saw it moving Putha ……., (Me enne …..! Me enne……!!). In a flash I turned the barrel Putha and aimed at the rascal and let the bullet fly like a rocket. Seconds later the fellow dropped dead on the spot.”

“A very brave act sir’! A student praised him with an ulterior motive to skip another drawing lesson next time.

Fearless somersault

During a subsequent drawing lesson a student quipped: “That tiger story you related last time when you went hunting Sir, was very interesting.  I am sure you must have many more experiences like that……. Since you were a keen hunter……..”!
“Yes, Putha, once I was late (as usual) to join the hunting team. I have told you how punctual I am, haven’t I? , So they had waited for me and already left the meeting place leaving a message for me to join them at a particular venue. It was all jungle, Putha, no roads but only a narrow path where only a bicycle could go.

Elephants were rampant in the area crossing this path up and down and going in search of water Putha. What to do? I had to take a chance Putha and started peddling my push bike at a terrific speed through fear of elephants and also to catch my hunting team without losing them altogether for the second time.  Would you believe what I saw suddenly Putha……?”

“What sir…….?” Every time a student was  there to encourage him, the idea being to evade the lesson!

“Putha, an elephant stood right across the path chewing some leaves where I had to proceed. In a panic I could not think straight Putha, but only thing I was able to do was to put all the energy in my body to my calf muscles and ride the bicycle as fast as I could. Can you believe, even when I was getting closer to the damn thing   the monster did not budge an inch Putha”!

I continued to peddle hard with all my vigour until I came almost next to the beast’s stomach area and released the bicycle to let it pass under his stomach, did a somersault on to the elephant’s back at the same time jumped again onto the bike in a jiffy as the bicycle came through and before it fell on to the ground and disappeared like a bullet.  That saved my life that day Putha, I can tell you that”.

“Indeed! Indeed!! Very brave of you Sir…. We’ve ten more minutes for a short story if you have any more interesting experiences like that Sir, a boy whispered”

Life saver

“Ok, then. Listen carefully. I had a good friend who was a pilot. One day he said to me:‘

“ Machan  we  have been  good pals  for years but I have never taken you even  on a  joy ride  in a plane even to circle around Colombo, what a shame? How about next Sunday?    he suggested”.

“Early Sunday morning Putha I went to the Ratmalana Airport. He had arranged a two-seater moth for the ride. While he sat at the controls I sat behind him. I could see all the mechanical hydraulic shafts moving forwards and backwards in between my legs as he maneuvered the plane.
“At times Putha I felt as if the plane was going to fall down and my friend said:

 “Don’t worry Machang I am just taking a turn, enjoy the view”!

“In a moment, Putha, his words  came  like a bolt from the blue:  Machang, very unusual, just our luck there’s a sudden engine failure and the plane is only gliding at present due to momentum; it could at any minute nose dive Macho ! What am I going to do with you?  I of course have the pilot’s parachute to eject but I am worried about you massina”.

“I looked around and told my friend Putha, don’t you worry Jimmy, you don’t worry about me ,  you just eject out and save your life and  I will find my own way to safety”; Shall meet up when we hit the ground OK”.

“One thing I always do, Putha, is to carry my mamandiya’s (Father-in-Law’s) umbrella wherever I go. In this instance  it was sitting next to me.  I simply jumped out of the plane, opened the umbrella and landed safely on the ground”. (Bless his soul)
To be continued ……..

Courtecy of series published in the Daily News in 2012

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