Dr Hector Perera London
Many years ago majority of Sri Lanka people had no facilities such as gas and electric cookers, microwaves and ovens for cooking and baking. Now all these are there even in any average house so cooking cannot be that difficult at all. Those days they employed some poor people to do their cooking. I can remember we also had those so called servants for cooking even my mum as well cooked with them in the firewood kitchens. My mum was a school head teacher and dad was a medical doctor. They had to work all over Sri Lanka and we were everywhere. Sometimes I was with the mum and sometimes with the dad. To have one or two servants at home was a normal thing and we didn’t see any different.
In some school holidays such as April and August, I was at uncle’s place in Horagolla, Nittambuwa. The aunty and uncle had 5 or six children, both girls and boys. They were around my age so I had plenty of sisters and brothers to play with at uncle’s place. There as well I have seen these servants working in firewood kitchens with the aunty and with the grandma. Only very rarely those elder sisters also helped in the kitchen. It was very clever to have their kitchen a few yards away from the main building so that no smoke seeped to the main house. Some weekends the aunt’s sister who was a school teacher took us to their village to meet other relatives. It was really interesting to travel by a bullock cart. Once we passed Nittambuwa town then goes to a gravel road leading to their village called Humbitiyawa. The winding road through endless green paddy fields and coconut fields was very interesting. The place was not too far away, may be about three miles away but when we travelled like that way it appears to be about fifty miles away. Our “Seeya” was the one who controlled the innocent bull to pull all along those uneven gravel road with a load of us in the cart. We moved back and forward from the seat as we travelled on those roads. Even in those village relative’s place they cooked in firewood kitchens. To have a break one day at the village house was a like a seven nights stay in a luxury hotel by the sea side, it’s a real holiday experience. We had a bath at a well in the back garden of the house. They say the water in that well was so cool because it was under a “goraka” plant, nice cool water was very sensational, too difficult to put into words.
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Dr Hector Perera