This was a creative writing assignment for my Developing World. Our assignment was to write a fictional story based on real facts that would show the struggles of Sri Lanka. For this assignment Kendra, Jessica and I created Little Bandula to show the less than desirable, but not overwhelming bad conditions of Sri Lanka. We originally published this 5 Nov 2010.
“No,” Bandula cried as he threw down his lunch bowl, sending scraps of food flying across the room like pieces of shrapnel. The TV had just announced that President Rajapaksa had ordered General Fonseka to be arrested. The old war general had been Bandula’s hero ever since his older brother, Prem, told Bandula what it was like to serve under the General.
Prem fought with the General in the civil war against the Tamils. On the few chances that Bandula got to talk to his older brother, all he heard about were stories of how amazing the General was. It was towards the end of the war that the news came that Prem would never come home. He had been killed in one of the last operations against the rebels. The war ended a few months later.
Their parents had hoped that the General would win the upcoming elections. Such a great leader who brought them success in the war could lead them in success in the future. Bandula didn’t know much about politics but he knew that with the General in prison, he couldn’t win the election.
When Bandula’s attention shifted back to the TV again, the news anchor started explaining why the General had been arrested.
On the television screen stood Mahesh, Bandula’s older sister, “President Rajapaksa’s official release stated that the General had violated political laws by using his official military position to campaign against the president.” she said. “The General denies the accusations,” she continued, “and the President has yet to publish any evidence stating that ‘the evidence is for the courts to see’.”
Thoughts were brewing in Bandula’s anxious mind and anger swelled in his young heart. He couldn’t stand by and let this injustice happen. He, Bandula, would free the General. Bandula knew it would be hard, but someone had to make sure that justice was carried out. He hurriedly grabbed his jacket and ran outside. He had to think, so he grabbed his “thinking hatchet”, just in case.
Bandula wandered through fields trying to figure out what he would do. Thoughts swam through his brain on exactly how he would save the General. Bandula wasn’t really paying attention to where he was going when suddenly he found himself lying on the ground. Covering his view of the sun was a face- an angry face.
“Why didn’t you come over last night after school!?” Kiri yelled at him. He pushed her off of him.
“You could have just said ‘hi’,” Bandula said sulkily as he dusted himself off.
“You could have just come over,” Kiri replied.
“Not now, Kiri. I have a crisis to deal with,” Bandula said passionately, slamming his fists against the heavy air.
“Boys!” Kiri proclaimed, shaking her sleek, black hair in disgust. “So... what’s the crisis?”
“The General has been arrested,” Bandula shouted. “Gosh, don’t you know anything?” Bandula started towards his hideout in the forest. Kiri ran to catch up, stumbling in the hurried rush. Just then, Sinha sprang out from his hiding place in the bushes, bearing all of his teeth, banging his chest like a wild man, and screeching loudly.
“What do you want?” Bandula said, with anger leaping from his mouth.
“Yeah,” Kiri shouted from behind, just catching up to Bandula. “We’re dealing with a crisis here!”
“Oh,” Sinha said, feeling a little guilty for trying to scare his friends. Before he could offer to help or even ask what the crisis was about, the three heard his mom calling.
Sinha looked shamefully at the ground, “I’d better go before she gets mad,” he said.
Bandula and Kiri made their way carefully and silently through the forest to their hideout. They took each step deliberately, unsure of their immediate future. When they arrived at the hideout, Bandula pushed the make-shift door aside and they sat on the dirt floor, ready to concoct a plan. Kiri broke the silence first.
“So, what’s the plan?” She asked.
“We’ve got to break him out of jail,” Bandula said, like a man possessed with fury that had been kept inside for too long.
“How can we do that?” Kiri said, trying to tame the now shaking Bandula, “You have to remember we’re only fourteen”.
“I don’t know,” Bandula said, helplessly and beaten. He continued, “I just don’t want everything my brother fought for to be wasted.” Tears were starting to come to his eyes. A large tear slid slowly down his dark cheek.
“Why don’t we start first thing tomorrow?” Kiri suggested, shrugging a shoulder.
Bandula looked through the make-shift windows of the hideout, it was getting late and soon the sun would be setting. He nodded his head, “first thing in the morning, the revolution starts” he said with a triumphant tone. The two walked back to their houses in resolute silence.
Back at home, Bandula ate his dinner in front of the TV. His mother hated when he did this, but she wasn’t in much of a mood to stop him. The news of the General’s arrest had come as a shock to his parents.
“Let’s go to our anchor at the capitol,” the News announcer said. When the cameras cut, they didn’t cut to Mahesh, it was some man that Bandula didn’t know.
“Where’s Mahesh?” Bandula cried despairingly. His sister was always on the evening news, especially covering political news. His dad came in the room and turned off the TV.
“There is something you need to know, little Bandula,” his dad said with a grim tone.
Bandula put down his dinner bowl to brace himself against the news. He let out a troubling sigh in anticipation.
“Your sister, Mahesh,” his father paused, trying to maintain his authoritative tone. His mother stood trembling in the doorway, a bleak look glazed her eyes. He cleared his throat before continuing, “Mahesh has been arrested for saying mean things against the President.”
Bandula was struggling to grasp this news. “Little Bandula,” his father was looking him square in his hopeless brown eyes, “please, please don’t do anything that might make us lose you too.” Bandula’s mother joined them mournfully, with wild tears already streaming from her withered face.
Bandula lied awake in his bed for most of the night. He wasn’t sure what he should do or even what he could do. Questions came at him, one after the other. Should he try to free the General? Should he try to free his sister? What if he too was arrested? How would his parents live with themselves knowing that they had lost all of their children? But, he felt like he had to do something, regardless of consequences. He couldn’t just wait for a better Sri Lanka. He wanted a better Sri Lanka now.
The next morning, while eating breakfast, Kiri came over. But before they could make plans for their rescue of the general there came a loud knock at the door. Bandula’s mother opened the door and gave a loud cry. “Mahesh, my daughter!” The officer that had escorted Mahesh nodded and left. Mahesh was whisked inside to the table and promptly served breakfast.
Amidst the prodding of questions and shouts of relief, she explained that the “government” didn’t like the things she was saying about the President and that she should say nicer things. Both their mom and dad were so excited to have their daughter back that at that moment, none of that mattered. Their family was almost whole again.
Bandula would have to wait for a better Sri Lanka, but for now it wasn’t so bad.