"Hallo, my chum!” I say to Mr. Richard as he comes down from the first-class carriage of the noon train from Colombo to Matara. But I think maybe he is not remembering to me, or even his promise to help my son go to American university, until he says, “You’re Ranil?” Americans. Always forgetting and always rushing somewhere. Afraid that the demons may inhabit them if they stay so still for a moment. They rush to the nice beaches we have here in Sri Lanka. But then they just lie there in hot sun, sometimes not even taking a sea bath. As a schoolboy, to them I used to sell King coconuts from my father’s garden, or, sometimes, ropes the old ladies twined together in the shade of the jackfruit and palm trees. But Mr. Richard is good. He gave help to a village boy last year for the company scholarship to go study engineering in America.
“Yes,” I say to Mr. Richard. “I am to take you to the Bank of Ceylon and then the fort.” But the bank clarks will be having afternoon tea, I think. What to do? Still, he is rushing, so I must keep up. “They will bring bags to your room, no problem.”
The Galle-Matara road is busy, and the dust sticks and burns to my eyes. Mr. Richard doesn’t seem to be bothered. I am glad for this job with Koopman Bouwer. It is a big project to build a university. Even though they are Dutch company, I was picked since my English is better than other touts. And also, I don’t tout for the evil things like that jackal Weiretunge does. Even if a foreigner wants no drugs, or prostitutes, like that, he is still trying to match them.