Mirror Magazine


Freedom of expression thro' wrought iron
By Mihiri Wikramanayake
In an environment of constant clutter and chaos, freedom of expression to enjoy simplicity and minimalism is a privilege.

To enjoy the pleasures of simplicity, subtlety and minimalism in one's home is to enjoy the ambience of space and liberty.

At Article 14, where the promise of freedom of expression is their motto, there is a selection of simple lines and designs of wrought-iron furniture to suit every discerning homeowner.

An in-house design team helps with ideas and selections to suit each individual in making his or her house a home. With almost 95 per cent of the work done manually by expert craftsmen, Article 14 offers a lifetime guarantee on structure corrosion-ree outdoor furniture, in any colour or shape.

Wrought-iron furniture is mainly used for ethnic settings using fabrics of subtle colours but mixed with wood, glass or cement, it can be incorporated with beautiful bright colours to bring out the spirited side of you.

Blessings from the sea
Avinthe opened the door softly and tip-toed into the room. He waited till his eyes got used to the dark. Then, slowly, quietly, he began to undress. He was careful not to wake his roommate, Kanishke, who was fast asleep on one side of the two beds joined together, in their hotel bedroom.

Before he fell asleep, Avinthe's thoughts went back to the events of the day.

He had arrived at the hotel at about three in the afternoon to participate in the three-day workshop arranged by his company for its executives. Avinthe was not at all thrilled when he heard his roommate would be Kanishke. Kanishke was the studious, serious type who walked around gloomily prophesying doom to everybody who took life too easily.

Even though Avinthe too did not care much for drinking and restricted himself to a bottle of beer and never smoked, he loved music and dancing. So, when he heard that there would be a band playing at the Blue Lion, the open-air restaurant in the hotel, he had asked Kanishke to go to sleep leaving the door unlocked. But, having danced to his heart's content, when he climbed upstairs 15 minutes before the clock struck midnight, Avinthe had realised he could not remember the number of his room.

He was sure the room was somewhere in the middle of the corridor but he could not remember if the number was 274 or 276. He tried the knob of 274.

He thought if the door was unlocked, it would be his room. When the door opened to his touch and when he saw the figure covered in a white sheet lying on the bed, Avinthe gave a sigh of relief. He was in the right room. Kanishke had kept the door unlocked for him.

But, just as Avinthe made himself more comfortable on the bed and closed his eyes, he felt someone touch his shoulder. "You are back. How was the dancing?" asked a girl's soft voice close to his ear. Avinthe sat up on the bed as if someone had stabbed him. He saw a slim figure in a pink nightdress staring at him open mouthed. It took him a fraction of a second to realise he was in the wrong room. He groaned and ran his fingers through his hair, but before the girl could scream and bring the hotel down, he muttered, "Sorry, sorry. I have made a mistake," under his breath, wrapped the bed-sheet round his waist, gathered his clothes from the floor and backed out of the door.

Closing the door as quickly as possible, Avinthe lent against the wall of the corridor, still clutching the white bed- sheet to his waist, unable to believe what had happened. He was grateful there was no one in the corridor. Cursing hotel bedrooms for looking alike, he hurriedly got back into his clothes, folded the bed- sheet and kept it at the door and went in search of the receptionist to find his room number.

Still disturbed by the mistake he had made, Avinthe scanned the faces around him the next morning at breakfast wondering if he would be able to recognise the girl if he saw her again. Would she recognise him? If he heard her voice he would know her, he thought. But he could not dwell on his speculations for long. Chaminda, another of his colleagues, jolted him back to the present. "Something funny had happened to Niluka's sister yesterday," said Chaminda without preamble, seating himself in front of Avinthe with a plate overflowing with food. Avinthe waited till Chaminda settled down and asked, "Who is Niluka?" "Niluka is Mr. Wijesundere's eldest daughter. We followed a computer course together long ago, and last night she agreed to be my dancing partner." Chaminda paused, stuffed huge pieces of bread and sausages into his mouth, muttered, "This stuff is good," under his breath. Then he continued, "Niluka is sharing a room with her younger sister and last night Niluka had asked her to keep the door unlocked so that she could creep in without waking her up after the dancing. You won't believe this Machang, at about twelve, Niluka's sister had woken up to find a guy lying next to her. She says he had looked scared, muttered, 'I'm sorry' and backed out of the door as fast as possible. I wonder who the guy was."

Chaminda began to concentrate once more on the pile of food in front of him. His last words disturbed Avinthe. Excusing himself, saying he wanted to get a cup of tea, Avinthe walked out of the dining area.

The workshop was scheduled to begin at nine. Realising he had half an hour, Avinthe walked towards the beach. He found a white beach chair under a Kottamba tree and sat on it. He was careful not to crumple the red checked shirt and kakhi trousers he was wearing. He wanted to look neat and dignified for the presentation he was supposed to make in front of the CEO at the workshop.

Keeping his arms on his knees, he stared at the blue ocean in front of him which looked like a piece of paper with silver dust sprinkled on it. Suddenly a thin figure in a red t-shirt and figure hugging pants came into his view. He watched the girl as she walked along the edge of the water, stooping now and then to pick a shell. He could not see her face. He wondered if this was Niluka's sister.

The workshop came to an end at four. When Avinthe walked with a cup of tea and a piece of cake into the dining area searching for a table, he heard Chaminda calling him. "Come on, I want to introduce you to someone," said Chaminda pointing to the empty chair beside him. "Meet Niluka and her sister Kesha." "Hi," said Niluka greeting Avinthe with a friendly smile. Avinthe grinned at her in return and hurriedly kept his cup of tea on the table. He realised his heart had begun to thump loudly and his hands had begun to shake. He was scared the cup and saucer would make a clatter. Kesha! He wondered if she would recognise him. But to his relief, she took a quick look at him and lowered her head and began to tear a packet of sugar into her cup of tea. Avinthe sat on his chair, next to Chaminda. He stole another quick look at Kesha and realised she was the girl he had seen on the beach that morning. She looked awfully young and self-conscious as she kept stirring the tea in her cup. "Are we going dancing tonight too?" Avinthe heard Chaminda ask Niluka. "I can't ask her to leave the door unlocked after what happened last night," said Niluka turning her eyes towards her sister.

"Bring her along with you," suggested Chaminda. "Kesha don't you like to dance?" he asked the girl. Realising three pairs of eyes were watching her, Kesha gave the first excuse she could think of, and mumbled into her cup of tea, "I don't have a partner." Chaminda gave a loud laugh and thumped Avinthe on the back. "Avinthe will be your partner. He loves dancing," he said grinning at Niluka. For them, the problem was solved.

Avinthe wondered if she would really come for the dance. He suspected she would come not because she liked to dance but because she did not wish to spoil her sister's fun.

"What? Still here? Is something wrong?" asked Kanishke coming into the room and squinting at Avinthe through his small, gold-rimmed spectacles. "Aren't you going dancing tonight?" he asked, searching for his toothbrush.

When he got no answer from Avinthe, he disappeared into the bathroom saying, "I'll leave the door unlocked."

Avinthe decided to go downstairs. He realised he was too hungry to skip dinner. He had decided to meet Kesha. Even if she did not wish to dance, he could still have a chat with her.

When he finished dinner and entered the dancing area, he saw Chaminda, Niluka and Kesha seated at a table in the far corner. Chaminda waved to him impatiently. The moment Avinthe reached them he said, "What took you so long? We couldn't leave Kesha alone." Then, grabbing Niluka by the hand, he began to make his way to the dance floor. Niluka looked worried for a moment. Obviously she was having second thoughts about leaving her sister with a stranger. "I'll be alright," Kesha assured her sister.

When they were alone, Avinthe took a quick look at Kesha. She had her eyes on the glass of orange juice in her hands. She looked timid and shy. How does she manage to work at the bank if she is so shy, wondered Avinthe. He knew she had recognised him when Chaminda had introduced him in the afternoon. "I'm sorry about what happened last night. I couldn't remember my room number and my friend had promised to keep the door unlocked." He held her gaze when she looked up at the sound of his voice. "All these hotel rooms look alike and I thought you were Kanishke..." His voice trailed off when he saw her smile, then she covered her mouth with her hand and began to giggle.

All of a sudden, Avinthe realised what a funny figure he must have made last night, clutching his clothes and backing out of the door with the white bedsheet behind him. He too began to laugh. "Thank you for not telling Chaminda I was the guy in your room," he said, pleased to see that now she kept her eyes on his face and that there was a mischievous sparkle in them. "If you don't wish to dance, shall we go outside and sit on the verandah?" Avinthe asked her. She nodded and said, "Yes, I love to listen to the sound of the sea."

Seated under the palm leaves with the moon and the stars above them, they talked about their work and their families.

On Saturday evening, they sat on the beach to watch the sunset. Avinthe lay on his back, resting himself on his elbows. Kesha sat close to him with her legs drawn up to her chin, drawing figures on the sand with her finger. He watched her hair blowing in the breeze. Suddenly he grabbed a strand of hair and gently tugged her head towards him. "I have something to boast about to my friends," he said with a grin. "I can tell them I have slept with you." Kesha looked startled for a minute, then, without returning his grin she turned back to what she had been drawing on the sand - two circles - one within the other. "Can you guess what this is?" she asked him. He studied the two circles for a few seconds, threw back his head and laughed, "A ring". But Kesha still remained serious. She gazed into Avinthe's eyes and said, "What you said about sleeping with me... Have you done it before? I mean...have you...?" Her voice broke off without completing the sentence. Avinthe knew what she was going to ask him. He turned his head away from her and stared absent-mindedly at a crab walking sideways towards the waves. How did a guy answer a question like that? What kind of an answer did a girl expect?

Just then, Kesha tugged at his arm. "Look at that wave. If it comes up to my ring and erases it, it's a sign to say there should be nothing between us. If it doesn't..."

They watched the wave become white foam long before it could reach the ring. Kesha turned towards Avinthe and waited for his answer. The moment was so poignant, they forgot everything else around them.

It was as if they were the only two left on planet earth. Avinthe turned and looked at Kesha. He decided to tell her the truth. "I 'll be 26 this year, but I have still..." Avinthe stumbled for the right words. "I have never..." He looked deep into Kesha's eyes without finishing the sentence.

Kesha understood. Her face broke into a beautiful, happy smile. She squeezed his hand. He had given her the best gift a girl could ever get from her partner. Together, they turned once more to look at the sea. Another wave came crashing towards them, but petered out before it could reach the two circles on the sand. They interpreted it as a good sign. The sea had given them its blessings.

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