The Sunday Times on the Web Mirror Magazine
4th October 1998

Front Page|
Editorial/Opinion| Business|
Plus |Sports

Front Page

Care for dry skin

The key to caring for dry skin is to keep it moisturized. Replenishing the moisture in the skin will make it feel softer, smoother, and more comfortable.

Don't wash your face more than once a day with soap and water. Do this at bedtime, when you can remove make-up and the daily accumulation of grime. In the morning just splash the face with warm water. Always cleanse with warm rather than hot water.

If your face cannot tolerate daily soap-and-water cleansing, alternate with liquid, cream, or lotion cleansers. Avoid toners and fresheners that contain alcohol, which removes skin oils that act as a natural moisturizer.

After cleansing, apply a moisturizer to help retard moisture loss. During the day you may prefer a light oil-in-water emulsion that is non-greasy. At night, a heavier water-in-oil cream may be preferable. These products do not really add much moisture to the skin but they do help retard evaporation of moisture from the skin, allowing the skin to re-moisturize itself from within. They also make the skin feel softer, smoother, and more comfortable.

Many factors influence the dryness of skin: age, geographical location, time of year, relative humidity in living and working quarters, and frequency of soap and detergent use. Individual variations under similar circumstances are probably due to hereditary differences.

If you live in a northern climate that becomes cold and dry in the winter, try to keep your environment humidified. Be sure to protect the face with a moisturizer when venturing out in cold, windy weather.

Finally, what you think is dry skin may not be helped by a dry-skin regimen: Flaking and scaling around the nose and chin may actually indicate excessively oily skin or seborrheic dermatitis rather than dry skin. If this is the case, application of greasy moisturizers and make-up will simply make your condition worse.

The moment of truth

By M.T.L. Ebell

Ranmali and I are being driven to the Hall. I glance at my daughter; her beauty, as fresh and natural as the breeze that blows through our beloved village, Maddegama, astounds me. My wife died many years ago. I miss her and I wish she could have been at her daughter's wedding. My thoughts, however, are on another woman. Would she be here? I miss her and wish she would be here at my daughter's wedding.

I had been at the weekly Staff Meeting at Maddegama Maha Vidyalaya, where I teach English and History, when the Headmaster's son had come in. He was very excited. "Thaaththa we have a 'Lodger Nona.' Amma sent me to tell you."

His father was a bit surprised. "A 'Lodger Nona'? Who do you mean by that?"

"I don't know, Thaaththa. Amma sent me to tell you. This is a lady from Colombo. She was driving down this way. She stopped at the Kade to have some tea. There she saw the notice saying we have room for a lodger and she wanted to see the place. Kade Hamine brought her home and Ammi liked her." The Headmaster groaned. "Oh, these women!" he muttered. "I suppose I should go and see what mess your mother has made now. What do we want a lodger from Colombo for? Are you sure she is not a Tourist?" "No, no, Thaaththa, she is a Sinhalese lady. From Colombo." That was the end of the staff meeting. The Headmaster and his son hurried off. We dispersed, feeling very curious.

By nightfall, it was all over the village. This lady had driven up to the tea boutique and asked for some 'Thambili.' While drinking it she had seen a notice tacked up on the wall which said that lodging was available. Two addresses had been given. She had asked about them both, decided to see the Headmaster's house first. She and the Headmaster's wife, finding each other mutually acceptable, had decided that she move in straight away. How long would she stay? A few months. The village was agog. What had she been doing here, off the beaten track? The turn off from the road to Galle was some miles away. Where had she been going in the first place? Who was she?

On this last point, the Ralahamy offered to help. Provided her name and address in Colombo were known and were genuine, he would find out what he could about her. The village seethed for twenty four hours. Then the word was out. And it upset many people. This lady was a Srimani Silva. A few months ago, during that bomb blast at Maradana, she had lost her husband, her five-year-old son and her eight-year-old daughter. Suddenly robbed of her entire family, she had appeared, outwardly, to cope with her loss. But three days ago she had given instructions to the gardener to work four days a week, engaged a Security Guard and had left the house. All this, Ralahamy's contact had got from the gardener. The Security Guard had been asleep. The attitude of the village changed overnight. Forgotten were all the foreboding and premonitions that the Headmaster's wife would regret welcoming the stranger. Now she was strange no longer. Everyone felt her pain and everyone wished her well.

I did, too, until I heard that she, this lady from Colombo, had started Spoken English classes. The cheek of her! I taught English at school and rather well I thought. Two days after I first heard of this my daughter asked permission to go out after school. Even she wanted to join this class. I was furious. Who, I demanded of my daughter, had had the cheek to ask her to teach Spoken English to the children?

"The Headmaster's wife," my daughter said meekly. "She just asked her to teach her own two children, and they made it sound such fun that a lot more wanted to join. So now she has the girls early and the boys a little later. Not that we don't know English, Thaaththi, don't worry. Miss has said we have all been very well taught, but we are shy to speak out, you know that."

"Hmmm," I said grumpily, "you can go if you want but I will also come to see what she is doing."

I didn't mean that when I said it but about half an hour later I found myself taking a path that led to the Headmaster's house. I stayed in the garden. I heard a lot of laughter. Some class, I thought. The laughter broke out again. The children were acting out introductions. Some were surprisingly quick to pick it up. Some were slow. But they all tried very hard. I felt annoyed. I was here to see they knew enough English to pass the O' level examination. I wasn't a bloody Deportment teacher. By now, they had all practised. She seemed delighted. "That was not so difficult was it?" she asked. "The next time we'll learn how to go to an interview."

The class was over. The children started leaving. I went forward and introduced myself. "Ranmali told me you might come," she said. She had a firm handshake. She was tall and fair, her hair was in a long plait. "I hope you don't think I am interfering with your work." Taken aback, I heard myself assuring her that she was doing a good thing and the children needed to get some practical tips on using the language. I also said I'd like some tips myself. I saw my daughter smiling in relief and heard Srimani Silva telling me to drop in whenever convenient.

We arrived at the Hall. Ranmali stepped on to the Poruwa. It was the auspicious moment. My part done, for the moment, I moved next to the Pahana and tried to concentrate.

Srimani Silva the Lodger Nona, or "English Miss" as she soon came to be called, fitted right in to our village. She became a familiar sight along the paths interconnecting our houses. She explored the fields, the streams, the bathing pools. She loved to walk through the Rubber trees. Apparently she loved the way the sunlight streamed in through the trees; filtered through the muslin cloth of the leaves against the sky. The womenfolk took to her. I suppose her sad history helped. She liked to learn and they were soon teaching her their little tricks of cooking; the exact way to blow into the fire while making Kavum, how to gauge when the temperature of the smoking oil was just right before dipping in the Kokis. She taught them what she knew too. Soon the old women and the young girls had added smocking, cross stitch and tapestry to their sewing repertoire. And she created an interest in reading. To be lent a book by 'English Miss' was an honour and you read it as soon as you could because others were waiting their turn.

The months that followed were filled with memories. Miss at the harvest festival, Miss at the Fair, Miss going off to town every Sunday for Mass. Anybody needing a ride into town on a Sunday, had merely to appear at her door in time. Ranmali becoming adept at fancy sewing. Ranmali reading ''Anne of Green Gables", finding myself reading it secretly when Ranmali was asleep. Walking down to the Headmaster's house with him almost every Friday after the Staff Meeting, chatting to 'Miss' until nightfall. It was not the companionship, I remember most. Not even the times, when, opening out, she would speak of her children; how their toys were still scattered on the floor exactly as they had been left that day. Their clothes were in the cupboards, the table set for four people to lunch. She said she had come away to gain the strength to go back.

Two incidents occurred, that will never leave my mind. Visiting her on a Saturday morning, with an offering of some ripe jak, I was surprised to see a car in the Headmaster's front garden. I could hear raised voices from Miss' verandah, hers and a man's. I went to see. The man speaking, broke off what he was saying. Then: "I suppose Girigoris here, does all your fetching and carrying for you. When are you going to stop playing the rural miss and come back to Colombo. There is a lot of work to be done there."

As I stared open-mouthed at the stranger I must have looked a real gamaya. Srimani rose from her chair, "Mr Samarakone," she said, ''this 'gentleman', my brother-in-law, is just leaving." She picked up a car key from her table, "Would you mind reversing his car for him?" The man grabbed the keys from her hand. "I'll reverse it myself! But I need you to sign those papers for me."

"I will read them over and bring them to Colombo tomorrow. Don't worry, I won't trouble you for lunch or anything, I'll be returning here." Looking anything but pleased, he left. I was left to pass the word round that there would be no trip to Town the next day. Most people were worried she would not return but she did.

The other incident took place on a Thursday evening. The boys' class had ended and they were saying good night and making their way home. I had handed over some schedules to the Headmaster and was on my way to the verandah with the Headmaster's wife, to say good night, too. As we approached I saw something moving on the floor. It was a female cobra. Miss' face went white. She clutched at her throat, her lips moved. I heard a strange voice speak.

'Nai Hamy, Nai Hamy karunaven pitath venna.'

The cobra slithered past Miss and came into the garden.

'Nai Hamy, Nai Hamy, Pravesamin yanna.'

The snake crossed the garden and went under the fence.

The power of movement returned to me. I looked at her amazed. "How did you know what to say?" I asked. "How did you know that?" She shook her head. "I didn't say anything," she whispered.

I appealed to the others, "You heard, didn't you, Miss saying, 'Nai Hamy, Nai Hamy karunaven pitath venna?'

"Ammo, I don't know," the Headmaster's wife said, "It seemed to happen so slowly and it seemed to have happened so fast. I didn't hear anything. My blood turned to water!" I looked at Srimani. "Surely you spoke," I said. She shivered. Slowly, she sat. "I don't know," she said. "I just held my cross and said to myself, 'St. Patrick, St. Patrick', over and over again." She looked upwards. "Thank you," she said. Suddenly she put her head down on her outstretched arms and began to cry.

The Headmaster's wife sprang into action. The gaping boys were sent to make sure the cobra was not lurking anywhere close by. Her husband and her son, hurriedly summoned were told to make sure no more 'visitors' lurked within the house. "I will make some tea for you Miss," she added and left. Srimani continued to cry. Her hands were writhing. I covered them with my hands and just sat there. I didn't know what else to do. After a while she raised her head. When I looked into her eyes I thought I saw her soul. It looked washed clean, naked, yet burning with feeling. In that instant I knew: I loved this woman.

I started to speak, but she shook her head quickly. Gently, she loosed her hands from my grip. "Thank you.... Granville," she said. "I think I will be all right now."

She added softly, "You should go."

"But..." I protested, and she said again, "Go now, please. This has been a shock to all of us. We'll feel more... normal, tomorrow."

Before I could protest further, the Headmaster's wife came in with a steaming mug of tea.

I went home. -To be continued

Presented on the World Wide Web by Infomation Laboratories (Pvt.) Ltd.

More Mirror Magazine - Junior Times

Return to Mirror Magazine Contents

Mirror Magazine Archive

Front Page| News/Comment| Editorial/Opinion| Business| Plus |Sports

Hosted By LAcNet

Please send your comments and suggestions on this web site to

The Sunday Times or to Information Laboratories (Pvt.) Ltd.