Kadalay by M V Muhsin
As many highly spirited revellers and others spirited highly, made their way through the early hours of this morning in Colombo, they surely would have recalled with reverence memories of the Rugby Greats from Royal and Trinity enshrined in the Bradby Pantheon.
Unfailingly, on each anniversary of the Bradby, there is one sportsman - I would say an Icon- who gets particular mention especially at the Royal re-unions.
He is neither a captain nor a coach.
He is neither a forward, a three-quarter nor a full back.
He is Kadalay, the gentleman gram seller who through half a century of association with the school, was Royal's flag-bearer; or for want of a better description, Royal's Mascot.
If Kadalay belonged to Royal, it is equally safe to say that Royal belonged to Kadalay.
If that is a stretch, then one needs to explain why he was honoured by being the subject of a special Editorial in the Daily News of April 4, 1991 under the heading 'Kadalay of Royal' when he passed away.
The Editor was the respected journalist Manik de Silva.
One can hardly recall any head of school or staff in our time being honoured in this manner.
Suffice to quote the editorial: This humble man who sought little of the good things of life for himself, was synonymous with the sports that Royal College play-particularly cricket and rugby football.
He followed not only the matches but also the practices, acquiring an unbelievable expertise both of the sports and the players.
Royal's victories were his triumphs; and defeats mattered not-as long as the boys, who were his friends, played the game as it should be played.
Kadalay; knew of Royal's tactics
Yes, Kadalay had the inside track of the strategy and tactics of Royal's rugger teams.
And here is first hand testimony:
The year was 1964, when Royal under Keith Paul had beaten the more fancied Trinity by 3 points in the 'first leg' in Colombo.
Your columnist was travelling to Kandy for the 'second leg' on the 'Udarata Menike' express train which had been commandeered by the Royal cheer squad.
Kadalay was 'master of ceremonies.'
We engaged him in rugby talk and the likelihood that Trinity, on form, will win the return encounter convincingly given that their Captain Mohan Sahayam will surely dazzle the crowd with his 'specials'.
Dorai! We know in Kandy we play not only Trinity, but we play against the entire crowd! You have 'SahayamSpecial' and we'll give 'Royal Special.' Just wait and see!
And it was worth waiting for that Special which came in dramatic, unbelievable fashion.
In the first few minutes of the game the Sahayam Special is delivered in style.
The Kandy crowd erupts and the cheer leader Cortal of Mahiyawa delightfully runs into the field and pays obeisance to Sahayam and to as many of the team he can spot by touching their feet in a sweeping movement!
As the match progresses and Trinity dominate, the most phenomenal feat of drop goal kicking by Royal'sLakdasa Dissanayake from 30 to 40 yards out against the run of play takes place.
Lucky delivers Royal victory
The crowd is dumb stuck as Lucky delivers to Royal a delightful 14-6 victory, the Bradby Shield and, of course, the 'Royal Special' that Kadalay, with amazing prescience, predicted.
Not in a period of 50 years have we seen such a brilliant repertoire of drop goals in one match.
Lucky was one of Kadalay's most beloved players, who in later life was a doctor treating cancer patients.
He met with a tragic death when he was drowned at Bentota while attempting to rescue a friend's son.
If there was drama in his rugby, compassion in his professional life, there was more than a share of courage, bravery and sacrifice that this super ruggerite displayed.
The Royal teams' visits to Trinity often give the school's authorities a mighty headache.
At times 'Disce Aut Discede' (Royal's motto: Learn or Depart) is invoked in spirit and practice, more often the Discede part:
Such was the case in mid 1950's when the Royal team had left the premises and heaps of cigarette butts and empty bottles of refreshments of dubious origin were found.
Royal Principal strips team of colours
Trinity Principal Cedric Oorloff, a Royalist himself and a stickler for discipline, was furious.
In those days cigarettes came in tins, so tins of butts and a crate of empty bottles were sent to Royal as evidence.
Principal Dudley de Silva decided to strip the whole team of their colours at the school assembly- an event that drew muffled boos from the students.
It is reliably learnt that the Principal's son Daya was one of the protesters!
But how does this incident relate to Kadalay?
Well, Kadalay took it personally as a failing on his part to prevent such an incident and thenceforth made sure that during every visit of the Royal team to Trinity all bases were duly covered.
Kadalay attended all practices of the Royal team.
Once at the Royal cricket grounds, after practices were over, 'Gunman' challenged - known full-back, to a bet that he will not be able, from 40 yards out, to hit the arms of the clock that towered over the field.
When Karu performed his act, the face of the clock was smashed into smithereens.
A cold shiver went down the spines of Kalu and Karu with the likelihood of disciplinary action being taken.
Panic set in!
But Kadalay was at hand and had a great friendship with Ana Wimaladharma whose family were the premier dealers in clocks.
The services of the Wimaladharma crews were secured and the clock replaced overnight.
And Royal had secured their Captain and Full Back!
Kadalay thrilled 'starts' picked
Karunasekera, Kaluaaratchi, Manik Jayakumar and Keith Paul were selected to play for Combined Colleges.
Cheerleader Kadalay was overjoyed of the achievements of his 'charges'.
So, he invited then to dinner at the Nippon Hotel where he treated them 'right royally' to the choicest of food that included bites of Parrippu Wadia, Eral Wadia (Prawn Wadai) and then of course Bola Kadalay and Konda Kadalay.
Toasts were proposed and seconded, some say with soda while other suspect it was with a spike of lemon!
Many years later, Kadalay was regularly selling gram outside the Ladies College gate down Flower Road.
Keith Paul would come over to pick up his daughter.
And there was Kadalay, introducing Keith to the young mothers who had come to pick up their daughters:
'Ah! Madam, Keith is our great Rugger Captain!" and the young ladies would look at the dapper Keith with the glint in their eyes!
One suspects that the wing forward who observed the dictum 'observe without being observed' returned the compliment!
More reminiscences will of course take place between now and the Rugger Ball that follows the 'second leg' in a fortnight.