7 January 2015 10:01 am Family 2 By Sirohmi Gunesekera (Teacher, Attorney-at-Law and Researcher into Human Relations & The Family Unit) Amali was all excited. It was going to be her first day at the Big School! She was going to start in Grade One and she would be wearing uniform for the first time. Amali’s mother Jilska was at her wit’s end covering books and preparing for the Big Day. Jilska was herself a school teacher and she had to get her own books organised. She had also planned to wear a new seagreen saree and she had to make sure she had the jacket and underskirt to match.


Jilska was a Christian and her husband Palitha was a Buddhist. The family had celebrated Christmas and exchanged gifts and Amali had received her school books as presents from Santa Claus from under the decorated Christmas Tree. At the end of the year, Palitha had called a Family Conference and asked each family member to tell what needed to be done. They drew up a list and noted down the routine tasks like marketing, cooking and cleaning which had to be done on a regular basis. Palitha and Jilska then wrote out the things that had to be done at the start of the New Year to prepare for school.


Amali had three new school uniforms and had to try them on. The hooks and eyes had to be adjusted and Jilska asked her twelve year old son Naomal to see to it. He protested that sewing was a girl’s job but was overruled for Palitha had been in the Army and had sewn buttons. Jilska said that she would see to her saree and jacket and asked Palitha to do the marketing for the first week. The whole family agreed to snack in case they did not have time for regular meals. Palitha said that he would make a dhall curry if Jilska bought the stringhoppers to eat the night before school started.


Two days before school was scheduled to start, Jilska helped Amali to pack her school bag with the newly covered books. She checked the Book List and made sure her daughter’s name was clearly visible along with the name of the school. The socks were new but the shoes were those handed down from her brother when he had first started school. At first, Amali had cried saying she wanted new shoes like all her friends but her parents had persuaded her to wear her brother’s shoes which were in good condition.

The Start

At last the Big Day arrived and Palitha and Jilska helped Amali to dress and get ready for school. Fortunately, Jilska was teaching in the same school so that mother and daughter could go together. However, Amali’s excitement was contagious and her father and brother smiled and waved as mother and daughter walked to the bus stand. They had left one hour for travel and Jilska held her daughter’s hand while the child carried her school bag. Let us now leave the happy family as they shared chores and prepared for a New School Year! Family 1 (All names are fictitious)


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