This is only one of the many aliases by which he is known. He has been one of the worst thieves and bad characters to be met with even in Colombo, where there is a pretty good assortment of the scum of slumdom. Adopted as an infant by a pious Mahomedan, he was trained up in that religion. But in spite of every effort that was made for his reformation, he rapidly went from bad to worse, till at length he found himself in the hands of the police.
His first sentence was twelve months for throwing sand in a Singhalese man’s eyes and then robbing him of his comb. When released he fell in with other criminals, from whom he learnt many new tricks of the trade. Once he was stealing some clothes from a line when the lady of the house saw him. A hue and cry was raised, and he soon found himself surrounded with coolies and dogs. Seeing that there was no chance of escape, he began to jump and scream and go through all sorts of antics. The lady, thinking he was mad, and having pity on him, let him go.
He has seen the inside of nearly all the Colombo jails, but without being made any better. Finally, he was received into our Home. At first he was rather troublesome, but after a short time he gave his heart to God, and has been doing well. “He cannot read or write,” says the Captain in charge, “but he prays like a divine, and I am believing to see him become an Officer some day.”
Was brought from his village by a Singhalese gentleman when quite a little boy, but, leaving his master, thought he would start life on his own account. He soon became a practised thief. “I always managed to escape,” he says, “till one day with some of my companions I robbed a Buddhist temple. I managed to get a silver ‘patara’ (plate), which we sold for Rs. 24, but was caught and sent to jail.” “But you were yourself a Buddhist,” said the Captain. “How came you to rob your own temple?” “What of that? I thought nothing of sin in those days. But it is all so different now. I am saved, and mean to spend all my life in saving others. I am just now practising a song to sing in the meeting to-night.”
The Captain asked him whether he did not think it a great disgrace to go to jail. “Oh, no! I thought everybody in Colombo had been there some time or other. All the people with whom I mixed had been.” “Well, how did you like it?” “Oh, it was not such a bad place! The food was fairly good, and I had not to work very hard but I wish I had known about salvation sooner. Even then I used to wish that I could find something which would make me good, but all my efforts were in vain till I came to the Home, and got saved.”
In conclusion, I feel sure that a few brief particulars regarding this branch of our work in Australia will be read with interest, and will serve to prove the usefulness of this portion of our social reform scheme: