The New Year Tragedy 

Give the beggar your bus fare

And come straight walking home.

Follow the white city’s blackened maze of drains and come straight walking home.

On your way, you may lean on to a placarded wall, and scan its unseen art into your faulted soul, and you’ll think there never really were a truer story told.

You’ll sit with the dingy, dirty street rats on the cold iron railway tracks, but you’ve heard the wrong glory, so hear now this story, you’ll be surprised if only you knew, what fumes, what waste, what poison ran in our veins, all the while they pretended never to know.

 

We peopled this place with life and things for we had no where else to go. Beside a mountain of waste and poisonous gas, we lived our lives here through.

Though the mountain of waste lay mounting each day, we had nothing else we could do, so one fateful day, after an auspicious pray, we sat about reveling in a festive day, until it was overcome by rotting corpses, for, that mountain of waste went ‘BOOM’.

Listen. So the white city walls, and the white city houses,

the white city people and the white milk rice turned gray, black and blacker.

The white city sighs and the white city tears came tumbling upon this tragedy on New Year’s Day, and with life and vigor they helped,

Of course I could say, what an ironic play these white city people do wittingly (or otherwise) display.
I gave the beggar my bus fare and I’m walking straight home,

But my home that once stood on this blasted land lay crumbled all in all,

So I stand on the ruins among a blinding glare coming from the white city folk doing their share.

Doors and all..

Not every door you come across or come back to, is meant to be opened.

Even if your heart begins to thump so hard that you feel it’s at the verge of squeezing out from your throat and so loud that you are almost deafened by its beating (or not), as you clasp your fingers around a cold metal knob, what do you think really goes inside your head?

Don’t tug at it like it’s the only door you’ve got.

Don’t try to kick it open because it won’t.

You just have to take a deep breath, turn around, and face another.

There is no shortage of doors sweetheart. It’s not giving up, if that’s what some of you who are reading this are thinking, really, it’s not. It’s called moving head on to the next door because there are plenty, even if you don’t see them right away.

Lost a job? Stay at home for a while if you must, but there’ll always be a door or a couple of doors waiting to be opened, only if you come around to it. Failed a semester? Shake it off and try again, or try something else. My point is, even if you’ve got yourself a bad grade, lost a friend, made a mistake, you will have plenty of other ‘doors’ waiting to be opened, but only if you have an open mind.

So remember, don’t tug on the door knob like Alice here. 🙂

Carroll’s Alice

God: A Choice

O Sai, O Jesus, O Vishnu, O Allah.
Someone asked me, when I said that I believe in God; “Aren’t you a Buddhist? I thought Buddhists don’t believe in God. Lord Buddha wasn’t a God, was he?”
I reply: ” Buddha may or may not have been a God. But he certainly was not a Buddhist, just as Jesus was not a Christian, Vishnu – a Hindu, or Allah – a Muslim. So with all due respect, I don’t wish to call myself a Buddhist, I only follow the teachings of Buddha, the ones that I can understand, and the ones that make sense”
“Oh common, you’re a smart, educated girl, why do you believe in Him whom we don’t know exists? What proof do you have to say that he does?”
“What proof do you have to say that He doesn’t? 🙂 ”
Evasively; “I believe in hard work. And if I succeed, I did it. Not God”
“Of course :)”
“Do you think you would’ve come this far if it wasn’t for God?”
“I think I would have come this far with or without God”
“See? Then why do you believe in Him? What difference does He make?”
“I just choose to believe in Him”
“Are you always happy? Does your God make your life perfect?”
“He makes my life bearable but no, I’m not always happy”
“So then what good does He add into your life if he can’t at least keep you happy?”
“Karma”
“What now?”
“Karma. I also believe in Karma. Things that we do, always have a way of coming back to us. If you do something kind, the act will come back at you when you least expect it. It’s the same the other way around too. If you hurt someone, it’s going to come after you at some point, and once again, when you least expect it. You might forget about what you said or did to hurt someone in some point in your life, but the law of karma never forgets. So in your forgetful, and therefore oblivious mind, you start questioning; “Why me? Why did this happen to me?”, when that act of pain you caused someone else some time ago, comes flying right back at your face. So you shame God or whoever who’s up there, accuse Him that He wasn’t there for you and that you’re suffering now and that He doesn’t hear you or feel your pain because He doesn’t care? That’s where you’re wrong. The problem is, that you don’t know that He cares. That He does feel, and that He does see and know what you’re going through”
“So? What’s the point in His existence if He can’t help!”
“Let me put it this way. I once read somewhere in a conversation between the Lord and an ordinary man who came to visit him with the same questions you now ask me. In the conversation, the Lord asks;
“If your daughter is suffering from a headache, wouldn’t it cause you pain?”
“Yes” he replies.
“Wouldn’t you have taken her suffering if you could and spare her the pain?”
“Of course” he said without a moment’s breath.
“But you can’t.
“I hear, know, and feel the pain you go through, but I cannot prevent anything that’s coming to you, because it is you and your actions that result in the pain or happiness you go through.
“However, I can intervene, depending on two things:
“One, depending on the severity/magnitude of your karma and two, depending on the kind of life you have led thus far”
So I draw him back into our conversation; “So according to what you implied, anyone, just anyone could cross the line and then expect God to forgive him/her by the spurt of a few words begging for forgiveness? How easy do you think the lives of murderers would become if God’s existence was only to forgive and forgive and forgive regardless of what crimes s/he has done?”
I add; “So that’s why I’m not always happy. I’ve suffered losses just as much as I’ve rejoiced in my happy moments. I’ve learnt that they are all part of life. Life isn’t a cycle of happiness and joy alone. Sadness and heartbreaks are bound to happen. But the important thing is that we mustn’t get disheartened and we must try to be good and do good. It’s a matter of choice. Because at the end of the day we are only human so we aren’t perfect; we will fail, we will falter, and there may be times that we think we wouldn’t survive. But then we do survive! So God is here to show us the way. That’s what I think. God is hope. God is strength. God is forgiveness. God is “it’s okay, let’s try again”. But forgiveness, as I believe, isn’t a free ticket to bypass the consequences of the crimes/misdoings we’ve committed. Forgiveness is a reminder that we can try again, that we can try to be better. To understand and accept; “Yes I did something, and I feel that it is wrong, forgive me, I will not do it again, I’ll try to be a better person. I am forgiven. I forgive myself. And I’m going to move on.”
His turn to say something: “Wow. Okay. But I still can’t believe what I haven’t seen”
“That’s okay. You don’t have to believe. It’s a choice. And the fact that you choose not to believe doesn’t make you a sinner or a bad person. You can choose to eliminate the context and the picture of God and understand this. Either way it’s the same thing. Because like I said, I’ve come this far with or without God. My actions that have brought me to where I am now have nothing to do with God. I just choose to believe in Him. That I choose to believe that I’m not alone. That I have hope and patience”.
 

Pitakanda Road, Aniwatte.

To: Sarah, Ilma, Lakshika, Leoni, Lael, Raisah, Aquash, and Althaf
I was a happy girl
I was a sky full of rain
I used to run down Pitakanda Road
And now I’m taking a walk down that memory lane.
Sometimes we’d fall, and the wounds, they were not so small.
Blood smeared skirts, shorts, from skinned knees and bruised palms.
Only Pitakanda road would remember our childish screams, tears and shrieks.
And one day, I remember, I walked home
With one less tooth in my jaw.
The කොස් ගහ was our witness,
To every fight, every pause,and every window that we broke.
At around one in the afternoon or so, our mothers would yell from behind the grills of broken windows;
“COME AND EAT!”
But we didn’t bother!
We had පේර ගැට, අඹ ගැට , බිලි0 and ජම්බු.
And only in dire need would we creep behind the house and sneak in through the kitchen door.
To steal a bit of මිරිස් කුඩු, ලුණු කුඩු, සීනී and a plastic bowl.
When the fruity season was gone, our diet was limited to ඇඹරැල්ලා කොළ and කුරුඳු නැට්.
I suppose we weren’t always hungry kids
But we were sure as hell happy kids
We’d play and play and play.
And I for one never once cared for the school text books,
Remember those boring, colourless සි0හල, බුද්දාගම, and පරිසරය text books?
I was always for the muddy puddles, for the rain, for the trees, for the pets, and for the open skies..
I bet the secret hideouts still bear witness to our names carved into some of those tree trunks,
And I bet the Aniwatte tunnel would instantly recognize our voices, even though we’ve grown
I bet කළුතර කඩේ now has trouble selling Delta toffees.
Because the kids who used to buy them
Have all grown up.
They’ve moved out..
I heard they have chopped off the කොස් ගහ.
They must have chopped it off thinking it’s just a tree, apparently because it was getting in the way of some telephone wires.
But what they didn’t know, was that they chopped off a part of our childhood.
But what can we do?
We just grow.

I feel most alive when the sky cries – am I selfish? 

My heart is, has
And always will be

An offering to the rain,

To the ashen skies,

To the coldest winds,

That wreck my heart, 

Spin my soul, 

And I lose my guard

I fall in love

I pray for more

And I sing aloud 

To the burdened clouds,

To the winds unborn,

To the earth below. 

Soak me. Drown me. Blind me!

Nature thou art a beauty

When you rain your burdens untold.

                 

Repercussions of a Sexual Assault.

                 The shades of green and the passing clear water streams were her delight. Every morning, at around nine or so, with utmost carefulness, she’d descend the four marble stairs, and step into the lawn. She couldn’t reduce it into words, what feel felt as the softly mown grass crunched beneath her sole. Creepers growing nearby would curl around her tiniest toe and her world would glow. The sun’s warmth coupled with sudden gushes of wind with perfectly timed intervals were soothing so it was a habit of hers to lie down on the lawn and gaze skyward.
                    She would lie down and place both her palms around her growing belly. It seems to her that the unborn child too likes this hour of the day with her. She would place her right palm on the top part of her belly just below her bust, and the left on the lower part and gently caress her life carrying flesh, endlessly. She withdrew her hands as her light trodden face suddenly grew grim, unfathomably restless upon the words and memories that rolled out of a bruised corner in her mind.
                     Memories, pictures, unheard sounds from a long time ago all fused and came in shock waves. The glare fell, sparkled too. Single threads of hair running over her beaten face were losing control like abandoned sails. Her lips moved but no sound came out. She screamed. Tightened her eyes and screamed from the top of her lungs, a scream that would transcend walls of the mortal world and pierce the golden-silver curtains behind which gods and goddesses lived. So that they could hear. See if they had a heart.
She screamed so hard, her eyes shut unbearably, and a solitary tear squeezed out of the corner of her right eye, glided down her cold face, dangled, and fell into the lush greenery beneath her. But no sound did appear. Her screams were soundless. She tried to lift herself up but the baby bundle had taken up all her energy. She tried to shift slightly to lean on the nearest tree trunk. No help did come to her. She opened her eyes now, saw the branches high up above her waving at her gaily. The air was no longer air. It was glass. She knocked on it just to make sure. She felt suffocated more than before. Faintly, she saw a dark figure, a man, with long locks up to his cheeks, combed on either sides of his thick head. Suddenly she was sixteen again. He came and disappeared like the wind. Yes like the wind he was. But he took something with him as he disappeared. Something of hers that he replaced with a shock. A hollow shock. A shock that sucked up all kinds of emotions that engulfed her when he molested her.
                     She was with her mother. The time was around 5.30 in the morning and they were on their way to a bus halt in a city they barely knew. They got down from the wrong sort of place and that’s where it happened. They didn’t have a choice but to walk up about a kilometer and a half to the next halt. The sounds of engines coming from huge trucks and lorries parked nearby, the distant chatter of men unloading sacks of vegetables, flour, and different sorts of grains and occasional sounds of passing car horns were clogging their ears. It had rained the night before so the roads were muddy. Amidst all that, the air was saturated with a stench of urine. The figures moving about unloading and carrying noticeably heavy sacks of vegetables were like phantoms in the dark. It looked like they were at the back of the town’s market place.
                           The two of them walked until she felt something happen to her within a matter of swift three seconds. A course hand groped her crotch, and walked past her. Her vision abruptly halted, she couldn’t see through the dark now that streams of tears automatically started flooding. It all happened so fast. The pain, the shock, the fear, the irksomeness were the horrors of it all. She remembered turning around simultaneously to see who he was, entertaining in her mind the futile idea of maybe stopping him, or grabbing hold of his shirt, and then? And then what? Uh? In the dark? She barely saw his face. But she remembered the shape of his dark figure and his hair. He was tall and had thick locks falling on either sides of his cheeks. He was already gone. Swiftly walked past them like lightning. Impossible to stop. She and her mother were rooted to the ground, unable to work their minds through what happened. She remembered men who were unloading sacks staring at them, but not attempting to do anything. She wondered if they approved of what just happened or whether they too, stood by helpless, or whether they thought it was none of their business. Soon enough, she harnessed what little strength she had in spite of her benumbed mind, and began walking with her mother. She remembered thanking God. Thanking him incessantly with every breathless moment thereafter. She couldn’t really remember why she thanked Him. But she did. Had she worn anything but a denim trouser, the pain would have been much worse. Unimaginable, even. Although she walked as casually as she could, she could still feel his gruesome hand between her legs. She walked as casually as she could but the pain never left her body. It never really did, apparently. She screamed silently that night. And the night after that. And in the nights to come. Because the pain never stopped coming. Because the shock never really left her skin and bones. She’d wake up in the middle of the night with horrifying images of what happened that morning. She then caught herself thinking how people who get raped cope up? Do they ever really cope up?
                      Her pain momentarily ceases. Then it comes back. It goes away again. And it comes back again and again in different ways, and in different times. And each time, she remembers voices asking her why didn’t she scream? Why didn’t she tell anyone? Yes she did scream loud enough to burst the blue veins in her brain! But no one heard her.
Because when it happens, when a person gropes or sexually assaults another, none of the viable means of evading such a situation that we’ve been taught time and again would come into our minds! Instead, you feel as if you’re rooted to the ground, shunned from the rest of the world, too shocked to retaliate immediately, so only tears come bursting out without you even attempting to cry. Do you get what I’m saying? Just because tears come bursting out one after another, that person isn’t really crying in the usual sense of the word. Pardon me, for I don’t have words to explain this any further.
She woke up in a brightly lit place, being moved on a trolley, and people in blue masks and while coats were around her. She faintly saw the worried face of her husband among the sea of people she passed by. She was back in her current self now, twenty seven years old and twenty nine weeks pregnant. The last memory she had before passing out was a blur of greenery. She couldn’t really open her eyes fully because the whole place she was now in was brightly lit and consequently almost blinding. She looked over her dress and saw smears of blood all over her belly. She started panicking at the sight of it and the nurses had to hold her down. This time she screamed and it was loud and clear. She wanted to know what happened. She demanded to know what happened and if the baby was alright. Her screams went unanswered by the green and white clad phantoms around her, preparing to clinically aid her condition. She heard someone near her, effortlessly trying to convince her that it was going to be okay and that the pain will soon go away. Her hysterical screams turned into silent sobs and then into painfully drawn long breaths before the doctors momentarily made her unconscious.
                             What happened to her was this. The seizure she got while she was peacefully lying on the lawn was directly connected to the horror-stricken moment when she was groped at sixteen. The pain she felt then had never really left her, as time flew, and the New Years came through one after the other since that fateful day, she nor God could ever “undo” those irksome seconds in her life. It could never be undone. Time could not be reversed and one couldn’t beg the Lord to have taken her and her mother in a different route that morning. What was meant to happen, was meant to happen. And it did. So those memories in the form of unspoken words, bottled-up fear, anger, and helplessness surfaced into her conscious mind. She caught herself thinking, then, about the unborn child, irrespective of the baby’s gender, dwelling in the safest place in the whole world, away from the hurtful and the bad things happening around her. She was seized by the compelling thought of protecting the child from all evil in the world. Fear started to shackle her mind so she imagined herself breaking out of them. She pictured her skin wounded from trying to break free, and she realized that no matter how much she tried, she could not break free from those shackles of fear. Thought after thought overwhelmed her and it was then that she realized that there was no escaping what is to come. So, naturally, like any other mother would do, she thought of the best thing she could do to protect her unborn bundle of innocence before evil in any form could penetrate. Consequently she thought the best thing is to let the child be in her womb forever, and the thought of the child being safe and unharmed was the last thing she remembered before passing out. Thereafter she had incessantly scraped her stomach till she wounded herself. She hysterically went on scraping herself till blood started oozing out of her. She had lost consciousness when her husband found her lying on the grass, droplets of blood sliding down her belly, her palms both crimson in colour had tiny rivulets of blood sliding downward from her wrist…