An ode to the sky VIII

“When we look up, it widens our horizons.  We see what a little speck we are in the universe, so insignificant, and we all take ourselves so seriously, but in the sky, there are no boundaries.  No differences of caste or religion or race.”  ~Julia Gregson

The WFR team never expected that “an ode to the sky” could widen our horizons so much (literally!). Teammate Shailee said it best: “I was just thinking that, how we never took much time to notice the sky before. But now, the shades, the colors, the beauty of it; we see it all.”

We’re grateful to our friends who are as besotted with the sky as we are, for providing an awesome array of photographs and captions. For the first time ever, we have poems written in Sinhala as captions(and we wish we had Tamil ones too). Those poems reminded us once more of Nelson Mandela’s quote that “

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”

Let the results speak for themselves…

You don’t need to be a Christian
To love the silence of a church
You don’t need to be a Buddhist
To love the calmness of a temple

You don’t need to be someone
To love something
You can be anyone
And love anything
Poem by Shailendree Wickrama Adittiya 
Photo by Rochelle Silva @ Galle

The sky must be looking the same over there,

 Where I used to look out from the balcony.
Summer must be raging still somewhere,
 To the tune of a forgotten symphony.
Funny, I never felt the sky was different,
As I often looked up from the lawn:
 “But it wasn’t YOUR country,” most go on to moan..
 “It’s NOT?” I ask them…
HOW could it not be mine?
Spreading across a Delhi Summer,
 trust me it all was the same, and MINE.

Poem by Priyangwada Perera

Photo by Areeba Haroon @ Udawalave

Beyond the dark leaves,
Branches and their shadows
Beyond the blue skies
So blue, they seem black
Beyond the clouds,
Beyond it all
Lies nothing
And lies everything
There, you are who you are
You are nothing but a person
And your thoughts, your opinions
Your beliefs,
They don’t matter,
And beyond the blue skies,
People love,
People accept
People tolerate
Beyond the skies,
There is nothing
And there is everything
And there is peace
Poem and photo by Shailendree Wickrama Adittiya @ Panadura

Born in the darkness
Raised with a soul
Seen by the world
As a faint blur
No one to guide through
This pitch darkness
It seems to be like
Witching hour is up

Through the dark clouds
Something could be seen
It is a ray of light
Beaming on the world
The darkness is banished
The world happy again
Thank you Almighty God
For listening to our prayers
Poem by : Vijini Mallawaarachchi
 The photograph is the property of UmbraDeNoapte-Stock( and has been used with his direct permission.

Galle: a beautiful city of cobbled streets and ancient buildings bordered by the crystal clear Indian ocean. It is also home to this Sri Lankan flag fluttering in the breeze atop a rampart that has withstood the test of time. True, it IS a Dutch fort, but we mustn’t forget all the heroes who made this sight possible. Gaining independence in 1948 was a result of the combined efforts of Sinhalese leaders such as D.S.Senanayake and Anagarika Dharmapala, Tamil leaders such as Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan and Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam and Muslim leaders such as M.C.Siddhi Lebbe and T.B. Jaya. To me, it was an instance when the segregated communities of Sri Lanka came forward to work for the same goal; an incident that we can emulate.
Caption and photo by Rochelle Silva @ Galle

In forgotten oceans
And greying skies
Lies the truth
All humans seek
But we are too busy
And so look away
From the crashing waves
That the heavens
Peek through the clouds
Allowing a glimpse of
The promised paradise
We don’t notice
Instead of looking
We walk away
And as unhuman
As they are
It is the dog, bird, animal
That chooses to stay
For their eyes,
They seek no color
Instead the truth
The skies offer
Poem by Shailendree Wickrama Adittiya
Photo by Ayodhya Karunaratne @ Negombo

The spotted dove or the “Kobeiya” is not always considered beautiful, due to its dull color. This is especially so, when the spotted dove is compared to the white dove, the symbol of peace. We tend to always assume the symbol is the only thing with beauty, that the utopia we all keep looking for is full of white doves. Yet, sometimes, there is beauty in the absence of complete peace. Sri Lanka may not have white doves flying around, yet, the spotted dove, with its quiet existence, does make our island beautiful.
Caption and photo by Shailendree Wickrama Adittiya @ Panadura

The sinking sun
Marks the end of day
But night is yet to come
As the sky impersonates
An artist’s canvas
We all say a silent prayer
For with darkness
Comes out the evil forces
Of hate, lust and anger
Yet, the eeriness
The night brings out
Is pushed away
By that smile you
Hadn’t seen
For months
It is the love of parent,
Sibling or friend
It is love
In its purest form
Full of innocence
That makes the night safer
And as the sun sets,
We can all worry less
For goodness prevails
Or so we can believe
Poem by Shailendree Wickrama Adittiya
Photo by Sharuka Wickrama Adittiya @ Marine Drive, Colombo

අහසක් එක සේ ඇත අප සැමටම
එත් එය දෙස බලා එකමුතු කම
දැකිය නොහැක අද අපට
අපගේ වෙනස් කම්
සුලු වුවද බොහෝ
ඒවා නිසා
අප අතර ඇත්තේ
සුලු පටු දුරක් නොව
එක් කෙනෙකු
අනෙකුට කරන්නේ
සහෝදර සහෝදරියෝ
එසේද ආදරය
අත්ලට අත්ල තබා
සමාව දිය යුතුය
එසේය නැවතත් අහසේ
එකමුතුකම දැකිය හැක්කේ
අප අතර
Poem by Shailendree Wickrama Adittiya 
Photo by Areeba Haroon @ Udawalave

The moon was once there
No matter how dark was my world
The clouds of pain didn’t dare
Enter the love’s fold
No doubt it was a starless sky
But trust me,
it wasn’t scary or shy:
The gloom, the dark, I didn’t care,
In my sky, the moon was there

Poem by Priyangwada Perera
Photo by Kevin Fernando

අහස කියයි රහසක් පොළොවට,
“මම නුඹට ආදරෙයි,
 සැම දේටමත් වඩා,
 නුඹ වෙනුවෙන් කරන්නට බැරි දෙයක්,
 නැත්තේය මට කිසිමදා.”
වැසි වැටී පොළොව තෙත් කර,
 ගම් නියම් ගම් සරුසාර කර,
 නැවත යයි උඩුගුවන දෙසටම,
 වැටෙනු වස් පොළොවට සැනෙකින්,
නොවද මෙය චක්‍රයක්?
 මහ පුදුම ආදරයක්?

අහස පොළොවට කියූ වදන්ම,
කියයි නුඹ මට ආදරෙන්,
අහස හා පොලොව සේ සබඳ,
අපි දුරයි ජාතියෙන්,
අපි දුරයි ආගමෙන්,
හදවතින් අපි එක්වුන මුත්…

Poem by: Anonymous

Photo by Areeba Haroon @ Udawalave

නොදන්නා අයෙක්
අපගේ මිතුරකු වන්නේ
ජාතිය හෝ
අගම හෝ කුලය
නිසා නොව
ඔහුගේ ගුණ යහපත් කම
මිනිසා විසින් සාදා ගෙන ඇති
හේතුවක්, තේරුමක් නැති
භේධ නිසා
කී දෙනෙක්
මිතුරන් නොවී
සතුරන් බවට
පත්වෙන්නට ඇත්ද?
අපට අහස දෙස බලා
“ඔය එක් ජාතියකට
අයත් සඳය,
ඔය එක් ආගමකට
අයත් වලා කුලුය”
යයි කිව නොහැකිය
ජාතියක්, ආගමක්
දිය නොහැක
දිය යුතුද නැත
Poem by Shailendree Wickrama Adittiya
Photo by Rochelle Silva @ Colombo


Forsaken from the path of Reconciliation

Forsaken from the Path of Reconciliation
Are we not who, forsake him
Why now do we plead?
To once again be one with him
Hypocrites are we in need
We have forgotten,
The reason we were crafted
Remind us did the only Begotten,
Of our intended tasks
Truly chosen have we the path of the Devil
Echoing is the cheer for the Devil
By such ensuring mankind shan’t be risen
Nor upheld by the creator,
He took the time to craft us each,
Yet gratitude have we, nay!
Permitted have for temptation to preach
They who dwell in temptation
Shalt forevermore dwell amidst torment
For they shan’t enter the gates of redemption
As innocent as Lambs were we intended
Yet they a alone are not to blame for their doings,
For they are illiterates, therefore yield to temptation
Who is to blame, I know
Yet warned are we not to judge
For they who preach say such
For they think they glow with the knowledge of the high judge
Yet of of him know they so very little
The Tranquility of our islands sunset
Depicts a Godly image
To which are hearts surrender
However not knowing who made it so
Makes them indeed illiterate
Therefore forgiveness will be intended
To those who were not taught
To never be envious
The Journey on the road to reconciliation
Shan’t be merciful to those in the Dark

The Rag Doll- Part 1

Of all the types of love on Earth, I believe that a mother’s love is the purest and the most enduring. Mothers throughout the world sacrifice many things for their children. Even though we may not accept it often, we secretly look up to our mothers as a hero. Personally, my mother is a pillar of strength to me. Her unconditional love has seen me through many a tough time.
Yet, there was a possibility that I may have lost that love at a tender age. My mother is a survivor of the 1996 Central bank bombing which killed at least 91 and injured 1400 others (; one of the deadliest bombings that took place during the civil war in Sri Lanka.  I was lucky; countless people lost their source of unconditional love due to the war, sometimes right before their eyes. It doesn’t matter which race you belong to; the grief of losing a loved one hurts in a similar way. My aim in writing this story, which is loosely based on my mother’s experience, is not to bring back hurtful memories. I am writing with the hopes that another war will not ravage our paradise isle; that our future generation will not have to fear for the loss of their beloveds.
“Love you Ammi!” the little girl yelled from the arms of her grandmother.
“Love you my world!” her mother replied tenderly, wanting to give one more cuddle to her baby daughter, yet having to rush since the train to work could arrive at any minute. 

She couldn’t take two more steps when she felt a tiny tug on her skirt.

“Ammi, stay!”, the girl whispered, her face clouding up with tears.
“I’ll be home soon darling. Ammi will bring you a new doll today- a rag doll just like the one in the cartoon” she said with a hurried kiss.
On her way to work, she couldn’t help thinking about her daughter’s unusual reaction. “What’s up with my little girl today? She’s always happy to be with her grandma while I work…” she mused. The friendly chatter of her train buddies woke her up from her musings and she quickly forgot her worries.
A few hours later, she was happily settled in her 5thfloor cubicle. While reading through a document she glanced at the rag doll lying on her desk, wrapped with glittering paper. She could almost imagine the smile that would spread across the face of her little girl like the sun coming out on a cloudy day. “Thank you so much Ammi”, she would squeal with delight… 
Suddenly, the sound of gun shots pierced the air. At the entrance to the Central bank, the building opposite to the one she was inside, a group of men were engaged in a gun fight with the security guards who didn’t allow their lorry to enter the premises. They even aimed at the passers-by. The men rammed the lorry into the barricade and after few tries, got in.

A promise to my self

A promise I’ve made my self is to never get married to someone from a different religion and race. Let me explain why, before you label me a conservative racist. My parents had different beliefs which at times caused uneasiness in our family. Even today, I decorate the Christmas tree in December, even though we don’t celebrate Christmas. And I know, the tree has nothing to do with the birth of Jesus, but for me Christmas doesn’t mean church or carols, it means gift giving, a tree and Christmas songs. Of course there is more enthusiasm during Vesak, pasting the tissue paper on the bamboo frames, lighting candles and going to the temple. We were brought up as Buddhists and I would choose no other religion or faith. And so when my father wanted to celebrate Christmas or Easter, I would hesitate. I used my lack of belief as an excuse to avoid Easter and Christmas lunch. And while my mother could take us to any temple she wished, my father couldn’t take us to church with him.

I have been to churches, and in fact went to a Christian school. Before our O/L and A/L exams we were all blessed in the school chapel. I’d like to think that being brought up by parents of different faiths made me more tolerant of beliefs different from my own. At home, we have two prayer books. No one reads them, and yet, they receive the same respect books on the Dhamma are shown. Just because we don’t believe in the god the prayers are meant for, doesn’t mean we should throw the books away.
So we grew up Buddhists, with hints of Christianity here and there. Yet, the clash between the two cultures was quite obvious. My father didn’t believe in worshipping people. Thus he would tell us not to worship him and this caused some uneasiness, especially during avurudu.
However, the differences or conflicts go beyond such simple things. We were small then, and didn’t understand why beliefs varied. We didn’t question why Thathee went to church and we went to the temple. Today, I understand the differences between beliefs and cultures. Growing up, I found my self looking at other beliefs in a skeptical manner. I respect other beliefs, however, I would never be able to change my beliefs.
And a lack of similar beliefs makes it more difficult to understand people. Many people have told me they would love to get them selves tattooed, yet can’t due to their religions. As unfair it is, I can’t help but ask them if a religion should put down such rules. As kids we accepted that people just didn’t share the same beliefs. Now we question them. And we either understand why there are so many varying beliefs or we protest against them.
However, even if we understand other beliefs, we can’t embrace them. I avoid going to churches and kovils because I feel it isn’t right with my lack of belief and skepticism. Going to the house of God, while not believing in the existence of a higher power, is not something I like to do. So a marriage between people with different beliefs will be a constant battles of trying to accommodate each others beliefs. Things will definitely turn more sour once there are kids involved. What religion should they be brought up believing?
When it comes to ethnic differences, even the smallest comment could spark things off. It could be uneasy silence that follows after someone says he’s an atheist. A clash of beliefs makes friendship, love, relationships difficult to maintain. Our behavior and attitudes are shaped by our beliefs. While my beliefs do not stop me from wearing even knee length clothes, there are sme beliefs that scorn such clothing. Thus no matter what we tell our selves, mixed marriages or even relationships need extra effort put into them. Of course, lack of beliefs make things simpler. If no beliefs tie you down, it is easier to live with people.
Sadly, religion, race, culture, they all play a huge role in our lives. While we must tolerate and accept beliefs that vary from or own, we must also be careful when trying to mix two beliefs. Simply put, our backgrounds say a lot about us. Religion, race, culture have a lot to do with who we are. This is why I think mixed marriages are more difficult to maintain. And this is why I have promised my self to get married to someone who shares the same beliefs as I do.

පොතක් ඇත

පොතක් ඇත
එහි නම සාමය වේ
එය දැන් ඇත්තේ
අමතක වී ඇති
පොත් ගුල්ලෝ
එහි පිටු කා ඇත
අනෙක් පිටු
ගැලවී ඇත
දුවිලි වලින් 
වැසී ඇත
කව දා හෝ
එම පොත
කියවති කවුරු හෝ
පිටු නැවත සවි කර
දුවිලි පිහිදා
එම පොතෙහි
පිටු පෙරලයි
නැවත දිනයක

Friendship II

The culture most of us are brought up in gives us the opportunity to mingle with those from various ethnic communities. Sadly, many tend to let cultural and other beliefs decide who one could be friends with. While our beliefs do say a lot about who we are, they should not be a barrier to the various relationships we form in life. Instead, it should help us be more tolerant and accepting of beliefs that vary from our own. This is the foundation of friendship; acceptance and tolerance. No two people are alike, this is what makes us all unique. However, if we are unwilling to accept the differences in others, we cannot maintain friendships.

Perks of being Sri Lankan

We all complain about Sri Lanka. We complain about the slow internet, the random power cuts, the heavy traffic and just about every other thing. Yet, we must also look at all the perks of living in this island. Below are a few that I wrote sometime back.
Being a Sri Lankan or just living in Sri Lanka has many perks.
1. Achcharu: For those who have missed this amazing treat, achcharu is either raw or ripe fruit with chili and salt and sometimes sugar. It’s amazingly delicious. Of course achcharu is sold quite cheap in little bags by roadways. From mango to pineapple, having them in achcharu is the best way to enjoy fruits. Making achcharu domestically is easy and enjoyable for everyone.
2. Food: We may not buy almonds or hazelnuts, but we love peanuts, murukku, boiled gram and various other mouth-watering easy to find cheap snacks. Food wise, we are lucky enough to enjoy rice, delicious seafood and curries daily. Sri Lankans also love sweets and milk toffees, coconut rock, ‘Kalu dodol’ and many more desserts that perfect their meals.
3. Fruits: Markets and most roadsides are full of fruit sellers. You can often buy anything from sweet to sour. Most gardens are full of fruit trees and people are willingly share fruits such as mango, ‘rambutan’ and many more with their neighbors and friends.
4. Simplicity: Nothing in Sri Lanka is complicated. From traveling to buying things from malls is simple. Ticket machines in buses don’t complicate us as they do not exist. While we complain that public transport never runs on time, well, this is extremely convenient to our never-on-time nature.
5. Public transport: One of the easiest ways to travel around in Sri Lanka is by train or bus. They are cheap and convenient. If you are too tired to walk from the bus stop to your destination, you can always hop into a three-wheeler or trishaw.
6. One big family: Yes, it’s getting scarier to live each day, but on the whole neighbors are friendly and caring. They make sure your house is safe in your absence. They bring over foods and are always willing to help. Even the strangers are treated the same way.
7. Strangers’ smile: No matter how stressed out or tired you are, in Sri Lanka people expect your smile. Sri Lankans love smiling at one another. Your day will be beautiful for sure, either with an old man’s toothless grin or a young girl’s beautiful smile.
8. Fork and Spoon: Sri Lankan cuisine doesn’t require eaters to battle their food with a fork, spoon or knife. Eating with your hand is the best way to enjoy Sri Lankan curries.
9. Diversity: If you live in this amazing little island, you will know at least two languages (and if you don’t, well, shame on you), you will have friends of many ethnic groups and you will actually know a lot of things. There is also the added advantage of getting free food for all religious festivals from your neighbors and friends.
10. Amazing people: Sri Lankans are amazing people. We love nearly everything on Earth. Yes, sometimes we are very conservative and backward, but when we love, it comes from the core of our hearts.