NOVELLA

(Because I can’t stop putting these up)

Her chants of “Om mani Padme Hum…” rang through the little shrine as she placed bits of camphor in a clay lamp, filled in oil and lit it. She kept up the chant, the lyrics of her prayer felt to her like a comforting and paternal voice and she was thrilled by her own tone. It was this supernatural being who had always kept up her hopes whenever she felt like bowing, felt like avoiding her pride.
“Last night wasn’t the first night,” she whispered. All hopes of reconciliation with Brahmarajan seemed remote to her now. The mantras now felt to her as distant as a mountain echo, shooting off quickly but then dying off in a series of clamorous repetitions.
Just words.
“I believe in me,” she whispered under her breath. Avalokitesvara now seemed to shine softly as she kept looking into his sightless eyes. Her own eyes were going into a trance-like shimmer. Time felt like an ocean of liquid metal to her, dense around her body and unforgiving to swim through.
Nothing more than the pre-dawn drone of cicadas, gentle breaths of breeze rustling fallen leaves as they kissed the ground and the young light of the morning moon, peering through the distant mists.
She sighed, then continued, “Passing out would be best. But what would you do, Compassionate One? How would you get about this? I tell myself every day that I am a proud woman, a woman no less, who would never bend down to anyone”-she bit her upper lip-“not even to you. But you are my last hope. And…I need some help.”
Clapping her hands together and finally lighting a stick of incense, she continued the mantras. Mahayana prayers and chants thundered softly from the depths of Minakshi’s soul. Something in her subconscious was lifting higher into her heart’s higher atmosphere. A ray of enlightenment, struggling to break out of a seething cloud of doubt.
What of it?
Pride, rage, whatever it was, it was all she could think of doing.
She had to know.
It was a quiet breakfast.
Minakshi glanced uncomfortably as Brahmarajan took his place, facing her directly as she put the plate down slowly on the long wooden bench. It was barely even dawn, and the only light in the sitting room came from the misshapen and corroded metal Narasimha lamp. The man part on the reverse-sphinx held two flames in his hands, and she crushed a bit of camphor into each flame, and got to serving herself.
The fires fell gently onto their faces.
“Flame,” she breathed delicately, “burning rich and poor alike. Illuminating the lamps of all, Shudra and Kshatriya, isn’t it? What a fascinating thing.”
“I thought you’d given up dreaming years ago,” he replied dryly, but then added, “and you have no reason to do this, to do any of this. Let me be in peace.” His eyes shifted uncomfortably from his plate of rice and dhal, his hot South Indian lentil dish, to the little bowl of peppery rasam.
“Oh right,” she laughed, “I’m sorry.”
Brahmarajan looked up at her for a second. “It’s good.” His movements felt, for a few moments, alien to him as he brushed absently at the steaming turmeric-infused rice on his plate.
“You’ve barely even served yourself.”
“I know.” His lips pursed as he made a sour face, then clutched his head. He had no clue of what he was doing at the moment. The room felt like it was spinning, and he looked for a bit. Brahmarajan now found it hard to even look at Minakshi. He stood up.
“No please.” Her hand gripped his upper arm, and he looked at her with red-veined eyes, forehead creased as he turned forcefully away.
The warrior tried harder to break away, but his wife’s fingers felt more like iron pincers to him.
They seared into the skin of his upper arm, and she felt his veins push against the surface as he phased between tenseness and relaxation.

“You can have some chicken if you want to, you know,” she continued.

NOVELLA

(There are more parts coming in)

Her voice was quivery again.
She walloped her personality back into reality though. She was Minakshi, she, she was a woman and a proud woman. Fighting back a cascade of sweat, she delicately balled her fists, then felt her forearms and triceps tensing as she stared him square in the face, torso pushing up and down quite firmly for an instant, then more gently, more calmly as the wave of air exited her body.
“Brahmarajan, I won’t ask you again.”
“Listen now. I don’t want you sneaking around, or poking your damned nose into my business. For all I know”-he strode heavily over to his shivering son, and cradled the boy’s head roughly in his left hand-“you, woman, you…are…no…better…”
She moved cautiously.
“Have you been drinking? You can’t even talk properly! Is this how you’ve been coming back home every night after your little visits? No wonder that child is scared. Just go to bed, we’ll talk about it in the morning,” she said, carefully stepping towards him and placing her hand on his back.
He snarled, “Get out!”
“What?”
“Get out, I told you!” Brahmarajan slapped her smartly on the hand, and looked at her with a deathly stare, suddenly erect as he gazed at his wife. Sweating torrents, she backed away slowly, reaching anxiously for the wall. Touching its hardness, she still could not feel safe, but her pride still shielded her, powerful as a defender, even stronger as an attacker.All it could do to defend, however, was keeping her safe from herself, her ferocity, and pride and getting beaten. And I could do nothing to attack. Her tongue had no more pride than she had when she was bullied as a child by her indifferent cousins, and sneered at by lecherous young Brahmans.
“Nothing to say? Well let’s get to bed. I have nothing to do with anyone else around here. Come woman; let’s speak no more of this.”
Her shields of pride warned her to keep her mouth firmly shut.
Sivapalan spent the night with her, for obvious reasons.
However, she couldn’t sleep. No matter how much she tried to sink back into her pillow something always set her off, sent her into alert mode.
Her cuddled up against her, his chubby head resting on her belly, as if listening for her second child’s breaths and its gentle heartbeat. A silver shaft of moonlight then gently wafted inside her room, perversely touching her sleeping baby and rubbing against her womb as if trying to speak to her.
“Chandra…” she breathed dreamily. “How’s that for a name? Chandravati? Chandrani? I hope it’s a daughter, really…” Minakshi felt like rising up with the moonbeam, like the gods were caressing her softly, showering blessings into her frail, mortal body with every touch and kiss. Suddenly she felt an orgasm tearing through her once more, making her reach for the pillow by her side.
The deities of imagination were all loving her softly, gentling her with an intimacy that she had never known, and that moonbeam turned into a bladed weapon, piercing her a few times more but sparing Sivapalan, for he slept innocently under the gentle heavenly assault. She smiled at him, and at the feeling of wonderment, but then her face darkened.
The moonbeam had shifted onto something that her aunt had kept for her, but which she had always dreaded.
A white sari. The white sari.
This now glowed, its ghostly pallor and forbidding air filling her bedroom with a cloud like a heavy gada, an iron mace pushing down onto her chest, crushing out her being. Finally, her soul found that sari wound around her in a suffocating manner, until finally she died away, leaving it for someone else. Those terrible silken nooses all had an ancient curse woven into their white, soft innocuousness of form.
She locked her eyes shut as she cradled the large pillow, pushing it fiercely against her breasts, suddenly startling her son. “Mother!” he shouted as she trembled furiously with a mix of rage and sadness churning about inside her.
  
She never prayed to her husband’s deities.
Instead Minakshi just stroked the face of her fragile-looking statue she had placed on her little private altar on their garden shrine, a very beautiful young man with slightly feminine features and an angelic smile on his small whitish-blue marble face. That smile seemed to touch her heart in a strange way, speaking to a small part of her that still had an ancient yearning for the northern capital of Pataliputra now more than anything else. The voice of prayers, hopes and dreams being carried on the currents of the Ganges.
Exotic items from the men from the Vengi region in the east, and from the Afghan and Persian deserts in the west, caravans being carried across to the Pala trading cities filled her mind. It was the old calling that made every northern heart ring in that unexplained way and to yearn for homes and loves long since lost.
Minakshi’s inner being wept quietly.
Avalokitesvara smiled lifelessly back at her, small, delicate hands raised in an endearing abhaya mudra, telling her to be courageous, but unable to do much more.

There was nothing more this gentle deity could do after all, but as she recited her mantras, she felt the superhuman crying for her as his arms shifted in a cosmic dance atop his white lotus.

Jaffna; Hope or Despair?

Story appeared in the Nation newspaper on December 29, 2013 and is written by Pamodhi Kuruppu.


From Colombo to Anuradhapura, then Vavuniya passing Medawachchiya and to few iconic towns like Omanthai, Killinochchi, Arali Point and the stunning arid view of Elephant Pass, a moment of beauty that one could never think of. Just wondered, “How cruel they were to kill such picturesqueness”. Trees still with bomb scars , “Thal”  standing with much elegance , a true symbol of the North but  leaves burnt and  houses destroyed , yes it was  quite astonishing to these eyes! . These places were just heard in television until that long drive of two hundred and fifty-five miles brought me down there just a few months back. The figure was small but looked nourishing and brimming.
“Javaka”, “Javapattuna”, “Yaalpanama”, and “Yapapatuna” it may call itself. The word “Jaffna” comes from the Portuguese rule of Franciscan Friar. The full name given by him to Jaffna was “Jafana Patanaoture”. History records state that the name was derived by a headman called “Yapa” .Who this “Yapa” is not stated though. The Tamil name “Yalpanam” provides no history about Jaffna except for the fairy tale of “Yalapana Vaipava Malai”. However, Jaffna is entirely a creation of the British Colony. It was one of their maritime provinces of administration. It must be said that what it is known as Jaffna district even in late 1824 was known as “Waligama”, purely a Sinhala name. One could come across “Waligama” in ancient colonial maps. Whether the district was Sinhalese, English, Portuguese or whatever, a highly controversial question with regard to Jaffna was if it was a separate kingdom or a precise Tamil Kingdom.
And the question still remains.  Years back Jaffna was quite known for trading. Jaffna could be called the “land of prosperity “for its soil was fertile and ideal for much cultivation. People from the down South of Sri Lanka often claimed shops to trade in Jaffna. It was a mix of Hindus and Sinhalese who worked together back then. Surprisingly it’s no longer there to be seen. One can hardly see a Sinhalese passing by. So is it now entirely owned by the Tamils? A separate kingdom within a united state? Where does this harmony lie? This is what my mind questioned when I heard a military officer telling, “No Mahattaya, the city is more likely to be of the Tamils’ , we’ll never see a single Sinhalese living here in years to come except for those tourists” , “It’s pathetic” he said. Could this be the rising of another brutal army?
However these creepy thoughts drowned for a moment and I was beguiled by the town’s wonders, for example the Keerimalai springs, thought to have healing powers. We had a visit there with some armed guards. “Nallur “was something fascinating. Topless men with sarongs, crawling on the sandy ground around the “kovil” and women in gold “thalis” worshipping for each step they keep on a single tile, one could think they are utterly mad. No, it was a perfect showcase of a vibrant culture, their love for god and fear for “karma“. A true sign of devotion and respect.
It was hot outside, and the sun was strong. But the wind was even hotter, where hundreds of “Jaffnians” had gathered at the beach. They were selling “karawala” for the tourists. The men, quite determined and very competitive of their prices, were trying to sell as much as possible because “karawala” is what gives them bread and butter for survival. The little stay there told much about the people. They were actively engaged in their daily chores which was a good sign of post-war. The well carpeted roads, the upcoming hotels and restaurants were examples of development in the heart break of 30 years of bloodshed.
Yet some things are disturbing. When evening six’ o clock alarms, they said it is time for patrolling. On one hand it’s a good indication of ensuring the security in the villages even after the war is over, but also manifests that they still suspect of an existence of terrorism. The four days of stay confirmed that the lives are not disturbed by violence anymore. However the disheartening fact is that still the Tamils are not contented of what they’ve got.
Rebuilding is a continuing process and we hope that we will get to see a better version of “Jaffna” in another couple of years to come. Nevertheless the constant complaints made by Tamils of the fact that they still suffer from war sounds very psychological. Many Tamils were born to see terrorism. Some experienced terrorism in real; some thought terrorism was for their own benefit and perhaps for most of them war was a part of their lives and some demand for war even now. Prabhakaran is being worshipped and praised. Who knows if Prabhakaran treated them good? We humans always prefer and welcome the usual things we do and see in life. We fear the “change” over what we’ve undergone in life in its major sometimes. Thus this grievance of the Tamils could be of one such. It’s well known that the North is developing but it will be hard to fix those wrecked hearts bruised by callous memories. It may be impossible at times unless they themselves try to change or see life in a positive way.

Novella

(Back on it once more. After such a lengthy wait, here’s more of my historical work. Hope it’s likable. This is where their relationship starts getting more and more strained, and we will know who is responsible for it too.)

Minakshi put her hand on Ishwari’s shoulder with a sigh. “It’s the life you chose, and it’s the life I chose too. Honestly, it’s not too bad. Now leave me alone, please, I’ve had a hard day as it is.”
They looked each other in the eye again, and she saw Ishwari’s nipples swelling against her blouse, straining painfully as her gaze intensified.
Minakshi backed up a few steps.
Ishwari’s eyes wouldn’t peel away.
She wrapped her arms around her companion’s waist, pulling her closer, and feeling the tender skin around her navel against Minakshi’s own.
“One day,” she breathed dreamily as the other devadasi struggled to break away, reaching for the wall.
She gripped Minakshi’s hair suddenly, quick as a viper, but the latter screamed, strongly pushing the smaller woman away with all her might. She stood erect as Ishwari paced around, hunger and desperation in her dark eyes, nostrils flared and wet from excitement.
“Right, right,” she quickly added, looking down with a quick breath. “I’ll just…I’ll…go now…? Yeah…”
Hastily, the dancer exited the room.
Minakshi, still confused, left too. She would have no peace that night, she knew…
Rising up in a trice, she nearly flung herself out of the bed, the flurry of sheets flapping about her like wings.
“Damned nightmares.”
Shaking her head a few times, Minakshi sat up in bed, and looked around the room. It was a cloud of pitch darkness, and she tumbled out of bed, groping the air a few times before doing so. Her forehead bled, and suddenly a jolt of memory struck her. It hurt her at first when it shot inside but somehow her son screamed, his own forehead dripping blood.
The crimson liquid was pooling around his feet as he knelt down, crying.
Tears and blood mixed up in a salty red puddle on the floor as the massive hand swooped down, a primal monster with open jaws…
“Mother!! Mother!” Sivapalan sounded frightened.  She had forgotten that he was playing in the dance-room. Yet, to her disbelief, his tone began to alter, growing in depth, turning into something alien and menacing.
A familiar voice started to slur something in a drunken rage and the little boy stared, wide-eyed in horror as a familiar pair of eyes glinted with a raptorial sheen…
  
The loud creak of the front door bolted her senses back into focus.
She walked quickly into the dance-room and spotted Sivapalan. Looking at him, she saw that he looked frightened, possessed almost. Eyes wide, he gripped the periyazh with trembling hands. Now even she had reason to be terrified.
“My son? What’s…what’s wrong with you? Dear are you alright?” He hid his face between the instrument and the wall. A child’s fears, she knew, could either be for the most irrelevant thing or for something so realistic that even the bravest man could be unnerved beyond his limits. Right now she was unable to tell what he was so scared of. “Sivapalan, please!” Reaching out for him, she bent down, but her musical instrument fell with a loud bang and he rushed to another corner of the room.
He quaked with fear.
Never before had she seen such a mask of pure horror on anyone’s face.
Especially when her husband walked into the dance-room.
“What the…is this the sort of time you choose to come home? How long were you going to spend at your soldier friends’ houses anyway? I can’t just stay alone in this house, in this city I…I mean, heaven knows what kind of wretches rule Thanjavur at this hour, I…” She felt like going on and on, but all she got was a stare that was, half vacancy stemming from illness and half dark and hellish cruelty.
He glanced piercingly at her, fixing his stare as if she was his opponent on the battlefield.
“Speak to me! Are you alright?”
He leaned heavily against the wall as she watched his gaze. One minute his eyes were scanning her with deadly bloodlust and the other, at Sivapalan cowering in the corner. Now even she had reason to reach for the walls. But it was like they had achieved a life of their own and strained against the chains of the worldly laws that bound these four walls to their task of protection. Demonic possession held the whole house captive now, it seemed, and she was unable to shake off the feeling.
Minakshi began to circle slowly around the place.
She watched her man as a frightened pariah dog would stalk gently around a large, meaty bone, wondering if the person who held it had a knife behind his back. Every so often, the wetness of saliva flooded her mouth, rolling down her throat as she tried to fight back every instinct to aggravate him. For he certainly looked like he was about to grab something from his sash.

“Brahmarajan…”

RAKSHASA Part 4

(I’m back again with my reinterpreted Sri Lankan ‘demon’, a suffering man, who despite his terrible plight, is still powerful enough to resist almost all physical attacks)

He kept watching from the tangled undergrowth, stalking the herdsman persistently. The old man was frail and bony, with a slightly protruding belly, all of which showed him that his victim was facing some kind of disease. And this disease had made the poor herder partially malnourished. Even his stick looked like it was facing famine of some sort, being worn and stubby at the end.
However, he pushed on, loudly raising his voice as he sang.

The predator drew in closer, the tangle of branches and overhanging foliage still masking him from the buffaloes and their master.
Thoughtfully, he groped around for something large and powerful, a rock perhaps. His meat had run out, and now was the chance to get some. His stomach began to growl in anger as he cursed under his breath. Hunger was the greatest driving force of all in the hellish wilds of Malayadesha and the neighboring hillside jungles.
And he’d been taught that it alone would keep him alert and fit throughout his life, long or short.
Slowly watching his prey move by, he listened hard. The chorus of crickets and frogs was overwhelming to his ears, just like it had been all those years ago…

“The hunt is like meditation,” she tells the boy at her side as she slips easily through the jungle, “not that I was some pretentious saint who would sit starving for months, but it’s the easiest way to tell you what it is.” The boy with her is obviously her son. 
He is scarred by some strange, unknown disease. He is horrifying, his face a dark, puckered and scarred mass, but his physique is powerful, less on the defined side but still muscular like a wrestler. Obviously he never cared about the athletic beauty of the fisher boy, toned through pulling in huge nets and rowing against treacherous rapids. Nor the rice farmer’s slim son, on the gaunt side but still a head-turner, sun-burnt skin gleaming on his near-naked body. 
Fourteen though he is, this is someone who would prefer to use his elephantine bulk and tremendous mass to take on his prey with his bare hands than to have young women fawn over a sleek and trim form that is useful for running but not always for fighting.

This boy has no time for girls, neither does he see any up close. So he imagines some of the women whom he gets a glimpse of on some of his hunts, lying with him on some nights, allowing him inside them. But wait. Now is not the time for pleasure. That will have to wait. Right now he fixes his gaze on his mother, who hisses, “Now tell me, what is it we are after?”
“Cattle. Five cattle with at least two men, walking off to a waterhole. The tracks and their voices tell us they are able-bodied, strong men who can defend their herd. There is one lame cow. She has a bad right hind leg, so we should be able to fell her if we strike her there.” He seems to smile in satisfaction, and his mother kisses his deformed face gently, her eyes softening for an instant. 
She sighs, “I have taught you all too well. One day you might hunt me and kill me too if you can”-her sly, apparently false smile changes- “and I believe you can. But right now, let’s focus on lunch.” Eagerly, she undoes her scant cloth, and pulls out a massive knife from a small leather pouch tied to her hip. 

Now the boy wants to imagine this superpredator in action. 

She is lithe and powerful despite her thinness, and she is more an animal than a woman. A leopardess without spots, she is liquid death in the depths of the forest. And he knows that she is brutal, relentless. The thrill of the chase, the splash of blood against her breasts, the snapping of her vicious teeth and the feeling of soft flesh raked away beneath uncut nails. 
The woman looks at the trail once more. 
She curses silently in Sanskrit as she looks at the vegetation. Someone has trampled it carelessly. A cow has also taken a toilet stop. Eager to carry on, she beckons him. “Dung,” she tells him as she scoops some of the warm, fresh mass into her hands, “is a good way to track. But you know that, don’t you my dear?” Her smile sets him on the alert. He was uneasy, like she would whip her knife against his neck and slice his jugular.

“I…know,” he mumbles…and they carry on the hunt. His hopes are fixed on the kill, of tasting fresh meat once more…


“You taught me well enough,” he hissed as he passed above the cattle on a rise of rock, “but I just prefer a cleaner kill to you bloody slash-and-disembowel. His wooden club, practically the trunk of a small tree, was ready. He looked around once or twice, tensing his muscles as he determined his angle of attack. The buffaloes and the herdsman had no clue that he was there.
But the youngest bull was setting him off a bit. That damned beast seemed so self-assured that the monstrous man could practically feel the confidence in its heart as its muddied horns strained to gleam in the fast-fading moonlight.
Smell.
Damned animals had it good.

“No mistakes.”

The herd was just below him.

He pounced. Quickly, the herder reacted in the only way that he knew. The attack was so swift that the poor old man tried to strike with his stick, but ended up whacking one of his animals in the face.
Startled, he looked in fear as the buffalo grunted, then growled under its breath, threatening to charge. But he had hardly any idea what was happening to one of his most valued herd members. The young bull was being pounded mercilessly, blows raining on its head, into its eyes and nose. Once or twice it attempted to rise up against its attacker.
The buffalo’s screams of pain were like some primal cry from the depths of hell, carrying off into the night as it struggled to overcome its brutal opponent. This club was tougher than the killer had thought.

This was his life.
He laughed with glee as the animal’s mouth bled and he grabbed its horns, twisting its head and neck around. Those arms bore unnatural power, as he remembered. And this was what they were for.

ඇයි අපි කලුද?

අපි ඉතින් කලුයිනේ. ඒක ලජ්ජාවට කරුණක් නෙවෙයි. සමහර අය කලුයි, සමහර අය සුදුයි. ඔය රෝස පෙනුමක් හරි කහ පෙනුමක් හරි තියෙන කට්ටියත් ඉන්නවනේ. ඒත් ඉතින් කොච්චර Fair and Lovely ගැවට අපි කලුයි. හැබැයි ඉතින් කලු කිව්වට සුදු අයත් ඉන්නවා. හැබැයි ඒ අයත් සුද්දන්ට වඩා නම් කලුයි.
දැන් පොඩ්ඩකට අපේ හමේ පැහැය අමතක කරමුකෝ. අපි යමු දැන් නුගේගොඩට.
මේ ඊයේ පෙරේද අම්මයි මමයි ගියා එහෙට සපත්තු කුට්ටමක් ගන්න. අපි දෙන්නා දවල් දෙකේ අව්වට පිච්චිලා, හොඳටම මහන්සියෙන් ගොඩ වුනා ඒ පැත්තේ ඔය AC එහෙම කරපු කඩේකට. නම් කියන්න ඕනෙත් නැහැ, නම් දන්නෙත් නැහැ. ඉතින් සපත්තු බලල අපිට එක සපත්තු කුට්ටමක size 6 ඕන වුනා.කෝ ඉතින් අසාවකටවත් කඩේ කවුරුත් උදව්වට එන්නේ නැහැ. ඇයි කියල දන්නවද?
අපි කලු හින්ද.
ඒ වෙලාවේම කඩේ හිටියා එංගලන්තයෙන් ආපු පවුලක්. සපත්තු අරන් ඉවර වුනාට, bill එක දාන්න හිටපු කැශියර් උයි තව කඩේ කට්ටිය හතර පස් දෙනෙක්ම ඒ පවුලත් එක්ක කච බචේ. ඇයි ඉතින් ඒගෝල්ලෝ සුද්දෝනේ. ඉංග්රීසියෙන්නෙ කතා කරන්නේ.
මිනිත්තු දහයක් විතර බලන් ඉඳල අම්මයි මමයි වෙන කඩයකට ගිය. අපි ඉතින් කලු හින්ද අපිට සපත්තු විකුනන්න ඒ කඩේ අයට උනන්දුවකුත් ආසාවකුත් තිබ්බේ නැහැ. දුකයි තමා අපේම රටේ අපේම කට්ටියගෙන් මේ වගේ අසාදාරන දේවල් වෙනකොට. ඒත් මොනවා කරන්නද, අපි කලුයිනේ!
 
 
The above story was originally posted here, but we felt it was a story that could be shared here too. We talk about being Sinhalese or Tamil, about being Muslim or Hindu, and sometimes forget we are Sri Lanka. Thus before talking about gender equality or racial equality, we must also look at the discrimination we face as Sri Lankans in our own country. ඇයි අපි කලුද? is a question often asked when something unfair is done to you. Its something said for fun, but if you think about it, implies that there is something wrong about being dark.