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(This is for the people about whom opinions are so strong that they can’t be shaken off…so strong that they are tortured everyday just thinking of what people will say next…it is not our fault…it never was…)
Sitting in a soot-stained dragon’s maw;
Awaiting the flame that will lick me clean…
Burning rods across my chest,
Calling me what I’m not;
Burning irons molten-red,
Scorching my soul again.
See my face, but not my eyes,
Never stare into the windows to find the truth…
But sit in Court, declare me guilty,
Not wanting to see
The reality inside.
Taped across my whole being
Are seals, poisoned stamps.
You tell me “It’s all you” and I tell say “It’s really not”.
To have to read to understand,
Thus is the virtue of Man.
But Man is yet an animal;
Burning down what he does not believe.
This label you stuck on me,
This price upon my head,
Stings me now like it always did,
Telling the world a seeming truth.
He pulled us out as crystals
From our darkened wombs,
With light dancing off us.
Man the Kaleidoscope walks this earth,
Rotating lights shining as a hall of mirrors
In this blackened carnival of dirt.
The aura shone off every of my facets,
But with this new label was the glow
And with this carving that you etched,
There ebbed away another shaft
Of perfect crystal light.
Damned to the depths you shall be
If ever a label again you stick onto me!
Where is the room?
How many prices can one good have?
You engraved it into my skin;
I screamed and prayed,
It would not go.
Wounds will heal, but scars won’t fade,
Like this brand they stay.
If another is put on us all,
The blood on the mirror might just be real.
(The story of the misunderstood man continues.. ..)
“I’m here, always here,” she slurred with a rasping hiss, shifting and ghosting out of her son’s firm and powerful grasp.
He grunted as he sat down heavily, looking at her with an accusatory glance. “Reassuring,” he grumbled, “but right now I want you out. I’m going for a walk.” Standing up, the man sighed heavily as he padded out of the cave. The rock he was on, was no more than a little inselberg, an isolated mountain cut off from one of the major chains. It was one of many in the center of Lanka, the vast expanse of the untamed Malayadesha wilderness.
No mighty hero kings ruled here. It was the hellish heart of a paradise isle, with thick forests as far as the southeast, as far as the distant Galha Nadee and the mighty peak of the sacred Samanala Kanda.
In short, no man’s land.
This green carpet cloaked the highest mountains as far as he could see, and right now he was walking right through it. He and his mother had fought predators from leeches to leopards, and he knew this terrain like the veins on the back of his hand. Coarse, impenetrable, waiting to burst out under hard stress. Pushing angrily through the close-growing vegetation, he never let it brush his terrifying face. But every now and then, he felt his mother’s whispers surrounding him, tearing away at whatever humanity remained in his mind.
He halted for an instant beneath a huge, ancient jak tree.
What if he could finally admit to himself that he should lose whatever made him a MAN? What a feeling it would be to strip away his dirty sackcloth tunic, his rusted, twisted bracelet, and the bead necklace which he used to count the number of days and months he had before dying, and just allow the wild to really grow on him.
To lose his collection of stolen Sanskrit scriptures-rotting as they were-his inkwells and styluses, and turn manly speech into bestial obscurity would be a perfect salvation. The slippery rocks were in his path. Under his mother he had slipped away into the stream of violent beastliness, but now…
A memory once more.
He hated these.
They carpet of his conscience rose suddenly, and no matter how many times he attempted to sweep the dirt of his sinful past beneath it, it kept clawing its way upwards. It was a memory that could be awakened by the grunts of a wandering herd.
Cattle in the forest.
With a farmer, singing hoarse songs to the spirits as he trudged down the leaf-littered paths.
The soft touch of his mother chilled him again. “What are you waiting for my darling?” she whispered, clinging to his body, stroking his hard back and chest softly. “Go on, show me what I have taught you.”
His muscles tensed at the sound of this, as his footfalls became as soft as a cat’s…
|Photo credits: http://dmatxi.com/05/behind-every-love-story-and-broken-heart.html|
Carefree were we with time on our hands,
Deep into the night.
(This post is dedicated to the memory of those who suffered during Black July and the torturous events that followed) Yesterday marked 30 years since the blackest day in our nations history – we call it Black July. This marked the true beginning in many ways, of an ethnic conflict that leaves our earth soaked in blood, our families ravaged and worst of all – our children hopeless.
I am one of those children. When I was born – like thousands of others – I would grow up never knowing what peace was. Bombs exploding, people dying, anger and pain were all a part of my day to day life. And I grew up in urban Colombo which was in many ways a hundred times better than anywhere else. I was desensitized to violence, in many ways I still am. Images of Siriya, Iraq etc. that cause the world to avert their eyes – cause the children of Sri Lanka to shrug and carry on. We’ve seen worse. We’ve survived worse. And sometimes – that’s something no one understands, we survived against all odds, so can you blame us for building an arsenal of weapons, like apathy? How else would we have survived?
But if there is one thing I wish that someone would take away from this post is this – we are survivors. Our parents stayed and fought. Others did the same in ways they knew best. Sometimes from here, sometimes from away – and we survived. And now we need to heal and flourish. But to heal we must forgive, and this I say to the children of Sri Lanka scattered across the globe, their souls rooted in this island. The children of my generation, you were even luckier than I was. You grew up away from the fear and the pain and the de-sensitizing. And you were blessed for that. But when you call us apathetic, I disagree. It’s not that we don’t care – it’s just we see the bigger picture, we’re painting it. We know that we are an imperfect nation, and the pain may never go away. But we are trying, so please try with us. Try to see the good, and celebrate that too.
Sri Lankan’s we all need to learn to be. Before we are Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, Burgher. Before we are Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, or even atheist. The first lesson we need to learn is how to be Sri Lanka – that’s how we move forward together.
To quote me from earlier this year in ‘Being Sri Lankan’ – “To me – I have never imagined myself as any less Sri Lankan because I was from a minority That was not how I was raised, and that was not how the people around me saw themselves. But what scares me is that as a nation we spend so much time drawing lines around our communities, that we forget the things that bind us together”
Shortly after graduating from college in a great move by the universe I was invited to be a part of Ekamuthu Orray Makkal Unity Mission Trust (for those confused by the first three words; Ekamuthu’ is Sinhalese for ‘Unity’ and ‘Oray Makkal’ is Tamil for ‘One People’)
The Unity Mission Trust has been in existence since May 2009 and is a non-profit Trust that is dedicated to fostering unity, integration, healing and reconciliation between the teenagers and young adults in the Wanni area and their peers from all over Sri Lanka.
This October from the 17th to the 20th I joined the crew that piled into 3 buses, 2 vans – as head of the Media and Publicity Team. 500 student leaders aged 15-20, and 40 teachers from 70 schools all the way from Jaffna to Matara gathered at Killinochchi Central College (KCC) for Unity Camp 6. The Camp works on the basis of separating the students from their friends and placing them in groups with others, some of whom don’t even speak the same language. Together they compete in drama, dance, music, art, sports, and speech, overcoming whatever racial barriers that might have separated them before. I am not going to launch into the details of the program etc – you can find out everything you need to know about what the kids did here. What I am going to do is try to articulate the feelings that stir the depths of your soul when you realize that 4 days can change lives, bring people together, that there is hope.
Being a part of the team that undertakes projects of such a scale is another experience in itself. Logistics for nearly 600 people to sleep, eat, and carry out the camp itself in Killinochchi took up much of the teams free time for months. This is an entirely volunteer run organization – not one of us who stayed up, sometimes past midnight organizing, packing, planning, doing files, raising funds – are paid. It’s done for a greater reason upon which no value can be placed. Then comes the day when at 5am we pile into buses and drive to Killinochchi with stops along the way to pick up people, stretch our legs and finally you arrive. No resting – 500 students need to be registered and the hall prepared for the opening ceremony, buses and lorries need to be unloaded, and students need to be prevented from switching groups. The opening ceremony runs with a showcase of talents and then comes the tough part – the students are placed in their groups and the organizing committee does some switching around to ensure they are mixed up as throughly as possible. There are tears and resisting, but we are firm. After the rules are reviewed and the students briefed, dinner is served. The committee has no time to rest – after ensuring dinner is handled, the girls round up the female students and chaperone them to Killinochchi Maha Vidayalaya where their sleeping quarters are. In the meantime the boys check to ensure the dorms and sleeping arrangements at KCC are sorted, and once the students are settled the team sits down for a meeting. Those not staying at either of the schools with the students head off to the army camps, which have been generously offered by the Sri Lankan Army to us. This is usually close upon midnight.
The next day begins at 8.30am after breakfast when everyone gathers back at KCC with a Music Session to get everyone in the mood, headed by our Musical Director Rukshan Perera. Over the next few days team members run non-stop working tirelessly to ensure the smooth running of the numerous activities, challenges and mountains of work that comes with such a project. But through it all the most amazing experience is watching the students slowly form bonds with one another. They turn from the nervous, uncomfortable faced girls and boys that sit – near-silent, awkwardly smiling with one another, to hugging and crying on the fourth day when they are leaving. One has to see this with their own eyes to realize that four days can break barriers, that the youth has a lack of inhibition when it comes to embracing new opportunities and really are the hope of our nation.
The talent that comes from them blows you away. They sing, dance, act, create, speak, excel athletically, – all with just a few hours at most to prepare. Trophies are awarded to the most outstanding group leaders, campers, and based on a points system – a winning group emerges. But nothing touches your heart like the very end of camp. Students who speak about their experiences at the open forum begin to cry, overcome by emotion. They hug their new found friends and have to be nearly forced to board the buses. You realize that human connections are beyond language, race, religion, soci-economic backgrounds, gender, and any of these limitations we place upon ourselves.
You watch the candle ceremony and can’t hold back your tears when you see a sea of light shining back. This light is carried by remarkable young men and women who sing our national anthem with pride and then chant in one voice “Sri Lanka” repeatedly.
You realize that the future of our country has hope, the dream of one people is tangibly close to a reality.
You realize that you are a part of a much bigger picture – but what you can do in your small capacity can make real change. Sometimes we need to step out of our little bubbles and start releasing the potential we harbor.
We can do so much more than just talk, and more than can – we need to. The change we leave behind is the real legacy we leave. Not how popular you were, how much money you made, how big your CV and accomplishments were – but by how many lives you touched and transformed.