Category Archives: Independence

Independence Day


February fourth, for quite a few of us, is just another day. It’s a day to stay at home and enjoy the deafening noise of the air crafts that fly above us. The national flag may be hoisted, almost as if it is enough to prove our patriotism. Yet, in general, it isn’t a day we make too big a deal of.
The fight for independence is something we learn from textbooks. We learn about individuals like Ponnambalam Ramanadan and S Mahinda Thero just because its part of our history syllabus. British colonization and the release from its claws are part of our story. However, it is a chapter we never lived through. For many of us, it’s a time that belongs with the stories about kings, invasions and battles. The years seem so far away, even though we weren’t completely free from the British until 1972, a few decades ago.
Looking at the song Master Sir, it isn’t a song many of us relate to. We never had to bow down to the white-skinned, nor do we have to fear or respect them. While it may not seem so, gone are the days when they were the masters and we were the slaves. And did the British themselves realize it was time to leave and sail back to their lands happily? Did they hand over the nation to its occupants without putting up a fight?
People of all religions, castes and ethnicity stood together and fought for their rights. There was bloodshed, there were heated arguments and wasted words. After years of no complaints, Sri Lankans started rising against the British forces. They said, ‘enough is enough’ and didn’t stop until the British were driven away from the island.
After all this, what do they get? A few faded flags that are hoisted just because we are expected to? People meaninglessly wishing each other through text messages?
We worship our motherland. We respect her. We love her and swear to die for her. Yet, how many fought for her?
Look at the Civil War that is still fresh in our minds. We saw the number of death increase by the hour. We can now visit places where once, thousands were killed, where blood was shed. All the fear, hate, anger we felt just a few years ago, was felt decades ago too. Today, we walk around freely thanks to the soldiers who fought for peace. Decades ago, our parents and grandparents walked around freely thanks to the freedom fighters who sacrificed their lives for the nation.
One may argue that February 4 wasn’t the day we were able to cut all strings that tied us to the British. However, it isn’t about what day it is, or what month it is. Independence Day is just like Mothers Day or Teachers Day; you can’t limit pride of your nation or how thankful you are for the freedom fighters to just one day. Thus it is not the significance of the day that matters the most, but the significance of what the day stands for.
Finally, Independence Day is a reminder. It reminds us of the history we keep forgetting. Every year, we are told of the fights, the individuals and their dedication. We are reminded that freedom isn’t a gift. It’s not offered for free. We didn’t have to pay the price decades ago. But someone had to. Their names are slowly being forgotten. There are more recent and maybe more important events to remember. However, they deserve to be remembered. We owe it to them.
Thus Independence Day might be insulted or ignored by certain people. However, it will also continue to be a day when we all hold hands and remember that not that long ago, we were ruled by a foreign people. And that if not for those freedom fighters, we wouldn’t be as independent as we are today.

CELEBRATION

He had never wanted to stand all day in the blazing heat of the early-noon sun, but when he was called out he queued up obediently as he  had done all those months ago when he first arrived there. White shirts, clean, crisp and reflecting the burning light into other eyes around him were all crowded up, little soldiers awaiting their turn to fling down their weapons and let loose the doves of peace. Everywhere silence reigned around him, a heavy sheet lifting and dropping onto the crowds.
They even forgot about the blaze above them.
Even forgetting their playmates, their compatriots.

Little flags in the image of the one they all beheld, majestically battling the currents of hot air, were waved by little hands in the crowd.

A maroon center, a snarling lion raising his sword in triumph, having won all the battles his beautiful nation had to go through. He was their champion, their guardian, and his sightless eye put a chill through the minds of all who beheld him.
Fluttering in tune with the chorus of prayers, the flag kept flying. No birds were in that sky this morning. It and its partner would fly unhindered by any of nature’s punishments. The air itself was made today for celebration. Some higher powers that the boy would never understand, had breathed down onto the institution today.

A powerful master.

The prayers were all unto Him.
Four faiths, one master to watch over all that was fading and mortal.

Again the little boy looked at the crowd around him. Prayers to the nation swelling from devoted hearts. Applause from everywhere he stood. Teachers standing sentinel over their little students, chiding occasionally and advising at times whenever something went wrong.
He had never really thought why all this would be necessary. The most oft-repeated words at the gathering were “Freedom”, “God” and “Independence”. What these were, he couldn’t know now. Maybe sometime later.
All he knew was that there was both happiness and sorrow in the vast crowd of thousands. Happiness that once upon a time, the chains of slavery had been melted away to create one land of thinkers, a land of greats who would rise up to any challenge, to extend their claws like a vicious lion on the hunt. But also to draw away and rest like the great cat would at the end of the deadly race, all the while bearing his noble majesty.
This was where he was born. This would be where he would love, learn, fight, play and run, with the countless others that stood beneath the two flags that made them family.
One bearing the lion warrior’s crest.
The other one blue, slashed in black.

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
And
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(http://umbradenoapte-stock.deviantart.com/art/Stock-209-390240138) 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
නරකකි
සහෝදර සහෝදරියෝ
එසේද ආදරය
පෙන්වන්නේ?
අත්ලට අත්ල තබා
සමාව දිය යුතුය
අනෙකාට
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,
නමුත්,
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
නිසාය
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
එසේම,
මිතුරුකමකට
ජාතියක්, ආගමක්
දිය නොහැක
දිය යුතුද නැත
Poem by Shailendree Wickrama Adittiya
Photo by Rochelle Silva @ Colombo