Category Archives: sri lanka

Randomness-Part one

(Based on an in-class exercise at one of the Write to Reconcile workshops. A little simpler than what I would generally write, but here it is, until I come up with my next post)

Savithri and her sister Sujatha led their two dogs across the harvested field that belonged to Ananda, their father’s old friend. Everything was going the way of the two girls when they set out. The low breeze enveloped the world like a cool curtain, lifting the locks of hair off their once-sweaty shoulders. Their dogs barked and slobbered with dumb happiness as only a dog could as the girls led them by hand. Savithri heaved a sigh halfway there.
Their dogs were delightful, dainty little mongrels, and practically took care of themselves meant that she had time to spend-or “waste”-on herself. These were such sturdy, adaptable creatures, far more than the cattle and goats that were so common everywhere. The scent of coconut oil massaged finely into her glistening hair, was dancing on the sweeping wind. Her memory jogged along with her feet. Her parents said so many things about her “habits” as they called them.

“Worrying about her face! I will find a husband one day, then you will find out that your face is not at all important!” her mother rasped sharply from the labyrinth of her mind.

“Buy this dress, buy that!” The thunder of her father’s voice hit her like…

Pursing her lips, she shook her head violently. For fifteen years she’d been alive but for all those years, she’d never known what the thunder in the north was about. She felt in the depths of her heart that something was wrong with someone else in that vast country. A cascade of thoughts rushed through her and the wind brought on a sudden drop in temperature. “Catch up, come on!” Sujatha’s voice struck her in unison with the powerful chill of the wind. Emotions mixed in her mind and heart as she clenched her fists, nerves rising with each tremor of soft tan skin.
“Catch up, come on now!”
Some god with a crude sense of humor had tipped her world on its head. Why would she care what happened to those other people? The poor villagers. Those miserable creatures always shied away from her own race, but all she knew was, they were being massacred. Slaughtered like cattle, so the newspapers told her. Those words in block letters stung her heart as it drummed away within her ample chest. She was, for a second, blind and deaf, standing alone and straight as a pillar. The wind attacked her, biting viciously into her limbs and chest as dull, hellish thunder shook the air. The two dogs whimpered nervously.

“There, there.” Sujatha’s gentle voice calmed down her dog, a small spotted pup with spindly legs. “Now come on, sister, let’s go!”

Savithri’s face darkened, an emotionless cloud passing over her eyes.
She could not explain what she read about all the time. Slaughtered people, both Sinhala and Tamil, lying in their own blood. the hands of Yama, King of the Dead, would not lead them to his dark kingdom. The great tumulus of earth loomed ahead, casting a low shadow over the area. It stretched across the plain like an ugly scar, festering with pus of barbed wire. She had never tried to climb that barbed wire, unlike the foolish village children.
Their screams would echo from whatever monster lurked behind the mound. Monsters that took the form of humans, and wielding the cruelest weapons in all the Three Worlds.

 She was from the biggest house in their village.
She was not poor, she would never be poor.
But she asked herself, what right did she have to insult those ignorant and sometimes extremely young, poor children? Had she been like them-she prayed and wept every night, hoping that she wouldn’t-she would end up with her house burned and the flower of her innocence ripped away from her body.

That scar tainting her landscape hid secrets so dark that she felt her heart sink into an abyss as she pondered about the mound.
No divine hand could allow men to murder one another in cold blood. “Walking the dogs was all your idea, you know. You told me that we could go up to the…” The little girl’s excited and subtly confused banter stopped. Her sister’s expression was rock-hard but her mind was racing. The great wind once more lifted her dress off her legs as the vast shadow of a supersonic aircraft blotted out the sun like a hell-born bird. Sujatha looked up at Savithri.
The unspoken understanding between sisters rippled in the air as Savithri’s gaze hardened. This metal dragon had launched itself from behind the tumulus like all the others they had seen. Minutes crawled by at snail’s pace as the dogs whimpered at their mistresses. Thunder again filled their ears, though Savithri’s eardrums felt like exploding. But they didn’t.
“Savithri?”
“It doesn’t matter.” Her reply was curt. It was hopeless trying to think about the atrocities that occurred in their world. Nothing mattered. Not the dancing blades of grass, slicing against their legs, nor the angry roar that swept across the plain like an invisible wave. It didn’t matter when Savithri’s mind struggled with flashing images of the bomber’s vicious cargo decimating people in their thousands and turning beautiful forests into lifeless hellholes.

It didn’t at all.

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VESAK

May…

The fleet of metal dragons roars overhead. They circle the wild, tangled hinterland around the little suburban town…

He was the only person who even thought of stepping outside that night before the celebration. The moon began, slowly, to show itself to him. A pale ghost upon thousands of miles of inky space, it threw fleeting, floating shadows onto the ground at his feet. Visages of mighty, ancient trees, a display of shadow puppets with no strings around him; strange, misleading, harbingers of lunacy.
Warmer lights blink and flicker, tiny orange eyes peeking delicately out of darkened corners that would be otherwise engulfed by endless night.
A celebration.
His family had been preparing themselves, the whole town wanted to pour its heart out today in the watchful shadow of the ancient, inconstant moon. Rosy paper lotuses of light frame floated across the ground as if on a pond, golden lights glowing within their hearts. The vibrancy and spectacles of glowing reds, blues and yellows coming from the forest-buckets of shimmery cellophane which had replaced nightly white jasmines.
Octagonal frames with string hanging down, lights softly glowing behind crisp, tissue paper skin.
A festival of light and beauty.
A celebration in a small place, watched by the holiest of beings in the vault of the Six Heavens. His was a town where every day in the month of May, voices rang out into the sky in proclamation of the Threefold Miracle. Song-like verses and chants rumbled from beneath the roofs of every home here. More village than town perhaps? Still large enough to be lit from head to toe, multicolored stars affixed to wires crisscrossing every home, pole and tree.

Even his parents.
The mighty white concrete dome is clothed in striped flags and banners of warm colors, with string upon string of lights wrapped around from base to apex. A welcoming giant of the gentlest order, it beckoned the devoted crowd hither. Always it was a welcoming sight, the most beautiful sight. This was a special night. The chorus of verses and prayed was louder tonight, the shining heads of monks in saffron robes now multiplied as if by magic.
His parents too were here, lost among the faithful. But the faithless would taint and tarnish this day, writing its history in rotten blood.
The prayers began and ended again and again, a celebration to be heard by the gods.

A  blast of sound!
Fast as lightning, loud as thunder echoes through the chilly night air. It is coming now, a dark goliath and his vicious pack blackening the weeping, helpless moon. They drift in lower.
He and his parents haven’t the slightest clue that the ominous cloak is being draped across the heavens. The thunder of prayer is deafening still…then the flash of light blinds them…
He feels the force…

The thunder grows in tone, the fire spreads across the town in a tsunami of heat and light, a raging wall from hell’s maw that sweeps across the verdant lands of mortals! Roars from the aerial marauders! Hundreds of blood-curdling screams of people being swept away, picked up from the charred earth by claws of flame, or burned in their sleep. They are washed away by this tidal wave of flame, hundreds of faces wiped clean off the slate they call their country, merely tiny figures, living dolls nameless before the god of this apocalypse!
His parents are running, it is a marathon almost. They are retreating from the blaze that creeps ever closer, a fiery tiger stalking menacingly its innocent prey. Another man is consumed, overwhelmed by the ever-advancing wall of death…
His mother is next, picked screaming off her feet, skin melted away by the cruel, swirling vortex-and her husband has his flesh flung away and his bones turned to horrible imitations of firewood. The infernal dogs have ravaged the land! They howl into the air, breaths of ash in a mushroom cloud that keeps spreading on forever it seems, a blanket that the sky cannot drape itself it but has no choice. The moon hides behind its cloudy sheet in terror.

He is the only one alive.

The dying blaze cleans the festival grounds, a pair of terrible jaws scraping the earth of life with tongue of flame.
He runs.
He is ALIVE.
Thunder boils the air above him as the leaves of the forest shiver in fear. The blast radius is immense. His hometown in now wiped away from the face of the earth. He is too young to know of the monsters who soared past just a while ago. Why is he here? Is it the faithful or the faithless who died? Why is he safe? Who saved him? Is he faithless or faithful? He has not one answer. He never will. The black sky is painted red with the blood of the dead. The devil has eaten off a chunk of his world; never will the earth here be good for humanity; it will always be that haunted graveyard, nameless men and women, their life-strings torn away by some dastardly puppeteer.
This inferno is not the seven-circled nightmare of Dante. It is hell on earth.
All he knows is that the forest beckons him.
The black maw is comfort now. He does not know where he will go. All he knows is, he will go on, he will have to go on…

May…

The fleet of metal dragons roars overhead. They circle the wild, tangled hinterland around the little suburban town…

A disgrace to something sacred

I don’t admit to being a hugely “Lankanized” Sri Lankan. I openly admit that I’m alright with living absolutely anywhere, but since I was born here and my friends and family are here, I will still feel tied down to the country one way or another. My tie was apparently greater than I’d anticipated. So, with the use of a picture that I’d already used before, here is an opinion from me, something that’s extremely rare in these parts. Yet the blogosphere needs to know this.

We all have ways of showing off our “Lankanness”, what with all the tea we drink, the rice we cook in milk and eat with spicy red-hot onions and the constant games of cricket we all jump up and down to. Plus the memories of the last three decades of war against an elite terrorist organization. All of those are the markers of the stereotypical Sri Lankan, aren’t they? Well I’m not a great connoisseur of tea, milk rice makes me sick to my stomach and I’m dead clueless about cricket. Yet I am alive and well, having lived through a monster tsunami plus said war against terrorism. So maybe my way of showing my “Lankanness” is just plain different.
If anything though, it’s not waving a little flag in my hand and howling like a lunatic.
The reason for this post was something or the other my mother told me a few days ago. Or at least, told herself, she’s extremely old-fashioned when it comes to matters of respect and whatnot. Her complaint was one, a marathon in the middle of the road and two, a statement regarding rules about disgracing the flag and showing some respect to it. The marathon was being run by the common young men and boys you see lounging around on a common Sri Lankan suburban or rural road: Tall to medium-size, talking loudly, maybe sharing a smoke.

Their peers in this situation though, were doing that common Lankan hooligan trademark call: Th hoot. All the time while swinging about small copies of the national flag.

Now, a country’s national flag is always flown at full size, at ceremonies or major events that actually commemorate something important that happened in our nation or to our nation. And a road race in the middle of the day is definitely not something worthwhile. In fact it’s not even close.
But here comes the double-edged sword.
These kids probably were doing their best to show off their “Lankanness” to the world. Maybe this was the only practical way they could think of at the moment. Of course we know all about the modern youth. This species is not crazy. Speaking in evolutionary terms the teen is a creative, knowledgeable, inquisitive and powerful breed of human who would gladly challenge those geezers who call themselves “superiors” and “elders” with great wisdom.
Then comes the other edge of the sword. These old coots had lived through a time that these bucks and blades could hardly imagine.
I couldn’t live in a world with no Internet!
And all that Generation X and before had to keep itself from going mad during those long nights, was to pray and read. They prayed for the good of others, and they prayed for the country most importantly. Why they call it the “good old days” and gripe so much is still beyond me-I hate them for doing that but at this time the sword seems to be swinging in quite a…well, strange direction.

I didn’t think about it much until a later musing on the topic.

The national flag is a symbol of Sri Lanka and the literally leonine might of the Sri Lankan peoples as a whole. It is thus a glimpse of what we are and it’s there in the database for the whole world to see. It isn’t party decor, it isn’t something to be waved from a motorcycle by young lunatics. So at the end of what would have ordinarily been a productive day for me, was a display of selfishness and disregard for others’ feelings-especially those of motorists in a hurry to get home or go to wherever they had planned on going.

Happy first year anniversary!

http://www.espncricinfo.com/

 Yesterday seemed to be a day of celebrations. Sri Lankans across the globe rejoiced: our beloved National Cricket team brought home the T20 world cup on Sunday!  More than the game itself, we rejoiced because the team made us realize the power of unity; the unity of a team and of millions of devoted fans which made us world champions.

 Meanwhile, a bunch of young people including me celebrated another event. It was exactly one year since Shailee and Vasika brought “Written for Reconciliation” into existence. Due to the efforts of the amazing people involved in it during the past year (Read more about it in Shailee’s words:http://writtenforreconciliation.blogspot.com/p/blog-page.html) , the stats of the various WFR pages continue to impress. 

Reconciliation is not an easy process, we know. Our hope is that our shared love for words will make a change, no matter how insignificant or unnoticeable this change may be. As we celebrate the first year anniversary of our blog, we would like to thank our dear contributors and readers for sharing this hope with us. We look forward to your valuable support in the journey ahead too.

සංහිඳියාව ලෙහෙසි පහසු කාර්යයක් නොවන බව අපි දනිමු. අපේ බලාපොරොත්තුව වන්නේ අපේ වචනවලින් සුළු හෝ වෙනසක් ඇතිකිරීමයි. අපේ බ්ලොග් අඩවියේ පළමු වර්ෂ පූර්ණය සමරන අවස්ථාවේ, අප සමග මේ බලාපොරොත්තුව බෙදාගත් අපගේ දයාබර දායකයන්ට හා පාඨකයන්ට අපගේ හද පිරි ස්තූතිය පුදකරමු. ඉදිරි ගමනේදීත් ඔබගේ දායකත්වය බෙහෙවින් අගය කරමු!

Image credits:http://dshenai.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/thank-you-message2.png


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.

You know you are Sri Lankan when…

Our nationality is something to be proud of. Being Sri Lankan isn’t just about what’s on your birth certificate. There are certain characteristics that create the identity of a Sri Lankan.
You know you are Sri Lankan when you will do anything for a bargain or discount. Promotional offers and year- end sales are things that we all dream of. Sometimes, we even buy things we have no real need for just because we are offered a discount.
Tea is a day-starter. Some prefer coffee, but tea is what we truly love. There’s milk tea, plain tea, ginger tea, cinnamon tea and a whole lot more. In fact, a day isn’t complete without at least a cup of tea. What’s even better is when you soak a Tikiri Marie biscuit in a steaming cup of coffee and then eat it.
Watalappan or chocolate biscuit pudding are must have desserts. There is also a curd and milk toffee. Lunch is perfect if its yellow rice, and better if it’s wrapped in a banana leaf. Sri Lankans also need spicy food, and usually the lunu miris, sambol and curries leave you breathing fire.
Sri Lankans love holidays. Besides the 12 Poya holidays a year, and weekends, we also look forward to the other religious and cultural holidays. The New Year, Christmas, Thai Pongal, we don’t even need to celebrate those days, but the holiday is looked forward to by all. In fact all days marked in red in the calendar are worthy of countdowns.

Something that most Sri Lankans do is use words that have lost its real meaning. We end questions and sentences with no or na. Phrases and words like, sin ane, aiyo, it seems (pronounced itsims) and I say are said so frequently they have become Sri Lankan words.
Everyone of your parent’s generation is an aunty or uncle. You do not refer to people as Mr or Mrs. Anyone of your generation but older is akka or aiya and anyone younger is nangi or malli. This is very convenient since remembering the names of your friends, friend’s friends, parent’s friends and so on isn’t quite that easy.
When introducing a friend of the opposite sex to your parents or grandparents, prepare yourself for a thousand and one questions. Make sure you two don’t have any ‘cute moments’ or by the time you blink, you’ll find yourself on a poruwa, being married off to that person. You are better off pretending you have no friends of the opposite sex, since most parents believe all romantic relationships are heterosexual.

Everyone knows each other. If you give them the time, our grandparents could trace our history right to Adam and Eve! Further, there’s no such thing as a distant relative. Everyone is family and our grandparents are ever ready to prove this.

The Police have little work because when a house is broken into, the neighbors will chase the thief, catch him, beat him and tie him up before calling the cops. And how do people prepare for this? By playing Hora-Police all day as kids.

Looking at sports, no Sri Lankan is a ‘real’ Sri Lankan if he or she doesn’t like cricket. Whether we win or lose, cricket will remain an absolute favorite and people don’t even mind staying away from work or school on a day a match is being played.
You are also Sri Lankan if you complain about the crazy driving skills off Sri Lankans, but don’t follow road rules yourself. In fact, while we complain about buses that are just too fast, we also complain about slow buses, which are usually going at the required speed.

Stores and houses are forever decorated. In April, stores bring out their Avurudu decorations. These remain until May, when they are modified to suit Vesak. The two following Poyas also enjoy the lights and lanterns. Then the cleaning up is put of until it’s November, and it makes no sense to take down the decorations since Christmas is just around the corner. And so the Vesak decorations become Christmas decorations and they stay on until April. There are also the in between matches, carnivals and other celebrations which leave the country forever decorated.
Of course, one can write volumes about what it is to be a Sri Lankan. It’s more than our accent and long names. It’s everything that makes us brothers and sisters; what makes millions of people family.

Our nationality is something to be proud of. Being Sri Lankan isn’t just about what’s on your birth certificate. There are certain characteristics that create the identity of a Sri Lankan.
You know you are Sri Lankan when you will do anything for a bargain or discount. Promotional offers and year- end sales are things that we all dream of. Sometimes, we even buy things we have no real need for just because we are offered a discount.
Tea is a day-starter. Some prefer coffee, but tea is what we truly love. There’s milk tea, plain tea, ginger tea, cinnamon tea and a whole lot more. In fact, a day isn’t complete without at least a cup of tea. What’s even better is when you soak a Tikiri Marie biscuit in a steaming cup of coffee and then eat it.
Watalappan or chocolate biscuit pudding are must have desserts. There is also a curd and milk toffee. Lunch is perfect if its yellow rice, and better if it’s wrapped in a banana leaf. Sri Lankans also need spicy food, and usually the lunu miris, sambol and curries leave you breathing fire.
Sri Lankans love holidays. Besides the 12 Poya holidays a year, and weekends, we also look forward to the other religious and cultural holidays. The New Year, Christmas, Thai Pongal, we don’t even need to celebrate those days, but the holiday is looked forward to by all. In fact all days marked in red in the calendar are worthy of countdowns.
Something that most Sri Lankans do is use words that have lost its real meaning. We end questions and sentences with no or na. Phrases and words like, sin ane, aiyo, it seems (pronounced itsims) and I say are said so frequently they have become Sri Lankan words.
Everyone of your parent’s generation is an aunty or uncle. You do not refer to people as Mr or Mrs. Anyone of your generation but older is akka or aiya and anyone younger is nangi or malli. This is very convenient since remembering the names of your friends, friend’s friends, parent’s friends and so on isn’t quite that easy.
When introducing a friend of the opposite sex to your parents or grandparents, prepare yourself for a thousand and one questions. Make sure you two don’t have any ‘cute moments’ or by the time you blink, you’ll find yourself on a poruwa, being married off to that person. You are better off pretending you have no friends of the opposite sex, since most parents believe all romantic relationships are heterosexual.
Everyone knows each other. If you give them the time, our grandparents could trace our history right to Adam and Eve! Further, there’s no such thing as a distant relative. Everyone is family and our grandparents are ever ready to prove this.
The Police have little work because when a house is broken into, the neighbors will chase the thief, catch him, beat him and tie him up before calling the cops. And how do people prepare for this? By playing Hora-Police all day as kids.
Looking at sports, no Sri Lankan is a ‘real’ Sri Lankan if he or she doesn’t like cricket. Whether we win or lose, cricket will remain an absolute favorite and people don’t even mind staying away from work or school on a day a match is being played.
You are also Sri Lankan if you complain about the crazy driving skills off Sri Lankans, but don’t follow road rules yourself. In fact, while we complain about buses that are just too fast, we also complain about slow buses, which are usually going at the required speed.
Stores and houses are forever decorated. In April, stores bring out their Avurudu decorations. These remain until May, when they are modified to suit Vesak. The two following Poyas also enjoy the lights and lanterns. Then the cleaning up is put of until it’s November, and it makes no sense to take down the decorations since Christmas is just around the corner. And so the Vesak decorations become Christmas decorations and they stay on until April. There are also the in between matches, carnivals and other celebrations which leave the country forever decorated.
Of course, one can write volumes about what it is to be a Sri Lankan. It’s more than our accent and long names. It’s everything that makes us brothers and sisters; what makes millions of people family.
– See more at: http://www.nation.lk/edition/lifestyle/item/25353-you-know-you-are-sri-lankan-when.html#sthash.QoOrpOTn.dpuf

Reconciliation


A workshop held last year led to the creation of the blog, Written for Reconciliation. Here contributors spoke about the various aspects of reconciliation and how we, as the youth of the nation, could help understand and accept people regardless of their ethnicity or gender. Through this blog, the contributors themselves came together and accepted that reconciliation is easier said than done.

Harmony between various ethnic communities is not easy to achieve. It takes a great deal of understanding, tolerance and acceptance to love people or associate with people despite the different social backgrounds they come from. During a time when the country is full of so much hate and intolerance, a question that is constantly asked is; what part does the youth play in reconciliation?
The future of a nation is in the hands of youth. While adults are in charge of today, the youth is in charge of tomorrow. And today isn’t all that bright and sunny. It’s a time when people would rather hate than love, make war than peace. Thus, it is tomorrow that can bring about change. And tomorrow belongs to us.
Further, young adults have very little history to consider. Very few let riots and murders and battles decide on their behalf. Few are brought up in families that believe in the importance of the caste system, and the various classes of society. There was a time when a Colombo school was only for the wealthy, English speaking families. Today, the scholarship system allows students from the more ‘in the middle of nowhere’ villages to study in the same class as someone from a ‘Colombo Seven’ family. Today’s youth are not geared to discriminate or hate. We are taught to love and to accept. We are told of the importance of reconciliation.
Very few schools are strictly Buddhist, Catholic, Hindu or Muslim schools anymore. We studied with students who worshipped different gods, and followed different traditions. Race and religion were not deciding factors of friendship. While the ignorance of one’s history is not to be taken lightly, the youth’s lack of knowledge of our nation’s dark history, where blood has been shed mercilessly, is one of the main reasons the youth doesn’t give importance to ethnic differences. Our parents use their own experiences and memories to hate, but we have very little memories and experiences that will make us bigots.
Our complexion, accent, language, religion and traditions are not dividers. They are not barriers. And they should never stop one from doing what they love.

Today there are many youth organizations that work towards creating better environments for people to live in. Issues regarding the youth, but also the future of the nation are being discussed due to the interest in youth to be the change the country needs, and also due to the need of a stronger youth.
Adults often believe young adults shouldn’t interfere with adult matters. “You just learnt your ABCs. So what do you know about reconciliation?” Such attitudes discourage people, and silence many voices. Today, not many keep quiet while their rights are breached. Not many choose to suffer in silence.

This is why there are so many organizations that focus on human rights. Workshops, programs, projects are organized to spread awareness, develop leadership skills, and give the youth a platform to show they care. Further, there is a large number of blogs, sites and forums where youth voice their opinions. Reading the stories, articles or poems written by young people, who live ordinary lives, and who see the injustice around them, gives us all hope about tomorrow.
We are so pessimistic. We often believe the situation cannot be changed, that racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination will continue. And instead of trying to change the situation, people tend to accept it. They think it is okay to hate if one comes from the North or South. They think its okay to hate if one speaks a different language.
Most of us have read some version of Merchant of Venice by Shakespeare. Remember how Shylock is insulted by Antonio?

“If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die?”

This is one of the most important quotes of Merchant of Venice, and it perfectly captures the idea that after all, we are one and the same. And yet, we continue to distinguish one and another by skin color, race and religion. For years, African Americans were called blacks. Why? Because, they were dark in color. Somewhere, someone realized it was an insult, and instead decided to call non fair skinned people colored.
When I born, I black
When I grow up, I black
When I go in sun, I black
When I scared, I black
When I sick, I black
And when I die, I still black
And you white fellow
When you born, you pink
When you grow up, you white
When you go in sun, you red
When you cold, you blue
When you scared, you yellow
When you sick, you green
And when you die, you gray
And you calling me colored?
The above poem shows that the labels and terms we give certain communities often lack a proper basis. Dark-skinned or fair-skinned, we all belong to a certain color, and have no right to call one white, black or yellow. We are beautiful regardless of our complexion.
Whether you are a Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim or Burgher, you have a right to the same opportunities, and you have a right to live. And reconciliation between ethnic communities will be possible only if the youth stands against the discrimination, hate and violence that people seem to encourage and indulge in with very little shame.