A Letter to the Children I Would Never Have

To my dearest,

I know you think it’s silly that I am writing to you, truth be told, it is.

I haven’t written letters in a long time, let alone one that wouldn’t be open by the intended recipient. But I think it’s probably wise you know on why I have decided on taking the decisions I did. Again, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll read it but I need to get it off me, so here we are.

It might sound ironic, but I love children. Especially little ones. I like to think it’s my mental age, but I get along with them, probably because I am jealous of them being able to simply eat, poop and nap whenever they want. It’s the simple life I’m a little jelly of. But besides that, we get along. There are building blocks, Barbie dolls and unintelligible noises. How wonderful.

But no, I don’t want any of my own.

Yes, you are right my love, I am being selfish. But I have a good reason for being selfish and I want you to hear me out.

I am scared for you. I am going to be that helicopter parent even after you are married and leave me because I will be always protective of you. We might always argue because while I would make sure you are independent and go by bus and do your own thing, I might also follow you from a distance.

Why am I being a creep you ask?

Because, this world we live in is sickening. It’s so sick that neither men nor women are safe anymore. I don’t want you to grow up here in Sri Lanka. But do I want you to grow up in another country? I really don’t know.

Either way, I don’t want you to be a part of this ridiculous petty competition that is currently prevailing. By not being a part of it, I don’t want you to really be cornered or bullied. It’s bad enough that I as your Mother come with the anxiety and depression, let’s try to at least keep that away from you. God forbid there isn’t something else they’ve discovered by then.

I know you will grow up in a safe and liberal environment. If you tell me when you are old enough that your sexual orientation differs to what our “culture” defines as “normal”, my love, you will still be my baby and so will your partner. If you tell your (now) Agnostic Mother that you want to embrace an established (or new) religion, I am fine with that as well. Let’s hope that you don’t incline towards Scientology or Paganism. We might have a few problems there.

But in reality, there is only so much that I can do to protect you. Despite being a creep, I would still grant you your independence and I know you wouldn’t exploit it. But I cannot be there always. What would happen when I look away? Or when I am not there anymore? Will those around you protect you and have equally accommodating liberal ideologies? Will they let you be who you are? If you say that  you don’t want to study and invest in some crazy start up, would they be supportive? Who would be supportive? Would the minority conservative and fundamentalist society we have now grow to be something larger than it already is? I may have watched too many episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale and that’s what’s probably scaring me, but I had made up my mind before that.

I can’t have you in this country, let alone in this world because the world is not a good place. It is not a kind place. While there are people like Ellen who preaches kindness, not everyone really practices it. Not everyone shows the other person the respect they deserve.

I love little girls and would be thrilled if you a girl but then it scares me really. Would you as a little girl, grow up to face the same challenges and difficulties I did of sexual, physical and emotional abuse for the very reason that you are a woman?

This makes me think that boys have it easier. But not really I guess. Even if I were to raise you to be a man who stands up for good causes, would you be able to successfully make it out there without the support of your peers? Worse, how would you be able to deal with peer pressure and no, I don’t mean the drugs and the alcohol.

There’s so much more that I want to tell you and make you understand on why it’s simply a bad idea to have you here.

It’s my only hope that you would someday understand.

Love,

Me.

27 Ways to Make 2018 Great

To Bhagya – who reflects along with me, even from a distance.

One of the most beautiful sunrises I have been fortunate enough to have woken up to. Orissa, India – December 2017

This was supposed to come in as a birthday post but that didn’t happen. New Year’s resolutions aren’t really my thing but most of 2017 has been spent a lot with a good deal of self reflection that has obviously resulted in the following. Here’s how I intend to make 2018 the Year of “Now”.

1. Be grateful

It’s not as though I was not grateful for 2017, but it’s fair to say that gratitude din’t come easy. I’ll hopefully be giving thanks once a day, I don’t know. I usually have a problem with…

2. Be(ing) ambitious. 

It’s funny why this is a problem because I consider myself to be mildly narcissistic anyway, haha. But it doesn’t hurt to think a little more, dream a little bigger and know that if I aim for the stars that I will land somewhere on a coconut tree.

3. Take time off

I’ve been doing a lot of this already in 2017 be it when driving alone, eating alone or not doing anything significant. Hopefully there will be more of this in the year ahead.

4. Spend time with family

I would like to nail it down to age but family has become an integral part of my being. I can’t imagine life without family. While part of me lives in my fragmented memories of India a greater part of me is able to find roots here thanks to the time I’ve spent with my family. Here’s to being rooted for longer.

5. Spend time alone

I heal best when alone. There’s no harm in having a little extra healing as backup either.

6. Travel Sri Lanka more

Despite the shit state the country is in, I have love for this island. Work has been fortunate enough to take me around and here’s to seeing more of it.

7. Travel India more

2017 was glorious. Work once again took me to India a few times and Nepal, once. These travels have helped me find home in places I think I find myself.

8. Be at peace with myself

It’s still a work in progress.

9. Embrace myself

Because self-criticism comes easier. Here’s hoping that 2018 will not be rough.

10. Take each day as it comes

Because life is so fickle and we never know what the future has in store for us.

11. Save more

To help yourself, to help others and to see the world.

12. Take care of more people

Because altruism saves the world that helps save yourself.

13. Take care of myself

I’ve been falling sick more than I would have liked to. The last quarter of 2017 was rough. I’ve made friends with more hospital staff than I would’ve liked to. Here’s to healing and looking after my old soul.

14. Write more
To heal and to reflect. I’ve not been doing this as much as I should’ve. Hopefully giving thanks every night should set things right.

15. Connect more with colleagues

I like to compartmentalise my relationships. Never let one see what the side another would. Colleagues would always remain at work and friends at the bar. But 2017 has taught me that blurring the lines between the two can bring about changes, good changes. Here’s to opening up and making friends out of colleagues.

16. Appreciate nature

By being one with nature. Not seeing the world through a screen in 2017 has helped me be more in awe with everything around us, like sunrises.

17. Look forward to things

Yes, the very things I put down in my planner.

18. Compliment more

Especially women. I am unsure how men feel about complimenting each other but women feel great when other women compliment them and what better way than to uplift spirits of your sisters?

19. Say NO

To things I don’t want to do. The world has evolved, I’ve matured and I can say no when I want to.

20. Write more letters

Because letters heal. It heals those who write letters and it heals those who read them.

21. Try harder

Without giving up easily. While I do believe that good things take time, I can also be impatient in seeing results. Here’s to trying harder and not giving up easily.

22. Believe

In myself, in something.

23. Forgive myself

If not it would be difficult to believe in myself.

24. Heal

Because if have not healed, I will not be able to take care of myself. 

25. Breathe deeply more often

Use the app or just practice it in traffic while driving. Breathing calms me down and brings clarity when things are blurry.

26. Meditate

A little bit everyday. Yes, I fail. Drift off to sleep. Deviate. Think of things I have to do tomorrow but it doesn’t matter.

27. Reflect

At the end of the year to see how far I’ve come. There’s no turning back now.

Picture – Sunrise at around 0614h in Puri, Orissa.

Let’s Talk about Personal Space

See I’m a closed up person. I’m not the book type where the more you get to read, the more I open up. In fact, I feel as though you are the wrong type of reader or you just don’t spend enough time in a library, you will be getting to read a different book. Actually, for every reader that gets the right book, every wrong reader gets a different book because, different approaches and let’s face it: I don’t want you comparing notes with each other.

However, (keeping in line to the excellent book analogy because I’m fabulous for thinking of it in the first place) all readers alike get a common introduction. #NoHate #AllLivesMatter I like to (try to) be funny, a bit chatty, open to listening and being a cheerleader about saving the world and spreading sunshine on rainy days #haw

Still for all, there are few things I don’t speak much on for various reasons among which include:

(Local and International) Politics

No, I’m not trying to be diplomatic about it. Truth be told, unless it’s the UNFCCC or your names happen to be Trudeau or Macron, I’m not interested in knowing about you either. Mostly because I am a little blissfully unaware about what really goes on. Shameful I know, but I’m not lying when I say that it bores me. Sometimes to near death. I’m not proud of it needless to say but at least I’m being honest about it and avoid partaking in conversations I don’t quite understand much of.

On How Parents Should Parent their Children

Of course I will give ample advise on how I would raise my unborn children and in my mind write countless blog posts about how wrong I think you are raising your own. But, I for one will most likely not be able to afford any of my own and since you are bravely raising children, I genuinely do believe that you have a better idea of what you are doing with your kid(s), I think.

Education

While education is essential and a right for all, let’s face it. In reality, not everyone has access to it and due to various reasons, those who do have access to it sometimes leave it behind due to commitments, financial concerns, more lucrative job offers and the genuine lack of interest in wanting to study. While education is one way towards the road of smart(dom), it isn’t the only way and learning happens in everyday life and not just in an institution.

Sexuality and Gender

I added both, despite knowing very well that one is different from the other because I am unable to clearly explain as to how one differs from the other. My Gender Studies lecturer from 2012/2013 will be disappointed, I know. But like what you may, who you may and do whomever you please, so as long as you stay away from my man, you and I can always, ALWAYS drink together. I’ll even buy you a round.

Body Size

Let’s just say, #AllBodiesAreBeautiful

and they are! If you are unable to see beyond that, you and I clearly cannot be friends.

Facebook Relationship Statuses

If you are not on Facebook, well I don’t think this would apply to you, but irrespective of you being single, married, widowed, divorced and any other new type of relationship you choose to be in, I’m chill, with the exceptions of you either complaining about your chosen status or making out with you bae next to meet when we meet every four months for dinner. (ew)

Religion

These include the beliefs and practices of my own, of yours and those around us. Unless otherwise provoked with hateful comments on any religion, I will continue to believe that all religions speak of love, unity and togetherness because that’s what all religions preach. I think.

Coz we all love the pope.

This also means that I bear judgement (maybe a bit on parenting one tho) and have no biases (unless you are a child of war or divorce) on the different perspectives you and the rest of the world choose to believe in.

Because, personal space right?

We will soon speak on religion and agnosticism. However, if the sun chooses to shine and rays of inspiration hit me, I will speak of travels.

Let’s Talk Floods – Part V

I found myself panicking during last year’s floods. It was probably the first time in my “adult” life that I had seen a calamity of that extent and moreover, affected to those closest to me. Devastated would be a more accurate word to describe what was going on. You know how ‘news becomes news’ to you noh, “if it is in vicinity” or something to that extent they teach you in journo class. It changed how I saw things. It gave more perspective to how I see consumption in the light of climate change and God forbid, it probably even made me more sensitive.

But then see, it is happening again.

Let’s be honest, sensitivity to those of us, don’t come easy and it actually comes by only once.

This time around, I am angry. I am furious.

Yes, I agree that people can’t sell their houses just like that and move away to higher ground. I understand not everyone has means to do so. But at least take precaution?

Let’s be honest, you had an year to prepare.

And no, this is not me blaming the government.

This is me blaming those who live by these riverbed areas who assume that their aeons of non-technical layman experience can overstep the word of science, measurements and accuracy. Almost, accuracy. 

True, our DMCs and other organisations responsible need to up their game. They need to have better management, better organisation and the works. But for the latter, our private-funded ish volunteer-led associations have stepped up to liaise with them and there are better deeds happening. Or at least it seems so from behind this laptop screen.

But you, yes you who lives in these disaster-esq areas. WHAT ARE YOU DOING? Are you taking precaution? Have you even looked into purchasing an insurance for your house? Do you have that emergency bag stacked up in a corner to take and go? The latter was a little practice we used to have (or imagining because I was little) during the time of the war, 94-96. We don’t have an emergency pack truth be told (I have one in my car), but should the necessity arise, my parents and I, will leave.

No material thing in your household is more worthwhile than your lives.

Yes, you might not be able to replace them for a long time, but someday you might or you could just steal them, I don’t know.

But this lack of preparation and organisation among the people affected really makes me angry. Why are they STILL not co-operating? Didn’t they lose enough last year? Christ, this scares me from behind a screen. Is this not real enough for you?

Also, has anyone posted a disaster-selfie just yet?

Week Thirty-Four: Giving Thanks

Oh hello to you too! I have a list of thankfuls for today because it seems like one of those days to be thankful for because it seems to be the only thing that makes sense just about now:

  1. Taking notes! A weird thing to be thankful for but the past few days have been really crazy and thanks to the 800 notes I have taken, things don’t seem too bad during this recovery period.
  2. The weather Gods for not raining on my lovely friend’s wedding. I’ve uploaded pictures on my Instagram. Just sayin’
  3. The little miracles that seem to be hitting me since the past few weeks. Makes me realise that things are not too bad after all.
  4. Upcoming holidays I plan to take with my favourite people, yay!
  5. Sobriety (ish) and I’ll leave it like that.

Giving Thanks

I hope all of you are having a good Thursday.

Week Thirty-Three: Giving Thanks

It’s March in 2017 and not only have I neglected this space but have also not been blogging. Sigh. There has been too much going on really. But then when I think about it, there hasn’t really been a lot going on. You know like when you are really busy but then it’s difficult to explain as to why you’ve been busy at the same time? Yes, that.

But it’s at times like these that I remember more than ever the things I am thankful for. To me, it’s that sort of motivation to keep going, keep fighting and pulling that Kelly Clarkson whenever possible.

I know it’s Thursday (and not Tuesday) but here is my current  list of thankfuls in no particular order:

  1. The amazing people whom I have met and embraced to my life recently. I’m not one to make new friends, let alone fast friends but I have learnt that it isn’t too bad after all.
  2. Doctors, hospitals and similar (medicinal) healers for taking care of and lessening the burdens of a lot of my favourite people.
  3. The nice people at the Sampath Bank Thimbirigassaya branch who made my Monday (and Tuesday). Good service goes a long way.
  4. My family for making me food when I don’t ask them to and folding my clothes when I ask them not to (specifically my Mother, haha).
  5. Sleep and kottu roti – sometimes the best way to get away from problems and life alone is to find yourself a really nice kottu and go sleep on life itself.

Giving Thanks

I hope all of you are having a good Thursday.

Let’s (try to) Talk about Sex Education?

It’s a topic I’ve been wanting to speak on for a long time, but haven’t for the usual reasons, i.e.- procrastination and then for the more diplomatic reasons on whether we should speak about it at all. Because I mean after all, these sort of topics are saved for after marriage and I’m not married noh.

See but then this post is not about having sex. Don’t get me wrong. It’s more on the need for educating people about sex. Also most of these images are shamelessly stolen off the Internet.

If you do want to know more about sex and the works, I would suggest some sort of magazine or website and in other unrelated news, Playboy is bringing back nudes!

***

This post on the other hand was inspired partly by one of my drivers. We were driving back from Kurunegala a few days ago and he tells me,

මිස් දන්නවාද, Valentine’s Day  වල තමයි වැඩියෙන්ම ගෑණු ළමයි දූෂණය වෙන්නේ.”

Translation: Do you know that the most number of girls get raped on Valentine’s Day?

And no, I didn’t know that (and I don’t know if it is true). And yes, this post was to come out on Valentine’s Day but then I got busy with work (no there were no Valentine’s celebrations from this end as we are too old for that you know, lol) and never got around to it.

However, this conservation with my driver led to us talking about sex education, rape, contraception, family planning, STDs and unwanted pregnancies that these girls clearly knew nothing of.

See, before we go any further let’s throw out a few disclaimers for ol’ times sake but mostly because we live in a supposedly sensitive as fuck world where everyone seems to take offence for everything. Also since we are talking about “adult” topics, we will be swearing because, duh.

  • This post is not meant to draw sympathy on women.
  • Neither is this post aimed at penalising men.
  • Nor does it conform to the norm that women are victims and men are those at fault.
  • I will only focus on the male and female genders and  heterosexual relationships because these are the populations that have easily accessible data and stuff.
  • Also:
just letting ya'll know. (also shamelessly taken off Google)
just letting ya’ll know. (also shamelessly taken off Google)

 ***

Since this post has been coming a few days and I’ve lost my train of thought one too many times for my liking, let me try to go through a few reasons as to why I think we need to speak more on sex, having sex and well most importantly, having safe sex.

just sayin'
just sayin’

Consent 

I usually refer the dictionary on themy Mac for definitions and this is what it had to say on consent:

screen-shot-2017-02-20-at-23-23-03

A lot of the time, rape takes place when the “victim” (we are trying to be gender neutral here) has no idea that what is happening to them is wrong. This is true especially in the case of children and rape within their own families. I also have no numbers and statistics to back this information. If you are looking for a good read with numbers I strongly recommend the Bill and Melinda Gates Open Letter.

So it’s pretty simple right? If someone does something without the other’s permission, or consent, it is a violation of their rights or privacy or something on those lines.

Eg: – A few weeks ago someone took away the (my) laptop I was working on to show another some screen on Facebook, without asking me. No consent!

If you are still confused, the following video explains it thoroughly as well. I recommend you watch it as a family or a classroom – though I’m very well aware that my audience does not attract such people, haha.

The Birds and the Bees

Okay, I get it. I’m Sri Lankan too and my Mum never spoke to me about the birds and the bees. And still to date as a twenty-something year old I’m confused as to what the birds and the bees have to do with this. Why can’t we go more Freud about it and call it a lock and key or snake and window or you get the point. Or if you don’t, your mind is not dirty enough to be reading this post. 

Again, if you do have five minutes at hand, this is a very good video to watch or show the children around you.

See, a lot of the time, when there is no education or well discussion on what really happens when people have sex, it leads to things like, you guessed it, rape!

There is no shame in talking about it to children and truth be told, if I were to have kids, I would start speaking to them or introducing the concept of sex from primary school. It would not only teach them what they ought to do to protect themselves but also teach them the right way of treating others and respecting them.

True we have Google and most in my generation, a few before and all those younger to me rely on the Internet for information. However, the Internet too has come a long way since early Millennium dial-up and information sharing. It has become more vital than ever for everyone to not only cross check news sites (because fake news brings money too, it seems) but also inquire on the authenticity of information provided. Hence, if parents or adults are not going to speak to their kids about this, they will only rely on the Internet for (mis)information.

I asked my Mother recently as to why she never told me about how children are made / babies are born. She laughed it off and said that I knew more than she did. While I did laugh along with her because it was funny, it did also dawn on me that there are many kids out there who are incapable of having such conversations with their parents. What are they to do then? 

Contraception 

I saved the best for last because I believe that contraception becomes the solution to a lot of unwanted and unplanned situations including STDs and (not so) happy accidents.

Okay, let’s assume that consent has been attained and now two individuals (no I’m not looking at sexual relations with more than two people so don’t be offended) are maybe going to have sex for the first time. So no, they won’t get STDs and that box is checked. However, in the case of a heterosexual relationship, what about the risk of pregnancy?

If it amounts to anything on the lines of progress, which I think it is, some of the Healthguard Pharmacies here in Sri Lanka now not only sell condoms on shelves but also have emergency contraceptives as well. I think this is great as it not only reduces the risk of anything you are not really ready to have for but most importantly reduces the stigma and mental strain someone would have to go through when asking for it over the counter.

On another positive note, Sri Lanka is a country that does not require prescriptions for Oral Contraceptive Pills or OCPs. I don’t really know what this means in a medical sense, but as a layman or woman, I think this is a great progressive step as it again shortens the number of steps one would have to climb when wanting to have safer sex and access to contraceptives. While there isn’t a plethora of choices to choose from, I guess this is a start of sorts.

sorry, Google.
sorry, Google.

If you are interested, here is an excellent compilation done by Pew Research on abortion policies across the world.

Other suggested reading:

The least we can do from our end is to probably talk about it more to well, normalise it in to general conversation so that there will be no stigma when anyone would want to ask questions about it (as opposed to Googling for an answer).

There is no shame in parents or teachers speaking to their children or educating students on sex and all the other safety precautions they need to know because it would seriously do this country a world of good. See, once the discussion is out there in the open there would be criticism and probably a ban on speaking about the topic in open (like in the case of the big matches) but until that time, there is a sense of responsibility from every generation to the next.

#ThinkSunny

Let’s Talk about “Gay Marriage”

For the record, I’m neither gay nor am I married.

Second, I add the phrase “gay marriage” in inverted commas because I don’t even see how a “gay” marriage is any different to a “regular” marriage between two “heterosexual” people. As far as I know, marriage is a union of love, gay or otherwise. Or one of convenience, if Jane Austen was bae.

Third, I’m quite aware of the sort of possible criticism that this post might gather and my dear fragile heart (apparently I do have one after all) might not even be able to handle it. But it’s been bothering my pea brain and of course if this means that I’m finally going to blog about it, so be it.

Fourth and finally, my research might be flawed. I’m not well read on the topic and have only bits and bobs of information I sourced through the Internet.

***

download

According to the news there was talk of Sri Lanka “decriminalising homosexuality” (I suppose that would be the first step towards gay marriage) and then in less than a day this proposition was called off. I also made the mistake of reading the comments in this news article – the comments are not for the faint hearted.

In fact when American legalised gay marriage nearly two years ago and Facebook suddenly had an influx of all these colourful profile pictures. I mean this is great and all. No doubt about that. But the question my pea brain had in mind was as to how the world came to a state where the right to marriage was a question of gender and not of more important things like age or mental stability? However, those in America who were able to be married as a result of the events of 2015, good on you no doubt.

With Sri Lanka though, it’s a different story all together. Our friend in the city actually put together a video I am happy to share and that’s not even because of my favourite friend Dili. They walked around “progressive” Colombo and asked people their thoughts on legalising same-sex marriage / “decriminalising homosexuality”. The word “decriminalise” makes me wonder what sort of word rapists of paedophile get. Again some content is not for the faint hearted. It doesn’t scare you like a horror movie. It just makes you sad to realise that there are people (probably the same age as you are) that think aeons different to you do. Also that there might still be people who have no idea on what they might be talking about to start with. Here, I specifically refer to the loose use of the word “culture”.

What nags my ignorant self is probably not knowing as to why the world need a “special” law passed in order to practice the right to love. 

And I’m not even the romantic one in my present relationship.

Until next time.

#ThinkSunny