An Open Letter to my Country, my (old) Friend

Hi (old) friend,

It’s a bit odd, catching up this way, but I guess there is no way else we could do it. I can’t sleep at night despite saying that I would. But most of all, fear, the fear of you, keeps me up at night.

We’ve been friends since I was born and for me to now stop our friendship and denounce you publicly, all that through a blog post also, is quite dramatic. I understand. The following GIF clearly sums up what you are feeling of me, I know. We’ve been friends for too long that we know almost everything there is to about one another.

An accurate representation of me writing this and you reading my writing captured brilliantly via http://www.giphy.com

After all, it’s been nearly 30 years. That’s a little less than the war we’ve “won”. I was fortunate enough not to be born during the early 80s. Did you know my biological parents got married on Black July? Quite a fitting title to describe that relationship. snigger. The circumstances are such that I will be using quite a bit of dark humour (or as much as my wit will allow me to) as I could summon. If that’s uncomfortable for you, perhaps you should stop here and continue this another day. A sunnier day, hopefully. Whenever that would be.

See within our three decades or so of friendship, you’ve seen me grow from goofy child to angsty adolescent to perpetually lost adult and you’ve seen how I formulate my relationships. You’ve also seen walls I choose to build around myself as a result of wanting to protect myself. Did you know that we even raised the parapet walls of our house to protect ourselves because the thieves got in the first time? See, during our 30 odd year relationship, my dear friend, you’ve realised that I forgive very less. A bad habit, albeit, but a strong one I haven’t been able to shake off. And as my adult years grow in number, so does my stubbornness and my (lack of) will to forgive.

But I’ve made an exception I haven’t with you?

<insert dramatic GIF> 

With you, I decided that we would be #BFForeva

During and after my time in India, we became very close. Would you say that it’s a fair analysis that until I left you that I hadn’t realised how much you meant to me? I remember my first flight back to India after my short two-week vacation. I cried all the way back during my hour and a half long flight. I bawled out as we flew passing the last bit of the island and all I saw was the Indian Ocean.

During my time in India, my love for you grew and while you were always #1, (South) India soon became #2 and Nepal, #3. My work became a blessing to me and I began travelling more of South Asia and before you know it, I had fallen in love with the region, its people and paradise, all over again. But throughout it all, you remained #1.

It’s not as though the past decade has not been without hardship and turmoil. Post-war, we’ve dealt with quite a few things together. Let’s not talk about pre-2009 because that time was difficult for all of our friends. In 2016, parts of Colombo (I’m a bit too tardy to see if there were other areas too) were hit by a terrible flood. The experience then is very similar to what a favourite author of mine, Haruki Murakami captures in After the Quake. The feeling was mutual when that earthquake hit Nepal four years ago and in December 2017, while I was in Orissa and a storm (of sorts) caused terrible damage to South India and Sri Lanka.

But this time around, it’s different. The main difference being, it’s not a natural disaster.

On Sunday, April 21, 2019, Easter Sunday, I must add, multiple terrorists blew themselves and killed 350 people (this number is a bit controversial as now they say it’s 250 so I’m not too sure). Suicide bombing is not new to us. During the ethnic conflict, Wikipedia (my go-to very reliable source) tells me, “The LTTE’s Black Tigers have carried out the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, who was killed in 1991 using a prototype suicide vest.” So yes, it’s something very local. But this happens ten years after “the end of war”. Ironically, a month shy of our “end of the war” 10-year “celebrations”. For those wondering why I put some words in inverted commas, it’s mostly to not aggravate the SJWs. I joke. It just seems most right. After the attacks on April 21, while we all donned our Sherlock/Tintin/detective-of-your-choice-costume and rushed to solve this mystery and the murderous groups behind it, the government decided to not tell us much. Frankly though, if you want the tea on that, go read the news. It’s fucking depressing. 

Now, this is when it gets tricky and I’m going to equate you, my friend to the government because it sounds like the most sensible thing to do. But the connection would be similar to the Game of Thrones Season 08 Episode 02, Sansa trust = Brienne trusts = Ser Jamie scenario. i.e. if you don’t watch Game of ThronesI trust = you, my friend, my country who trusts = the government.

Your series of errors began with you not telling us about these attacks. If you want to kill off a bunch of people, I would suggest we buy you a PS4 or Xbox or whatever else they have these days and give you a violent game. I sometimes used to put my Sims inside pools and remove the ladders or put them in a small room and remove the doors. Or you could watch on loop the Mountain and Viper battle each other on Game of Thrones Season 04 Episode 08 for an epic bloody mess. But killing off unsuspecting Church-goers, these are the believers and not the ones like us even, on perhaps the most important day in the Christian calendar, is extremely uncalled for.

Continuing with your trial, you then made our local media look like fools. So let’s get one thing straight. I may trust you (remember the equation) but not many people do. But we trust a few media sources. YOU DID NOT GIVE THEM THE INFORMATION. Why did you withhold it? Did you forget? You didn’t forget to pick up your due bribes, did you? How can you forget such a thing?

Let’s say it was an honest mistake and amidst all the important tasks you have to achieve during the biggest holiday month in the country, you forgot. Fine. (Not fine, because people are still murdered thanks to you.) But then, you still don’t tell us anything. You keep us in the dark. Again. I mean, the “Adam” of your creation wasn’t even in the country when this happened and didn’t come till much after. However, days go by very slowly and through your trusted security personnel, you choose to share some pictures of suspects, who turn out to be innocent diaspora (at least one of them was I think) you found on a Google search. Did you know how quick people were to show hate, rape their neighbour’s dog and even flay their family in front of their eyes? You then apologised publicly and said you made yet another mistake and no sooner was that done, you say that there was a discrepancy in the body count (which is a good thing because fewer people are dead – as a tweep mentioned). But now with all your mistakes, who do we rely on? And most importantly, how can we trust you again?

Which brings me back to this letter. How do we continue this if you are not going to be honest with me (and us)? How do we remain friends? Do you know how many times I’ve defended you and the few opportunities that came my way to leave you, I turned down because of you. Because I thought you gave me a place on your land. I, who came from a single-parent household and a mixed race background. You made me feel that I was different. I was special. You made me feel that I had something to be grateful for and to give back. When people left you and went in search of greener pastures, I often questioned their sense of responsibility. I’ve been extremely fortunate enough and even privileged to an extent to have the facilities I do, work multiple jobs, mostly from home, travel parts of the world and get paid for all of the above. But despite it all, despite the privilege and the fortune, I’ve realised that if there is one thing I cannot handle, it’s disappointment. You’ve disappointed me and a bunch of (many) others multiple times. You disappointed us who had that sense of responsibility and the need to make this place, a better place.

Of the 30 odd years we’ve known each other, you know that I cry and laugh on the outside but I’m a stone cold bitch on the inside. But today, for nearly four hours, I’ve been crying. I’ve been crying because of the disappointment and I’ve been crying, because I’m scared. I’m scared to live in your land. I know that I and my minority-ethnic group family do not have a place here. I stay awake during most nights and sleep during the day. It is the same for a few others too. I don’t know if those who lost their loved ones on Sunday even sleep at all. I want to reach out to them and apologise for your mistakes but how can I do so when I know that you will continue to do them once again?

I know that most of my letters never really meet their destined recipients but writing these letters that would never be read is a way I am able to deal with what is and what is to come.

So on those words, I’ll leave you to it. Your problems are beyond me and clearly, I’m not of much service to you. Writing that brings tears to my eyes like the rest of this post did. I hope you will able to find peace within yourself and among your people. I hope that someone else out there will love you as much as I did and not be discouraged by your shortcomings.

But for now, it’s goodbye.

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