The First Monday of the next Decade

Monday April 22, 2019 – 23:30

Sleep didn’t come easily last night. While I was fortunate enough to not have dreams that haunted my waking hours, the turn of events, especially from knowing that the Sunday morning victims were my friends who were Catholics and Christians in Sri Lanka and by evening to come into the realisation that these acts of terrorism were carried out by extremist groups that use the name of a religion your family is associated to, was beyond understandable. Also yes, that was a very long sentence that doesn’t make sense, which I cannot be bothered to shorten or correct.

The message I sent to my Catholic and Christian friends on Sunday morning, letting them know that my home is also theirs during the time of need, was sent back to me once terrorists were identified. True, we are mature enough to disconnect an extremist group from the entire community of believers they supposedly represent, but in 2019, no one is taking any chances.

The country is still reeling in the aftermath of what has happened. My Mother walks from room to room (and no we don’t have as many rooms) sits down and looks straight ahead or at her phone. Sometimes she falls asleep. I haven’t looked at my planner in two days or even the lists that lay on my table – yes, they seem like first world problems but to say that we are unable to move past what has happened, is fair. The sombre mood in our house is very new, to all of us. While we are not the loudest of people, we are ones who continue moving forward regardless. The saying “the show must go on” should perhaps be the motto of our family. But not today.

Two days we have spent doing the bare minimum. Sleeping. Waking up. Watching/reading the news. Eating. Cooking if needed. Watching/reading the news. Cleaning up. Using the toilet or having a shower. Watching/reading the news. Our fingers are number from the endless scrolls and our eyes hurt from staring at screens for longer than we should. Occasionally we will pause our routine to pack an emergency bag. We are not sure where our cars would take us but the bags are now packed.

Elsewhere, even before the government and media called out on the perpetrators, people belonging to different minority communities began worrying for their own safety. A justified worry, but an untimely one. As someone who finds it difficult to restore her faith, no I do not identify or I cannot relate to what you are going through. However, as I live with my parents, their fear does become my fear too. But when there is no one who has been held accountable for the massacre, do not claim responsibility and defend yourself (and your community) for something you didn’t do. PLEASE NOTE THAT AT SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES, YOUR FEAR OR BEING LABELLED AS “GUILTY” IS FAR LESSER THAN THE EMOTIONS FELT BY THE FAMILIES WHO WERE A SUBJECT OF THESE ATTACKS. Also, while it is 2019, some people are among the educated. I have an issue with labels anyway during such times. While I do understand that people will always reach out to “their” kind first, during calamities, the child in me wonders why everyone cannot be “our” kind as we are bonded by the connection of being human and Sri Lankan. At the end of the day, regardless of one’s faith, we still have the same shitty Government, so what good does it do when you choose to protect your own kind? Or perhaps this comes from my Game of Thrones affiliations and how I continue to remark at the groups coming together to fight for survival.

There is so much more to write, especially on how the Government chose to not act on information received earlier as well as on the complaints made by minority faith groups, but the fact is, I’m exhausted. I’m overrun with emotion and I’m not sure if it was all those emotional Game of Thrones reunions and Brienne’s knighthood, post-period hormones or just the state of the country.

Perhaps tomorrow.

As I write this, there is another curfew imposed and the President has issued a Gazette Extraordinary that brings a State of Emergency into operations in the country. We can’t say who will lose a job in office this time and frankly, I don’t think the people really care anymore. If you are interested, this live update on the First Post will give you the information you are looking for.

I would like to once again leave with a thought that was inspired following the attacks at Christchurch in New Zealand.

Share the names of those who are not with us anymore. Share the names of those who did not make it through. Let’s remember them. But share not the names of those responsible for these crimes.

Stay safe and sunny.

Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka

Sunday April 21, 2019 – 23:53

It’s probably not the time to write this, but writing for me, has always been a source of therapy. And therapy is what I need now. I’m also aware that I began a sentence with “and”. I’m also quite aware that I don’t often write about my country as I don’t feel the need to.

I began drafting this post in my mind from the time I was woken up with a call with this very news. While asleep, I dreamt of blood. Blood on me and blood around me. I’ve been having weird dreams for weeks anyway so that’s all there is to it. My Mother, while watching the news tells me of the “fall” of Notre Dam and how it was symbolic of the things to come and even possibly, the end of the world. See, unlike me, she believes in religion. She, unlike me, has been able to bypass and look beyond the cruel intentions of small groups of organised religion and continue with her faith. I, unfortunately, have not been able to.

Which is why these multiple coordinated attacks on a religious holiday bother me so much. It bothers me more than the floods from two years ago. Because this wasn’t a natural disaster that we couldn’t prevent (the floods too could’ve been prevented if we looked at adequate measures but that’s a conversation for another day). It was a disaster, there were multiple attacks, which were targeted predominantly at a minority ethnic group in the country.

It’s a topic we are all too familiar with. For 30 years, to be precise. Since the “end of war” in 2009, we have witnessed smaller-scale attacks on other ethnic groups on several occasions, a few times a year. Correct me if I’m wrong but – and no I don’t mean to trivialise war and the state of the country – during the last few years of war, with the multiple bombs going off every day, it became a normal thing. Yes, war, was normalised. Just as how when a male/female is “accidentally” touched when travelling in public transport or catcalled when dressed well, is normalised. Both of those statements sound wrong and it is wrong, but that’s what it was and is. Anything more than 10 casualties may have been taken seriously. People found it horrendous when the forces carefully scrutinised a packet of rice but that’s what it came to. But that was in 2009.

After the war ended, at home we continued the practice of carrying our National Identity Cards (NICs) with us at all times. In the event of us not having the NIC at hand, we would have our driver’s license or passport. My Mum used to work with war widows pre-“end of war” and we used to travel a lot to the North Central and Eastern provinces. I too often accompanied her as my parents were getting a divorced around that time and my Mother didn’t want to leave me home alone – we didn’t really have a lot of people we could rely on, save for the kindness of our neighbours and friends from the neighbourhood, some who offered to house and feed me while she was away sometimes (and my sister during the time was working abroad). During that time, we both had a majority-ethnic-group last name, which worked for our advantage. Travelling to my Mother’s location of work today would take us no more than four-five hours without stops thankfully for improved infrastructure. Travelling then, took about seven or eight if went in public transport and six or seven if she drove. Sometimes, Akki (my older sister) would be there on holiday and we would take her too during the field visits. Lucky for us, she is very fair and looks Southeast Asian for most of the part. This meant that the checkpoint checks will be cleared for us in no time – yes, that actually happened the two or three times we all travelled together.

Besides carrying our NICs at all times, our house was always well stocked. We always had an extra gas cylinder, extra dry rations and sometimes, extra frozen meat too. We were always ready for a curfew. Ready for an emergency. And ready to run. We continued this practice even after “the end of war”. Since the post-2009 wave of minority group attacks, we would even have a bag of essentials ready, in the cars and in the house, the latter would also have a bag/box of documents to take and run. In recent years, we wondered why our house had only one entrance and we contemplated asking our neighbours if they didn’t mind sharing a back gate in the common wall.

So fear, as you can see, has not been something new. Perhaps it has not been shared in equal degrees by all people, some more, some less, but fear has always been present.

 

A fellow tweep had this thread too. I asked him for permission and he was okay with me posting it. (edited 23/04)

However, as years went by, the fear remained, but we grew positive about life, sometimes about the economy and about those around us. For those wondering if we grew positive about the government, it’s fair to say that it never happened. We knew deep down that what befell us forty years ago, might not strike again. However, a month shy of our “10-year anniversary/victory day celebrations”, we had a change in heart and we feared this might happen once more.

For me, personally, what makes things scarier is the fact that people have more access to improved technology and communication. While this is a good thing, what this does is people have the capacity to become overnight journalists and share unverified information from sources they are not even certain of. They are capable of sharing “fake news” and information that is not true. The calamity of the situation doesn’t stop there. Despite the war and multiple ethnic-group attacks we’ve had over the past so many years, those whom we elect as our leaders would constantly fail us. They will not be able to reassure us and with each passing election, the country and the future of this country grows to become more apathetic than the next.

The government has currently blocked social media, which is a good thing I believe. It helps lessen the spread of rumours and false information. Of course, those who are keen on disseminating such information will download VPNs and continue as per usual, but there is a certain degree to which, this has been curtailed through the blockage. It’s a radical move, yet an important one. Sometimes, the older generations who have been introduced to embrace technology and digital media have not perhaps been familiarised with identifying accurate information, which is fair, as it was never a concern during their time. However, it is now.

I might continue this post later today, however, I’m hoping that there is no need to and all we talk about is the new Game of Thrones episode. While we wait for the curfew to lift, I would like to leave with a thought that was inspired following the attacks at Christchurch in New Zealand.

Share the names of those who are not with us anymore. Share the names of those who did not make it through. Let’s remember them. But share not the names of those responsible for these crimes.

Stay safe and sunny.

My ‘Live’ Story

Of the many things I want to write about, I thought it would be a good time to write a bit on mental health. After all, my domain renewed for the year and thought it was about time to put something in here. It was time to do a quick check-in with everyone and see how they are holding up as the first quarter comes to an end. How are you all? Well? My first quarter has been great yet, overwhelming. Business-wise, it’s been great and it even came to a point where an email response contained, “We are a bit too busy right now, will get back to you no sooner we are able to!” That’s swell yes? But with such overachievements also came waves of self-doubt, lack of confidence, motivation and real slumps in creativity. I considered getting help to manage the workload but the task of re-briefing someone seemed a little too daunting and time-consuming. And when I had time, I tried to rest and sleep.

Sleep though, hasn’t been easy to come by. While sleep itself wasn’t the problem, the dreams that continue to haunt me became of serious concern. Often, and still, I will wake up feeling restless and tired. Even my favourite meditation app can’t put me to sleep anymore or it doesn’t let my brain turn off. General anxieties on life and the sorts have been at an all-time high too and last night, I thought about the first few times I made silly attempts at suicide.

Disclaimer though. I don’t mean to make fun of suicide and as someone with a fair amount of mental health concerns, I do understand the gravity of suicide, but I like to tackle most personal issues with a bit of humour and that’s what I’m doing with me and my silly suicidal attempts.

It’s not an interesting story because I’m not really as bold as I like to be. Haha. All attempts thus far have been involving an attempted overdose of pills/medication. And no, to those who know me and have seen the insides of my handbag and my ‘drug pouch’, that’s not why I carry it! If I recall correctly, I first attempted suicide at the age of 16 or 17. Or maybe it was 15. I tried to take some lousy sleeping tablets, I think around five, wrote cards and letters to those in my life explaining what they mean(t) to me the night before and went to sleep. Alas, I woke up the next morning groggy AF and immediately hid all the cards before any unwanted questions with regard to my miscalculated attempts were raised. The second time was a few years later into my early twenties and to say that I learnt something from my teenage years, was nothing short of a disappointment. I didn’t however, try the cards and letters and the Amy Winehouse ODing incident did get to me (and later in psychology taught me of the domino-effect these things have on people living even millions of kilometres away).

Now when I think of suicide, I like to think of myself as a more developed individual and know would opt for effective methods like euthanasia, obviously not in this country. I’ve realised that killing myself is a very inconvenient affair. The paperwork, fingerprints for the phone, deleting internet presence, sending out emails and letting my internet community know these things, working out a way to manage the businesses and telling the other employers, oh boy. So yes, down days, pre-menstrual days and bad hair days still get to me, but the inconvenience of it all puts things away for good.

Hope you enjoyed my little story for you and again, in no means am I trying to belittle those with depression, anxiety and mental health conditions far worse than mine.

I hope you are able to continue to be at peace with yourself and chase sunrises/sunsets, mountains and lighthouses as I have.

Until the next sunrise 🙂

#ThinkSunny

Giving Thanks – January Edition

To say that January has WHIZZED BY in a blink of an eye, is accurate. This month has also been rough. I mean, my wallet is empty, my heart is hurting and emotions are running high. To also say that it took me nearly 30 days to write a blog post though, is no surprise.

I saw this on someone’s feed and shamelessly downloaded it. But true right?

I’ve been wanting to write nearly every Tuesday (Tuesday is my designated ‘blog post’ day) but clearly, that has not been happening. True, life has gotten busier, more exhausting and more expensive – doing #adulting tasks and not even wasting it away, sigh – and napping now seems like a better alternative to sitting down to writing a blog post.

Without further ado, here are a list of things I’m grateful for this January:

  1. Writing – man there has been a lot of it. Not here, obviously, duh. But paid writing gigs, woot. Bigger writing projects than anything I have been commissioned before. If by chance it does get published, I’ll leave a link somewhere.
  2. Health – I’ve had some health concerns this month. Nothing too alarming, just expensive. Here’s to staying alive.
  3. Money – an odd thing to be grateful for but money has been very useful in paying for #2.
  4. Reflections – I’ve been doing a lot of this during January. I have begun something what I call a ‘Daily Happens Log’. It’s a bit silly-sounding but it is what it is. It’s a small journaling activity and yes, I have a reminder set for that too everyday.
  5. Loved ones – Didn’t I say that January emotions were running high? It has been and some of those closest to me, even the ones whom I haven’t been speaking to much, have been of help, silently, helping me reflect better and even heal.

January has been a month of healing.

Tell me your list of ‘gratefuls’ for this month we are so glad to close off.

#ThinkSunny

28 Ways to Make 2019 Great

One of my best memories this year was my sister getting married. Photo credits to Affinity & Beyond.

I’ve been writing this post since the start of December. Since December 02nd I’ve been drafting the first bits in my mind and on the 04th I took it to paper/screen. Every blog post that I take 800 days to churn now becomes a work in progress. It no longer is an affair of sitting down and writing a post at a time. It takes a few days to construct. I don’t know if this means that the writing has become more difficult. Or if the writing is getting better and therefore needs time to build, curate and nurture. Or perhaps I’m running out of time to write all the things I have in my head.

A similar post helped put things in perspective last year, so since perspective is something I’m always looking for, this seemed like a good idea.

December has always been a bit of a difficult month for me. Besides the month being the birthday of Daddy Cool aka Jesus Christ (no offence, my Christian friends), it’s also the family birthday month. But it is also the end of the year. See thankfully I’m not one of those “it’s a new year, new me” types (for those wondering, I believe that change can happen every day). It might have been more dramatic than this. As in the words of Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody, “there is room for only one hysterical queen” and clearly that queen is not me!

But December is difficult. It is the end of the year and since some of are rounding off accounts and some countries present budgets for the incoming financial year (some, except ours) you cannot help but do one of those quick evaluations of yourself. The last quarter of the year always makes me wonder what I had achieved during the year, if I had done anything productive if not substantive or if my existence was simply a replica/continuation of what was written in last year’s blog post.

But amidst these questions and in trying to keep with one of the very few traditions I attempt at abiding by, here are 28 takeaways (in no particular order) from 2018 and hopefully ones that help make 2019 better than it should be.

  1. I learnt how to deal with grief. I realised through videos, talking to others who’ve dealt with grief and generic readings on the Internet on the importance of not letting grief manifest within me but to instead embody it and allow it to be with you as you move on in life. Because for me, I’ve learnt (even in my 2017 post) that I not only heal best alone but I cannot truly let go or forget of all things. Instead, it’s best that I don’t fight and attempt (and fail at forgetting it) and take it along with me and maybe even plonk it in my handbag.
  2. I learnt to let go of some things (not grief necessarily), having realised that regretting and pondering on things you couldn’t do at a time or you could’ve done better doesn’t really matter now. It doesn’t also make a difference for the damage or the lack of initiative has already been made. Instead of beating myself up about it, I’ve learnt to accept it for what it is. This has been a work in progress for over ten years and I think I’ve finally managed to master it. hurray me.
  3. Speaking of regret, I enhanced (haha!) my insight on regret and learnt how I best I could work towards keeping it away from me or allowing myself anywhere near it. It’s usually best kept all the way in the back of the bus.
  4. While putting people and memories away, I also renewed relationships this year. Some I have pushed away from my life, to the back of the bus while others have taken the front seat. I’ve become aware of the importance of shifting priorities so that it becomes the best fit for my mental and physical wellbeing.
  5. Continuing my bus story, I have grown to accept that those sulking at me from the back of my bus do not matter to me and neither do their opinions. In fact, I couldn’t care less. I not only realised that I already have too many problems in my life to deal with (as we all do) and too much self-doubt to overcome, that I couldn’t care less about someone else’s negativity or opinion of me. Their baggage of me is not my baggage and therefore, it does not belong in my conveyor belt (I hope all my travel symbols are foresight into amazing adventures in 2019 haha!).
  6. I realised that you can pick up hobbies as an adult. Or at least new interests.
  7. I learnt that fitness and wellness don’t come to you easy. Only fat and calories that won’t leave you will allow themselves to be easily absorbed like the negative people in your life. It’s your decision on how you choose to control them.
  8. Speaking of which, I learnt that being fit and well is a choice. If you really want to be your healthiest self, you can do it so as long as you put your mind to it.
  9. Such as cooking! I enjoyed cooking more than I did last year and have some serious gains with speed.
  10. I learnt that sharing knowledge will only bring you more knowledge. Or let you absorb and learn new things.
  11. I also learnt to set financial goals and become more aware of spending and saving habits. I realised that having such goals will also help with aspirations to look forward to in life, such as travel.
  12. While becoming more aware of money, I also learnt that money is a good motivator to get things done.
  13. Important family became closer to me while I put the remainder of them to the back of the bus.
  14. I realised that I can not only write wedding speeches on behalf of the groom but my writing skills have also expanded to writing eulogies.
  15. In 2018, I learnt that it was important to run behind what you wanted. No good comes to those who wait around for it.
  16. I’ve also learnt in 2018 to enjoy solitude, peace, the quiet and my awesome company.
  17. I also learnt something which I call “positive guilt”. To continuously articulate something so much so that you finally end up doing it. It worked for me with travel and to some extent with my savings.
  18. I also found out that (some) women and small groups of people will always motivate one another and have each other’s best interests.
  19. I also learnt that competition is not bad. Not only are you expected to work better, harder and smarter but there is more often than not enough to go around (and share even with your competition).
  20. I learnt that kindness towards others will never get you in trouble. Even if it does at that moment, your kindness will reflect back when you perhaps least expect it.
  21. I learnt that you can be more useful than you think you might be.
  22. I embraced the joy of trying to sleep before midnight and waking up with the sun rising.
  23. With this new morning routine, I also began to appreciate sunrises better.
  24. Speaking of the sun, I was fortunate enough to see multiple sunsets from different parts of the world.
  25. Speaking of travel, I learnt so much from travelling while on work and for fun (mostly on my own) and I also realised that travelling doesn’t have to always involve a visa stamp.
  26. In 2018, I reaffirmed (to myself) that happiness is a non-permanent state of being. I also if you are unhappy and find yourself in the pits, to always remember that there is nowhere to go but up.
  27. Speaking of happiness, the year also taught me to not miss things. I learnt that if you never had something you not only never knew what it would have felt like but you also wouldn’t miss anyway.
  28. Finally, I learnt that regardless of what happens, the show must and will always continue to go on.

#ThinkSunny

Week Thirty-Five: Giving Thanks

It’s been over a year (and more!) since I visited this side of town and I’m just going to continue from the last week because no one has time to be setting up new processes.

It has been a long time and a lot has happened, duh. But let’s not try to get too ambitious and call this a weekly practice, but a frequent practice of being thankful to what’s around me.

  1. The (newish) construction of our daily use by-road – first things first, I’m in my late 20s and I get super excited about new shortcuts and homeware purchases. Having said that, this particular road, while may not necessarily be a ‘shortcut’ in the traditional sense, does help us avoid a fuck tonne of traffic. It’s always been a really bad road and I silently (always) apologise to my tires and the misery I put it through. But recently they had reconstructed it and also added the much-needed speed breakers to avoid us getting too fast and too furious on it. But yay, for new roads!
  2. My mum and I finally went to the homeware-some-clothes-type discount store in my area. True enough we shopped quite a bit but these included some birthday presents and many 2019 Eid presents too. Woohoo.
  3. I’m thankful for mad productivity levels and the shitty days too. I’ve realised that my productivity is not consistent. I’m pretty sure that I’m not burning out and I take extra-precaution not to but somehow, Monday and Tuesday work out great and then Wednesday turns out to be an utter-fucking-flop. But still, I manage to bounce back on Thursday so all’s well.
  4. Speaking of bouncing (I love that epic transition though), I began a rebounding class! It looks a little like this. Or at least I look a little like this.
    It’s balls of fun. It’s not HIIT and in fact is a low-intensity workout that works well for me. I do these classes with Playmore and I’m quite thrilled with myself for having gone for a few classes, yay.
  5. My sister is back! I know all of you must think that I complain about Akki a lot, lol, I do. But then I realise that I do that a lot about the people closest to me. I analyse and justify my reasons for doing so as being me being able to show that I can live without anyone when in actuality I probably can’t. Haha.

Giving Thanks

I hope all of you have a good week ahead!

#ThinkSunny

My Father

My (biological) Father died on the thirteenth of September. I don’t speak of my Father much as he wasn’t really a part of my life growing up. The night I was told of his passing, the fourteenth, I tried to recall the few things I remember about him. I was at the vet with my friend and his dog, Sasha. I tried with the greatest difficulty to remember his favourite colour. I settled on purple. A dark purple. I don’t, however, know if this was also because purple was my favourite colour growing up as I was convinced it to be the favourite colour of our then President, of whom I was a big fan of. I vividly recall throwing tantrums that resulted in us travelling in purple tuk-tuks. Or maybe it was just once. It’s not as though we used as many tuk-tuks in the early nineties. Times were better and we had our driver, Nishantha, to chauffeur us around.

I try the same night to think of other things I knew of my father. Any memories or anything significant. His handwriting, yes. That was quite significant. He could draw too. He was the one who would help out with homework whenever there was any drawing involved. My Mother could draw too yes.

He also once helped me build a “village” on a cake tray. It was for environmental studies. Or science. We used some toothpicks for houses and moss from near the well for the paddy fields. We brought it carefully in a tuk-tuk. It was the late nineties. Times were not that good then. We didn’t have the driver let alone a car. He helped me bring it up to my classroom that was at the end of the rickety staircase.

It’s the sixteenth now. It’s raining after long-weeks of drought-like weather. As children, we are told that it rains when the Gods up in the clouds start to cry.

***

See one of the problems of being the joke or the comedian in the family is that no matter what, comedians are never sad. I’ve wanted to be a clown during my younger days, back during a time before clowns were considered a Halloween costume. I didn’t mind being the butt end of the joke or doing a badly-choreographed chicken dance because my motive was to make people happy. I loved to see people laugh.

As an adult, I suffered (and still continue to suffer) from anxiety, depression and began to grow into myself. I socialised less and I enjoyed being with myself more. But when I was out, be it with family or with friends, I was on a mission to make them laugh.

But despite my anxiety outbreaks and ugly depression cries, it became increasingly difficult for me to become sad. I couldn’t express sadness in public. It wasn’t a matter of pride or lack of emotion, but when I was sad, I became stone cold. I needed to deal with the more difficult emotions, like sadness, by myself. I appreciated everyone being around me but I could not let them see me at my most vulnerable and I don’t have a clear answer as to why I felt so.

Which is why even now, I choose to be alone.

***

It’s the seventeenth today and the Gods are not crying tonight.

***

Not many knew of my Father’s passing. How do you tell someone that there is a death in the family? Do you call someone up with some “news”? Do you update your Facebook status or add an Instagram story? You tell someone that you have news to tell them and they immediately think of marriage, new jobs, promotions, migrating or babies in no particular order. Then you become that awful wet blanket and harbinger of bad news because you have to let them know that no, it was a death in a family and feel sorry about not having any good news.

Then comes the series of questions including but not limited to: why didn’t you tell me; I could’ve been there; why do you always go to everything alone – this is amidst our protests too of the complications that were already in place, only to be blocked out again with more – couldn’t you have told us when he was sick; we would’ve gone to the hospital (even though we jolly well know that your life is busy as it is and we don’t really expect you to go anyway) and amidst all this, no one really asks you, “How are you holding up?”

No one really bothers to think that they might be adding more grief to the situation by weighing you down with the questions and accusations as opposed to merely passing their condolences. But no, in true Sri Lankan style, it’s important to go above and beyond expectations and choose not to do anything about it.

***

One of the greatest joys of being a writer or as someone who can write something (because my first boss and Editor told me that just like not all who blogs become bloggers, not all who write become writers!), is that I get to write stories. It’s not always things I like but you can spin it into a little something fantastical I suppose.

But among the joys of writing are also the awkward times. Like today, when I wrote my Father’s obituary. I had written obituaries before yes, but it wasn’t really for family-family if you know what I mean. It got a bit more awkward when we were struggling to find the right words to say. We didn’t know much about him for the past so many years. We didn’t know where he lived. It was over ten years since what had happened. I was hesitant to say “daughters” or even mention our names. Because what good is it being family if we are only around to write obituaries? But again, that too was a choice we chose to make and like most decisions in my life, if I could justify them then and I can justify them now, it stays as it is. Regret never got anyone anywhere.

***

It’s also the second day since we told a few people of the passing. The questions haven’t stopped. The accusations have in fact become even worse. There is a lot of scolding happening.

There are many questions with regard to us “neglecting” him.

Then there are those who have very strong negative emotions, that is not sadness, but anger, extreme anger, directed towards us for not telling them of the funeral. To which, my only question is, “You didn’t care to ask how he was when he was living. Why do you care now that he has died?”

Why though?

Is it because people believe that merit will follow if they help lower a man to the ground that in turn will magically wash their wrongs away? A burial my friend, is not the Ganges.

***

I haven’t been able to God during this time either. I’ve tried, secretly. I know my sister has. I find it a little difficult though. Which is why I have taken to writing. For me, writing always healed. Writing always provided answers. Writing, above all, listens without judgement or question.

***

It’s Wednesday the nineteenth. I told a few of my friends what happened and just like what our friends have been for the past so many years, they tried to reach out, called, tried to come over and invade my space (and I mean this in the nicest possible way) just to make sure we were doing okay.

I don’t know how it works in your family really, but for us, it’s always been friends > family. We’ve had friends who gave us money when times were tough, another group of friends who would lend my Mother saris for weddings (and ironically even her own wedding), other friends who would house me as a sixteen-year-old when my Mother had to travel on her NGO work – because it was too inconvenient for those related -, also friends and outsiders who helped us through school and classes, a kind landlady who wouldn’t push for the rent on a particular day, it’s always been, friends and kind strangers.

Yes, for those reading it this might cause controversy and perhaps no one might speak to me again but this exercise had to be done and it’s sad that it had to be done on a topic as such. Please note that I write all of this with no malice in my little heart, or head, whichever that actually exists. I understand that your lives are busy. You have your own families, responsibilities, jobs and I really do understand where you are coming from.

But will you be able to understand us when we decide to go ahead with the decisions we have made?

If you don’t understand, can you at least choose to be kind to us during this time? Only this time, you can go back to being unkind after this time is behind us.

So, I’m sorry we didn’t tell you. But we had our reasons and I only hope you can respect that.

***

It’s been a slow week. My work has been progressing slower than I thought and I’ve really just been tired from driving, deciding on the correct words for an obituary notice and trying to block off negativity from others. But the slow week has taught me a few things and I would like to share them with you (if you’ve managed to read this far on!):

  • Be kind to people

Really, please do. You never know what they are going through. They maybe didn’t deliver that important document on the day it was due probably because their car broke down or their child slipped on the kitchen floor or they were probably hungover. Just be kind to others. If you are kind, nice and they think they can trust you, they might tell you the truth while it was happening and you wouldn’t be as disappointed on the day the important document was delivered.

I tried to do the same with a place I volunteer at. Of course, kindness wasn’t always received so I hadn’t been able to establish that foundation of trust, so I lied. Because honestly, I cannot volunteer with all my heart when there is very little left of it now.

  • Have your own squad, or just start creating one

Have a circle of people you trust. It can be family or friends or both. Just have them in your inner circle. Your ride or die. Those who will offer to drive you around or even do your laundry because of what you are going through.

Even though I’m adamant about being by myself during this time, I’m honestly grateful for knowing that I have a circle of my own.

  • Social media doesn’t tell you the truth 

I don’t know about you, but social media for me is not my diary. I do vent on occasion on the rising cost of living that doesn’t allow me to add two whole onions in my curry but things and people that are personal will always remain that way.

I enjoy keeping up with not the Kardashians but a facade that helps me be who I want to be online, a mysterious, silly person who can’t really define what she does for a living and my real self; an anxiety-ridden, die-hard not funny, wannabe writer of sorts.

Don’t honestly believe everything you see because it can always be curated, filtered and fit into the best frame to suit your online self.

  • Be present (in the now) 

I don’t mean this in the yogi sense of it really but nothing in life is as permanent as death. Yes, I know what you are thinking. One death in the family and here we have an expert on it. Funny, but true. I’ve had a lot of time to look into things this past week. I’ve given myself time to heal through writing and while the writing will stop the healing will continue over time. I’ve tried over the years to master the art of not regretting and I think I’m doing an okay job at it.

Your time is now. Do what you have to do now. If you don’t, try not to mull about it when it’s over. No, I don’t mean to quit your job and take that dream vacation. But do the little things. Spend time with yourself (not just masturbating). Take care of yourself and others. Save a bit for tomorrow without going all out today but for what’s worth it, YOLO.

***

The Eulogy

It’s been one week since my Father’s passing. It’s been a week with different and at times, difficult feelings. It will also probably be the last day I write about him and I thought let’s make today a eulogy of sorts. I’ve also run out of white and light coloured clothing. I don’t think I know him enough to write one and truth be told no religion in my family has this practice of eulogies, but a quote by journalist Mitch Albom (which was listed on my little doc of quotes) said, “Nothing haunts us like the things we don’t say”. 

Like I said, I don’t think I’m the best person to write this but since writing for me equals to healing, here we are. It’s still Tuesday when I began writing for the last day. It’s as though I knew of the impending gloom. Part of me always likes to prepare for what’s ahead. It’s probably the same part of me that reacts the way I do to surprises. I think my need to have flawless organisation skills comes from both my parents.

In the first house we moved to in Battaramulla, we had an “Apple” drawer. It was an Apple sticker – the rainbow coloured one before they embraced minimalism with the rest of the world and at a time the world was less accepting of the LGBTIQ community – in the corner most drawer of our kitchen cabinet. Back in the nineties, kitchen cabinets were all the rage. The Apple drawer contained screwdrivers, a hammer, nails etc neatly arranged in little lunch boxes. I still find segregating in lunch boxes to be a swell idea. Of course, Muji boxes and assortment trays are glorious as fuck, but I don’t like spending money on things I don’t need.

During the same time of the Apple drawer, I remember finding money – five rupee coins – in the middle drawer nearly every day one particular week. I used to be a fan of collecting coins in a little till since I was young. The middle drawer contained the rolling pin and lunch sheets. Yes, lunch sheets. The non-biodegradable ones because plastic pollution and usage were not as high. The coin was in the corner of the drawer and I – think I was about seven or eight at about the time – was amazed to have found a little coin there. Five rupees got me a Tintin chocolate from our school canteen in the nineties. Or even a patty from Prema, our primary school patties-Aunty. I was surprised at my luck and like a mouse that took to Pavlov’s experiment, went again the following evening only to find another coin! This went on for, you guessed it, not too long and the fourth day when I was about to take the coin I heard my Father laugh and say that he kept wondering what happened to the coins he kept in the drawer. Had I been smarter in the nineties, I may have told him that the mice took it away.

My love for computers and technology came from my Father too. He was a software engineer during the time I popped out and we had an Apple computer in the house! Or maybe it was just the sticker on the drawer. But I’m quite convinced there was a computer too when I was about four. I used to find myself fascinated over the Oracle books I never understood as a child, which I later used as weights to keep my notes from flying away when studying for my o/levels.

He wasn’t around consistently in the house till my o/levels though. By then it was the height of madness in our little-rented house in Battaramulla. But then, I do remember quite an embarrassing story about a few years before that. The premise isn’t as funny or embarrassing as it should’ve ideally been though. There was an argument at home. I don’t recall what it was about (it was the same house as the Apple drawer) but I was standing by our four-seater dining table and facing my Father whose back was to a glass cabinet (the nineties and their cabinets I’m telling you). I remember him yelling at my Mother and my Sister, the latter of whom is the more feisty one among all of us and being the superhero I was, I wanted to save them all. I didn’t have my cape but I managed to get my four-foot something frame in between my parents and pointed my hand at my Father and began an entire series of yells and screams. Halfway down the yells and screams, I realised I wasn’t speaking as fast as my brain could process what was happening and I stopped speaking. I didn’t stammer, which was surprising as it was a common trait even as a child, but instead, I laughed. I burst out laughing because I realised that my small body was in an attack position, hand pointed outright and the heroine had forgotten her speech! What could get more hilarious than that? It may have worked though because I remember him laughing as well. I suppose I assumed my role changed that day from superhero to Royal Clown.

My memories of him are vague and hazy. I last saw him when I was still in school and we all know that was a long time ago. I Googled on how to write a Eulogy and there were pointers on what I could include but clearly, there are not as many facts or memories I could recall. As an adult though, I look back at all memories, as fond ones. Even the unpleasant ones don’t seem as bad as they did now. That for me really comes with acceptance. But one thing I did correctly with the prescribed-eulogy format is that I stuck by the supposed word count! Woohoo.

Here’s hoping I did justice to my Father who is no more. I hope you are in a better place now with more happiness, less suffering and maybe a shot or two of arrack in a coffee mug.

Let’s Talk about Suicide in Urban Areas

It was World Suicide Prevention Day yesterday and trust me if we don’t talk about it, then, when will we?

NB – There are tonnes of disclaimers in the following text just so we don’t offend anyone you know.

I don’t mean to sound like a negative nanny by the end of it, but like most causes in life, I feel as though it’s becoming one of those where the privilege is allowed to speak of or share their opinions on. Or even become ambassador’s (for its prevention) of.

If you ask all the kids of my generation and maybe the ones before or after, they’ve all probably either contemplated suicide or even attempted at it. I mean, does writing ‘farewell notes’ before an attempt and then waking up the next morning only to realise that the attempt was not successful sounds familiar to you?

See that’s the sad thing about it. I mean I thought it was only limited to cancer, AIDS and maybe Alzheimer’s and similar things – please note that I mean neither to offend nor belittle anyone undergoing any of these conditions, in this day and age of everyone being offended with everything – where causes were overtaken by celebrities and all. See, I know the benefit of having celebrity endorsements. The cause gets more money towards research, development and those suffering from it etc.

But what about those who try to speak about it but are sidelined by the people who are more eloquent on the subject?

It’s like why we don’t talk about marital rape in urban areas.

Or when we don’t talk about rape of younger children within a family.

Because it’s shameful.

Because the voice of the supposed privileged doesn’t matter in this instance. Because like most things, many of these situations cater to the underprivileged. Like I said, not to be a negative nanny or to diss those who were not born into privilege but I realised during this conversation of suicide and suicide prevention, why can’t those who are born into privilege speak about it? And by privilege, I mean the English speaking, credit card using, yes, I have some #Wanderlust on my Instagram feed community.

While our reasoning for committing suicide are probably not the same – no our crops did not fail and no, we probably don’t have money lenders knocking on our doors. But perhaps we are lonely and in need of someone to talk to. I mean everyone around us, including our own selves, continue to hustle hard in this day and age when petrol prices increase when you go to sleep at night.

Can you not judge?

Like my friend said, can you give us something other than prayers?

We would like someone to listen.

Maybe tell us we are not mad. Or that we are a little mad and it’s okay to be mad. That they are mad too.

We would like someone to make us feel accepted. Welcomed.

You know, make us that cup of tea with a little bit of extra sugar, just so we know that you like us.

Taken off Google

Yes, we come from privilege. But that doesn’t mean we do not want to be heard.