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.

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?

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

Let’s Talk about Failed Writing – II

You see, writing “well” for me was never easy. I always wrote, even as a child (since when I could actually start writing that is) but it wasn’t about being any good at it, but more so as a practice of documentation and now in retrospect (as an adult, lol), to keep at it. Because like the electronic organ that I used to play (for fifteen years mind you!) the more you practice, the better you get at it, yes?

Of course this was before a time when I started considering if “good” writing was even a question. This was before the time of competition, before the time the Internet would be a wonderful but terrible place where I would get to see “better” pieces of writing on the same thoughts that had run through my mind while driving home the previous evening but I had let go of it because I was just too tired to put it down once I got home.

This was before the time I had decided to make a career out of it.

See that’s the other problem. I like to call myself a writer but clearly, I don’t seem to be doing much of it. Mostly because of time. There simply isn’t time between navigating through traffic and replying to a gazillion emails. Second, is inspiration. When there is inspiration, there is no time (or there are more important tasks at hand – a time like now for instance) or when there is time there is no inspiration. I don’t write books or long form as much now so whatever discipline I used to have during my journalist days seems to have casually found its way out of the window.

With the problem of being called a writer – because it’s difficult to explain to people what exactly I “write” because I too don’t really know what that is any more – there comes the question of career. For those who know me well enough, you probably have heard enough about my existential career crisis. For most of the part, I don’t know what to do or maybe at times I do and then there is no clear definite path to get to where I have to go.

Maybe sometimes it would be better to go back to a time of no choice, no Internet and standard careers for all those who graduated school and ran into university. Choice supposedly makes us more creative, brings out the best in us and leaves us more confused than ever.

My career as a supposed writer may have failed because I’m only 434 words in and here I am trying to finish up my train of thought that began with some definitive goal at the beginning of this piece.

Let’s Talk about Prostitutes

A lot of people have already begun talking about it and clearly this post will not necessarily make a difference, but there are rants in my head that need to be written somewhere and if you don’t feel like reading it, no worries!

This is totes obvs with reference to the piece of shit writing on The Sunday Leader yesterday, which was shared by the lovely Aisha. I strongly suggest you read the ridiculous article by The Sunday Leader either way, in order to add some context to the story. 

Let’s start by saying that I, for a long time have been bias towards the cause of prostitutes. I’ve always thought that there was nothing wrong with selling your body and making a living out of it, because a) at corporates people tend to sell their souls anyway, haha and b) the way men leer is actually no different to the “male” customer that goes in search of female prostitutes.

Few disclaimers too (because the world gets ridiculously offensive at everything we have to say now):

  • I’m not going to call them commercial sex workers because it makes no difference anyway. Or maybe it does and it doesn’t really matter to me. It’s different to the differently-abled / disabled debate. Let’s just call a spade, a spade okay.
  • All supposed relationships in this are for heterosexual people. I don’t know too much on homosexual / bisexual prostitutes to speak as much on it.

***

download

Dear Ashanthi,

As my friend Aisha points out, “young girls are suffering from the loss of virginity” is not a disease. Sometimes girls, if not women, lose their virginity at a young age due to rape. Or maybe due to consensual sex with their teenage boyfriend. You don’t “suffer” because of this “loss”. Such sufferings occur in the “loss” of a family member.

More on the “loss”, you don’t really “lose” anything. True there is the story of the hymen breaking and what not, but really it’s not a loss man, grow up for fuck’s sake. It doesn’t even work the same way for all women.

“In most cases innocent but naive young girls, seduced by their boyfriends, lose their virginity due to their affairs. But then, instead of coming back to the right track, they wander away in life astray dipping deeper into the abyss.” 

Like what the actual fuck. What if these girls who have gone “astray” have done so because it is a choice that they have made? Just as the misogynists would say that rape is something women bring upon themselves because of the clothes they wear (another rant for another day), sometimes women go astray, sleep around with multiple men, BECAUSE THEY WANT TO. Grow up lady, the world is not as rosy as you think it and there are women who enjoy having sex with one man or multiple men, and if they are sexually consenting adults who would do it for a fee, what on earth is your problem?

“However, in Sri Lanka, this has become a serious issue due to the ignorance of the authorities for many years.”

Dearest Ashanthi, have you stopped to realise why there is an increase in “commercial sex workers” and an increase in rape? Because men are fucking frustrated. I’ve always thought (and I know that I’m not alone in thinking so) that if prostitution was legalised that there might be a slight decrease in rape because of the increased number of sexually consenting women? I might be wrong, I don’t know, because I don’t have the numbers. But logically, this works out well in my mind and in my utopia, male and female prostitution will always be legal and girls can walk home in mini skirts at eleven in the night. (and so can men, without being harassed or mugged, because we are all equal here, Jesus.)

“But the second group which consists of the majority, are women who have become helpless without anyone to look after them…. The opinion in the society about these women varies as some have criticised their work while some have felt sorry about their misfortune. When we look into the real reasons that have compelled them to become sex workers, we too tend to justify their fate.”

I actually agree with you on this statement. When men who are husbands, fathers, care takers, breadwinners or whatever else you feel fit to call them, fail to do what “society deemed them to do”, women have to take on their role of providing for the family. Some women, who are fortunate enough to have basic education, finds work at a minimum-wage job and the more fortunate middle or higher-class ones are able to find work in the private sector. The rest of the women who are not at such an advantage have to fall back on either daily labour or prostitution. Those who are able to would naturally choose the latter because it’s human to want to make more money faster. I work three jobs, you see.

“In a corrupt society, the lack of solutions for their social problems have compelled many women to become sex workers.”

Our society is corrupt for a number of reasons that I think include: those who come in to power, mismanagement of people’s money, greed, lack of solid foundation for education (and the necessary tools that come with it) that can lead to things like prostitution yes. (I can rant on infrastructure and inefficient government services but I don’t think that’s what we are ranting about now).

Besides your blatant ignorance, supposed reasons for gallivanting at three in the morning in the name of trashy investigative journalism and most importantly the lack of really good sub-editor, I am yet to find enough reason as to why The Sunday Leader would run something on these lines. Or perhaps, they were needing a publicity stunt and thought that this trashy piece of writing would make us buy the paper despite the terribly cheap print quality they have.

Go get laid woman.

From, a lot of angry women.

Let’s Talk about Failed Writing – I

See the notion that comes from “Working from Home” is the supposed abundance of free time. Well, yes and no. Yes, because you are at home, supposedly chilling in your pyjamas (unlike YouTubers who have morning routines where they get about their day at home with a full face of makeup, the furthest I’d go would be to have a shower, breakfast and wear more home-clothes) and deciding what you want to do with the rest of your day. No, because working from home also requires an abundance of self-discipline that seem to come in like a cool breeze on a hot summer’s day. Sometimes, it’s not as infrequent depending on your levels of happiness, hormones and Heaven knows other monstrosities that govern your day to day existence.

But when it comes to writers who work from home,

(Still despite all hesitation, confusion and problems where career is concerned like to think that I am a writer)

there is no excuses, right?

Or that is what I thought so too the days I’ve stayed at home to work. See the work (that is not necessarily related to writing) always happened, but the writing, never came by.

And I’m not even talking about novels. It’s these little blog posts. Prose poetry stuff. Or even a Trip Advisor review.

If I were to show you the number of posts that are sitting in my WP drafts, half-written Pages saves or even the scribbles from various notebooks, the only question would be as to why not go ahead and finish them now.

I’ve done that before and all I can say is that the train of thought once lost, doesn’t really come back. It’s weird because for someone like me who remembers shiz that no one ever should, it should ideally come easy. Because I remember things. But trains of thought seem to pass by and never come back, I don’t know why.

While it definitely motivates and makes me happy to read others’ writings, it doesn’t always help to see pages and volumes of publications making its way to the Internet and print media, while I am stuck here trying to hit a 500 words.

download
(c) Creative Commons

Until sunnier times to write.