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:
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.
Doctors, hospitals and similar (medicinal) healers for taking care of and lessening the burdens of a lot of my favourite people.
The nice people at the Sampath Bank Thimbirigassaya branch who made my Monday (and Tuesday). Good service goes a long way.
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).
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.
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.
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,
“මිස්දන්නවාද, Valentine’s Day වලතමයිවැඩියෙන්මගෑණුළමයිදූෂණයවෙන්නේ.”
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.
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.
I usually refer the dictionary on themy Mac for definitions and this is what it had to say on consent:
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Where do I even start. I actually just took a break from writing to scroll through my Instagram that I believe has some of my key highlights and also because scrolling through my planner right now doesn’t sound too appealing. psht.
A lot of bad things has happened this year, the most significant of which is the flood that will probably be engraved in one to a side of my brain for a very long time. Today though, I am going to narrow it down to ten good things that happened this year because it’s important that we focus on the positives. So in no order whatsoever, here are my list of thankfuls for 2016.
The Month of December
December is always stressful., which is also probably why it is first on my list. There is not only the end of the year rush, but also all of our special (and expensive) days. This December was even more stressful because of work, a troublesome shoulder and back and lots of other little struggles that I continued to battle;
because end of the year = birthdays = end of expectations, loss of hope and basically cause for mental tantrums
I don’t get too personal in here because as a writer, this blog not only becomes a representation of some of the shitty work that I may do but also a space where a lot of the people I know refer to, lol. But career wise, there has been changes. Good changes I feel, or at least hope. Like many things in life, I try to continuously find stability within myself and my career as a writer (and whatever else that comes out of it) is an area I like to work on as well.
My sister has been fortunate enough to fly down almost every month since the middle of the year and we hope that she will permanently be here in Colombo very soon. My extended family suffered from the devastating flood but besides the house and some other material possessions, they are safe and good.
My Mum made a stellar presentation at the Human Rights Commission on the work she does and I was lucky enough to go see it. Akki and I are really fortunate to have a mother who believes and is truly passionate about the work she does.
Letter Earthlings Grew Closer to my Heart
My favourite past time is not only writing letters, but to inspire people to write letters. Letter Earthlings has become one of my most looked forward to activities every month and this year in particular has truly help bring the initiative really close to my heart. I sincerely thank my friend Nivendra for letting me be a part of it.
Discovered a New Coffee Place
Or my favourite coffee place! It’s a pity that I don’t grace coffee shops as much any more but if I were to, I know where to go and might have a bit of a tough time knowing what I want.
Travelled a bit more
Across Sri Lanka and to East Asia. Some trips were on work while the rest were adventures with those I adore the most. I am grateful for being able to do what I do and the opportunities I get.
Made New Friends, Grew Distant from Some Old Ones
It makes me a little sad to talk about this but the realisation has simultaneously helped me learn and grow closer to old and new friends who have come into my life in the most unexpected of ways. For those who I may have distanced myself from, I’m sorry but I guess it worked out for the best. You will always be in my heart and I will always remember your birthday.
Those who came into my life and for those who have been here with me, thank you. You mean more to me than I will ever verbally let you know.
Wrapped more gifts!
Gifted grew slowly on the side.
We took on orders we could execute and didn’t for those of which we knew that we either didn’t have enough time or enough resources for. Thank you for all those who ordered with us and believed in us to add some magic to your loved ones special day.
Fell in love, again
With the same man of course, haha. But this year has been one of truly understanding him (and I hope vice versa, lol), knowing that he will be there for a very long time. If he chooses not to, I will buy him back with all the confectionary, speakers and car parts left in the world. Muhaha.
But thank you once again for all those who have been a part of my life and given me everything that you have. It’s been a rushed year, but a good one, I like to think, despite all that has happened. We are older, not necessarily wiser but have grown to become more content with what we have, the people in our lives and most importantly, the little time we have.
It’s been a chaotic week, to say the least and I cannot help but feel sorry for my unlucky self everyday. Of course I am quite aware that there are people out there who are having it worse, so I only needed have that thought down on paper (or screen) to remind myself that things aren’t as shitty as I thought they were.
It’s at times like these that I feel that immense sense of gratitude towards especially the little things and good things that come my way because let’s face it, we all need some good news after continuous waves of shitstorms that have come at you. I’m also quite aware that waves and storms are two inherently different things but I’m not too worried about it. So here are the good things that I am grateful for this week:
My ability to get things done by not raising my voice (and hopefully channeling whatever sense of assertiveness there in me) – basically on how I made Anim8 allow me to have the payment option I wanted because they messed up the quotation.
My online delivery packages that came in yesterday – well ahead of time, yay! Also taught me to maybe plan shopping purchases ahead of time and save the not-very important bits for Black Friday deals.
My PickMe tuk guy today. Such a gem of a man, who agreed to come back and get me after I got done with my stuff.
The roll and hot dog from Cafe Ama – I might be bias because the venture is run by a friend, but the place is clean, a little slow (but that’s only because they are trying to maintain excessive levels of hygiene that is great!) and has great value for money. I paid only LKR 205 for three rolls and a hot dog (two rolls was for my good old tuk guy)
My most recent vendors and service providers – they’ve been kind and nice to me and most importantly, answered my calls.
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.
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.
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.
It’s been too long since I last gave thanks. Work, life and usual and some unforeseen shenanigans happened and before we even know, September has come and gone.
Today, I don’t want to count my list of thankfuls. Instead, I want reminisce and recollect some of the people and times in life that have truly made me feel grateful (that may also not necessarily be limited to this week).
I am grateful for all the hardworking people. This can be anyone from the superbly infamous YouTubers I watch and waste my data on to the security guard basking in the sun trying to successfully make the most out of a parking lot while simultaneously hearing an earful from some drivers like me. It’s because of you that I am (most of the time) motivated to work and keep doing what I am doing. Sometimes, I may not like what I do. There are parts of my curious, supposedly pyjama-loving lifestyle of a job that has moments where I am needed to wear that dress and a pair of heels in order to go out and be social (no, I’m not an escort. Have you even seen me!) But looking at all the other hardworking people out there, it reminds me on how this being one step towards a what I call, “successful rest of your life”
I am grateful for those who chase their dreams. Cliché but true. Too true even. Never has a generation been as blessed as they are now. More clichés coming at you. Neither has any generation before us been able to dream up or cook up career goals and actually achieved them. Most things are no longer #TumblrAF but are actual goals that people are able to achieve. It’s these sort of people that actually make me adamant on not working full-time and embracing this supposed-pyjama living life. Also, I may have not yet found the perfect fit to do full-time too, I don’t know. This twenty-something is still figuring things out. Also, I don’t own actual “pyjamas”. More like some shorts and t-shirts I pair together for sleeping reasons.
I am grateful for the little things that make my day. I sometimes try very hard (and fail) to capture moments through either photograph or text on how a little girl reaches out to hold her Mother’s hand while crossing the road. Or even better, when a dog crosses the road using a pedestrian crossing! Yes, I have something to do with pedestrian crossings, just in case you haven’t realised. Or seeing people celebrating love, happiness or even sharing the last cigarette until pay day while having tea from a nearby kadey.
I am grateful for this year. It’s too early for an annual review just as yet but where the hell has this year flown by? It seems like it was only yesterday when we were playing Monopoly and nomming on my cheese stuffed chicken while New Year was dawning. It’s been a good year. There have been difficult times and the next few months to come will be filled with an anticipated few too. But we carry on. We hustle. We stay strong.