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