Tell me how are you able to move forward?

Hi, you! Yes, you, you the one reading this. How are you? Thanks for dropping by and trying to see what’s been written. It’s been a while, I know. I decided that I should stop calling myself a “writer” because I don’t really write anymore, do I? I don’t actually know what I even do anymore and it’s safe to say that I don’t go out much, save for those who know me, because I feel uncomfortable answering that question. I think I always did. But recently more so, perhaps with the amount of integrity I’ve lost on the job too. Integrity to myself in not writing the words I want to or giving life to the stories that haunt my waking thoughts.

But I thought I’d write anyway.

How are you? If you are in Colombo, how have you been coping after April? Have you been able to move beyond what’s happened or move forward? Have any of your relationships being severed as a result of this?

I’m sorry I’m asking all these seemingly personal questions but these are ones that keep me up at night. I’ve been having trouble falling asleep at night since the beginning of the year, now added to that is having to wake up multiple times at night and investigate as to if things are in order or double check if that noise from actually just the cat from God knows where. Also, I wake up earlier than expected, even before the alarm goes off. I guess, some circumstances probably make other situations right.

How is your spirit though?

It’s an odd one isn’t it. An older, more learned gentleman, who was old enough to remember the events of ’83, popped by at one of the workplaces recently and spoke to us about how April left his spirit broken once again. I realised, despite not having been born in ’83, that’s exactly what has happened this time around. I wanted to ask him how long it was until he found the will to revive his spirit but it wasn’t the right time.

However, what was reiterated earlier, still stands true. This time around, I didn’t put it out to the universe to hold me accountable to it or to make sure it came true, like during other times where I would tell people that I would go to Kerala to reawaken my chi (or something to that extent), which I ended up doing, or the much spoken of Annapurna base camp trek this Autumn. No, this time around, it was words in my mind that I had to write, somewhere. And perhaps, the universe heard its calling, because nothing has changed since and I am still leaving.

But until I leave, tell me, how do you go about your day? What are your waking thoughts? What thoughts do you go to sleep with? What do you think about while you are in the shower? Are you still broken? Is there anything you do to make yourself better? Is there a prescription you are willing to share?

Tell me, how are you able to move forward?

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

Hi (old) friend,

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

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

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

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

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

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

<insert dramatic GIF> 

With you, I decided that we would be #BFForeva

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But for now, it’s goodbye.

How do you sleep at night?

Wednesday April 24, 2019 – 00:02

You think things would get easier. But, they haven’t. Back when I used to study Literature, they would often say that tragedy writes easier than comedy. The fact that I’m still writing, three days in a row, is also my inability to find solace with myself and what has happened. Not that we ever will or we will as soon as one would hope to. But the fact that the news we hear is going from bad to worse every passing day, does little to raise our hopes.

Last morning (Tuesday 23rd) when I woke up, I felt as though I hadn’t slept at all. Was it the same for you as well? Instead, after coming home, I slept in the late afternoon hours when the sun was up. The last time I slept with the light on at night was at a friend’s estate when it was extremely quiet and nature turned out to be a bit too eerie for my liking.

We went into the city and there was little traffic. Were circumstances different, we would’ve been in praise about the smooth drive with little to no stops at all. In Havelock Town, we saw an unofficial checkpoint. It is protocol and yes, the country is in a State of Emergency, but this familiar yet distant sight was not a welcome one. It reminded me that despite my blatant Agnosticism, I belong to a minority and therefore, I am not safe. Yes, that’s a wrong thought to harness at such times, but it is what it is. My (majority-ethnicity) last name does little to protect my entire family. This time personally, has also been one where the question of faith has concerned me. Is this a sign to go back to religion?

On our way back home, we stop by an outlet of my favourite supermarket chain and they check our bags because they are asked to. In the faces of these “security aunties and uncles” are smiles to cover up their feelings of discomfort. The best we could do is it to comply with them and most importantly, smile back.

After a long time, people are vigilant. If someone is dressed differently or different from the majority around them, there are heads that turn. Our heads turn too. Especially if their heads are covered. Or they have more hair on their face than an “average” Sri Lankan man. Or their skin colour is darker than “average” Sri Lankan women. Our heads still turn if the clothes someone wears seem “too professional” or “too revealing” or “too chic” but that head turn is one that generations after us will continue to grapple and fight for.

A foreign Instagrammer I know wants to come to Sri Lanka on a holiday with a group of friends in the coming month. My immediate answer is no, but this has been planned months in advance. As someone who is anal on planning, I know what it’s like to cancel plans when everything has been put in place.

Everyone wants it to stop. But with the developments that keep piling on the table, it’s difficult to see the end. There are multiple groups that are benefitting from the current circumstances. Why would they want to end it if the situation is advantageous to them?

How do we explain to the oldest child of ten, who does not know what “war” or “terrorism”, the meaning of what’s happening? How do we tell them that they would also have emergency bomb drills, like the ones we had when we were going to school that would require to gather at a common place or hide under tables?

So many questions, so many loose ends, which Google does not answer.

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.

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 numb 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.

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!

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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)

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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