Monday, October 29, 2007

Modera's Baby Twisting Nightmare

ok , if the photo is spooky, wait till you read the story...its in WOW of Daily Mirror this week.
and what I havnt mentioned there is that this is a true story.
This story revolves around an average house in Modera which is one of three houses belonging to siblings now long dead and gone. In the left of the row of houses there had lived a ravishingly beautiful but somewhat vain Sinhala woman named Sriyankanthi, who unfortunately had a personality totally in contrast to her name and angelic appearance. Neither more nor less vicious than the average Ceylonese woman she appears by all accounts to have been obsessed with the usual shallow local pastimes of comparing peoples wealth, status ,castes , race and judgmental gossiping, and back biting. Her son was one of the most good looking young colts in the whole area at the time and the apple of her proud maternal eye, although his personality turned out different and he selected for his wife a woman of less social standing and little wealth based on his genuine affection for her. Probably someone of more human values and intelligence from the stoic way she bore up her future miseries as you will see, and a girl of another race or caste , either way – unsuitable in Sriyakanthie’s eyes.

Sriyakanthi was furious with her sons choice for all the usual superficial reasons. This would be a serious social let down and the girl did not have the wealthy background she had been hoping for. She had spent her life looking down on this sort of person and now chose to consider it a slap in the face from the son she had invested so much love and care in, although naturally most of the blame went to the potential bride for be-witching him.
However to Sriyakanthie’s consternation the son was adamant about his choice and went ahead and married the despised girl. She ranted and raved and caused scenes, totally rejecting the daughter in law from the start and effectively drove herself ill with this reaction to the situation. Maybe it was a terrible consequence of this prolonged hysteria or maybe some other medical condition hitherto undiagnosed, either way, within a few years of her sons marriage, beautiful Sriyakanthi lay wasted on her death bed and eventually passed away but not before uttering a final curse on her own son and his wife, to the effect that she would personally make sure they would never children.[1]
Life for her relations was quieter after her death and she was soon generally forgotten except perhaps on anniversaries either way, the son and daughter in law who had faced so much rejection, made the best of their new life at that home.

Months passed and then Sriyakanthie’s daughter in law was with child, and then in time duly gave birth to a son. Sadly, and perhaps we can speculate here, due to the psychological tensions she had undergone, and the subconscious dread of what she had heard, her child was indeed lame and misshapen, club footed and rickety from the start, in short looking as if it had survived some terrible accident. . But being stoic Buddhists, they accepted this as their lot and never considered the child a burden but did their best as parents to take care of it.
Within another year another child was born to this unfortunate couple, again sadly, a misshapen and deformed little girl.
You can imagine the sadness in the lives of these two because their destiny according to my friend, was to give life to a third child and it too was an physically deformed and slightly mentally handicapped too. Apparently the burden of looking after the three special children was simply too much for the young woman to handle and she pleaded with her husband to shift the family and live with her parents in a different town. He conceded to this plan and Sriyakanthie’s accursed house was whitewashed to be given on rent.
The house itself was a very pleasant and presentable piece of property and many potential tenants expressed interest. Then as now , the newly wedded couples were the majority of applicants usually in their quest to evade interfering in laws or be closer to a place of work.
A young couple who was already expecting a child rented Sriyakanthie’s house
Within a few months of moving in ,the young wife suffered a miscarriage of her fetus, in a very tragic and terrible mid night drama in which she too almost died. They did not know about the background of the house or indeed have any reason to even suspect any background worth mentioning but now the neighbors were beginning to speculate about this series of events.

To be continued next week.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Another Day in Paradise

OCTOBER 16th 2004
Al Juhara writes…
…unfortunately for you, gentle readers, quite compulsively. Be it dairies, letters, emails or heck, even the odd “To Do” list, I find an entire waffle of literary produce emerges when I lay pen to paper. Or finger to keyboard.
I remember when I was eleven and the subject at school was “My Ambition” I waxed eloquent about wanting to be a writer. How I filled a three-page essay with that basic decision is currently a mystery to me, but it must have worked as I know I consistently got marks like 99 for English. What being a writer actually entailed I had not bothered about and still do not and the dream continued as you can see from a page out of my 2004 dairy.

Have decided I must write a book to surpass “God of Small Things,” ”Harry Potter,” and “Lord of the Rings,” combined, which will shoot me to Instant Fame and Riches, so that I can buy a house, but have not decided what exactly to write, or if its actually easier to instead dictate into borrowed micro cassette, as handwriting in busses not really that legible.
But stuck for ideas.
Also not sure if grammar and syntax correct.
(Mosquitoes munching me under table – vague visions of dying tragically at young tender age of thirty three, like desert rose, five minutes off to light the ARS coil)
One thing for sure:
I need to get richer! Quicker!
Because if I go on at this pace with the librarian job in the NGO , I will need estimated four hundred and seventeen years of desperate savings and scrimping to buy myself the house of my dreams.
Which brings us to issue of “what is wrong with house already inherited”(for more details see page ….)
Am late for work today and will have to sit through long bus trip and not looking forward to it. Although admittedly gives me a lot of time to think of subject for Blockbuster Novel. Also ends up in me day dreaming and falling asleep on way to work ,and subsequently imagining derisive public speculation on what had been doing last night…

Have you noticed the amazing color in a Ceylon bus?
They are really story book vehicles
painted gaudily
adorned with rows of Hindu Gods
Windows are stuck
Water gutters inside alongside windows (occasional drips of puke here)
Not enough leg room for a tall woman
We burn them when we get really fed up with them.(Colombo traffic ,pg…)
Give you a long time in which to think about life and being poor in a third world mega city.
Occasionally therapeutic as in when I have had a major row with 927862.
and get into a bus and go off without my mobile phone, to make him worry. I did that one poya day , went off to discover myself and having reached Dematagoda, returned all in about forty five minutes. Brother dearest admitted that was quick. He had known people who took five years off in Tibet to find them selves and still couldn’t..
Smelly and
Have a knack for stalling alongside garbage dumps.(For Colombo Garbage see page ….)

Every morning I pass a hardware store which is opening up for the day .There are ceramic squatting pans hung one atop the other , and colorful plastic mops, aluminum buckets and sinks and this wonderful old Turk in a white fez , who very patiently with a bucket and a small plastic cup ,cleans the ground in front of the shop. Smiling at him is pointless as he concentrates on this floor cleaning as though his hope for Moksha depends on this , and limited by the size of his plastic tea cup I am sure the process takes up at least forty five minutes each morning. A kind of Japanese Tea Ceremony in an aluminium ware background…
Checked again to see if phone has lost its charge: 927862 said he would call…

Looked over the flyway into the railroads below in Maradana and regretted it :
Then there is the Pola, in Dematagoda.
In the morning it is not the smell for sore throats. In other words, the cloying early morning stink of garbage is something alive and pulsating, kerchiefs and helmets are flimsy arsenal against this determined blanket of bio degradation. Year after year it continues to mark Dematagoda like a large in-your-nose landmark to your sense of olfactory direction.

Decided that I am looking quite hip in bus taking notes like some kind of casual social scientist . Peeps are staring at me rather curiously-

However, regretfully, sometimes that dreaded monster called Writers Block stands in your way and you go days months or even years without being able to create anything remotely presentable. Perhaps this is one of those phases. Or maybe its just that I’m cooking up a surprise…

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

a one in a million publication…

IF ONLY someone had broken the silence- by Kamla Bhasin (illustrated by Bindia Thapar) 50/- available at Social Scientists Bookshop, Col 5 or online at

As adults we know that pedophiles lurk everywhere, in buses, schools, family name it, we are paranoid; but like the little girl in the book says “why didn’t the people who loved me warn me about people like this?”

IF ONLY someone had broken the silence is a poignant little booklet, ably illustrated with adorable caricatures, on one of the most sensitive subjects in Asian society today- sexual violence against children.

Sensitive, professionally written books for children, on sexuality are generally limited to very expensive imports from USA and UK and available in upscale outlets mostly unaffordable by the average middle income family anyway. So I must say I have been searching for this sort of a book for ages, and its disappointing that there doesn’t seem to be any like this around in the local market, and oddly even this booklet is “for limited circulation only” .

The truth is maybe we parents do tell children about these things but just like all the other advice you give a child, sometimes it becomes difficult to make things exactly clear and to get their attention for long enough to emphasize the gravity of these problems.
The difficult subject of child abuse is approached from the first person account of a little Indian girl growing up among a typical extended family of diverse family members and relations. A theme so sensitive must be handled carefully and this booklet can be regarded not just as a work of art in its own right, and timely reading for children on ground realities of life, but as an obviously professional output.

Ms Bhasin’s little booklet can be called an excellent opening point, or conversation starter or perhaps a revision of things already discussed. Either way it’s a book that I recommend parents to invest in and perhaps the powers that be should consider translating it, because child abuse is one of the best kept secrets in local society and as Dr Martin Luther King Jr said “We Have to Repent, Not So Much for the Evil Deeds of the Wicked People But for the Appalling Silence of the Good People"