Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Lunch in Elephant Land

Introducing you to the modest Wanapetha "Resort" which is actually a restaurant, affording  tasty hygienic local fare, complete with the fried lake fish from the nearby reservoir . You can find this cute eatery on the Tanamalwila Road, next to the Udawalawe Police Station.( Colombo Monaragala Route, and there is a bus halt right nearby where the No 98 halts from Colombo) 
Adorable simplicity in eco-design more than makes up for the lack of luxury and the simple but delicious local fare, served out of clay pots, includes brown country rice, with favourites such as bitter gourd curry, winged beans and Murunga when its in season,and is absolutely welcome for a tired traveler.
Enjoy a breezy respite from the heat, within the eatery before you head back to elephant-land.

Undead Cadaver

The University  is such a beautiful place, sprawling acres of lawn and the most incredible trees and flowering plants, this looks like a little bit of some other country, maybe England…except of course you see the demurely dressed local girls, who are made to wear long skirts and till some time back were not allowed to wear jeans, for fear of being ragged. And there are occasional tropical plants too.

I don't know whose idea it was to come up with an exhibition of dead bodies, but some bright boy did and let me tell you it was a roaring, jam packed success. People, it seems, love to look at dead bodies. What else would make it that popular? I don't understand us people, its just like when there used to be a bomb blast and we would email around the photographs, or more recently, the mobile phone movies. I have to conclude that we are actually ghouls ourselves, admit it ?

In 2009  there was this 'dead body' exhibit and I remember joining a group of cousins and travelling all the way to beautiful Peradeniya to see this, at their urging of course, boys seem to enjoy being all macho around disgusting things. In fact one of our cousins was a medical student who was in charge of one of the sections of the bodies exhibit and he had managed to get us in without tickets, not that those were expensive really, but it was another element of fun to the boys.

The rooms of the exhibit area were jam packed, full of families, which made me really fear for the state of the Sri Lankan entertainment industry. The turn out was just way beyond any movie or drama launch or bridal fair! In spite of the smell! I mean I can remember that cloying truly sickening smell even now as I write this down, staying at the back of my nostrils and slowly draining like custard, down my retching throat! It was putrification, bowels, and lots and lots of preservative chemicals mixed in, a smell like no other and our rather amateur med student exhibitionists had taken no real pains to seal it away. Well I have to agree, it was a dead body exhibit so what else were the public supposed to expect anyway?

So here for those that dared, were laid out the very innards of our mortality. Slab upon slab of post mortem humans, people like you and me, who had previously laughed, cried, been angry jeolous, in love, but who were now past the expiry date and alas , not allowed some proper rest even then. Some of them were cut open with white and brown bones jutting out of gaping autopsy mutilations. Glistening organs were laid out in trays of thick brown fluid for those who wanted to study anatomy. Im pretty sure though that no one came here to figure out how their liver looked like because really who cares, and there is a reason these things are wrapped up in skin and never seen, and its because they are simply disgusting to look at. Our med student cousin however seemed to think different, and actually picked up a brown and black organ he said was the heart, which had been sliced down the middle and showed us some hedious hollow tubes which were main blood vessels of some kind. I really didn't want to know, that was their business. Some thick stinking fluid was leaking out of it as he prodded and his gloved fingers were coated in it, so we reminded him kindly to stay at away  from us. He was completely enchanted by his lecture and didn't notice that thick blobs of this stuff were splashing here and there as he spoke. I wondered rather dis-enchantedly,  if starry eyed lovers knew that this ghastly, putrid tangle of tubes was what they kept promising each other on Valentines day. 
There was also the "Cholesterol" exhibit, which was actually a very skinny young man who had died of a head injury and was thus headless,  but had very recently died, whom they had cut up to show the amount of fat in a human body. It was crazy. The fat was in thick bright yellow slabs like the ghee you see in supermarkets. I shut my eyes and imagined some overweight people I knew, possibly their innards were all buttercup yellow!
The most interesting was the criminal victim's area. These people unfortunately had no identity, no relations to claim them, no name; so they had been appropriated by the exhibition.  One of them was a completely dried out crusted rigid mummy of a skinny female corpse, which seemed to have been a burn victim and was curled into a fetal position and absolutely stuck in this rigor. Interestingly there was a britle white plaster like substance sticking to her limbs at various places.

"This one moves," said my cousin with a completely straight face, surprising me considerably since I could not dream of any situation in which this wood hard corpse could possibly move. The other fresh ones, yes, but this was as cold,hard  and brittle as a dried tree trunk  " In the morning she is in a different place. It has happened a number of  times. I have asked the Professor in charge we should really retire her. I think her spirit is very restless and it is here, unlike the others who have left and moved on. This one is spooky."

I gaped at him in awe. " You mean the other corpses are NOT spooky?" I asked
" No, not to us, we have an intuition about this, this is science, we don't think of it as dead people we think of it as so much meat, like when you are at butchers the way you think of a side of pork or chicken breasts. Or if you buy a handbag made of crocodile skin, its inanimate. But this corpse may be haunted. She was a murder victim you see,"
"What happened to her?"
"Her husband murdered her because he wanted another woman, and they hid the body by cementing a stove over her ; she was left there for 20 years as these two ate drank and were merry in her own home. Police and relatives were told she ran away…imagine what this poor woman had to go through. The body was only discovered 40 years later, when the man had perished, theoretically poisoned by his new wife, and she had then sold the house and gone away. Someone at the police morgue handed it over to the university since there was no one to claim the body. No rest for this poor woman, not in this life and not in this death. That's why I say this bit of corpse is haunted I think someone should say some prayers over her and cremate her. Before something bad happens."
As I think of that interesting exhibit, and our outstation trip, I do hope they have done so, because the thought of what that poor woman had to live with and the purgatory she suffered after her death is very sad indeed. Little wonder that particular cadaver was restless...

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Place of Drying Skins

There is a beautiful stretch of country road, from Hanwalla to Seethawaka, in Sri Lanka as you head for cool Avisawella from Colombo .
Apart from the impossibly green paddy fields and divine river bathing spots, Seethawaka is also a land of rather gory Sinhala legend. The town Hanwalla itself has its name from "place of drying skins" and its probably not animal skins we are referring to here, as some of the old Sinhala conquerors were quite cruel. You can let your imagination take over! Another beautiful town, Labugama, was actually named when a prince once said something like " Oooh would you look at that, it looks like a pile of Labu fruits…" in reference to a large pile of the heads of enemy soldiers…and Seethawaka itself was the place of a famous battle of yore.
Among the reeds, on the side of the Kelani river you can also find the neglected, modest tomb of an ancient  Sinhala king of Seetawaka . Not only was he guilty of boiling a few holy monks in oil because he suspected one of having an affair with his queen, he also once played a trick on his harem and signalled from the battle field that he had lost the war and was dead. The distraught queens all jumped in the river and killed themselves, which must have left him rather numbed to say the least. His tomb is very discreete and has a sad little wooden stick fence round it so you cant imagine that this was a magestic conqueror and VIP personality of many hundreds of  years ago…
However the cool river lined A4 road is now peaceful, bordered by micro sized tea and rubber plantations, bamboo groves, and gorgeous little coconut leaf-thatched road side shacks selling boiled corn, clay items and fruits.
Hanwella has a couple of cute holiday spots like the Natures Resort Bungalow , an Eco Resort named Ambalama, and you can see waterfalls, lush green hills, paddy fields and cool rubber plantations as well as two beautiful reservoirs  which supply water to Colombo ..and so many country roads in paradise.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Make way for Curd & Treacle!

Theres a charming Sinhala saying that no matter how crowded a place is, when the King comes everyone has to give him space…you'll be tickled  to know that this is said in reference to that very Sri Lankan delicacy called buffaloe curd or "Mee Kiri" because no matter how sumptuously you may have feasted at a local festivity, and how full your tummy is, there is always room for a bit of curd & treacle! Its also called Dahi in India and it's a bit like Greek Yogurt they say, although I could not judge that ! Some do say that like the strongest addictions, it's an acquired taste, and personally Im such a fan that writing this blog is becoming difficult, without me wanting to run out and get some… but as a tip, the stuff sold in supermarkets is the sterile "official" version, whearas for the real smoky FLAVOUR of genuine Buffalo, nothing beats the "original" from villages in the  regions of Matara or Tissamaharama, in the South where wood fires are involved and this is made by traditional experts who have done this for generations! 

That leads to another saying about pushy go getter people who make things happen , which is "If he wants it he'll go to Matara to get his curd tonight!" which is all about the extent to which someone would go to get hold of the real deal… 

To make curd, buffalo milk is filtered and boiled, the scum is removed and it is cooled to room temperature. A few spoonfuls of a previous batch of curd are added and it is then mixed well and poured into clay pots.[1] Its eaten with kitul treacle, which is fruity sweet, which makes for a heavenly blend of tangy sour and nectar sweet, as well as a hypnotic mix of colors and textures! …and last but not least,what with traditional packaging is clay pots, and the buffaloes themselves living a comparatively contented lifestyle much of the time lazing deep in mud, which they definitely enjoy, Meekiri is perhaps more cruelty free and environment friendly than many other dairy products around! 

Well, Matara is rather far off, so for now we're going to have to be satisfied with photos of Colombo buffaloes, which, as you guessed, are a bit of a nuisance in traffic. But I do love it that you can see rather wild looking beasts  like this on your way to work on a Monday morning!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Love your mother tongue - respect the other ones!

Love your mother tongue & respect the other ones!

Last month I visited Jaffna for the first time in my life, and wow what a lovely adventure!  I loved the different colours, the different clothes and the sights and fantastic vegetarian cooking, Ive hardly any words to describe how thrilled I was by this land that was so different and yet, our country. Sri Lanka is made beautiful by its diversity,  that is the very differences that make us who we are. Many of you who are reading this article will remember pretty much all your life there was this ethnic conflict/ civil war or whatever,  going on. There were bombs blowing up, Army checkpoints, and sad news on television, people dying and suffering and a general sense of worry. You didn't know if your parents would come back home at the end of the day, after going to work!! For our Tamil friends the situation was worse, they were treated with suspicion, and harassed every where they went in this country, of which they too are equally citizens. Well this ethnic conflict goes back a long way into the past before all the violence and revenge, and one of the reasons it actually started is that the powers that be those days were not sensitive to the rights of all citizens of this country. Thats what we need to understand you see, that all of us Sinhala, Tamil,Muslim Burger and various mixes in between, that this lovely island is ours to have and to hold together.
Let me start with the food for just one example, have you tasted delicious Pongal,  and do you remember the mouth watering sawans that our Muslim sisters send us after Ramadan, and how about those delightful creamy Bombay sweets? Then how about all the wonderful varied characters you meet in life? The different stories, dramas, songs we hear and the colourful festivals we celebrate here, along with so many public holidays...  these all originate from different cultures, and in Sri Lanka we are ever so lucky to have different ethnic communities on one island. But then why were we fighting? For the reasons you'd have to travel way back in history, which might be boring but I will explain it very briefly...some of the reasons are political, meaning people in high positions made unfair decisions, basically so that they could retain power!
One of these decisions was the "Sinhala Only policy" which was made in the late 1950s probably when your grandparents were young.
Now this had some pretty strange paragraphs  which we cant even begin to justify now since  most of the people who wrote it are not around, but basically it meant that all official work should be done in Sinhala and you have to pass Sinhala exams if you wanted to progress in life. This is one of the reasons English was given third place,and then  it wasnt taught for some time,  and now there are only few quality English teachers left in the country. This means that  Sri Lanka is once more in trouble, because when it tries to interact with the rest of the world, all communication is done in English, from scientific discovery to technological breakthroughs and tourism and internet communications - everything needs English
But lets think about the people in Sri Lanka first. We are all equally citizens of this country, Sinhala Tamil Muslim, Burgher or any Sri Lankan. We all live here and we work together to develop it , and we love this country . Being Sri Lankan means we have equal rights, no matter if we are rich or poor, or dark skinned or fair, short or tall, men or women and no matter whatever language we speak. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights,  starts by saying  All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
The government later realized that this SInhala Only policy was not only being silly, but was causing real problems and making people hurt, so they updated it with new laws about language namely the Official Languages Act and various changes to the Constitution . The Constitution which is the Most Important Law of any country, in Sri Lanka now says that both Sinhala and Tamil are official languages  of Sri Lanka and so any Sri Lankan has a right to speak in those languages, and to get their official work done in that language. This means if you have a water bill, or if you want to apply for permission to build another room to your house, or if you want to register your marriage, basically any official kind of work, you should be able to carry this out in one of those "official" languages.
But do you know what? Yesterday I was sitting at the Central Bus halt in Fort at 7  in the evening, all tired and waiting for the bus to go home when I heard the announcements for the buses to Jaffna and Vanunia, and  they were all speaking in Sinhala. Can you imagine what a poor tired Tamil old lady would feel like if she was waiting for the bus to go to Jaffna and she did not understand Sinhala? She would probably miss the bus, and get into worse trouble don't you think? and what's even worse is that the huge neon lit signboard for the public toilets is in Sinhala and English only, so if you were an unfortunate Sri Lankan who didn't know Sinhala you would find it difficult to find the toilets , except perhaps for how smelly they are! Ok, Im joking, but then think about some serious sign, like something saying "THIS BRIDGE IS BROKEN.". What if you didn't see that sign because no one had bothered to write it in your language and then you went and got hurt? Actually it is the public duty according to the Law of the land, including the Constitution and some other important acts, like the Official Languages Act , that all public places should have notices, announcements, signboards and documentation in all three languages!
So  how about your National Identity card, how about the signboards on your road, or on the bus, or the signs in the public hospital in your area, or the instructions on how to get a blood test, or the directions on a box of heart pills?  Are they written in all three languages?  If not have you thought how unfair it is to some people who might know only one language?  I hope you will spot things like that and talk about it  next time you see them, because for sure something has to be done about them .
That way everyone can celebrate a spirit of respect and friendship and we can see a very beautiful future ahead of us, together in this lovely country.

"Progress in the North" Photo by Priyan Amarasingha

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

The Jeweled net of Indra

there are ―thousands...of suns, thousands of moons, thousands of continents...Anguttara Nikaya 1.227

In a tropical rain forest in Sri Lanka, a rare endangered yellow frog is discovered which unknown to anyone, may have the key to life in a parallel universe, and the saving of lives in this one.A Cosmic council of intelligent elders decides it may be necessary to commit murder to save its habitat. An unwilling, and unlikely assassin is selected, and activated.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Water in my grave

You hear from the news each day terrible crimes are committed, people like monsters killing other people,  sometimes for money or anger or jelously or to simply snatch a gold chain, and sometimes you cant even begin understand why. It seems like demons are possesing them and making them do things which cause tragedy and pain to even themselves too, because often they are caught and made to pay for their crimes, sooner or later . 

Recently prision staff in Anuradhapura reported a strange case of murder –suicide from inside the prision itself – two men who were caught for a terrible crime, of having abducted and killed a woman, had been arrested but on the third night one of them had strangled the other and then hung himself . What was amazing was that the one who had done this was the smaller and younger of the two and prision officials could never begin to understand how he had got the strenght and the ability to do this, but perhaps after you read the rest of the story you may understand.

This started with a pretty village woman called Seetha whose family worked in kilns, meaning they mined the mud near the Kelani river and shaped it into bricks which were burnt for sale. Their family had lots of land near the river and this had been their source of income for generations, although now the land was somewhat pockmarked with all the digging. 
Seethas husband was a succesful agriculturalist in other ways and planned the mining sometimes a year ahead and how he would roll that money into his other work and manage the income and expenditure for the year. In the year Im taking about his eldest daughter had just decided she wanted to do a rather expensive but well recognised Information Technology course in Colombo and he was trying to figure out how he should fund this.. 
He had one problem, the land that remained to be excavated in that area was some land which had remained with a good reason. His mother had told him long ago that she had some very bad dreams about a river spirit in the area, who had warned them not to dig that land. This warning had been given to him about 15-20 years ago when he was young and impressionable but in his middle age he had grown more cynical possibly because of boisterous friends of his,  and he felt that it was foolish to worry about this bad dream from long ago and more practical to go ahead with his plan of mining that area. 
So this year he dismissed the irrational fear from his mind and went ahead and told his crew to use the clay of the particular area for the next batch of bricks. About 12000 bricks could be made from this block which at the  current sale prices could comfortably see to his daughters education as well as about 6 installments to his tractor lease.
The process of shaping and burning that batch would take about 4 – 6 weeks and after the initial subconcious worries about his mothers warning, he actually forgot it completely as life seemed to go on fine. He was planning how to level the remaining land in this seciton and sell it for some final income.

One night though, as he had been feeling a bit feverish after working in the sun all day, he felt he could not do the final checking round and sent his wife to check the kiln instead. This was not a good idea. 
The family were startled horribly by the terrible screams of Seetha who came running back with her hair awry and her face distorted. Seetha could not even speak for a day or two afterwards, she had been shocked so badly by something she saw. She never did tell them what it was she had seen either but from that day onwards, she was never the same again, and began to behave in a very bizarre way.
Village folks concluded that she must have been possessed by the terrible and vengeful river spirit and lost her mind , but her husband took her to a psychiatrist in Colombo who gave her various lots of tablets and seemed to get her to function normally again. 
No matter how anyone asked,  she would not however tell of what she had seen that night, and it was to become clear that when the sedative effect of the pills faded, she was still possessed by the unspeakable madness that had caught hold of her that night alone in the kiln.
And in months to come, the nightmare was to take on new levels of horror.

To be continued

Monday, September 24, 2012

Stress proof your motherhood...

Life in this modern day and age has become such a relentless rat race that moms in particular, single and or working moms are likely to feel incredible levels of stress, in particular if you are trying to bring up small ones, manage a competitive stance on the career front and hold an important relationship together and sometimes do all of this without extended family support or a partners contribution. We all agree that mothers have so many responsibilities and so little time, so how do they cope? Remember stress will inevitably have its costs in the long run, where later you could get high blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol and so on, and end up being a long term burden to the kids you love. In any case don't we all owe it to ourselves to be happy in our lives, not just slaves to the system in our own homes?

Having heard  popular complaints such as I don't remember the last time there was "me" time, why is it always me that has to do XYZ, Im such a bad mother Im fed up…we decided to interview a number of ladies on their ideas for how to stress proof motherhood..the ideas were surprisingly uniform!

On top of the list is Time Management- a valuable skill which we learn in the office place which can save us at home! Doing anything at the correct time is always a way of avoiding stress and aggravation, and if you need help in this, create a habit of making lists of things to do, with their deadlines.(hey modern phones are good at this with the little electronic beeps to remind you) Delegate anything that you can to your brood, because they have to learn, regardless of whether they are boys or girls,  they must be able to cope with the difficulties of modern life and what better a way than to train them early! Next comes Prioritizing. Do we really have to go to that cousins wedding, or birthday party or  is there a way we can politely and graciously decline and yet make our sincere best wishes clear? Days of shopping , fit ons , anxiety knocked off in one go(not to mention all that expense- you can use the money saved to send them an honestly useful gift!) . And if you are planning a party, think about your invitees, the simpler you make it the less stress there will be.  Perhaps you can insist on an informal location and informal clothes, instead of the usual showing off! Prioritizing applies at home too, don't obsess about cleanliness if it's at the expense of your temper, as long as the kids are happy and well fed who cares about a few dog hairs on the sofa…and the latest scientific findings are that pets are good for you too, just train them first. Take time to be thankful for the Special moments in life, like clean sun dried cotton laundry…watch an occasional comedy with the kids, taking the dog for a walk, teaching little ones how to grow tomatoes or make pol sambol, or going shopping or when your seven year old decides to make you some tea. Don't try be a perfectionist and DON'T agree to do too much, there are only so many hours in a day and you deserve some time for yourself too! Keeping yourself happy is NOT a CRIME, it is finally for the good of your child! In Austrailia, a lady called Amanda Cox, mother of three, has actually formed the Bad Mothers Club, where she and fellow "bad" mothers support each other over why they gave up in the race to become perfect .

Finally…one very important tip that I found from talking to my friends was "STOP LISTENING to people trying to judge you!" which is very true. People (ehem, women mostly) have a tendency to say mean little things like Oh how skinny your kid is…or such a pity she had to wear braces…or you should do this, you should not have done that. As long as your kids know you love them, and you know you are doing your best for them, do allow all those nosy old in law aunts to go fly kites.

image from http://www.everydaylifeandbalance.com/quick-tips-to-help-you-let-go-of-stress.html

Tuesday, September 04, 2012


Serendipity has always been one of my favourite words
For a long time I didnt know what it meant but associated it with eating Marie Biscuits and Ambul Kesel, on a quiet Balmy afternoon in my grandpas antique house in Unawatuna( those old houses with the fancy trelis work and wooden windows with bars across...and the doors are double doors with glazed windows in them...the cupboards are full of thick cotton sheets which smell of sunshine), with the rustling of coconut trees outside, and the distant sound of a fisherman on a bicycle saying maaalmaalohhh...and of course some friendly cat squeaking nearby...
His house had a dusty old attic full of olden novels, including a 1952 Famous Five book and one of the first editions of CS Lewis "The Magicians Uncle" which itself is about kids who discover a wardrobe which leads into a different world... for a loner  kid who loves to read, that attic was simply enchanting.
When I looked it up in the dictionary I believe I got it right perhaps by sheer instinct, because the attic was certainly a serendipitous discovery in serendipity...:-)

Photo: Sri Lanka Tourism website

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Emma's Luck

…one of the sweetest wierdest funniest saddest most REALISTIC little tales Ive read to date, totally blew my mind– I can hardly begin to describe it. It has a farm, hideous memories of child abuse, fantasy, horror , love, hate and pancreatic cancer and yet….it manages to be funny too ! –not an easy combination at all but perhaps it's the real dialogue that does that

"but you wanted a chicken didn't you?'

"I didn't want its head to be cut off!!"

"would you rather cook it with its head still on?"

"Oh for Heavens Sake!"

"Do you want to put the chicken in the wine alive with its feathers and all?"

"No I want a proper chicken from the super market , or even a freezer , a frozen chicken wrapped in plastic"

"so how do you think the chickens get into the supermarket and freezer? Suicide?"

Emma is a wonderfully practical strong and kind character , putting Eat Pray and Love into the shadows with her own sweetly psychotic  blend of "live, kill and laugh" – at one point in time she reminded me of the mad nurse in Misery but in a very positive honest way and I was actually worried for her new pet…her fantasy is to save her farm somehow for which she needs money, and to find a man- both seem to be answered one day when she finds a crushed Ferrari in her potato field with an unconsious man in it…

You will relate to this if you are an animal lover, or a strong single woman or someone very  afraid of terminal cancer…this has all three. And lots of squealing cute piglets. Who become "Happy Pork" And a unlikely characterful rooster who is possessive about Emma. And a unlikely beau named Max who slowly gradually, reluctantly,  falls in love with Emma.

But from then onwards the story that develops is absolutely unpredictable, is all I will tell you

Emma's Luck had me gasp, and hold in tears  at one point and its been a long time since a cynic like me could be moved that far.

Emmas Luck is available at the Colombo Public Library Acc No 78688


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Liberian Girl Power

There is a superstition, I hear,  in west Africa that if a elder/married woman bares her backside at you, you will practically turn to stone or be so cursed that you are as good as dead.- men who are exposed are considered dead. No one will cook for them, marry them, enter into any kind of contract with them or buy anything from them according to Wikepedia.  Well, today I learned how this and a threatened sex strike allowed a lady named Leymah Gbowee to strengthen a women's peace movement that successfully quelled the Second Liberian civil war leading to the end of the cruel dictatorship of Charles Taylor ... and brought to power Africas first democratically elected female president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. A stirring documentary  film,  Pray the Devil Back to Hell released in 2010, highlights this saga, and its one film I intend to get my hands on this week.  

Along with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Tawakkol Karman,  Madam Gbowee went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize for 2011 for her " non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights to full participation in peace-building work".

Nobel Laureate  Madam Leymah is currently in Sri Lanka and will be participating with the Association of War Affected Women in presenting a  Sri Lankan Women's Agenda for Peace Security and Development to the Government of Sri Lanka, in Kandy today.

When we asked the charming Leymah what her message was to the women of Sri Lanka, her answer was simple " Put aside your differences, of ethnicity, religion, caste, class, and stand together to demand what is right for this country and for your children!" 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Tovil for Soma Part 2

Tovil for Soma (part 2)

By Nadeesha Paulis.


Dusk merged into intense darkness as the bright lights and the rhythmic beating of the drums soon drowned out the horrified gasps of on lookers. The Kattadiya and the broken white clad figure on top of the roof continued their arguments. Under the control of the evil entity, the eyes reddened, mouth foaming and sweat drenched figure was now home to not one but two souls, one of the daughter and one of the father who was evil beyond belief. All his life he had been a cowardly low life thug, but now death had released him from any inhibitions about the law.


The exorcist  in turn was not ready to back down. He began to mock the demon. He provoked the entity by poking fun at his choice of victims. "Have you no shame to possess this little girl? You think this is something great? Any other man would possess someone far more difficult to control." For which the rasping voice replied "This belongs to me. And I shall do with it whatever that pleases me! I always have done whatever I want! " this compelled the entity to further prove his point by shaking and jerking the body violently. Anger aroused in the entity seemed to be dangerous but, the kattadiya knew what he should do next. He began playing the 'straight-man' and directing clever and crude insults at the spirit.


His aim was to invoke the spirit, to believe itself foolish and deprived of significant intellect as compared with others. The wordplay used continued to disorient and confuse the spirit. He continued to degrade the actions of the spirit as though they were done by someone mad and stupid so that the proceeding conversation resulted in the loud outbursts of laughter by the audience. The tension of the atmosphere began to lessen as the on lookers too joined in the verbal insults with loud wolf whistles and applauses as though the whole enactment was a drama done to amuse them and not scare them. Many crude words escaped the girl's mouth in that frightening voice focused at the kattadiya. But the amused atmosphere of the crowd proved otherwise.


The Kattadiya conducted this drama well, under the logic that what you can't take seriously, you can't fear.


Finally…'Look at you, running about in a woman's clothes," jeered the kattadiya which was accompanied by hoots from on-lookers 'who would have thought that the great tough Barawe Chandiya, would finally be reduced to this one day? We can see your frilly knickers!'



This was altogether more than the entity could bear and a spine tingling roar of frustrated rage shook the air as the body lifted into the air, went limp, fell to the roof and  began to roll off  as though it weighted as much as a rag doll.


Men nearby, cousins of the unfortunate Soma, managed to rush to the spot with an old mattress with which they managed to catch the body of the girl before it fell brokenly to the ground. They laid her on a white cloth so that the unconscious girl was safe. She was thankfully still breathing and very much alive although some of her bones in her fingers seemed to be broken. The kattadiya continued to chant certain prayers and charms in order to build protective barriers against any future intrusion of the evil spirit. More charms were placed around the outside of the house, to ward off any bad spirits, demons or other misfortune from coming closer to her as she was in a weak state.


No further paranormal activity was reported by the family and that the girl in time recovered from her physical wounds. A cleansing on the house had been carried out and a priest had preached 'Bana' in order to calm the mind of the unfortunate girl. The family and relatives sadly admit that the girl never did truly recover from the ordeal and the fear she had for her father. And of course she was fated to be shunned by traditional society and no one would marry her because she was supposed to be 'the one who ran about hoisting her skirt'.


an unfortunate series of , no wait, a really tragic, useless, BLOODY INEXPLICABLE series of events..

Another wierd link I stumbled on when researching that story...http://www.srilankaguardian.org/2010/08/soldiers-view-part-two.html

And here is the text of the clip which I wanted to find
Police in Anuradhapura have arrested two suspects in connection with the rape and murder of a pregnant woman.The victim's body was found hanging from a tree near Kandy Lake on July 27.The 40-year-old, who was mentally unstable, had left her Hanwella home following a dispute with her husband three days earlier.
Well, Journalists do mess up more often than not.  this story is sad on so many counts, since the woman was not necessarily mad as it not so subtly implies here, and there certainly was no dispute with her husband, who I know for fact is as grief stricken as a man can be- and also because she was pregnant with a son they had dreamed of all their lives, and in might actually have been this unborn son which caused her death. Wait, you say, murder, rape,and  youre blaming a  fetus....?!?Well I shall tell you how it happened . What made me so shaken up was the whole pointlessness of this death, the whole glitch in circumstances which need never have happened and yet they did, leading to the needless misery of so many people, not the least of whom are the 2 young rapists/murderers who I kid you not are currently suffering physically at the hands of the Sri Lankan Police as we speak ...

I dont know why this kind of thing happens...co incidences which make and break lives, I cannot explain them and you will understand my bafflement when you read this story, which you have to believe me is true. Im not a journalist, Im technically their neighbour- the best source.

to be continued

Now You See Me - Aug 14

This book of mine, which begs to be written, begins with a Dastardly Murder and Rape (not mine and not in that exact order) but I admit it shook me up. Remember the land I told you I bought, in Hanwella. It made me so happy...according to the UN or something, only 1 per cent of the worlds land is owned by women, astounding as it sounds. well thats food for thought since you will agree it is land that sustains life....anyway, about the land I bought in Hanwella near a large stream and rubber tree estates, so picturesque with water buffaloes furrowing about nearby , endangered and migratory birds crooning from the trees and a rumored family of small esturine crocodiles in the stream? well for the price of about 1500 Dollar, I owned a small patch of Gods Earth, where I could finally lay my bones some day in the hope that they would not be disturbed. Thats what I thought and still think...but now to the murder.
Its quite a sad story with hints of occult, and crimes of passion and it makes you think about life and love and being at the wrong place.
here is the small clip she was afforded online http://srilankamirror.com/news/710-2-arrested-for-rape-murder-of-pregnant-woman but there are much more detailed stories in the Sinhala papers (local audiences just love some good gore, Im pretty sure my idea for a  paper with only good happy  news will not sell much in this country- or heck , anywhere) ...
anyway the full story goes ....

to be continued

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Tovil for Soma

Tovil for Soma.By Chandrika Gadiewasam
One evening a few weeks after their father’s death, Soma was lighting a lamp to a God in their garden, when she felt her wrist twist, like in a cramp. It was six thirty, that moment between dusk and night and the pain made her almost faint, and then both her wrists began to twist backwards, as well as the fingers on her hands, as though some invisible bully was trying to make her cry. And cry out she did since the pain was so intense, in the next fifteen minutes as she fell writing to the ground in front of the lamp, helpless in the grip of her own body which was spasming against her control, the extremities stretching unnaturally in impossible directions.
The pain was intolerable.
This was the beginning of Soma’s possession, and it did not cease though she was taken by her mother to a neurosurgeon , since they thought it was some kind of nerve disease. The free government clinic of course gave a date for a next appointment three months later, but since the medications were not working and the spasms continued Soma’s suffering mother begged money from her brother and took the girl to a private clinic. They found nothing wrong but listened in vague disbelief as mother and daughter told of how the girl’s body would contort in incredible positions. Her involuntary screams of pain too would be unnaturally guttural as if an angry man was shouting from her throat, which they thought was due to the pain involved.
The doctor gave her various sub classes of vitamin B, lots of it, and it made her nauseated. Within a few weeks as her family watched in helpless horror, the grunts and shouts of pain she made were converted into inexplicable Sinhala curse words which Soma would never have dreamed of uttering in her sound senses. The kind of words that the dirtiest thugs in the meat market would have used in a drunken brawl. Words which she didn’t even know. Her mother and sister figured it was the pain which made her swear like this but couldn’t understand how she developed a man’s voice; it was a fairly familiar voice too. She sounded like her father had, those days.
The village elders understood what had happened.I was a witness at the exorcism of Soma and it was an incredible fight we witnessed. Imagine the background of drums, gruesome masks and coloured lamps, a slaughtered cockerel, and the oil painted exorcist chanting century old mantras to evict the possession. It was her father possessing her, and he was a cruel drunk village thug who had beaten up his family members often and taken their food money for his gambling. He was also accused of other darker crimes abusing his daughters which no one could even speak about. He was dead, but he was not ready to give up the evil his life had brought to their family. He made her body behave like a monster intent on causing her pain, and twisted it self into contortions which were painful to watch.
She hoisted her skirt up like a thug in a drunken brawl and climbed onto the roof of her house from where to shout unspeakable obscenities in the midnight ceremony, weaving drunkenly across the roof, so that eye witnesses were praying that she would not fall. The evil entity that had been her father said it would continue exploit her, would not leave ‘ his family’ and would not let go, he demanded that they serve him they were his ‘property’ he said.
The Kattadiya(demon-priest) and the entity fought a three hour long argument, where Soma’s body was the battle field and her pain was of no consequence, and at the end of the three hours it seemed like the evil entity was winning. Soma’s mother rocked and keened in tears of anguish as she heard bones break in her daughters body and watched her hang like a rag doll across the roof tiles. Nothing seemed to be working, and the possessor kept insisting that he had the right to stay.
To be continued