I could put it another way. Your brain has turned to shit. Impacted shit, stuck and sticky shit. Shit that smells but won't move. Your impacted personality, and I don't mean impacted like affected, or maybe it's partly that too, impacted by mass hysteria the likes of which no one on a casual visit to your island would suspect or even snuff, I mean impacted like clogged, stuck, at a standstill, compacted into itself and piled upon its own piles, piles and piles of steaming stuck shit. It, your personality, reflects your country and its collective mania. Your personality is like the traffic that stretches for hours all across what has become this cursed island, what your people have built into a place of cursed ugliness, impacted like a clogged colon or a stuck windpipe. This shit reflects the state of your world, the Sri Lanka I tried to escape from by moving east. The roads, the traffic, the garbage and the dogs, a steady traffic jam from Kelaniya past Kurenagala, through mean, hot, ugly ugly Dambulla with its holy places and vegetable market, ever so slowly, and culminating in ugly Kadurawela, your second shitty Anuradhapura. This is the Sri Lanka we are free from here in Batticaloa. Free from, but "conquered" by the ugliness that was, is you.
Your Gampaha pineapples sweet tart sweetheart lying on concrete floors like so many piles of dung. The pukey betel stained verges and dust and bits of bone and rice and paper and plastic and more plastic and more plastic. These are the landscapes your people have built. You have built this steaming mess with your own hands! Your skilled hands. Your strong hardworking hands! And you, as you mourn the passing of the "last regime" and pile more shit of criticism on this one, what good is it anyway? You weave a woolly tale of crap and puke whose fibers are the very fibers of hate and misogyny, violence inviting more hate and violence. Misbegotten.
To be fair to you, I should start from your happy place. Your happy place, the one you describe when your mind is at its sickest and most fevered, the place you describe when you want to find inner peace and tranquility (this you've told me) is somewhere in an imaginary Rajarata where men were strong and long limbed and long lived and women were willing. Happy to start the cooking fires at 4:30 in the predawn cold. Happy to get the rice out to their men at the lunch hour. A pliant brave noble society where education counted for little or was discounted because we know or you know now in hindsight. Education made people selfish. It made them think. It caused the trouble in those communities where everyone shared in that glorious not so distant past. You have rice and I have fruits we will share Tamil or Sinhalese Sinhalese or Tamil. What a beautiful world that was, your comfort space where grampa walked the four or five kilometers into Medawachchiya and your grandmother took the bus. They reached town at the same time. A place where people were hungry (sometimes there was only manioc to eat--not even sambol-the seven year drought of the '70s. But you were happy. You report this was the hungriest and happiest part of your life. There was no food but there were no poisonous chemicals. Men were strong! Women got up before dawn. They had many children. Simple.
A world before violence. A world where people protected each other and felt protected. A world before universal education. Education you tell me is bad. Education changes simple people and brings them to the "business side," as you call it. Forces them to eat junk food and go after money and most important makes them selfish. Is this the selfishness I see stranded by your roadsides in the ugliest manmade landscape I could construe?
You were a human shield during the war. You rode one of the two motorcycles alongside the commander's car. You would take a bullet headed his way if a bullet came his way. This is what you tell me anyway. Maybe this is why your sick sticky monologue drips with PTSD, why your statements fly like so many broomsticked witches into a hot sky, why your world, the world you have built of this island, is mostly gummy and trod upon and victimized by its own trauma, self inflicted, self imposed, self reflective, self mediated and self sculpted. A place no one else could have built. But. Why wouldn't you make this up, this role you played during the war, in that wooly head of yours? Why does this have to be the truth any more than the "truth" you tell me that all drugs get into this island country of yours via Muslims and that all these drugs come from Afghanistan and Pakistan. Someone else tells me a different story. And someone else tells another tale. All sworn truths. Why would you be making this or anything else up? You must have your intelligence from somewhere.
Your ancestral home in Medawachchiya was firebombed by operatives of the JVP why wouldn't it have been? It fits the narrative you tell. Your personal narrative of victimhood. Part of the part of your narrative that makes my skin crawl. So you had to leave the military, which was supposedly the reason JVP had firebombed your place, or did you leave for other reasons like you were sick of being a human shield or for other reasons you do not tell but which are open to guessing, anyone's guess as they say. The story isn't straight. It's very much bent in a sideways slant that I can't read but reading is what I do. Readings of strangenesses and lyings and creepy crawly halftruth untruths that can't be traced or whispered. That is you, driving through the slime of the central part of this island.
You are a surprise and an enigma.
You speak decent English. You dress professionally in a clean pressed white shirt and dark trousers. You shave. You drive carefully. You speak on the phone through earphones so your hands are always on the wheel. You are polite. You are considerate. You care for your guests, and you are courteous of the lady guests. You made a business card for your driving enterprise. It is printed there. You are the "propitor."
Why is it when you came East after a long day of driving you started looking all around you, behind you even in the convivial comfort of our guesthouse, packed that night with partying Europeans. You looked positively paranoid, like someone would jump out from behind a wall and slit your throat. Someone smarter and faster and fitter then you. A lot smaller maybe. But educated. Educated in the ways of war and fluent in their execution. Yes you were bone tired. We were too after the drive through an impacted country where not an inch of peace or beauty could be discerned. But what were you responding to? Which memories? Which things you did? Were you ever on this property demanding booze during poya, which my host reported was a regular practice of the military? Did you slap someone here? Insult them? Do something flagrant? Which fears of this place and the people here were you calling up? What or who did you think was sneaking up behind you? Coming out of the bushes? You are convinced I suppose, like the rest of your society, that the war still goes on here. You are a sad joke. Violence and hatred are still promulgated from your side, in your universities and in your press!! I've seen it and I've read it and I've documented it.
One minute you tell me Tamil people are honest. This is a beautiful lie. The Tamils are the most honest people. Their word is their word and they are strictly honest. The next minute you tell me they are masters of disguise and deceit. You tell the famous story of your general Fonseka whose car was attacked by a suicide bomber. You tell the story as if it were your personal story. The car you were accompanying. The boy on your base who got her pregnant. The way you personally watched her and surveilled her behavior. Your personal suspicions. The day she came up to the car. Too late. Can't shoot a pregnant woman. But the motorcycle guy on the other side kicked her. But too late. She blew herself up smithereens and him too and the general was injured. You were right on the other side of the car in your story. This is how shitty your brain is. You conflate these stories as part of your own. You are part of the evil compacted "we" of story and falsehood and fear and danger and sick innuendo that make up the psychology of this country and its people.
You really think I want to come to Gampaha, to your village in Gampaha and stuff my face with food at your house and sleep in your "village" place and then get driven to the airport for my 7:15 flight to Tokyo? I think I want a cleaner break from this place than that. I want to soar on Cinnamon Air for the hundreds of dollars it will cost us and check out nicely at immigration and whisk myself into my seat and not think about these villages and this chemically food and this awful water and the dogs and shit and hate and the endless varieties of the "sinha-le" bumper sticker with every kind of ugly made up evil font but the lion and the sword stay the same on all the bumper stickers. The muscular male lion and his proud erect sword. And the bumper stickers. In English. Why?? "I'm Buddhist and I'm proud." Who are these people telling it to? We were stuck behind this shit, impacted behind it, for hours. I hated it but I didn't mention it to you. I'd mentioned the evil sinha-le to you before and you'd told me "these are young stupid people who didn't know about the war and they want another one because they don't understand how awful the war was all these thirty years."
This time your cottony mouth from your wooly brain is full of criticism for the new government and longing for the old. Rajspaksa becomes for you once again the rising Saint or the cruelly misused martyr. The taxes you pay now are the fault of this new government not the debts amassed by the former and the stolen billions taken by the other and the inflated projects and the fake forward march of the other. The unfinished road projects, the unfair prices, the terrible response to the floods. All of these are the new guys' fault not the beautiful Beast that was. I listen to your crap because I always listen to all the crap I'm fed in this country. But I don't swallow. I run out of responses though because shit is emptying and oozing from the corners of my mouth where I'm taking it in from you. It's bad.
Your lectures become more monotone as we crawl through the traffic of awful Kurenagala. Kurenagala of dogs and dust and a glorious mountainous backdrop another place of crap and ugliness and hateful bumper stickers.
You tell me how the flood was caused by plastic. Plastic bags filled with crap your people leave by the roadside. They washed to the culverts and blocked the water. Impacted. Human impact. I've seen these bags so much in this country. These pink bags of crap. Filled with old meals and diapers and whatever filth you can put in them and then discarded by delicate hands at the side of the road. I've seen plastic bottles thrown by gents who think themselves eco-warriors. Why not throw a diaper or an old meal out the car window this way? This is the way of the land, the place I brought myself to and you drive me through. The land and the landscape your people are building, widening, burying in trash and filth every day, every hour. Wishing frankly by the time Kurenagala crawled into view I was on a bus. No less comfortable. None of this shitty air conditioning behind smoke spewing diesel trucks that still fills my nostrils with green snot and fills your atmosphere--your atmosphere not mine, with gray filth that lands on every doorstep and window and vegetable you consume. The bus vs the car: Some jerks of speed. But spare me the jungle music that plays over and over with no composition or traction or syntax or meaning. Only the horrible sameness of its insipid sound a sound that grows louder and more insipid and sometimes evilly accompanied by the stupidest videos ever concocted. Always a girl dying from a car crash or in the hospital and we the passengers are watching her handsome boyfriend grieve and hit his pillow with anger and frustration. And then I find out what the drama students are writing here in the universities. Your vaunted houses of higher education. Your bastions of intellect. Vignettes where you kill me or I kill you. A beautiful Therevada staging of another Truth in a society where drama and dramatic expression go deep, deep, much deeper than in our western culture but here in the greasy hands of academia has become so much more crap in plastic pink bags dumped unceremoniously by gentle hands with nice nails by the side of the road for crows to pick at. The innumerable awful crows that have invited themselves and clog themselves with your garbage and multiply like black raucous rags all over your horrible place.
You like village life better than the city. So do I. But you had to move to the city, your village place in Gampaha, because your wife got sick from the water in Medawachchiya. What a strange turn of geography and events. One place is a village village and one place is a city village. One place is peaceful and uneducated and full of cultivators who get up before dawn and work like real men and whose wives bring them meals out in the paddy fields and whose uneducated children take on the work of their fathers and shoulder the burden of families and don't care for money or filthy sex CDs. The other place is not peaceful. It is educated and full of criminals who sleep late and don't work, or must work as drivers or shopkeepers and sit all day and grow fatter and fatter and less and less healthy and make their children go to school, fight with the children to go to school and tuitions and fight for money and become greedier and obsessed with pornography and commit crimes and grow in education and girth and greed and dump their garbage by the side of the road for crows and dogs. One world is Medawachchiya and one world is Gampaha but they share the beautiful Buddhist creed of flowers and smoke and gentleness.
Your mother you tell me lived farther north when she was a young woman. A village farther north where Sinhalese and Tamils lived together peacefully. Always I hear these tales of beautiful gentle coexistence and mutual love and sharing. They become harder for me to swallow as I learn more about how everyone hates each other one watta to the next watta and from across one woven fence to the other. All this live and living is too much of a ruinous lie. Let it lie and tell the truth. We are like every other people on earth. Probe to hatred, insurrection, false categorization, laziness, lying. But back to your story, your mother's story that is or was it your grandmother's? Life became impossible for her just like it's become impossible for every single person in this country because of politicians. Politicians brought hate. Politicians broke up the loving feeling each had for the other, the sharing, the simplicity. "Politicians." Who are these people you run to the polls in your democratic country to freely elect? Who are these people who ruin everything for you and who you bring to high places to do it again and again over decades and decades? What is this impacted system of institutionalized hate you have built up to excuse the neighborly hate and the familial hate and the tribal hate you certainly must feel? The utter lie of we all love one another as you tear each other's eyes out and stick them in the open throats you have torn apart, burnt by the causticness, the caustic mess, of your mutual hate?
You may very well blame this all on the imperialist British colonizers or their brutish predecessors the destructive Portuguese or the enslaving Dutch or you may well point the blame at globalization or at America or at India or at Muslims or at the zionists you revile so handily in your wretched pseudo-press but you own this crap. You own and promulgate and manufacture and generate your own shit that you aim at each other and call for love and at the end of the day you stuff it in those thin pink plastic bags and send it down a stream to feed your fish that you'll have for your next day's meal. So I can say. You eat your own hatred. You eat your own shit.
The vanquished maybe have less a hard time living with themselves than you marvelous heroes of the war. It was all a jam of hatred and vile violence and you heroes had an awful time of it. An implacable smart guerilla army, cruel and focused, the inventors of suicide bombing which they exported to the god forsaken Middle East just as they've brought back such bad habits from that bad place. You were up against a bad enemy. You had a lot to do. But face it why don't we? You did more bad stuff to them than they did to you. You tell me yourself you lost mostly military men to their civilian losses. I know civilians were killed on your side, the "victory" side too. But not like what they got in the east and north and upcountry. So in the end you all have a worse time of it living with yourselves and you must run to monks not for absolution but for abracadabra There! You Have Forgotten the Killing You Did!
You have invented a beautiful world of love and devotion, of flowers and incense, of charity and giving, to hide or hide behind the shaken contents of your jangled brains and wretched landscape. Your gigantic plastic idols in Dambulla and Giritale. Not to mention the ridiculous green plastic Hanuman on the KKS Road in Jaffna. The fakery, the ugliness, the idiocy, the slovenliness, the crudeness, the thing or the wretched set of things they call impunity.
How did we dig you up in the first place? A snake pit of a guesthouse run by serpents and parasites. How naive I was when I read the guesthouse owner's name with the title "Wing commander" after it. Thought it was a joke like his hotel was. Fine. Call yourself a wing commander and these are your serpent-like deputies buying and selling and making business and laughing and stuffing rice into their maws and kowtowing to customers and mocking their Tamil servers in the shadow of the Tamil-owned hotel next door, now a concrete skeleton, abandoned in 1983. I've known this but finally I asked you. What's the history of that building?
And beneath it, almost in its shadow, the nice garden and pool, the happy servers, the guests who smoke and produce foulness and ugliness and the one guest who stays for free, a Burgher through and through, sick in the head, loco, speaking perfect Sinhala, who has something on you, the wing commander, must have something on you because he stays for free and does his ugly business and goes south to "Galle" on business and occasionally has his car repossessed because his dealings are so dirty and so filthy greasy.
This bag of serpents all of whom have a connection to your filthy violent work in the east. Ugly greedy faces, poor manners, foul sounding words coming from them. All connected through the military. All like you connected to the Wing Commander the nicest man to his guests and to his parents and to the poor, for whom he organizes a daana every month. Must give and give generously to the poor and take their blessings and kowtowings and gratitude and put it deep in your deepest of pockets, the merit pocket, that place that maybe might perhaps by chance or through hard work and very hard charity giving provide you with enough merit to not come back as a monkey or a dog or a crow. And so you let that crazy Sinhala speaking Burgher stay free and you smile and invite guests to your breakfast table where you sit with your colder than ice and pretty as a picture mistress. You are running a small efficient military operation from your breakfast table and from your office, books kept by your ruthless steward Susantha and guests placated after Susantha's deprecations and ignoring their simplest requests by jolly Manjula who came to you via some southern connection, some military connection, some one of your pack related not by blood (though you may count the sinha-le aa blood because literally it is the "lions blood of your People) but related by your pact of violence and stern resolve in the face of what turned out to be an implacable tactically brilliant well trained and well coordinated enemy. Such a noble enemy in fact that most of your countrymen honestly believe it will rise again despite constant surveillance and that its calls for truth telling and reconciliation are tantamount to punishment. It wants to punish you still for the deeds you did in the name of peace and unity. The enemy wants to have you by the balls and the international community is at one with the enemy. These things are false but you think them to be true. So expect the worst as you choke yourselves on pink bags of filth and waste.