Even in the hospital Dad couldn’t help himself. He was still the same old man, who hated the societies preferential treatment to the have’s and the have not’s. As he had “Dr” in front of his name all the attendants and nurses treated him well. Unfortunately, his neighbour was not privy to the same, sometimes even the basic requests were ignored. The guy next to him related to us that couple of nights ago, he had no water and the nurses had just ignored his several requests, Dad almost had a tumble trying to give him water from his jug. Dad had even shared some of the food that mum had taken him. That guy was so grateful. But dad was annoyed and a tad bit ashamed that he was treated well and the other not so. If Dad was alive and living in Australia now, he would have been so happy. So, happy to note that there was a society where you are an equal in a Public Hospital. In fact you are an equal in most places.
I wrote letters to my uncles who were living far away, telling them that Dad has pulled through, that Dad was coming home tomorrow. What a whirlwind of events. But, we knew, it was a long way from us returning back to TRI (Tea Research Institute) or to a normal life. There was suggestion that he could do light duties in Colombo with the Tea Board. We knew he was still fragile, but he has pulled through the biggest hurdle. We will make sure that he doesn’t set back in his old workaholic habits. We will take care of him. Dad’s 53rd birthday was coming up at the end of the month. We will celebrate it, as we never have. I saw a funny birthday card in the shops, something about old age, so I bought it then and there. Life was good again.
I was thinking this was going to be our last evening visit to the hospital. Dad was coming home tomorrow evening. How sweet does that sound. Dad had worked out what needs to be done. He wanted mum and Cuz Sulo to come in the morning with several cakes from “Green Cabin” a popular cake shop and some good tea(leaves)from Tea Research Institute. He had a list of doctors, nurses and attendants to whom he wanted to give gifts.
He asked Velu (a man assistant given to us by TRI), Thangamma (our long time maid) and myself to stay back and clean the house, as he expected many visitors. He told us the number of people he had invited to our house in TRI. Not just for a meal, these invitations were for them to come and stay with us and have a holiday. He was in an elated mood. So were we. Much better than him confused and disoriented. I shake that memory off, just celebrate girl, that was just a bad dream, I said to myself.
*Note: for the benefit of those who have not read the first 6 parts of this story, at present we were living in Colombo in one of my cousin’s house, our usual place of residence is Talwakelle (upcountry 4.5 hr drive) where TRI is situated).
The driver was a touch late to pick mum and cuz Sulo. My cuz wanted to be in the Hospital before the surgeons finished their rounds, so she could speak to them. So she asked to be first dropped off in the hospital, before the cake purchases. Mum, decided to follow my cousin to the wards, so she could pack dad’s clothes, toiletries etc and take it with her before going for the cakes. Her thinking was so when taking dad, their hands would be free to concentrate on taking dad to the car safely.
The clock had turned back again. The blaring horns of the traffic outside my window sounded the same that night. It was humid, hot and uncomfortable as always. There was no signs to say that the clock had wound back sixteen days. There were no signs at all to say that the roller coaster was now on free fall.
It’s now four years since we said goodbye to my uncle. Just recently we had a prayer, remembrance and a family dinner filled with many chuckles on his behalf.
I like to share something I wrote for this day.
I wanted to utter these words at his funeral, but I didn’t. Is it because I was overcome by sorrow? Is it because I felt that I was saying goodbye to my father all over again? Is it simply because, I didn’t think my words would be good enough? Or is it because I knew I should have told him these words when he was alive? I guess it was all of the above.
For whatever its worth, I need to say them now. Today is a good day as any other.
I will start with the funeral. I was filled with much sorrow as well as guilt. Periyya (uncle in Tamil) passed away the day I returned from Singapore. When Ganesh picked me up from the airport, he said, “your Periyya is not well, we will go and see him once you have a bit of a rest”. I didn’t think it was that serious. I thought here we go again; the Old man is pulling another one. He waited till I got back from Singapore, but it wasn’t that important for him to say goodbye to me in person. He passed away that afternoon.
I felt guilty that I didn’t go straight from the airport to see him, I felt guilty that I took that nap. I felt guilty that I didn’t go to see him more often. More than anything I felt guilty that, I never told him that he meant so much to me than he will ever know.
As each eulogy was being read, I was reciting my own in my head. Deja vo, why am I saying goodbye to my dad again?
It’s taken me nearly four years to make peace with myself and get the courage to speak up. Knowing my Periyayya, he would have been utterly chuffed with any word that I had grouped together. The card that he sent me for the first Depavali after my dad’s passing, just signed “Periya (appa)” two words, that’s all. He didn’t need to quote me Shakespeare or Nietzsche, it told me in abundance that, he loved me, he missed my dad, he wishes my dad didn’t die, and more than anything he has got my back.
I am not sure if I totally believe in the possibility of spirits, souls and after life. But, I take comfort in the possibility of Rasam and Skantha having a chuckle, and keeping watch from up there. Or it could be down there. There are more magnets down there than up there. Who knows.
I am not sure if it was fate or a just a mere coincidence that the two families in tandem decided to move to Adelaide. But it feels as if, it was the grand plan of the man up there. Whoever, or whatever the reason for the reunion, I am truly grateful.
I got a chance to spend quality years with this larger than life personality. More than anything, my kids got to enjoy a surrogate grandfather.
I like to wrap up now but with a special request for a visual. Can you just imagine if he had the farm in Australia and the two monkeys? We would have ended up with monkeys named Barnaby and Joyce.
Here’s to my Periyayya. To a man who was the biggest pain in the Ass and but had the biggest heart as well.
I will give you a little bit of a background into who this man was so you understand some of the references.
I was very fond of this man, who was a larger than life personality. He was dad’s older brother. In a family of extreme academics, he was not one of them. He was probably dyslexic or suffered from a learning difficulty. But nothing was diagnosed in those days. Just considered as a problem child by the teachers and maybe even by the parents at times. Still he achieved a lot more than any academics in the family.
He joined the Agriculture Department and was rising through the ranks as he was coming up with novel ideas to solve the problems of the region. Also he was a stubborn pain in the ass to all who didn’t have a vision. He didn’t mince words when he had to say something. Once after a heated discussion with the then Minister for Agriculture he came home and named two of his monkey after the Minister. At a later date when the said minister and his yes men visited his Farm, he introduced the monkeys to the group, without skipping a beat.
He was also big on yoga and magnet therapy. He used to carry a big block of magnet in a back pack. Once leaving a restaurant, he walked away with a good number of cutlery.
My dad was the youngest of eight kids. But unfortunately he was the first to depart at the young age of Fifty Three. The day after the funeral my uncle sat me down and explained a tamil word. “Periya appa” means Big uncle. “Periya” means Big “appa” means Dad . He said just remember that and he left back to his farm. For the outside world he comes across as this rough and tough guy. But in reality, he was the biggest mush.
In his latter days it was really hard to see him so frail and reduced to a small child. Even then you would witness his personality pop up time to time.
Rest in Peace big man.
Daily Post Word prompt
The pearl of the Indian Ocean, once the envy of the east, now torn and battered, gasping, clutching at the last straws to survive another day. Is it the end of the civil war or just cease fire for another eruption, for another day for another cause?
A lot has happened since the start of the civil war, loss of my friend and then my departure to Australia. Before I go any further I like to dedicate this story/writing/rant to my late friend Lalith Gunesinghe. This is not all about Lalith. But Lalith’s passing was the main reason for me to analyse what happened, what went wrong in my place of paradise.
I have no illusions of changing the mindset of the Sri Lankan’s, but I do hope that I make at least an iota of difference in someone’s thinking, especially of those from Australia, or at least amongst the young generation to make them think, make them aware of what actually happens in a war. More importantly when you hear it on the news, it is just data and that of distorted data, words such as “casualties” are thrown around, just a mere number, their names are not important, I understand that there are too many of them, but there lies a real person, he is a dad, a son, a brother or even a friend. This person is going to be missed by all, and not just for that moment, but for years and years to come.
My name is Uma Sivapalan. To a Sri Lankan this name would explain that I am a female of Tamil origin and most likely a Hindu. My friend Lalith Gunesinghe was a Sinhalese male.It is, if the name was Mc Donald it is very likely the person is of Scottish decent, likes the bottle with the walking man and has a good command of the“f” word. Lalith’s name doesn’t really stipulate that he was Buddhist, but most likely. Some of those who converted to Christianity during the English colonisation did not change their surnames. But Lalith was a Budhist from the Kandy region. Upper Class. My forefathers came from the North of the country Jaffna. Again from the right class and stock.
History is usually written by the victor. But what saddens me most is not that History could be biased. But, we use history for the wrong reasons. We should learn from our mistakes, but preserve the good. We constantly do it in reverse.
Sri Lanka is a very small Island with a big population. Most of us are not even Christians, but we believed in “go forth and multiply”. It is made up of Sinhalese (majority), Tamils, Muslims and Burghers. Languages spoken are Sinhala, Tamil and English. Not sure why we did not adapt Portuguese and Dutch. We took their surnames and cooking but not their languages. Thank god we didn’t look to the English for cooking tips. We stopped at sipping the tea. We copied a bit of the singing and dancing from the Portuguese as well. Budhism and Hinduism came from India. With the invasions of the west, some of us converted to Christianity. Islam came from the Arab traders.
I think what baffles most of the westerners who have visited the island is that, if you take the individual Sri Lankan, he is a very peaceful and lovable person. They are renowned for their generosity and friendship, how can such a lot then be involved in a terrible war, where they killed their own. Yes, we killed our own. Yes, you can separate them as per their language/dialect they speak. But, we are really the same. Some Tamils, who are now residing in different countries, have taken a stance to say that theyare not Sri Lankan’s. I understand their reasons, but finding it hard to condone it fully.
We look the same, brown skin, black hair, dark eyes etc. Act the same way when someone asks you “are you from India?”. I am still to witness a Sri Lankan, who takes more than two seconds to say, “NO I AM FROM SRI LANKA ”. We respond as if we’ve been called a pariah. In this we become SriLankans. It may be a tiny isle, but it has its own identity, New Zealand is not Australia.
As a Tamil, I understand why some of the Tamils have disowned their birth place. I sometimes wonder if I am a Sri Lankan or an Australian. Am I being unfaithful to Australia, when I secretly wish Sri lanka doesn’t lose badly in the cricket? Am I being unfaithful to Sri Lanka when I support Australia over my birth place? For some Aussies they can’t understand why I don’t support Sri Lanka, for some others it definitely has to be Australia, I have adopted this country that means I should support everything Australia. If not I am being unfaithful. It’s not that easy or simple. It’s like when you get married, now you have another set of family and an extended family. Just because you love your husband doesn’t mean you hate your parents or siblings. The love and affection you have for you’re in laws will depend on each ones experience. And hence the reason why migration either works or doesn’t work. The answer is not one size fits all. It depends on both parties as well. And if you love or hate your birth place will depend on your individual circumstance. I will revisit this area again later, why for me I cannot join the collective hate nor love for Sri Lanka.
It is now over 25 years in Australia, most of it spent in Sydney and the last ten years or so in Adelaide. Altogether I have lived more of my living years in Australia than in Sri Lanka. Does it make me an Australian or Sri Lankan? Legally yes I am Australian, but within me who do I want to be? More importantly what does the rest of Australia accept me as?
I feel like an adopted child who is extremely happy with her adopted parents. Have the same anguish and disappointment of my birth parent Sri Lanka. I did nothing wrong, but she still let me down. I don’t really care, I am in a good place, in fact I am in a better place, the best place, but it still hurts.
The above is a story I am currently in the process of writing. I was not going to publish this until I completely finish it and analyse it, as I have a feeling I am going to annoy a lot Tamils as well as Sinhalese with I say and reveal.
The reason for me to publish some of it today is because My New Island Paradise Australia is showing signs of falling pray to racism. I am really upset and annoyed. Every time a foreign celebrity, accuses Australia of being racist, I keep defending and say “Nah” they are just open about what they say, absolutely amazing people. Just a small minority is spoiling it for everyone.
I am posting my story because I want you numb nuts to know that there is nothing amazing about going to war. Not within your own country. You may not know it, but this is just a paradise. Please don’t spoil it because your kids wants Kung Pao Chicken for dinner and not your pot roast.
A vote for Pauline Hanson is a vote for racism. Come on guys we can do better than that. I am not saying we don’t have issues with refugees and migration. But we need to address them in a democratic way.
Imagine if your child is born being hated. Where do you think he will end up. That’s exactly where you are sending the Muslim kids to. Straight to ISIL. In my view anyone who engages in hate speech/rally is also a Terrorist. Well, if you see a bunch of Muslims gathered and say bad things about Christians what would you call them?
I am skeptical about churches and priests after, what I’ve heard of the horrors that happened behind certain doors. Yes, I am angry with all the churches and priests. As in my mind even if you didn’t commit the crime, you allowed it to go on, so you are guilty too. You don’t want to know what I think of Cardinal Pell. But do I then go on to hate my neighbor who is a Catholic too?
The question of whether Islam is a religion of Peace or not is another ludicrous argument. All religions are meant to be peaceful, But every religion or it’s followers manage to make it as vile as possible. Every religion, at one time or another has been the cause of some misery. Because religion is in the hands of the man, he will twist it and turn it to suit him. Let’s stop blaming religions and blame the actual culprits. Let’s stop generalizing a whole group of people and address the individuals who commit the crime.
I think I have vented enough. World Peace seems far away. But, ever the optimist, will sign of demanding for one.
Daily post word prompt: Island
Tree by tree the flame takes over
The shrub tries to reason, but scorched away.
Smallest little ember now spreading at a rate of thousand trees a day.
Despair and misery,
All a common scene every summers day.
Blame and anger fills the town
Is it Arson or it just the horror of nature
Is it back burning gone wrong or the “Greens” non action
As a nation we all pull together
We look for answers but never forget the suffering
Even the Koala gets a drink
As a nation we mourn together
It’s water not oil to calm the burning fire
My fellow Australians
Leave racism to the Yanks and the Brits
Remember it’s water not oil to calm the Burning Fire
Daily Post word – Burn
We returned to Sri Lanka after nearly 16 years since coming to Australia. The boys born here in Aus. Other than a brown skin, there was not much Sri Lankan in them.
This was not due to any conscious planning on our part to disassociate with our culture. We had no issues with our heritage, nor did the boys. They knew of our food, and enjoyed many of the delicacies, but so did the rest of Australia. In fact many of the Aussies could handle a fair bit of the burning Chilly. Where as my boys, especially my eldest struggled with even a hint of it. Once again before I get judged for not ramming down the chilly,down my kids throat, was simply because he struggled with it.
I have many theories or may be just two, one of them being that I suffered severely with re flux when I was pregnant with him, so I avoided the chilly and then again when I was breast feeding, and voila he has no tolerance to the gun powder. The second reason being he doesn’t really like it. Which is okay. My husband doesn’t like sweets, and no one says no he needs to learn to eat everything.
The other major hurdle when we returned to the mother land was that the kids didn’t speak the language. It’s not really a major hurdle as most speak very fluent English as we were once an English Colony. Even before our migration to Australia, hubby and I mostly spoke in English. That was common practice by many. However, you are meant to know your mother tongue. Either Sinhalese or Tamil. We were Tamils, so we should have sent them to Tamil School (which is held on the weekends) and made them speak Tamil. Even if it meant that they spoke it like a Russian speaking Mandarin.
Again no major reason for them not knowing our language. Simply we had bigger issues to worry about and this took 2nd place or unfortunately no place.
The reason why the 16 year absence from the mother land was due to these bigger issues. Our youngest since the age of two, preferred regular visits to the Hospital. Due to two bouts of Pneumonia, his lungs were scarred and needed surgeries. Our Eldest around the same time not wanting to lose his place in the special considerations, lost his hearing. I was running between two different hospitals.
It took years before the youngest was fit enough to even attend a birthday party. My eldest eventually got 80% percent of his hearing back. Their early years were very challenging due to their ill health, our mortgage, and both parents working full time. So, sorry, but teaching them Tamil was not a priority. We were surviving each day at a time.
We finally made the long awaited trip to Sri Lanka after 16 years (nearly not exactly sure, but it was after a loong time). This was extremely important to us, this was the first time they are going to meet my father – in -law, their only living grandfather. It was time for them to see where we grew up, our schools, our extended families and friends.
It was all that when we got there. They had a wonderful time there. So, did we. But they stood out like a clown at a funeral. No one understood their accent. And even when we ordered a burger from KFC, thinking this would be safe without the chilly, no we were wrong, every bit of chicken was already coated in chilly.
It was a great adventure that they will never forget. But the two young brown skinned tourists were rather happy to come back home.
Daily post word – Tourist
I wrote this in the time when Hon. Tony Abott was our dear Prime Minister. I thought I will bring it out to remind the Aussie voter the Chaos we had under him. And just a bit of laugh. We could blame the Politicians for many things but we have to give them credit where it’s due. They are very good for a laugh.
Parody from Shakespeare’s “Mark Anthony’s Funeral Oration”
Friends, Australians, Countrymen, Pensioners, Hardworking Middle class and dole bludgers lend me your ears;
I come to bury Rudd, Gillard, even Keating and Hawk not to praise them
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Tony and his comrades
The noble Sir Tony promisealot hath told you labor was useless:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Tony answer’d it or mumbled it.
Here, under leave of Brutus sorry Tony and the rest—
For Tony is an honourable man;
So are they all, all honourable men, yes of course, when you think George Brandis doesn’t the word Honourable come to mind
Come I to speak in labours demise.
They were good for the nation I thought, stood up for 18C I thought,
Tony says they were useless
And Tony is an honourable man
Labour fought for our environment, disabled and the NBN
But Tony says we can’t afford it
And Brutas is an honourable man
They kept us safe during GFC
We kept our jobs and businesses survived
In this did labour seem useless?
But Tony says they were useless
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept:
uselessness should be made of more useless stuff:
Like Baby bonus, sorry forgot that was not a labour vote grabbing idea
Yet Tony says they were useless;
And Tony is an honorable man.
Howard refused to say sorry and Rudd said sorry for all
We do not remember Rudd for that
Tony says Pink Bats, and we should follow him for he is an honourable man
Gillard passed 561 bills in her short time and so many so called great plans NDIS,NBN all up in smokes now anyway
But Tony says Carbon Tax – a broken promise, such an unknown territory for Brutus is an honourable man
I speak not to disprove what Tony spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did like them once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you then, to yearn for them?
O Rupert! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with labour,
And I must pause till it come back to me.
But yesterday the word of Joe Hockey might
Have stood against the world;
Now our poor could be in par with the 3rd world.
Tony has such vision
O masters (Lord,Sir and Dames), if I were disposed to stir
Your hearts and minds to mutiny and rage,
I should do Brutus wrong, and Cassius wrong, or Tony, Hockey, Pyne, Morrison or my personal favourite Bradis wrong take your pick
Who, you all know, are honorable men:
I will not do them wrong; I rather choose
I say bring on an early election
And put us all out of such misery
Just remember Tony is an honourable man
To wrong the dead, to wrong myself and you,
Yes we elected Tony and Co, not me personally but some of you knob heads did
Than I will wrong such honorable men.
You are not wood, you are not stones, but awakened morons;
And, being awakened morons hearing the will of Tony,
It will inflame you, it will make you mad:
Will you be patient? Will you stay awhile?
I fear I wrong the honorable men