Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Initiation… right.

So after abandoning orientation or 'inauguration' as they liked to call it, I decided I wasn't going back until the beginning of class. Wise decision that, cus apparently Tuesday through Friday were just the same; speech after speech after speech and then randomly walking around the campus looking for a place safe enough from raggers to breathe.

Day one, leaving the Arts Theatre before I was supposed to, proved to be a slightly annoying experience. The moment I stepped out, a guy who looked pretty much like just another student (but one of those "OMG I'm finally at Uni!!!" types) came up to me saying "nangi koheyda yanne". Double take. WTF? I'm thinking I'm gonna tell the guy to bugger off and then feel like I wanna be a generous soul, so tell him I'm not feeling well and I'm going home. Big mistake. What commenced was ten to fifteen minutes of him trying to convince me to stay and not go home because I might miss something important. Hell yeah. A security guard who recognized me thankfully saved the day, making room for me to go home (and then gallivanting, but never mind!). Now I go home fully peeved, wondering what on earth the feller was trying to do when my mother puts the situation in a whole new light. The guy didn't want me to go out alone, simply out of the concern that I might get ragged, the local version of initiation.

When I first got the letter of acceptance to the University, I was surprised by how interested people were about my stand on ragging. I really didn't think it was important. Initiation is alright, seniors have a little fun with you, you laugh and swallow the embarrassment. You are now a fully fledged University student. That's what I thought. Even when my mother and a friend of mine who I believe is very psychologically secure and stable asked me whether I was gonna be pro-rag or anti-rag, I failed to realize the full impact of the situation. I mean, who cares? What's with all this anti-rag shit? What, you scared of getting called names!? So you gonna wear floor-length skirts and plaits? Either way, I decided I was gonna be decidedly undecided on the whole thing, it wasn't something I was gonna face with a political stance. If somebody teased me, I'd brush it off. If someone fucked with me, I'd fuck them back. Simple.

Not so.

Being the daughter of a lecturer automatically makes me an untouchable. I know my way around the faculty pretty well and most of the staff recognizes me on sight. I also know a sizeable number of seniors. All this put together makes it possible for me to avoid being approached. Act de-la nonchalance, I was just going to school.

But today I realized that it wasn't so totally nothing. Walking down the road with a classmate after a Psychology lecture that didn't happen, my disgust with the whole place just grew. Being a pretty girl, she had obviously been noted by the seniors who had named her 'Kadupul' after some flower or the other. She laughed as she related this story. We crossed the road, and I notice about eight boys walking down the road in the same direction we were going in. They were obviously rather nervous students just walking down the road, so I was very surprised at my companion's reaction. She started, did a double take and began walking in fits and starts, not knowing whether to run or stop walking and stand. I chose to let her explain her behavior without prodding, if she wanted to, and just continued walking. Two boys overtook us and one turned back and glanced at my friend. Now, there is nothing wrong with this, and I understand it's a funny phenomenon, this turning-and-looking-but-not-daring-to-approach thing, which is an accepted norm in this country. But something struck me about the look he gave her. It wasn't teasing or inviting, it was plain murderous. The girl stopped, mumbled that this same guy had ragged her the day before and turned and fled towards a group of seniors. They in turn simply took her into their circle and comforted her, while the fuck-bag in front of us continued to walk ahead, periodically turning around to stare at the girl.

I had nothing to be worried about and since the girl wasn't a particular friend of mine, and due to a change of attitude in the recent past I really didn't want to get involved, I bade her goodbye and continued walking home. All the way though, I kept seeing the guy's face as he turned to look at her the first time. He was angry and disturbed and almost threatening, and the fact that the girl began to shiver was honestly, no real surprise to me. I cannot imagine what would have been going through her head and what she thought he would do to her, but it couldn't have been pleasant. I couldn't help wondering how any of this could be fun and what these people were doing at an educational institute instead of leading some defeated troop that belonged to the LTTE up North. These assholes are terrorists. And terror is what we come to University for.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


She stands on the corner waiting for a bus that does not appear. Half an hour ago the street was deserted, only one other person visible on the motor-less road as far as the eye could see. A cold wind rushed up from some deep secret place, forcing her to admit to a sense of foreboding by putting her arms around herself. Some renegade leaves escaped from the haranguing brooms of the meticulous street-sweepers skittered past, running from the approaching darkness. Her straight-cut grey jacket and pencil-line skirt provided no contrast against the lifeless buildings or the mourning sky. Nothing much changed.

A door opened nearby, making way for two women. Their animated conversation was subdued by the pressing gloom and one quietly bade the other goodbye as they turned in opposite directions. Another door opened and more people began to emerge. Her eyes search the visible end of the road for transport. Her purpose in leaving work early is beaten as the bus-stop begins to fill with people waiting beside her. A quiet ride home is not on the agenda today. The trickle of cars that had begun to appear with the people earlier grew to a steady stream, filling the air with a monotonous subito rumble. The street had become busy, but busy without the bustle.

The stream of cars grew to a thickly packed stew and still her bus failed to appear. She switches her bag from one hand to the other and draws her hand back through her hair; brain now calculating and considering other options. Still her bus failed to appear. She takes the final breath.


The street suddenly becomes an upside down jar. Nobody knows what happened. Everybody runs in the same direction; towards it. The sound stopped her halfway through making the decision to start walking towards the callbox. She hesitated, thinking. The darkness quickly escapes, letting the angry sun through to examine the damage. The mass of vehicles has stopped moving completely. Some drivers step out and start running, others stare in open-mouthed confusion.

If she ran with the others, that would be the good thing; if she ran alone, that would be the wise thing. If she ran with the others, she could be a victim; if she ran alone, she could be a suspect. If she walked alone, nobody would be the wiser. She calmly proceeded towards the callbox, threading her way through the mass of people still running in the opposite direction.


Late in the evening she sits alone in front of her TV, a warm mug of coffee in her hand. She watches the screen as bomb victims scream and bleed, dying in the arms of volunteers who disappear with the flames of the second blast. She smiles at her wisdom, frowning at the guilt.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

First Steps

I woke up on Monday morning worried. My first worry was that I hadn't got enough sleep. My second worry was that I wasn't going to be able to do what I wanted to do that day. What I was talking about in my first sentence here though, was the fact that I would head to the orientation at The University of Peradeniya Arts Faculty and come back with a bad first impression.

I have lived inside the campus grounds for fifteen years, and nothing that happens inside it ever motivated me to join and get a degree or whatever. The staff at the University is a mixed lot. Some are deeply intellectual, self-less and inspiring; some are shallow, mercenary and dull; some are in-between. The vast majority though (as is the case with the rest of our country) belong to the second category. The students are also a mix of kinds. Some are highly motivated young people with independence, well-functioning minds and understanding deeper than their age or experience; some are self-important and politically influenced; some are wasted and wasting; some are aimlessly wandering inside the campus following whatever course, taking whatever exam simply because their parents and the system taught them that the only way they can find themselves a future is by getting a useless degree in something they're not interested in. Here, the majority are from the last category. Then there are the campus grounds itself. The University of Peradeniya has by far, the largest campus in South Asia, spread across 750 hectares of prime land in the Hill Capital of Sri Lanka. Only a tiny fraction of this land has been utilized for the purposes of the university, and the remainder still rests as beautiful pine forests and grasslands, home to many wild creatures. I cannot say anything about the education offered at the University, because I have not experience it yet, but all that I have experienced has taught me that it doesn't have much to be appreciated. I knew this was a useless excursion.

All the same, I had promised myself that if I had no other plans of educating myself further by the time my letter of acceptance came through, I would sit through the three, four or five years I had to in order to get my degree. So I had to attend the orientation, and get oriented.

Saying my first impression of the whole thing was 'bad' is a serious understatement. I am a person who doesn't stick for impersonal bull longer than necessary, and after two hours of speeches, decided to walk out. The other 1000-something students (like the rest of the nation) decided to stay glued to their seats because they were told to. For four and a half hours, the Arts Theatre was a mass of freshers listening to one idiot with nothing to say after the other ranting in front of a malfunctioning mike. The first woman who came onstage was supposed to 'welcome' everyone. What she actually did was recite a list of names and titles which took about ten minutes and then add "on behalf of the Arts Faculty of The University of Peradeniya, I warmly welcome you to the Inauguration of the New Students 2008/2009" in Sinhala. This might have been alright and bearable if the woman was aware of how to make sounds using her vocal cords and related organs and how to move her lips. She was obviously oblivious to both possibilities.

The next person in front of the podium and more than a thousand students was the Vice Chancellor. Honestly speaking, I can't remember a word of what he said, because my brain has decided that whatever he said was not worth remembering. I added that last bit because I was listening, since I wasn't too bored (yet!). The basic gist of the address was along the lines of "this is the best place you undeserving twits could be, so you better just do what we tell you". It's ironic how people find it easier to tell others how undeserving they are when they themselves are the same. I mean, considering the state of the country and the prospects that the future holds for my generation, the Universities are lucky they have any applicants! A few more things about the speech remain in some distant corner of my memory:

  1. It was boring
  2. The man kept saying "I'm sure I don't have to repeat myself" and kept repeating himself
  3. It was boring
  4. After every paragraph (written on a number of half-sheets) the Vice Chancellor would translate himself into Sinhala and repeat what he said in English. With the repetitions.
  5. It was boring

This pattern of practicing for some speech contest based on 'What the University can offer you and what you should give back to the University' continued from 9am to 1pm, when the students were given a break to find lunch before their English Placement Test at 2pm. Every speech was followed by a translation in Tamil. Due 'Orientation' was received.

What on earth are these people thinking? I wish I never had to go back!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Refresh, Restart… yeah Right!

I have been back in the hills for a few hours now, and those hours have taught me that goddamned drama follows me wherever I go. This blog is so full of 'full-of-myself' I think I need to revamp the whole damned thing. Obviously I need help. Anybody supplying for free?

Friday, July 11, 2008


I have been thinking about the void mentioned in my last post. Something somewhere tells me now that it was just fresh memory that made it feel like a void. Now it seems more like a scar. Not an ugly thing that distorts the features but a beautiful mark which accents them; something that defines a part of who I am.

Scars are personal things. Some are large, ugly and most disturbingly visible. People will want to know how you got them. Some will ask, some will not; depending on their discretion. When they ask, you might decide to tell them, you might decide not to tell them; depending on your discretion. It seems that explaining what caused the scar seems the wiser decision, in order to prevent speculation. These are the visible scars. The small marks in the dark places are precious; you struggle to keep them hidden. Once in a while though, someone gets close enough to discovering the writing on your skin, so you choose to pull your sleeve back and let them see it. The unspoken agreement is secrecy. Some people don’t understand.

Some scars are so precious that you covet them. They are valuable enough to lose your oldest friend over. If they were ever really your friend.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Pause to Reflect

It seems like I've come to another phase of blogging-everyday-before-not-blogging-for-another-century. The commencement of university is not for another few days and joblessness has made me resort to a favorite pastime. I know you all USED to have nothing to complain about, since my writing was immaculate and wonderfully entertaining, but I also know that now you DO have something to complain about since my style is cramped. Fuck that.

So one of those age-old friends was over all day today, and both of us being female, this resulted in some… drama…? Emotional trauma. For me.

It used to make me angry when people, men, scoffed at the idea of a girl and a guy being best friends; the reason being that I'm a girl and my best friend is a guy. That anger was defiance. It still makes me angry when people tell me that a girl and a guy can't be best friends. This anger is bitterness. My girlfriend and I discussed this relationship, and I decided that I need to dissect it now.

One thing that strikes me is the fact that it was always the men who were skeptical about it being a completely platonic relationship. There is something romantic about a girl and a guy being only friends, maybe in the 'non-happening-ness' of the whole situation, the static purity of it all, which appeals to the female mind. At first, this seemed to be the reason the girls gave it a chance and the guys just laughed - because they didn't see the romance in the whole goddamned thing! But then, the genius cousin came up with a better explanation (as usual). Apparently guys don't differentiate between girlfriends and girlfriends. (That's probably because they can't. They are the less intelligent species after all!) They can't see (or even if they could, understand) the huge difference the ITALICS make. On Venus, the 'regular' girlfriend is just a friend. You hang out with her, chat with her, crack sick jokes with her and do crazy-ass shit with her. You don't get emotionally involved with her; neither do you feel sexually attracted to her. These things you save for the girlfriend (with the italics). On Mars, these two types are interchangeable. Now, since the average Venusian is unaware of this, complications arise. As did with us.

At the end of the day, one of us, or both of us ended up being a fool. Now I understand that a guy and a girl can't really be very close friends and maintain a completely platonic relationship. Woe be unto you if you believe otherwise and wish to prove your beliefs. Somebody, somewhere along the way is going to get hurt. Most probably both of you.

I know I still hurt because of what happened, and I know he still hurts because of what happened. I could blame him, or I could blame myself, but I suppose I can't justify blaming anybody. I realized today, that even after almost a year, the pain runs strong. I just don't feel it often because it runs deep. What's worse, losing your best friend or losing the love of your life?

I don't know the answer to that question, but I just realized that the void created by either is very, very difficult to fill; if it is possible to fill it at all.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Returning the RagDoll

What a long time it has been since I wrote last. I finished my last post some months ago with the vehement assertion that I had "grown up". Sad (or happy) to say, my opinion has changed. Haren jestingly noted that he found it hard to believe, and four months or so after writing that post, I too can't help but laugh when I read it. A lot, I mean a lot has changed. Easiest would probably be to start with the last thing that changed.

As of Monday, the 14th of July, 2008, I will be another aimless university student following a useless course which will qualify me for a degree as a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Peradeniya. How or why I came to this position is not clear, and I really can't believe it. This, like the SATs, is another example of how I do things (ie: fill out and hand in applications), knowing fully well the repercussions, yet not expecting them to happen when they obviously will. Either way, I am now in the middle of a jumble of birth certificates, financial documents and six black-and-white passport-sized photographs with my "name and student number written clearly on the back" and a really bad cold. None of which I want.

The above mentioned phenomenon which just happened to me has caused me to leave my job, my house, my life and my love back in Colombo and move back with the motherhood here in the peaceful hills. Not that I'm complaining though! The job was getting a bit tiresome, and as humble advice to people who can't conform: DO NOT TAKE REGULAR (OR irregular for that matter) 9-5 JOBS. I'm serious. This is a very good lesson I learnt during my after-als-and-nothing-to-do period. I can't conform, and I should stop trying to, because I only fail. My house was becoming a beautiful home (to the surprise of very many people who were aware of the state of my bedroom here in Kandy) yet the house-mate and the constant stream of visitors was starting to get to me. Those new friends of mine, the "sweet and focused" girls I met a few months ago, got a big hard kick in the rear for being paranoid religious fanatics who don't know it. Sorry. My life still goes on. Earning was fun, and I had developed to the stage of being able to handle responsibility of having to find and fund my own meals. My LOVE is the next new thing :)

It seems a bit ironic that I finally found somebody who can actually give me everything I ever wanted in my man, only to find that nobody really wanted me to be with him. Social prejudice is a weird and messed-up thing which ruins people, lives, minds and most sadly, happiness. This definition needs to get on the Oxford Dictionary. I think most of you (at least two of the three people who read this blog) will agree with me. So I decided that I was going to let social prejudice find itself a pastime (various grotesque ideas related to reproduction come to mind) and let myself be happy. I am :)

I admit, the unbeatable *wink* style has got cramped thanks to writing boring pieces on press-conference and other bored-freelance-journalist related compositions, but I plan to get back to being the awesomely talented and prolific writer I once was ;)

"Patience Iago!"