May­hem

Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka) - - W JUNE - TEXT AN­GELA SENEVI­RATNE

I KNEW NO BAR DUR­ING MY YOUNGER DAYS OF MI­NORI­TIES OR RE­LI­GIONS AS THE CHRIS­TIAN SCHOOL I WENT TO HAD NO SEG­RE­GA­TION WHAT­SO­EVER

Hello dear read­ers! The month of May is at an end, and be­lieve me, I am re­lieved that it is. It has been just more than stress­ful, not only to me, but for all sane, sen­si­ble and peace lov­ing peo­ple of the na­tion, no mat­ter what their eth­nic­ity, re­li­gious be­liefs are, colour, size or so­cial sta­tus.

How it af­fected me per­son­ally was I found I had lost my sense of hu­mour even for a brief time, and saw noth­ing in light hearted vein, as I nor­mally do.

Sud­denly, al­most overnight, I re­alised the many fac­tions of my own gene pool, the many cor­ners I be­long to, the many cross bred re­la­tion­ships in the family tree, and the de­light­ful mix of cul­tures that en­riched all our lives, and my heart was bur­dened that some­where, some atom of me was be­ing eyed with sus­pi­cion and that did not seem or feel right.

I knew no bar dur­ing my younger days of mi­nori­ties or re­li­gions as the Chris­tian School I went to had no seg­re­ga­tion what­so­ever. We cel­e­brated other aus­pi­cious and re­li­gious days just as we did ours, and grew to be­lieve that the oc­ca­sion was in­deed ours. We all con­trib­uted to­wards dec­o­ra­tions and food, made by our moth­ers of course, and we took home some me­mento to share with our home folk.

When we were young we did not re­alise that the Gov­ern­ment branded us, as it de­manded a re­li­gion and eth­nic­ity to be stip­u­lated in our birth cer­tifi­cates, which we had no right over. We grew with that, not aware of the im­pli­ca­tions it would re­sult in later on, for the hu­man race has its evil traits and could emerge at some time.

What if we were only Sri Lankan in­stead of Sin­halese, Tamil, Mus­lim, Burgher, Malay, Mor­mon, Bha­hai or Chi­nese? What if our re­li­gions were only Bud­dhist, Chris­tian, Hindu, Is­lam Ba­hai faith or athe­ist? Would the Registrati­ons of Per­sons or Cen­sus Depart­ment have gone berserk?

What if, we saw no di­vide, be­cause no one and noth­ing di­vided us?

What if we in­ter­mar­ried more and shared our vivid and di­verse cul­tures more? What if we did away with caste and “class“?

Would there not be a more beau­ti­ful land of har­mony and ac­cep­tance?

It was stated re­cently with a tone of ve­he­mence that we live in a Sin­hala Bud­dhist land. Is that by virtue of the per­cent­age of Sin­hala Bud­dhists liv­ing in the land? Does that mean that ev­ery­one else does not be­long?

I could not quite grasp the un­der­ly­ing state­ment. Did it sur­mount to the land be­long­ing only to the Sin­hala Bud­dhists? Could it not be a land be­long­ing to ev­ery­one else born in it? If not, what does that make the rest of us? In the mat­ter of Ed­u­ca­tion, could not all the lan­guages of the land be manda­tory as sub­jects?

A whole myr­iad of thoughts ran through my mind in the month that went by as our lives re­versed a decade into our past. Memories of vi­o­lence, mass deaths, flashed be­fore my eyes as day by day new re­ports of vi­cious plans to de­stroy us were un­rav­elled.

The chil­dren of to­day missed out on the thirty-year war and were ex­posed to ter­ror of a new di­men­sion. Ter­ror schemed and ex­e­cuted by sup­pos­edly ed­u­cated and wealthy youth. Some who had un­der­gone ed­u­ca­tion in for­eign uni­ver­si­ties.

It was ironic that the par­ents all seem to deny any knowl­edge of what their chil­dren were doing. Wives and sib­lings meekly went along with the flow so to speak, and did noth­ing to alert the law en­force­ment au­thor­i­ties of any un­usual be­hav­iour of their family mem­bers. That is typ­i­cal isn’t it? Who would re­port her own son, brother or hus­band, even if he was plan­ning on be­ing a ji­hadist!!

None of them ques­tioned their hus­bands when they were moved from venue to venue, rent­ing apart­ments for short pe­ri­ods, pur­chas­ing white clothes for women in bulk, or when huge sums of money were en­trusted to them for safe keep­ing!! How id­i­otic is that!!

That re­sulted in the en­tire com­mu­nity be­ing eyed with sus­pi­cion and the evil traits rais­ing their heads.

Yes, we are quick to blame ev­ery­one, the Gov­ern­ment, the au­thor­i­ties, the priests, the races, but if we look at our­selves, we will re­al­ize that a tiny part of the blame is ours. We have not been vig­i­lant enough, we have not re­ported, we have not been care­ful, we have not fore­seen.

It is time, there­fore, that we look af­ter our own selves and our own loved ones by be­ing alert at all times.

Please stay safe, be patient with the hope and faith that Sri Lanka will rise!

Till next time then….

Chee­rio

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