Entries from October 2011 ↓

I am going to write a song for two new angels.

Last June, during my trip to Sri Lanka, a priest’s wife gave me a copy of the Bible as a token of appreciation and a ‘see you again’ gift. She asked me if I could read it and write some songs to be sung at the church. I told her I am a Buddhist and I have no faith in ‘god’ so I can’t write something hypocritically. She said “never mind read it, you will find the inspiration.” I didn’t turn a page. I thought the letters were too small. When I was young I remember reading a children’s bible and I thought I know enough about the religion. Funny, I know!

A couple of months ago when my aunt sent me an e-mail telling me that her youngest daughter, my cousin (as the coolest cousin I christened her) is very sick and in a Florida hospital, I opened up the bible hoping to find a prayer, because my cousin sister believed in God. She came crossing Atlantic to Disneyworld with her four children and her husband to have some real fun and a memorable time for the last time before she leaves this world. Yes! She knew she was dying and we all knew. But ignorantly I expected her to live at least seven or more years, because once when chatting on FB she told me she needed a little time to make sure that her kids are going to be ok. So I expected that she would fight. But her neurological disease was more powerful than her spirits. In nine months after the diagnosis she died leaving only colorful memories with everyone she knew. There are a few good human come to this world like her, I hear all the time. Perhaps she wasn’t perfect but much loved and she had a tough and a practical love towards the world too. It was the first time I witnessed at a funeral, people brining their small children to make them kiss a dead mouth to say thank you, and that they love. I didn’t need to hear stories to learn my cousin is loved.

I only know her through my memories of childhood. She and her sister, the pretty one came from the convent to spend the holidays with us. When they visited us, they both brought things with them which I still admire. The love for freedom, happiness of singing and dancing, spirit of team games , the desire to win and of course letting the teenage hormones to be active were a few to name. I who was the silent one learnt from my (now dead) cousin that I didn’t have to be as a boring old lady at the age of twelve and it’s ok to look at a boy; and speak up and tell some of our evil adult relatives that they were unkind. I am grateful I learnt that! I still remember once a friend of my mother came on a motorbike to visit us and we all asked him to give us rides but only my cool cousin asked him to show how to ride the bike and within minutes she was riding in the neighborhood laughing at my mother who was screaming at the top of her lungs to stop. My mother was over protective of girls.

When she was 14 and when I was 12, my cousin migrated. The picture I attach herewith was taken on the day we said good bye to each other.

After 14 years from that day I met her briefly at a family gathering in Sri Lanka. She and I were both returning to Sri Lanka for the first time after leaving our home countries. We both have become mothers by the time and had become strangers to each other although we kept in touch via occasional emails.

After another six years from that meeting I got this e-mail form my aunt telling me, my cousin is in a foreign hospital, critically ill, fighting to hang in there until they bring her back home. I couldn’t even send her flowers because ICU doesn’t accept flowers but I could have called to tell her “Nayana you rock” as I told her several times before.

When I went through the pages of bible looking for a prayer for her, I learnt a few things. The bible is not a bunch of stories as in the children’s edition and god is not a senseless concept if we look at it in the right way. (Please don’t be afraid I am not converting into a Catholic or a Christian. I felt the same way after reading a simple edition of Bhagawad Gita.) But ‘god’ is all about getting us to live a good life without harming each other’s emotional and physical well being by putting ‘love’ as the hierarchy of our values. Now I’m glad my cousin believed in god even though I’m not sure what her perspective about god was.

After a day of her death I crossed Atlantic from USA to Ireland watching the most beautiful sunrise which I’m planning to write about some other time. My cousin the cool one now dead wrote beautiful poetry as ‘see you some day at god’s place’ notes to her loved ones. I got to read a few: the one she wrote to her step dad, her mother and her best friend. She wrote to her mom that she is a god’s child and god is happy that her mother looked after this god’s child well, loving and caring her to the fullest, and now god is thankful for returning her home. Things like that to help her mother to be strong and positive. But my aunt the most courageous one in the family broken heartedly questioned “how could she leave so gracefully like that, accepting death so easily, she was supposed to fight?” Then I told her it is easy to cling to life but not easy to let go without being stingy about it. Only a noble mind can accept death as the only certain thing in life. That was my Buddhist mind speaking.

At the funeral after they drew the curtain taking her casket inside the crematorium I told my aunt without thinking much “you know my father will be there to receive her.” My aunt replied looking at the sky “Yes, malli you better be!” That day she wanted her dead brother to wait at the heaven’s gate to welcome her little girl while that girl’s two brothers were waiting outside the crematorium sadly just after cremating their youngest sister. I didn’t know what went in their minds because even though they are the sexiest and handsome duo in the family, they are the toughest too. Brothers and sisters love is precious, I know.

Now after a couple of months from her funeral I am here inside my home missing my father terribly again. I can’t think of any reason. I just returned from the gym after a good workout. I honestly don’t know what my father’s strongest belief was about after life. He grew up under the shadow of the village temple. He was profoundly knowledgeable about Buddhism. He knew all the stories and characters and I loved the tours I had with him in ‘budu madura’ in any temple. He also prayed kneeling among pews in Sacred Heart Church, Rajagiriya in some mornings. Perhaps he knew god too.

Today, it just crossed my mind for a second that it is good if my father and my cousin are having fun at god’s place instead of re-birthing in worlds and places I can’t know. It made me feel good to think that they are together forever in one place without having to walk through a continuous path of sansara while enduring much suffering.

But I know one thing, if she is at God’s place as she promised to her mother and kids, from now on god or his angels won’t get to wear only white. She will make them shop for colours. That’s how tough and colorful my cousin was. In her funeral plan she asked everyone to dress up in colours but not in black. Her funeral mass looked like a church wedding with people dressed up so brightly but crying and laughing in between thinking of her. However it is one of the most emotional events I’ve ever experienced in my life. In that beautiful Irish country, in that bright morning when they carried her casket down the hilly road from her country house to the main road when her oldest son lent a shoulder along with his father and uncles to carry her casket I didn’t know what to feel.

However today I’m going to let my father too, join her and rest in god’s arm though it is rather ephemeral and paradoxical to my knowledge.

Rest in peace Nayana! Rest in peace Thaaththa (if she lets you)! 🙂

විජේට

“විජේ,
ඔබට තව අයත් කවි ලියයි
ඔබ තවත් අය එක්කත් කවි ලියයි
මා තනිකරම තවත් එක
ගෑනු ළමයෙක්
රසිකාවක්?
අක් බඹරු කෙස් නටවමින්
මිහිදුම් සිහින ගීයක්
ගිටාරය ගෙන වයන විට
අනෙක් අය අළු කරන බැල්මක්
මා උගත යුතුවෙයි
තව තවත් කල් අරිනු නොහැකියි!”

පැතුමක්

සන්ලයිට් සුවඳ පිරි
පාට සේදුණ මල් ගවුම ඇඳගෙන
මේපාර පෝයටත් පන්සලට
නෝනගේ පස්සෙන් එද්දී
එයා අදත් බෝ මලුව ලඟ පානෙන්
තෙල් අරන් කොණ්ඩේ කැරලි කරගෙන
කඩල ගොට්ටක් කකා පාර දිග යද්දී
හොරෙන් බලමින්
හැඩකාර බෝනික්කියක් වෙන්න හැකි නම්
වැඩකාර කෙල්ලෙක් නොවී!

To Tony’s Tree Guy

Today I drove by the station
where they park bikes
to get picked up by the trucks
and dropped off at landscaping sites.
Three times my bikes were stolen
And I know when
They come with the bent heads
for the garden maintenance.
Many dreams get broken
Without driver’s license and SSNs?
I too have to buy gold
Gold rush is no longer American.
I saw you by the station wearing a T shirt
‘Toni’s Tree Guys’ written on the back
You were cold and impatient
As if NJ too has SB 1070 document.
I know it’s harder
to be on foot with no jacket in winter
But I still go nuts to be bike less
in my own season, summer
Nobody gets a free lunch, me neither
But when you mow or snow plow,
there is a cuppa I always offer.
Don’t touch that bike this time
I swear to the saint of your
Will call the cops giving no damn
for you being an amigo irregular.