Where did you come from? Ashes? Dust?

Yesterday I was driving towards Edison on Woodbridge Avenue. Just before the Rabi Jacob Joseph School, a big family size car turned left to enter Silver Lake Avenue, misjudging the distance and the speed of my car going straight. Of course, she was texting. I was driving at a reasonable speed. I managed to stop avoiding the deadly crash. I also thank sharp driving skills of a taxi driver that I learned from my husband. No, he doesn’t drive a taxi. He loves flying small aircraft for fun. He is not a rich man either. But very brown, curry loving, educated, hardworking professional who pays his taxes in America. He fixes the brakes of my car too. And yesterday was the luckiest break; I’ve got in my life. It was a miracle that the other car didn’t hit the side of my car where my daughter was sitting down. We were frightened. It was ‘Marana baya’, fear of death. The woman driver was shaking her head, telling me things, gesturing with her hands as if it was my fault. Her phone screen was still blinking. She was a big size, white woman wearing thick rimmed spectacles. I didn’t see any passengers in her big SUV. I rolled my window shutter down and told her it was my green light and she was supposed to give me way before turning left. I tried to make her understand that it wasn’t my fault. She asked “you want to yell, you want to yell now?” I told her “No. I’m shocked, shaken and I have two children in the car.” She said “fuck off,” and used a lot more profanity. As we lived in Australia for several years, hearing the word fuck is not a big deal. My son learned that word on a trip to see the New Year’s fireworks show. I remember almost everyone in the train was saying fuck as if it is the Aussie way of saying happy New Year.

However, I got mad at the woman. I raised my voice and kept telling her that it was my right of way, explaining the road rules to her in my Australian, Sri Lankan, American mix accent. But I tried to mind my grammar hoping she will understand clearly. She kept cursing. In between her screams she checked her phone. Maybe she texted to. Then, before getting back into the car she said: “GO BACK TO WHERE YOU CAME FROM.” I yelled back: “YOU TOO! GO BACK!” She got off the car. She said that she is an American and I have to go back to where I came from. I asked three times: “Are you a native?” I was angry and I was loud but I didn’t use filthy words. In situations like this, it is facts, figures, knowledge and better argumentation skills that come to us. Yes, where I came from trained me to use my brain as we don’t have tails anymore. I was born and raised in Sri Lanka. That’s why I look Indian. And I am supposed to look that way. And that’s why she wanted me to go back. She kept cursing racist remarks in front of my Children. I have a daughter who wants to join NASA one day with a dream to be the first American woman to go to Mars if it’s possible for a human to go to Mars and my son wants to be a senator. He says he can do a better service to the American people unlike current congress passing bills approving things like Yellow Stone Park oil lines. Before leaving the scene I told the woman that I am a better American because at least I follow road rules.

After coming home I started preparing alms giving/heel daane for the local Buddhist temple to be taken at next day breakfast. I pour a glass of wine to get into a better mood to concentrate on my Maitri which is a way of sending out good vibes to the world. Drinking and preparing daane is little odd, but fantastic. As we are taught I tried to use the food preparation as my mode of meditation. I tried to develop maitri even towards that woman and also ‘Bodu Bala Sena,’ the racist group who tried to hurt minority Muslim people in Sri Lanka. I tried to feel better. Took a wash and joined my husband reading news in bed.

“(Reuters) – Six people were killed and more than a dozen injured when a crowded New York commuter train struck a car stalled on the tracks near suburban White Plains during rush hour on Tuesday evening, in what officials said was the railroad’s deadliest accident (2/3/15.)”

It is believed a woman driver tried to pass the rail gate before it shut down, but her Jeep was stuck on the rail tracks and hit the train causing a fire. Perhaps she misjudged the distance and the speed and everything else. I don’t know if the victims of the crash were brown, yellow, black, white or red. New York is a cosmopolitan city full of humans. I only feel the feelings of tired people wanting to go home after work and of their loved ones waiting for them. Maybe they are all white people whose ancestors came to Plymouth in Mayflower or in other boats to Ellis Island. But my heart aches for them without racial discrimination. Even I’m brown I know every life matters. Where I come from taught me the life of a human is the hardest to obtain yet that life is fragile as a dew drop on the tip of a blade of grass. Now this woman driver and the other five people are not going anywhere they wanted to go. Perhaps they have gone back to where they came from. Ashes to ash. Dust to dust. We all die. So we all have to live. We all make mistakes like misjudging distances and speed. But some are deadly. It’s just like racism. We might not even get a chance to learn, understand or apologize.

We must drive safely. Unfortunately, if we meet with accidents, we need to make sure if everyone is ok. We need to help each other. We need to call the cops, even though sometimes cops racially profile and discriminate innocent people. We are intelligent humans. We all should hope to live a life with no regrets.


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