Happy Mother’s Day!

The team of writers at Queen of Sea tells how much each of them love their mom and why.  Happy Mother’s Day!

Madhu Senarath:

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To me my mother (Nandani Senarath) is the most selfless person I have ever met. She has scarified many luxuries in her life to bring up my sister and me. Being a school teacher for 30 years, she knew exactly how to raise us to become persons with great values. She is my inspiration in almost everything in my life and I can always count on her support to achieve my dreams. She’s a person with great courage, who wouldn’t give up in anything in her life unless it is for her children. The worst thing about growing up is seeing my mother getting old. I would do anything to keep her happy so that the pretty smile on her face will last forever. May she live long life!

 

Ladini Ransirini:

“අම්මා” (Mother) the most precious person in the world for everyone. For me my mother is special because she dedicated all her life for me and my brother and for sister. Though we have grown up now still she cares and does everything little thing. All her life was sacrificed to take us to the place where we stand now, without thinking on her. My mother, K. Ariyawathie was a teacher as in occupation which she did with her all passion. She never was like an ordinary teacher but did her best to educate poor children since she was a person who had the idea to help the people who need the help most. I remember how she talked about giving lessons to them. Not only for us, she wanted everyone out there to shine in the society with goodness. My mother is the pillar where I learned so many stuff rather than the education. She is the role model of me where I gained the power to talk the truth no matter what, to be brave even as a woman to talk against the wrong. The way how she helped anyone who needs the helping hand guided me to see the other peoples’ sadness and made me to think and act for helping others. No matter the situation my mother really cares and helps the others all the time. And her love towards her mother is so precious where all these good qualities molded into me as well because of seeing all these characteristics. My Mother is precious for me since she is one wonderful woman out of all the world since she gave everything into my life, since she never gave up on me till now.

Do whatever you can do to make her happy because Mothers deserve the best in the world, and the best you can do is to treat her with happiness, comfort and make her to think on the religious view as well. Then you’ll gain the most wonderful feeling ever since you did the best for her.

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Thalatha Wijerathna:

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When I think of my mother (Jayakodi Manike) the words that flow into my mind are “Beacon of my life, Pillar of strength”. My late mother was a teacher. She was kind , but strict. She was also my first teacher. She taught me to read & write. I was reading historical novels when I was in grade 2. She loved not only us. She loved and helped children of her relatives by giving them accommodation and helping hand in studies. She was a loving grand-ma for my kids. I know no one can take my mom’s place. She helped me financially for my education and gifted me a house. She was not stingy. Her memories are cherished in my mind forever.

Charitha Adhikariarachchi:

We all need a foundation for our life. I see my mom (Thalatha Nandani) as the foundation giving me the strength to hold on amongst storms. She is my guiding light. I remember when I was schooling, she used to get up early in the morning and complete her house hold work despite of being a working woman. She cooked delicious food for us. I can’t believe how she managed those multiple roles in her life. My mother is the greatest influence in my life. I learned to work hard from my mother.

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Nadiya Amith:

My mom is more than a friend to me. She understands my needs even before I tell her. She laughs with me like a sister and takes Care of me like a guardian angel. When ever I am in trouble she always stands by me. I know all mothers are special but mine is extra special and I love her to infinity.

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The Noble White Elephant

The Noble White Elephant

A white elephant lived in a forest near Himalaya Mountain. The other elephants of the forest had made the white elephant their king. His mother was blind. So the white elephant sent her plenty of food through other elephants. But the mother didn’t get any, as the other elephants were eating all the food themselves.

The white elephant got to know what happened to the food he gathered for his mother. He decided not to live among those selfish elephants. He took his mother with him to the mountain and lived there far away from others of his clan. One day, a forest guard lost his path in the mountain and he was crying. The white elephant heard his cry and came near the guard and the guard got scared and ran away.

The white elephant called him, “I don’t harm you. Why are you afraid of me? What is your dilemma? Tell me, I will help you”.

Hearing the kind words of the white elephant, the guard stopped. “I don’t know the path to Varanasi. I have to go there. That’s why I was crying”. The white elephant took him on his back and left him near Varanasi. The guard thanked the elephant and continued his journey.

After some days the royal elephant of the king of Varanasi died due to an illness. The king needed an elephant in its place. He told that anybody who could give a clue of an elephant which fits to be the royal elephant would be given a reward. The guard heard that and he went to the king. “My Lord I have seen a white elephant and if an army is sent along with me, the elephant could be caught and brought to the palace”.

The king sent a troupe of soldiers with him to the forest. The white elephant was caught and brought to the king’s palace. The king was very happy to see the white elephant. The king ordered his servants to decorate the elephant with beautiful costumes and jewels. Meanwhile, the white elephant’s mother was crying because her son did not come back home with some food.

The king made the white elephant his royal elephant. He told his servants to give enough food to the elephant. But the elephant did not eat the food given to him. The servants informed the king about the white elephants behaviour. The king came near the elephant and said, “Why don’t you take some food. Don’t you know that I have made you the royal elephant. It’s a great honour for you”.

The white elephant replied, “Oh! My king, my mother is blind. She can’t find food on her own. Without me, she must be starving. Please take me to my mother”.

The king understood that he has done a great sin by capturing the white elephant. The white elephant was exhibiting noble behaviour by looking after his blind mother. The king ordered his servants to release the elephant to the forest where it used to live. The servants took the white elephant to the forest and released. The white elephant was happy and he quickly collected some food and went to his mother. The white elephant was our supreme Bodhisathwa.

A Pilgrimage to Dambadiva

Pilgrimage to India was always on top of my bucket list. Earlier, I have visited Trichy and Bangalore. But I always wanted to visit Buddhist religious places. Lord Buddha had mentioned that Buddhists should visit four places where special events of birth of Prince Siddharth, the enlightenment of the Bodhisathwa, preaching of first Dhamma sermon (Dam sak pawatum sutra) and Parinirvana of Lord Budhdha.

After my retirement from government service, I joined a tour group to go on pilgrimage. At the end of October, our group arrived at Katunayaka BMI airport to take a direct flight to Varanasi by a Mihin Lanka flight. After about three-hour flight, the plane touched the ground at Varanasi airport in Uttara Pradesh. Flight attendants bid us farewell saying “Ayubowan”. The sky was blue, climate was mild and a bus hired by tour guides was waiting outside to take us to the hotel.

Saranath

Isipathana

Isipathana

After refreshing, we continued our tour by bus to visit Saranath (Isipathana). The country side was like ours. First, we visited Sammuka sthupa built to mark the place where Lord Buddha met first disciples (Pas waga thawusan). Sammuka sthupa had been partly destroyed by Mogul kings many centuries ago from today. We visited ruins of Dhamma rajika sthupa in Isipathana, Migadaya. Pillars of Ashoka about 45ft in height with grand carvings can be seen in these ruins. In Migadaya we saw a herd of few deer. Ruins of Isipathanaramaya are scattered around.

We worshipped Mulagandha kuti temple built by King Dharmashoka. Now it consists of only a stone seat and four stone pillars. New Mulagandha kuti temple built by Rev. Anagarika Dhammapala, (whose effort helped to preserve Buddagaya temple) was adjacent to the old temple.

In the evening, we went to Mahabodhi temple to participate in chanting of Dam Sak Pawathum Sutra by Sri Lankan Bhikkus. All devotees were chanting and the feeling of serenity was in every mind and every face. Outside the temple, we could see statues of Pas waga thapaswin. The garden had some flowers and a little pond. We returned to hotel at night as the next day we had to go to Buddhagaya in Gaya district in Bihar Pradesh.

Buddhagaya (Bodh Gaya)

Bodh Gaya

Bodh Gaya

Next day early morning we got in to our bus. Our guide asked us to observe ‘pan sil’ and he narrated Dhamma sutra. This was the first thing of the daily routine through-out the tour. We went to Buddhagaya and stayed at a hotel. In the evening, we were shopping but could not find quality goods as it was a small town in an underprivileged area. At dawn, milk rice was prepared by Sri Lankan cooks in our group, with the help of devotees to offer at Jaya Sri Maha Bodhiya.

In the morning, we dressed in white ‘sil’ clothes and went in a procession to Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi temple carrying milk rice pots and lotus flowers. We offered these at the statue of Lord Buddha inside the temple. This majestic temple situated by the bank of river Neranjana, built in classical style of Indian temple architecture is about 170 ft high. The Buddha statue on Wajrasanaya is undoubtedly charismatic, filling our minds with devotion.

Behind the temple, there is sacred Sri Maha Bodhi tree surrounded by a golden fence. We offered flowers at the ‘mal asana’ there. We observed ‘Atasil’ sitting under the cool shade of Sri Maha Bodhi tree. As green leaves of Bodhi were swaying in the gentle breeze, the tranquillity of the place soothed our minds.

We listened to a Dhamma deshana and meditated for a while. Tibet monks were there chanting and worshipping. We went around the temple and Sri Maha Bodhiya while chanting. Many devotees from Buddhist countries were there. This temple is a must visit for all the Buddhists.

At noon, we attended alms giving at Maha Bodhi temple. We visited places of ‘sath sathi’ located around there. At east-south side, is a pond with a majestic statue of Lord Buddha wrapped by a replica of Muchalindha naga raja, a wonderful sight. Moreover, pillar of Ashoka pillar, marking the place of Ajapal nuga tree can be seen. Next day we went about 15 km by jeeps to Senani grama, where Lady Sujatha offered milk rice and Sottiya brahmana offered grass to Bodhisathva near Neranjana river.

Afterwards we went to Durgeswari hill where Bodhisathva spent an ascetic life by deprivation of worldly goods, including food, practising self-mortification for 6 years (dushkara kriya). We had to walk along a steep narrow road winding through the hill. My companion – Chandra sought the help of palanquin bearers to climb. There is a small cave on top, with a mystic appearance and surrounded by lush greenery. Inside the cave is a statue of Siduhath Bodhisathva, showing a lean body with ribs visible under skin. It was a sad sight. We felt exhausted, but got refreshed by a herbal drink given by monks of Tibet temple near that cave.

Rajagaha Nagar

Next day, we travelled to Rajagaha nagar about 200 km away by bus. There we saw marks of wheels of a cart on a flat stone and ruins of prison of King Bimbisara. To visit Gijja kuta hill we had to climb steps leading up, along ‘Bimbisara’ road. We saw the rock pushed by Devadatta thero, to hurt Lord Bhudda and the large rock that blocked its path. On the top of the hill, situated the ruins of the chamber of Lord Bhudda. I had an amazing view from the hill top as I could see villages and woods below, a scene with natural beauty. There, devotees can take a ride by cable cars to visit Sama sthupa on a nearby hill.

Saptha parni cave

Saptha parni cave

In Rajagaha nagar we visited Walasangata sthupa that had protected Buddha’s relics and Saptha parni cave, the site where the very first Dhamma sangayana was held. Following day, we had to travel about 500 km to reach Kusinara nagar. Our bus travelled along the 7km long Patna bridge over Ganga river.

Nalanda mahavihara

Nalanda mahavihara

On the way, we visited charred ruins of Nalandawa, the site of the first ever Buddhist university, destroyed by Muslim kings killing about 10,000 monks and lay students. The guide described the tragedy of Nalandawa so vividly, that we were very sad to witness the end of a great institution.

As the bus went through green woods, there were lesser houses, lesser people, on the road. The pilgrims in the bus shared sweets, chattering. I was lucky to have made such great new friends during the journey who are in touch with me even at present.

Kushinagar (Kusinara)

Kusinara temple

Kusinara temple

At Kushinagar we visited Parinirwana temple. Inside there is a statue of Lord Buddha in reclining position, with a calm face and swollen ‘Siri pathul’ (sacred feet). I worshipped the statue depicting ‘parinirvana manhakaya’ with tears in my eyes. Near that temple, we saw ruins of Parinirvana sthupa, Adahana stupha and the pond from which the Lord Buddha had his last sip of water.

Lumbini in Nepal

Lumbini garden

Lumbini garden

Our next destination was India – Nepal border, and visa were issued at the border. We crossed the border to visit Lumbini garden, place of birth of Prince Siddhartha. We rode to the Lumbini garden by bicycle-rickshows, and enjoyed the ride. Inside the garden, there is a temple and we entered the temple with devotion. There we saw a wooden carving depicting the birth of Prince Siddhartha. In this garden, archaeologists have found roots of ancient sal trees (Shorea robusta) about 2600 years old. Outside the we saw an Ashoka pillar and the pond where Queen Maha Maya had a bath and a Bodhi tree with flags.

We stayed at a hotel and the Nepal staff was friendly. They helped us carry our bags.

Kapilawasthu

Jethawanaramaya

Jethawanaramaya

Next morning, we left Nepal and returned to India. After about 90 km drive, we reached Kapilawasthu pura. We saw ruins of Nigrodharamaya, Palace of King Suddhdhodana and three palaces of Prince Siduhath- Ramya, Suramya, Subha, showing the grandeur of bygone era. Then we travelled to Sravasthi pura (Savath nuwara) 57km away, where Jethawanaramaya is located. On our way, we visited the palace of Count Anepindu and Angulimala sthupa.

Jethawanaramaya, the abode of Lord Buddha for nineteen years, built by Count Anepindu, is located inside a garden blessed with a calm and lovely scenery. We were happy to finally witness the site mentioned in many sutra. We could see ruins of meeting places, chamber of Lord Budhdha, chambers of Sariuth thero, Mugalan thero and Ananda thero. A well and a pond used by monks and Ananda bodhiya is there. This place is maintained by Archaeological department of India.

We observed ata-sil sitting under the shade of Ananda Bodhi tree. We attended some alms giving held at Srilankaramaya in front of Jethawanaramaya.

When walking along the paths around Jethawanaramaya, I was happy to think that I was walking on the soil touched by the sacred feet of Lord Buddha. I think that feeling must be what people refer as ‘Buddhalambana prithiya’.

When twilight came, offering of rose flowers, lightning of 7000 wax lamps and ‘Sath budu pooja’ were held with chanting of gatha. It was a grand sight as whole area was illuminated. The fragrance of flowers mixed with the scent of joss sticks was spread around by the cool breeze.

Next day, we visited a Sri Lankan temple at Sankassa nuwara, and then Vishala nuwara where ruin of sthupa built by Lichchavi clan of kings and an Ashoka pillar are present.

On our returning journey, we had to travel to Delhi to board our flight to Sri Lanka. We went across the beautiful Lucknow city famous for its music academy, to reach Delhi. There we had a glimpse of the Red fort, India Gate and the majestic Taj Mahal located near the border of Yamuna river.

After bidding farewell to the driver and helper of the bus we entered Delhi airport. We boarded plane for our return journey and I was delighted and feeling blessed to have visited and worshipped those sacred places.

The Golden Deer

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Once upon a time, there was a gardener looking after the palace garden in Varanasi. While he was working in the garden a golden deer came in to the garden from the nearby forest. But as soon as it saw the gardener, it ran away. This happened for many days.

After sometime, the deer had understood that the gardener wouldn’t harm itself. Then the deer used to enter the palace garden and stay there for some time. The golden deer was beautiful. One day the gardener went to the palace to give flowers and fruits to the king’s servants.

Gardener, are you looking after my garden well? How is it now looking?”, The king asked.

My lord, there is nothing of greater importance. But often a golden deer comes there and wanders inside the garden.” The gardener said.

Can you bring that deer to the palace?

Yes, of course. Please give me a little honey. I will lure and trap the deer. Let me try my best.

The king commanded royal servants to give him a pot full of honey. The gardener took it and poured honey over the grass. The deer came as usual. He found the grass dipped in honey. The deer sat there eating grass. The next day, the gardener slowly poured honey over the grass along the path which ran towards the royal palace.

The deer walked along the path towards the palace. The gardener brought it to the palace and kept it in a shed. People circled the golden deer and looked at it with amazement. They have never seen a golden deer before, it was a rare sight. The deer realised it has come to a different place and that it had been trapped, and it got scared. By that time, the gardener had chained the deer to a tree, so it could not escape. The royal servants informed the king about the golden deer and the king visited it.

The king said, “We all know that deer are very cautious and fast animals by their nature. They never come to where humans live. But this one has come here seeking sweet grass, he got trapped because of his greed. Don’t you think that the human behaviour is the same? Greedy men follow dangerous paths seeking money, fame and lust. This golden deer has taught us a lesson. This beautiful creature belongs in his home-forest. Therefore I will release him.

Then, the king released the deer and it hurried all the way to the forest and never returned to the palace garden again. The wise king was our supreme Bodhisathwa.

Chasing clothes, Chasing hearts

The New Year spirit is still visible everywhere but mostly on streets. Most of us were on streets during the last few weeks, predominantly walking around fancy fashion shops to buy clothes as much as possible. Voyaging from one shop to another, we all rushed in search of the best skirt, best frock, the best trouser or the shirt as if we had nothing before or we were unclothed throughout the year. We were on a hunt, literally hunting clothes; it might be for you, your children, spouse, siblings or parents.

Chasing clothes, chasing hearts

Sometimes it is fun, sometimes it is the most tiresome activity. Though we are used to buying clothes whenever we need right through the year, when it comes to the New Year season intentionally or unintentionally we tend to buy something, mostly things that are not essential and we load all of them in the wardrobe. Most of us do not know the length and the width of our wardrobes and sometimes we do not know what is there in the bottom of it. Heaps and heaps of garments with some of it totally untouched. We continue the practice, since all the others are doing the same or since we are supposed to wear something new for the New Year.

It is easy to follow the routine but it is difficult to be dare enough to refuse it and stand different. The New Year is not something to chase after clothes for but to chase hearts. You can start it from your wardrobe. Stride over your chest of drawers. Scan them from top to bottom. Definitely, you will be able to find several clothes that you do not use frequently together with several other garments that you have never touched but are still in very good condition.

This is a common reality among most of us, because as human beings we are greedy to possess a lot but we also forget things soon. Now, you have two simple options; firstly, you can donate them to someone in need. If not you can reuse them and save the money you allocated to buy new clothes and channel them directly to the betterment of someone less well-off. There are so many among us who neither possess wardrobes nor clothes, but still are willing to celebrate the New Year with new clothes. So, this is the right time to chase their hearts!

This column was first published in iVolunteer/SundayTimes Sri Lanka (2014)

Now I Love Him Even More ♡♡

When I was small I had crushes on two celebrities – Michael Praed who played the role of Robin Hood in the British TV series “Robin of Sherwood” and Bryan Adams. I loved Bryan Adams’ voice and found him very handsome! Bryan Adams is one of my favorite singers up-to-date.

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Recently I was going through a Bollywood news site and a heading caught my eye, “Bryan Adams shoots Priyanka Chopra’s first Guess campaign”. Brian Adams? I was surprised.

No, that can’t be him.

But curiosity made me follow the link and read the full article. It was him! My favorite singer has found a second career as a photographer! I kept surfing the Internet. Although Bryan Adams’s popularity in the music world never diminished, he has started working as a photographer.

I found many celebrities’ photo shoots in his official website http://bryanadamsphotography.com/

More than that in 2014 he has published a book, Wounded: The Legacy of War, which is a collection of portraits of young British soldiers who have suffered life-changing injury in Iraq and Afghanistan or during training. The book is available on Amazon.

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Follow this link to view some of its photographs, http://i100.independent.co.uk/article/these-moving-photos-of-wounded-soldiers-were-taken-by-bryan-adams–ekVtINzZDx . I bet once you go through those images you will get tears.

Well, now I love Bryan Adams even more!

He will always remain my crush. ♡ ♡

True Love is True

All the vows uttered by couples at the altar come to my mind, ‘in sickness and in health’, ‘till the death do us depart’, ‘marriage is a sacred union’. I wonder, are those words valid in present world?

I guess no, for those who cannot tolerate when their partner’s sweat smells after a long tiring day at work, for sex addicts that cannot hold-back their desires till their partner’s mensuration is over. Those words do not apply to them. Also, not for those who just want a marriage of convenience and not for those who are not hesitant to do unjust to their partner.

But what about divorce? Why do two people grow apart, though they couldn’t live without each other sometime ago? Why do the couples we assumed to be perfect, split? Do we need to have a right for a divorce or is it just an easy way out?

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As a practising attorney for 3 years, I happened to notice issues in marriages that eventually led to divorces.

One of my clients (an idiot) wanted to divorce his legally married wife for not answering his late-night phone calls. The wife had been working at a garment factory from 6 am to 6 pm. They have never lived as husband and wife though they had put their signatures on a piece of paper. He had avoided entering the wedded life as he was unsure whether he was ready to shoulder the responsibilities of a husband. When I heard his story, the first question popped in my mind was why the hell he married that girl in the first place (is he not an idiot?).

I had to fight for my client as he badly wanted a divorce though he really didn’t have a case. I believe if he wanted to work out his marriage, he could have arranged to live under the same roof with his wife, despite all the hardships. I had to ask the wife if she was willing to divorce as well. The wife agreed to file for a divorce, and the marriage was dissolved stating that they never ever had a real family life. My client got what he wanted, a divorce without paying a claim. I wonder why they did not choose to have a little patience and respect the bond they had shared in the past. Why did they take the easy way out?

The sad truth is that most of divorces I have filed and appeared in court for, were cases where the couples have not actually had a relationship of a husband and wife. They have decided the family life would be a bitter berry even without tasting a bit of it. In a marriage, two families are involved and divorcing over trivial matters affects not only the couple but their families. People get hurt, dignity of parents shattered.

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In Sri Lanka, most couples legally get married (some call it an engagement), later have the wedding ceremony and thereafter live under the same roof. Some are marriages of convenience like getting a visa. One of my clients was a woman in mid-twenties, her husband was living overseas and he did not wish to live in Sri Lanka nor take his wife with him to where he was living. They got divorced.

Once two ladies came to meet me in my office in Kegalle, they were mother-in-law and daughter-in-law. The mother-in-law told me that her son is living overseas and his wife was not happy to leave the country. The wife told me that at the point of the marriage, she was not informed of the husband’s decision to live abroad. The husband and wife liked each other, in fact they didn’t have any problem other than the mismatch of ideas on what should be the country of residence. One of them had to compromise, but none were willing to.

Most marriages among younger ones end just like that, they are taking the easy way out. They are stubborn and don’t try to even out their differences. If they really liked each other in the first place, why they can’t compromise the small things? They are reluctant to the fact that each person on earth has his or her own set of flaws. Nobody can expect their partner to be perfect when himself or herself is not perfect in the first place. After all, if every man and woman on earth were perfect, wouldn’t the world be a boring place?

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Finally, I want to tell you about a couple that managed to choose love over their differences. A young couple got married against the will of the girl’s parents. This girl had a dream of becoming a nurse. Married women are not eligible to enter the government’s nursing schools. The parents of the girl had been influencing her to give up her marriage and enter the nursing school as a single woman. The wife was lost in her career dreams for a while and wanted a divorce. This couple came to me to file a divorce and I noticed the husband was in tears as he spoke. He was soft-hearted and he didn’t choose to disturb his wife’s dreams although he wanted her so much. Later the couple had reconciled, the wife had decided to enter a private nursing school and the husband has helped her with the finances to pay for studies. I was happy when they told me they don’t want a divorce anymore. I was glad the wife could secure both her career dreams and her love marriage.

They chose true love, while not losing themselves in the process. They chose each other, made little compromises but didn’t give up their own identity. I was lucky to witness true love triumph in their case, a rare experience in my career.

I want true love to win, always.

A person whom you can connect to naturally, a person who chooses you over other things and other people, a person who understands your moods, a person who nourishes your soul, a person who don’t force you to be someone you are not – if you find such person, don’t ever let him or her go. True love is not a concept invented by poets. True love is true!

A Man with Scars and an Empty Garage

Empty Garage

The cobwebs have formed dusty clouds inside the garage. The garage is now a sanctuary for insects. The wheels of my car used to draw patterns on the grass path. Now the path is full of weeds. The dust carried by the breeze soiled my face and clothes. One of my hands rubbed my face. The skin of the scars on face felt rough to the fingers. My fingers searched for the unharmed soft skin in between the scars that were caused by the car accident.

It must have been a cursed day… the day I bought my car. It was a jinxed vehicle! When I was planning to buy it, some friends warned me. Most of its former owners have had faced a chain reaction of troubles.

Since that unfortunate day my life was not the same again. ‘Beauty is only skin deep’ I have come across that proverb many times. I used to assume it preaches people not to judge others by their appearance. Now with experience I certainly know what it means. It is a reminder to maintain your ‘looks’. Because no matter how good you are, the people still judge you by your face.

I had the means to pay and arrange for a cosmetic surgery. But then I sensed a riot in my mind. The voice in my head told me, if it was meant to be then I should learn to live with it.

After the injuries caused to my face got cured, I was allowed to see myself in the mirror. A hideous expression has been fixed on my face. I was not shaken. My state was better than the Erik of The Phantom of the Opera.

“I don’t know how to help.” Those were my father’s words.

“When you were injured, I was hurt too”. My mother was in tears.

I sighed “When will we get back to normal life?”.

The days were dark. Not even a firefly beaconed along my way. The huge scars had formed a constant dreadfulness.

The emptiness of the garage seeping through my eyes forced me to walk away. I stepped towards the gate. My neighbour and his little daughter passed by and he waved. The little girl looked at me with fearful eyes and turned her head away. She was scared of my appearance…

I had not imagined this twist ever before in my life. It is true my face was maimed… Still I did not feel less about myself. But people gradually made me do so.  Most people pitied me which I disliked.

The reaction of strangers when they saw my injured face emerging through a door… I better not talk about it.

Surprisingly most strangers guessed that I was not born with the scars. Each one of them popped up the same question “How did you get those scars?”. In their eyes I saw sympathy. Those were the moments I felt worse than the first time I saw my face with scars in the mirror.

The scars made me look gruesome. I knew some strangers assumed that I am a trifling criminal. I did not waste my time to clear their doubts. I knew the happy days would not return. But my soul was waiting for a green light.

I applied for a transfer in my work place and it was approved. Perhaps the management understood my plight. It was hard living with endless comments and condolence messages.

“I could start afresh”, I said, “If I am transferred to the plant in upcountry”.

“It’s true. But why do not you go for a cosmetic treatment. I believe a surgery can fix the scars on your face.” My boss said.

“Well, there must be a reason for this to happen. May be it will find me a true lover, someone who loves my soul”. I winked and smiled.

My boss looked into my eyes with a sarcastic smile. “How old are you boy? Thirty five? Do you believe that true love exists? Life is not the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ fairy tale, I must tell you. But I wish you luck.”

I got transferred to a plant located in the upcountry. The upcountry always has its own refreshing fragrance in the air. The humidity of the atmosphere was a healing balm to the skin.

I got boarded near the plant. The window of my room overlooked a yard full of sunflowers. As immature flower buds moved to face the sun they turned their back to my window. My roommate had been lamed due to an accident. He was living isolated because it hurts to see his family and friends sighing over his misfortune.

“We cannot blame them. I too would have treated you that way if I haven’t gone through the same.” he said.

I was able to expose my worries to him. He was unstinting. In spite of his despair he listened to a stranger’s fear and uttered consoling words.

The employees of the new plant had eyes reading my life through my scars, except one. The girl sitting in the corner of the office was not interested in my scars. She often wore yellow and appeared as lively as a sunflower. The office colleagues called her “Batti” because she was small made. She was not willing to blend with the rest of the staff. She rarely spoke to me. Our conversations were limited to weather forecasts.

The remarks dropped by other guys during the lunch hour together with the banters of the gossiping women helped me visualise the past of Batti. She was a divorcee. Batti looked a lot younger than her age. She reminded me of a few alluring female undergraduates that completed the internship in our plant. Little by little I was daydreaming at the office, lost in sunflower dreams.

“After knowing all the juicy stories about her do you still like her?” My roommate did not favour my hopes.

I kept silence. If I had someone else to turn for advice……

It was the urge to step forward in life. And yes, my gut feeling assured me she does not sympathise me.

“I’ll tell you why you choose her. She has been less fortunate just like you”. I closed my eyes tightly and buried my head on the pillow.

Sunflowers

The next day morning I plucked a few sunflowers from the yard and went to the office holding them with a trembling hand. The pollen grains floating with the flowery breeze got stuck in my woolen jacket. I heard the sound of my footsteps. The pace of my footsteps has changed…..

Once I reached the office I put the flowers on Batti’s desk.

“I bet your favorite colour is yellow.”

“Oh yes. Thank you for the flowers.” She smiled warmly. I felt a rapid pulse in my veins. I stepped closer to her. She looked upon my face with a questioning gaze through timid eyes.

“By the way, I wanted to ask you, how did you get those scars on your face?”

I felt a blow on my head. The skin of my face quavered. I was standing next to her looking worse than I usually do. I briefly told her about the car accident. Then there was the common gleam of sympathy in her eyes. Her glance fell on my face.

Her eyes were searching for a story on my scars..

 

Men – An Endangered Species!

Should there be an International day for Men? Here is what Charitha Adhikari has to say.

Men – an endangered species – My idea in 2001

International women’s day comes up and all the women realise they are in need of equal rights. Meanwhile men laugh at this, but they suffer in secret.

Men should be given an International Day for two reasons. One, to make them recall all their deeds against the fairer-sex, during the year gone by, like how he fell in love with three women at the same time, how he whistled at girls who passed him by, how he degraded household work as things too easy to handle, and last but not least, how he prevented his wife from getting a higher education by making her have a baby.

Men an endangered species_1

On the other hand, an International Day will give men the ideal opportunity to fight against being stereotyped. He could fight against society for seeing him as someone has to be strong, (even when he is feeble inside), stand with virility, with strong biceps and broad shoulders.

Every man among us, has to be a bread winner even though more and more women are working these days. And what if the wife refuses to work at all? Undoubtedly this could be hard for men.

In fact they lead such difficult lives I wonder why men are not listed in the endangered species list. So, why not give them the opportunity to celebrate a men’s day? After all, no matter who obeyed the serpent first, we women should understand that Adam and Eve, were both human.

Men – an endangered species – My idea in 2017

Men an endangered species_2

Hilariously within a span of 16 years, the issue of Men being endangered still remains the same, while my take on it has changed thanks to the men that I came across within that period.

In this day and age men are endangered because women are becoming more stronger day by day, just to try and break the glass ceiling that their men have created above them. The more you try to oppress someone, the one who is stronger will try to bounce back harder.

Everyday, I see women try to win a never ending battle, some trying to juggle career and a family. Some trying to battle the societal norms, some trying to battle all the men who are trying to put them in place since they are scared of her, some trying to battle other fellow women who will be on their way obstructing.

So men still find it harder I guess, with all the women trying to do their best. After all it’s a man’s world, or is it?

UNWRITTEN HISTORY – Battle of Ladies

This article was collaboratively written by Milani Buddhika, Nusra Afzal and Hasitha Adhikariarachchi.

Long time ago in my school days, I had taken part in the western band and the drama crew, but never sports! On the contrary, my three classmates Milani, Nusra and Chandima had too much blood pumping in their veins and had joined the school cricket team. Guess what, they played leather ball!

These three girls were always on the ground, whenever they came back to classroom, they were sun burnt! They were dedicated, disciplined and fun. And they were among the very first school girls to play in a big match in Sri Lanka.

Yes, the very first female big match happened in 1999, between two girls-schools in Kegalle, namely St. Joseph’s Balika Maha Vidyalaya Vs Kegalu Balika Maha Vidyalaya. If you are willing to know more, here you go:

  • 1999 – Soft ball test match
  • 2000 – Limited over match, soft ball
  • 2001 – Limited over leather ball match, first ever in Sri Lankan women’s cricket
  • 2002 – Limited over leather ball match.
  • 2003 – Limited over leather ball
  • 2004 – Limited over leather ball
  • 2005 – didn’t pay a big match due to Tsunami disaster back in 2004
  • 2006 – Limited over leather ball

UNWRITTEN HISTORY – Battle of Ladies

The first Inter School Big Match was held at Kegalle Public ground on 5th of November 1999, between St. Joseph’s Balika Maha Vidyalaya Vs Kegalu Balika Maha Vidyalaya. The former Sri Lankan Cricket Captain, Mr. Arjuna Ranathunga was the chief guest, and my friends brought back a stump autographed by Arjuna. In 1999 and 2000, the matches were drawn.

My classmate Milani, walked down the memory lane with me;

“Honestly, playing cricket for my school (St. Joseph’s Balika Maha Vidyalaya) is the best thing I’ve ever done in my life. I gained so many things thanks to that. We have played seven big matches”.

My other classmate who played cricket, Nusra also shared her memories;

“Battle of Ladies’ leather ball Cricket encounter was played at the Kegalle public grounds on 13th of June 2002. It was a historical moment for the country. This was considered as the first leather ball Cricket encounter match played between two Girls’ schools.”

“We should thank Mrs. R.M.C.K Athapattu (our former principal of St. Joseph’s B.M.V) and Mrs. R.Malawana (former principal of Kegalu Balika M.V.) for starting such an event. At the same time, we thank everyone who helped us to grow and build ourselves and identify our talents, so a special thank you goes to our coaches and teaches in charge. We cherish the students of both the schools for being present at the match with us, and encouraging us by cheering up.”

UNWRITTEN HISTORY – Battle of Ladies_1

“Do you know why it didn’t continue after 2006?” I asked some other girls of my school who had played the game.

“Probably lack of interest in the management. Leather ball cricket is not easy, kids in our school still play Cricket, but just soft ball cricket. They now play some district/provincial matches using soft ball.”

I remember cheering for my friends in the ground, “Come on Milani! Come on Nusra!”. My classmates and I would scream till the end of the match, and the next day our voices were strained. And we would gather around Milani, Nusra and Chandima to tell how much we adored their talent!

We were tomboys, energetic and carefree but dedicated for what we believed in. I believed in the pleasure of arts, and cricket was the religion for Milani and Nusra. When we look back after all these days, none of us have anything to complain about those moments. We just hope that the two leading girls-schools in Kegalle will make plans to have the big match again!