25 February 2012

To be a Sri Lankan

His eyesight was not what it used to be and nowadays he can only make out almost shadows walking out from the door . People walking out , pushing their bags in trollies . Some visiting , some coming home . 
Somasiri has been here for about two hours . Up front , so that they would easily pick him. He is waiting for the familiar shadows to appear.

Shri must be taller now, his thoughts coagulate on his granddaughter, whom he last saw two years ago.
“Appachchi”  he hear the familiar voice of Maithri , his daughter-in-law  . “Appachchi loku Kalpanawanaka ( Appachchi in deep thought)
She says before giving him one of those  kisses that slightly brush the cheek. A whiff of some french perfumeenter his nostrils and end up somewhere between the eyes.
Should have shaved the stubble off , Somasiri notes to himself.
His eyes search for the little girl who played in the garden last time they were here.
“Shri , talk to Seeya” , a wiry frame peeps from behind her father,  in response to her mother’s command. .
“Shri , Kohamada Puthe, Usa gihilla  “ ( How are you Shri , you have grown tall)
The young girl just smiles as  her mother translate the comment for her benefit.
“ Sinhala kathakarannama baarida? “ ( Can’t speak Sinhalam at all?) Somasiri look quizzically  at his son , who draws a sheepish smile as his  defense.
 “ When Sri Lankan , You must speak Sinhala” Somasiri sounds almost like lawyer Silva who represented him in the land dispute case. “otherwise not Sri Lankan” he hammers one more blow for good measure , on a point already driven in.
There draws  heavy silence for what feels like eternity , or may be even a little bit longer .
Then  with the same smile , she looks deep in to his eyes
“ Seeyah , is speaking in Sinhala the only requirement to be Sri Lankan ?”  
The words pierce through the fog of her mixed accent.

“Shri , mind what you say please, we talked about this “  , as the parents try rectify an awkward moment , Somasiri plunge deep to find an answer.

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