colombo, can I put you on hold?


It’s been two weeks. The city is intoxicating with it’s mix of heat, sweet fruit and cool ocean breeze. But I’m on twitter and I can’t stop refreshing. I hear the sounds of waves crashing against the quay wall. Honking horns and trains blast by below. Next stop: Wellawatte Station. I can see the sun setting, tamil songs float into my apartment and the city is just starting to come alive. But I’m on twitter. I can’t stop refreshing.

Anti-immigrant sentiment.
Anti-Black Lives Matter rhetoric.
Innocent Muslim lives taken.
Anton Sterling.
Philando Castile.
5 officers shot dead.

I can’t stop refreshing.

A lot of what has happened has happened before and will happen again but this feels different. I read in horror as I watch people I know and respect disguise their anti-Black Lives Matter thoughts in backwards thinking that lacks any notion of intersectionality. I feel angry. I feel upset. 

A friend here pointed out to me, Do you think that’s how our parents felt? This helplessness of watching your home start to fray at the edges; it’s hidden turmoil bubbling to the surface. Our parents lived a world away while they watched Sri Lanka descend into chaos. I can remember Amma and Appa glued to the TV, waiting for every bit of news, every update. That same yearning to feel connected, to try and make sense of it, I feel it now. I came here to be productive and help build a stronger country, but I feel pulled in two directions.

It’s morning now and I’m rushing out the door for work. The tuk driver is trying to rip me off. Turn right here! Walking briskly beneath ancient trees, I hear unseen birds coo loudly overhead. I sit down at my desk. Colleagues giggling over morning tea. I’m trying to focus but I’m on twitter and I can’t stop refreshing. 

10 thoughts on “colombo, can I put you on hold?

  1. This is a beautifully written post and you express quite a bit of what I have been feeling as well. I went on my journey to rediscover myself, to escape into nature, to discover the goodness of people. I cannot ignore the fact that we met so many wonderfully kind people along the way, but being an interracial couple we also faced other challenges. We were met with judgmental stares, my boyfriend was often outright ignored in greetings and conversations, shop owners were much more on their guard when he walked in. We’ve gone traveling before and have faced the discrimination to a lesser degree, but this year seemed different. It was more pointed. They seemed more fearful. Now that we are home and being blasted by all of the news again, there is the mixed desire of wanting to run away again and hiding amongst the trees and letting the ocean waves drown out all the negativity. At the same time, there’s just this overwhelming helplessness of wanting to do something…and yet being more scared than ever of trying. There is so much hatred brewing and, worst of all, being encouraged. I dream of a world in which we can just accept each other for what we all are, people, a dream which has been dreamed for centuries before me. I wish I could tell you to just enjoy the moment because that’s all that’s guaranteed, but I understand the guilt that comes along with that. I understand the confusion of watching the anger in the world and not being able to do anything about it. And I know that you feel it much more than I do. I wish you all the best, spread the love where you can, my friend.

  2. Wow, thank you for your this. There is an overwhelming fear to speak up when the power structures around you continue to push you down. I can’t imagine what you and your partner have been through and continue to go through. Despite the fears, I think it’s important to tell these stories, as painful, confusing or muddled in our minds as they may seem to be. I hope you continue to find the courage to step out and not hide away! Your words mean a lot, thank you for taking the time. I hope to spread some of that love that brought me here in the first place.

    1. “Fortunately”, most of the antipathy has been covert, but I think it’s the anticipation of what’s coming that’s scary. However, I truly think that it’s our individual responsibility to step out into the world (as you have now) and realize that the media paints a truly grim picture of the world. There is SO much good out there, so many benevolent people, and we can be part of that. We simply cannot let the fear stand in our way and keep us locked up in our homes (although when watching the news lately, it makes it seem like that’s the only safe option). We need to stay positive, one person at a time–it’s just like Samwise said, a new day will come and the sun will shine out clearer.

  3. This is awesome. I was about to PM you, but this paints a very vivid update. I’ll bug you again soon. For now, sending you lots of love! xx

  4. Such powerful words Sindu! That need to connect with the society that you temporarily left behind might feel overwhelming but hopefully as you warm up to the city, you’ll refresh twitter a little less and see more of the impact that you will make in the community around you right now. Add oil!

    1. Girl, you know all of this wouldn’t have even happened without your encouragement!! You’re so right though, work is picking up and I am getting engaged. Gotta do what I can where I am!

  5. Very interesting read. Capture all your reactions whilst they are still fresh for soon you will grow accustomed to it and we won’t be able to see our city through fresh eyes. Welcome ‘back’ .. hope you find a little bit of home here :)

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