Autumn, Winter and Losing my Words in Sri Lanka

“Autumn” was written in October, “Winter” was written at the begining of December. Despite the “perfect writing weather” I lost my words. I lost them in Sri Lanka. So here is “Sri Lanka” my attempt to decipher my experience there, and try to find my words again.

Autumn

The wind hummed, thrashing the fallen leaves against the side of the house. This Autumn if you ask anyone in the Greater Boston area, has been a particularly mild couple of months. Entire weeks in the mid seventies; grey and gloomy but relatively warm weather punctuated by crisp mornings, and chilly nights. It’s not actually that we’re having a mild Autumn season, but that we’re having an Autumn at all.

The modus operendi of the weather in the past couple of years has been to linger in the extremess; teasing us with a couple of days of Spring or Autumn, and sprinting straight into subsero temperatures or mountains and mountains of snow.

It’s perfect writing weather. Cold, grey, gloomy days. All day rain and howling winds that invoke the imagination.

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Winter

I love these blank winter days. It’s hard to describe the colourlessness of winter in the city. It’s just like all the life of the sunny summer months, were washed away.

A dusty snow fell. It could hardly be called snow. It was like feathery dust, that smattered the people and the city in its below freezing temperatures.

I stayed inside today.

It’s so comforting to be in a  warm place, looking out the window at a cold one. It conjures memories of playing tag with friends as a child, and running between and around grown-ups until I find Dad’s immovable stance. Looking through between his legs and knowing “No one can get me here!”

The extremes make me want to write, and live in the comfort of memories.

Sri Lanka- Losing my Words

I was so  so so so full. So full of emotion that nothing but smiles and tears would come out of me. I would open my mouth, and only whispers of nothing would come out. I would sit down to write, and all i could manage was a list of names. It was as though those names were enough to describe how i was feeling.

I tried to describe what they did.

How Namali gave me a mani/pedi.

How Eshan sat at my feet, or how he tucked me into bed.

How Sujan made our final moments special by turning on some music, and walking towards me with his arms open, knowing beyond a shadow of  a doubt, that i would dance with him.

How Wirey came, in between meetings, in the mad rush of his wedding plans, to give me a hug, ask me how i’m doing, show me love and disappear back into his busy day.

How Tehani came for her lunch hour to share a meal with me.

 

I can’t even start to talk about how Ma and Tha went out of their way to make every moment perfect for me. Helping me surprise my Chuti nangi- the sole purpose of my visit. Getting me all my favourite foods, taking me to my favourite places, and helping me re-live my favourite things about home- sitting for dinner together, walking down by the beach to buy a couple of loaves of bread; falling asleep in the arm chair on the front porch; swimming at Polhena.

When i put these moments into words it just seems to diminish what they did, and what it meant to me in that moment.

So much so that i stopped talking about Sri Lanka. When people ask me how it was, I would close my eyes and remember and let the moment rush over me. Then i would smile and say, “It was happiness. It was whirlwind. It was home.”

The emotion i was trying to capture still eludes me though. It’s not just happiness, because i fill with sorrow simultaneously. It’s a feeling of being incredibly fortunate. It’s a feeling of utter and impossible happiness. And of utter and impossible loss. All these individual feelings have their own reasons, and all the different reasons and feelings add up to this emotion that i have no words to describe. And describing it will only limit it to the words i use.

For the first time words are no use for me. And i know why.

Because words can describe events and how they made me feel, but they can never quite describe the people and what they mean to me.

I’ll just repeat the names and trust that it is enough.


Amma. Thaththi. Jani. Eshan. Sujan. Namali. Nadeeni. Muski. Lushy Aiya. Sude Aiya. Shemali. Kaveesh. Suraaj. Sam. Suji Nandhi. Wirey. Tehani. Sithari.

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