An ode to a pet……………

“If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and man.”

Mark Twain 

I cannot remember exactly how we came to adopt Siriya as our pet dog but what I remember is that she was a stray animal who used to wonder around   in our neighborhood before she became a regular visitor to our home. That was eight or nine years ago.  She was the neighborhood dog of sorts and almost everyone around knew her but for several years she had been spending most of her time in our home.

She died on Wednesday morning, in her own quiet and dignified manner. When I got up this morning and opened the front door, she was no longer sleeping there on the floor of the garage, wagging her tail on hearing the click of the door lock.

My sons   started calling her Siriyawathie, later shortened to Siriya and she fully deserved the name. She was a smiling dog and was of the most loving sort. She was also a no fuss animal and not an attention seeker. She would sit around quietly, have her meals when hungry and pretty much hang around till one of us took the time to stroke her head and spend some time with her. The one thing she hated was water and bathing her was no easy task. When she sensed   it was bath time, she’d run away and come back much later.
She had her fair share of visits to the doctor  and she loved the short car ride to the animal clinic. We just had to open the car door and she would jump right in and make herself comfortable.

She had been breathing heavily for a couple of days and despite a visit to the doctor, she did not recover. I went to check on her shortly before she died. She was seated and breathing heavily and looked at me with the saddest eyes I have ever seen and I just knew that she knew then it would all be over for her soon.

 Siriya getting bullied by Falco. Her last photo taken on June 16
Siriya getting bullied by Falco. Her last photo taken on June 16
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Learning not to take things for granted…………..

“You are special. You understand me,” said Anoushka when I met her last Sunday. Her words almost made me cry because Anouskha is a beautiful and intelligent 27-year-old girl who has lived almost her entire life on a wheel chair.
We were at Anoushka s house to send the day and it was truly a memorable and inspiring experience for me.

I first met Anoushka less than a month ago at my sister Indini’s birthday party. They attend the school for differently abled persons in Colombo but while Indini suffers from schizophrenia, a mental illness, Anoushka suffers from a physical handicap. But both those with physical and mental handicaps have their fair share of challenges to overcome and issues that have to be dealt with a lot of patience.

Though confined to a wheelchair, Anouskha has her dreams like all of us. The first time I met her she asked me to find her a boyfriend. That is when I asked her how old she is. “Twenty Seven,’ she said. She asked me how many kids I had. “Two,” I said.  She said she wants to experience motherhood. To feel what it is like to carry a baby inside of her.

It made me think later that being a mother is  indeed a privilege which I have almost always taken for granted. It was, for me, something  I excepted to happen soon after I got married and I did become a mother within little over a year of being married. But that was after suffering a miscarriage. I had always dreamed of being a wife and mother from my young days probably influenced by all the fairy tales I read and later by the Mills and Boons romances.  I always wanted to be the perfect wife and mother which I have to say I have not even come close to becoming. But I think I have managed to raise two decent boys and hope they don’t get into too much trouble in the future. That of course time will tell. I ve also managed to juggle home life and work, thanks greatly to the two grandmothers who pitch in to help out so generously.

But getting back to the issue of motherhood, what I now understand is that it’s not something that can be taken for granted. Not by a long shot. When I see my friends struggle to get pregnant and when my own sister is struggling to be a mom, I know that nothing in life can be expected to take a certain path.

Looking back –   miscarriages, Caesarian sections, stretch marks, leaking breasts, sleepless nights and emergency trips to hospitals, all seem worthwhile.

It’s so easy for any of us to be on the other side by some twist of fate and  Anoushka’s words made me realize that nothing should be taken for granted in this life.

Anoushka & indini
Anoushka & indini

And the Mountains Echoed…Another nostalgic journey…

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When an author writes a universally loved book like The Kite Runner, then anything else that follows is going to be a little disappointing. So Khaled Hosseini, the Afghan born American writer who became a literary sensation overnight with the release of The Kite Runner in 2003 has a tough act to follow even if it is his own act. The Kite Runner was followed by A Thousand Splendid Suns and I was disappointed with the latter.  The Kite Runner has such a special place in my heart that I was already biased when I picked up Hosseini’s second book. And now with his latest book, And the Mountains Echoed, I feel the same way.

But even if it does not measure up to The  Kite Runner, And the Mountains Echoed is written with the same sense of nostalgia with which Hosseini writes about his native land Afghanistan. He revisits the country that was an idyllic place in the early 1950s and disintegrated into a place of bloodshed and misery by the 1980s and 1990s and continues to be a troubled nation till today.

The story begins portraying the deep bond between a brother and sister who are separated when the girl is given away for adoption to a rich couple who live in the Afghan capital Kabul. It beings in the early 1950s and ends  in 2010 by which time lives have changed dramatically, many of the  main characters have lived and died  and everyone’s life has got more  complicated. There are families and extended families, there are secrets that get gradually unraveled as the pages turn but some secrets remain untold till the end.
The inspiration for the Book’s title is a poem by William Blake (1757–1827) called the Nurse’s Song. Here is the poem for those who would like to read it.

WHEN the voices of children are heard on the green,

And laughing is heard on the hill,

My heart is at rest within my breast,

And everything else is still.

‘Then come home, my children, the sun is gone down,

And the dews of night arise;

Come, come, leave off play, and let us away

Till the morning appears in the skies.’

‘No, no, let us play, for it is yet day,

And we cannot go to sleep;

Besides, in the sky the little birds fly,

And the hills are all cover’d with sheep.’

‘Well, well, go and play till the light fades away,

And then go home to bed.’

The little ones leapèd and shoutèd and laugh’d

And all the hills echoèd.

Graffiti art in Colombo…………

French street art graffiti artist Da Cruz along with an artist’s from the CoCA (Collective of Contemporary Artists)    finalized a Wall Art at the BMICH in Colombo  recently.

Here are some of the scenes from Saturday night when the Wall was formally launched.

A painted chair
A painted chair

Da Cruz'  art work
Da Cruz’ art work
CoCA groups wall
CoCA groups wall
By Lankan artist Deneth
By Lankan artist Deneth
Eleonore & Chandani
Eleonore & Chandani