Going Home to Childhood

 

BY GAYA

Going home to childhood; one of the sweetest things in the world.

A pause to refresh from disillusionment and stark realities, taking us full circle to where we came from with smells and sounds that never really change in a developing country village.

Bitter-sweet though, for going home is not an option for many of my friends who have nothing and no one to return to childhood with.The village is torn apart and people they knew are now in Western cities all over the world, having fled the no hope country at war.

This is one of the greatest human tragedies of war: leaving home in wartime, regardless of the circumstances in which people moved away and their differing level of loss.

The loss of a childhood home should never happen again in war. Never in Sri Lanka. 

Give back my home, can you give back my friends, my parents’ photos on the cabinet, the old upholstery, the torn divan, the sound of the neighbour’s quarreling and an old bicycle leaning on the side of the house. I see Bata slippers dusty and smoky blue stapled with a safety pin, the mango trees, my toys and medals, trophies and collection of old photo albums and more.

Can there be a place where the old photos blow, the chairs creak and the dust of our childhood lies in the earth waiting for me to return ? Where are the children of my school? Are they now in Toronto, Sydney, London, Singapore ? Who knows where… who knows when they will all return singly and survey our childhood homes and neighbourhoods and wonder what happened to me. Who will tell them I remember them STILL ?

The first art books with my drawings that my father was so proud of, left behind when we moved away during the IPKF years. We walked away like beggars with no belongings. What do we have there now ? What have we moved on with ? What are the things we brought with us. Can you bring me something I left behind ? Can you bring me my story ?

The above is your story. I am listening to it in little conversations in phrases and utterings that have been tossed around the world and I think I hear you in many voices.

I am going home. To my childhood home. I know how important it is to have that home by the sea. Where my memories are. I have never known how special it was to have it till I knew what you lost. That is not guilt, but valuing what you have in the face of another’s loss. I did not take yours away but I will do my darndest to help Sri Lanka say Never Again.

For this I keep going home. With two little children who know what Jaffna smells like, with a toddler who saw passekudah at 8 months and rode a boat to Naagadeepa before 2 years old. We chose some nice stuff for Savi, the little girl we sponsor and my daughter packed it herself. We will remember cos it takes only one human to remember. We will not forget but join in the hard work that lies ahead for years and years to say Never Again.

I love my home and my country for without this love I cannot work with the complex needs and people I need to work with to change something for the better. But I am not just me now but also you. For didn’t they say ‘we are all Sri Lankans?’ so surely I shouldn’t worry if I talk about you, about Jaffna, about your loss. Cos you are also Sri Lankan. There are no ‘Tamil-sympathisers’ cos we are all Sri Lankan, yes? Good. I am going home and going to Jaffna as well as to Nuwara Eliya, Galle and Batticaloa for this, this is my native land and it is full of Sri Lankans. But first, am going to my childhood home, to be me again.

I am sorry that you cannot do this and that I cannot bring it back for you.

Sri Lanka matha ! May you grow well and prosper dear island home torn and wrecked by man and nature but where a million stories blow and where the strongest hearts and wills are to be found among the old, among the young, among the rich, among the poor, and yes among you.

For I have found them all and this, this is what I can do.

Comments

  1. Home is where your heart is and where memories are made..Welcome home!

Speak Your Mind

*