Breaking News – Read Excerpts

Missing Pieces

There was something very wrong. He knew it the moment his foot touched the ground. His right foot. But he lifted it up anyway. The noise deafened him. It threw him away. Far away. And then he remembered no more. He woke up to a searing pain in his leg. There was nothing where his leg had been, except the pain, incessant, searing, gripping. How could there be pain for something that didn’t exist?”

The Boarder

“She resigned herself to the fate that she would face in the coming days that someone would call and tell her that Selvi too had been an unfortunate victim that had lost out to the terror of the times. How would she break the news to Selvi’s brother? She kept repeating over and over to herself. What could she say to that family that had lost a father, and now a daughter?” 

Photographs in her Mind

 “While others forgot as time moved on or the images dulled and dimmed like the spots and marks on old photographs, hers wasn’t so. She could never dull the image or shut out the memory. Her eyes would be closed but the images would stand right in front of her eyes. She blocked her ears with the thumbs of her hands, yet the sounds she heard continued to deafen her. The sights and sounds worked inside her, running over and over inside her very being as she watched the days go by. Engamma’s fears never abated. They lived inside of her, they lived off her. And soon they took over her whole being, looking out at the world through her eyes, showing the world what they had seen and heard so the world too was afraid to look and hear her fears.”

Sepalika

“There was no time to send a message to the army camp on the other side of the village. It was too far away anyway and would take about half an hour for anyone to get there even on a bicycle. Besides, the Tamil terrorists were approaching from the side where the road turned off towards the direction of the army camp. Whoever it was that went to inform the army would be attacked instantly. They would never make it even halfway. Everyone else from the village was already running into the jungle. It was deep undergrowth. Everything looked dry and parched. Even the trees looked tired. We hid ourselves on trees and under bushes and waited silently for the terrorists to pass. We usually knew when they had left. They never stayed for more than a few hours as they were wary that the army might get wind of their presence. But we didn’t come out for a long time; instead we waited until we were very sure they had left. ”

Like Driftwood on the Kelani

“The public really didn’t care about the suicides. It was one less miserable life to contend with. Besides who were they, and what right did they have to interfere in someone else’s destiny? If someone wanted out he could have out. Life these days wasn’t worth living. Who were they to complain if someone wanted to end his or her life right there in the river? What was one death in comparison to all those forced deaths of the disappeared?”

Breaking News

“Pauline had a lot of admirers, all equally well-bred English educated people like herself. She had studied at a private school in Colombo and was whiling her time writing to the newspapers: The English press. She had no idea how to string a sentence in Sinhala and rolled her eyes up to the heavens if anyone mentioned Tamil. She was an exclusive member of the unwritten social minority that lived in Sri Lanka but professed an ideology that was as distant as the shores of the North Pole.”

Boy from Wellawatte

“Maybe the stars were losing their influence after so many centuries of being consulted. Maybe the astrologers had pushed one too many buttons of the stars and they had decided not to tell. Or maybe the stars were just tired of hanging around all dressed up every night with no place to go except the same old spot on the sky and nothing much to do but grin and shine like the fancy painted women hovering around the night spots of the city. Maybe, like everyone else, the stars too were now charging and needed a little extra something to get their creative juices running. Maybe the encouragement the people were offering wasn’t enough.”

Man from the East

“It was a major calamity, no less in significance than a landslide or a flood, to be unmarried after a certain age. And it wasn’t just the relatives who stirred the fires and kept the idea running, neighbours and distant friends added fuel. It was as if all of society expected everyone to be married. Or else.”

Emerald Silk

“He lived in a place no less similar to a cardboard box. He called it his home and expected her to creep in with him; to snuff out her dreams of a future, to share the cramped existence he called life. Her back ached with the memory of crawling through the endless compartments he called rooms to finally lay flat on her aching back, exhausted. Only for a few hours and then the bliss was interrupted by the ringing of the doorbell signalling the entry of the world into those cramped circumstances of a home. And she was forced to get up and smile her tears away. They talked about the beast living inside a box. How modern, how defined. Yet her eyes screamed for the traditional, for the usual that he rejected in his quest for the modern, not really knowing what he was seeking. He interpreted her screams as a high for the beauty of that existence. His existence. Never hers.”

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