Hear no evil. See no evil.

*Inspired by Electra’s What happened in Sri Lanka Today


I’m telling the truth, by obtusellama

My younger son watches the news. He’s only 7 but he likes to sit there, drinking in information he can barely understand. I watch him more than I watch the screen, seeing the flickering images catch in his wide, curious eyes. Cataclysmic events unfold in front of him and he stares, mouth slightly ajar, his food untouched on the plate that is perched on his lap.

I nudge him gently. “Eat your food” I chastise and he robotically takes a mouthful, forgetting again as soon as it is swallowed.

My older daughter doesn’t watch the news at all. Instead she slouches in her seat, long legs crossed, hands resting on her lap. The phone which lies within perfectly manicured nails never stops beeping, irritating me with these constant reminders of its presence. A persisting stream of text messages and calls dominate my daughter’s life, leaving room for nothing else. Whenever I teasingly comment on this she gives me that classically teenage roll of the eyes and muttered “Whatever” and goes back to her tiny phone-screen world.

Tonight she is more preoccupied than ever, playing distractedly with her hair in between texts. When the phone beeps, heralding a new message, she fairly lunges forward, texting feverishly. I wonder what’s happening in her life, what she isn’t telling me. Then I guiltily wonder if I’m better off not knowing.

“You should know what’s happening around the world, you know” I say, trying to distract her a little. She glowers at me silently but makes a point to stare with glassy eyes at the screen. I know her thoughts are elsewhere. She knows I know.

My little one gasps, taking my attention back to the TV. As the news anchor dispassionately doles out the bad news, I shake my head, disappointed but unsurprised. Another journalist, incarcerated. Guilty, says the woman on screen. I look at the man’s tired smile seconds before he is pushed into the prison vehicle and think to myself that he doesn’t look like a criminal. I chide myself for being sentimental in this age of cold objectivity. The door of the prison vehicle on screen slams and my son jumps, his eyes wide, his mouth trembling. His forehead is wrinkled with effort to understand what he was hearing and seeing onscreen. Continue reading Hear no evil. See no evil.

A Review: Kumbi Kathawa

The parameters of a good dance

Review of Kumbi Kathawa – performed by Chitrasena Kalayathanaya

I’ve always loved dancing. I’ve spent whole afternoons as a kid running around the garden in a leotard, hoping this exercise would magically turn me into a ballerina. I’ve grown up watching ballets both on stages around the world and on my parents’ beat up VCR. Dance movies from ‘The Dancing Princesses’ to ‘Dirty Dancing’ to ‘Step Up’ have kept me enthralled and not just a little green with envy.

Because, when you think about it, what’s not to love about dancing? The bodies are lithe and beautiful but muscles pulse and flex beneath smooth skin. The movements are so graceful but also so steady and strong. The expressions speak volumes but no words are uttered.

Admittedly I’m no expert when it comes to dance, least of all Kandyan dancing.  But I am a firm believer that one of the most important functions of any art is to provoke an immediate reaction. So I don’t need to analyse every step to figure out if it’s a good dance or not. My measures are a little different; a little more visceral. I know it’s a good dance when my own body twists discreetly in my seat, in an involuntary echo of what’s happening onstage. I know it’s a good dance when I am almost afraid to blink for fear of missing a single movement, a single loaded glance. I know it’s a good dance when I am too wrapped up in the action to even clap when the stage vanishes into inky darkness. (In fact, I was only shaken out of my reverie when I heard a little voice behind me indignantly say “Ammi mata mukuth penne ne” (Mum, I can’t see anything!). I had to laugh.) Continue reading A Review: Kumbi Kathawa