Living with the Other

Originally published on Groundviews.

Imaginary friend, by *V3Nr3VeNG3

I often have to remind myself that I live with a Tamil.

My housemate, Vanessa is a Tamil, married to a Sinhalese and I have been living with her and her husband for almost a year and working with her for over two. She is also one of my closest friends.

She is Tamil; I am Sinhalese. But even as I write, it’s hard to think of the two of us along those lines, because I can’t figure out what defines our identities. Even if I can define what makes her Tamil, I still can’t define what makes her different from me.

Is it colour? She is darker than I am, but we are both brown skinned.

Is it accent? She sounds no different than me, except for a tiny, pleasant lilt in her voice.

Is language? We both speak English. She speaks better Sinhala than I do, and fluent Tamil, of which I do not know a word.

Is it culture and customs? She married a Sinhalese, much to the horror of some of her relatives. But she is happy with her choice.

Is it dress? She dresses just like me and we are endlessly in each other’s wardrobes.

Is it in name? She kept hers. “I like my own name”, she told me simply, by way of explanation.

Is it in political affiliation? Her political views are as vague as mine. We are not for the leadership, nor are we for those who wish to topple it. If she doesn’t find today’s politics suited to her, I could say the same for myself. We both hope instead for something in between – something more palatable, more honest. Something we cannot see today.

Is it in parentage? Her parents voted for Mahinda. Mine for Sarath. Continue reading Living with the Other

Cooking Up A Dream: Quintessence of SpunSugar

Let me state at the outset that this is not a review. It is a story of sorts – about friends, food and new beginnings.

I’ve been going to Kamaya de Soysa’s house since I was 13 years old and now, over ten years later, it still retains what is to me an irresistible atmosphere of warmth. Hers was the kind of household that welcomed anybody – from scampering little girls and raucous teenage boys, to adult friends dropping in at a moment’s notice. Her mum would stand smilingly at the door, ask you to come in and whip up something delicious to eat and drink as if she had been expecting you all along. You’d dump your stuff wherever, gasp in pleasant surprise as pets of various shapes and sizes got underfoot and then sink comfortably onto a couch or chair somewhere, and tuck in. Continue reading Cooking Up A Dream: Quintessence of SpunSugar