What I love about Jaffna…
Around the Fort, the main sightseeing spot of Jaffna, on a cute seaview road, part of the reconstruction program, with some luscious green shreds for the cows and goats and stony benches for couples to enjoy sunset, sunrise, their amorousness, or for some wild dogs having a lunchbreak nap. From the top of the Fort´s wall it looks like a sort of these road carpets for kids to play traffic, jamming or road kills. Maybe because it doesn´t match with the surrounding, too recently constructed, to clean, in comparison to the wasted area of the fishing harbour or the sewage-soaked coastline 100 meter up north. And what kind of business could be more adaquate than… instead of a Seaview Inn Restaurant, which doesn´t exist at all, unfortunately I have to concede, even if it would be mostly for tourists, but also highly enjoyable. Straight behind the Fort, on the other side of the cute seaview road, on spacious green and dusty paths, almost two driving schools set their practice area. In a queue locals, women and men, wait for their turn, to slalom on a motorbike, to excercise parking a car or a transportation bus, to let the engine of a tuk tuk roar or to leave the practice ground and drive around the fort, on the seaview road, with a huge red L behind the windscreen. The setting reminds me to my childhood when we practiced the traffic regulations on a specifically built ground, with a close to retirement policeman.
The food… in Jaffna I started to get into the cuisine of Sri Lanka, trying dishes, fruits and drinks, just at the end of my travel. Because people are so much more welcoming, not being spoilt by tourism yet. And the mangos… the best ever touched down on my tongue to explode in a frenetic cheering from every gustation in my mouth.
The Kottu, the different curries, lentil dishes, spicy as hot as hell! I love hell, you know. And the milk tea, mostly a stired up nescafe powder, but still, sooo tasty and cooling the hellish heat.
Shopping, at tiny timbered shed in a small fishing village or at a supermarket in shopping mall, if they don´t have change, small coins, at the cash desk, you get, a handhold away prepared to convert, sweets, like jelly or a bar of chocolate, tiny but reasonable and why the stock not!
“You are alone? – Where is your girl-friend? – No wife?! – Why??? – Are you crazy? – You don´t like tschiggy tschiggy [sort of the cambodian bum bum I suppose]?”
There is nothing more interesting than life at the edge of past, boardering, even though in Jaffna the alterability is on hold. First roads, a shopping malls, a modern prison, the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development and some new barracks and then maybe then the government takes care of the pollution, the poor, living in ruins of war, from fishing and hoping for a change, a change god-sent, still devout. Imagine how a system would have to deal with its own dreadfulness and abuse of power – which is of course immanent, without having this piousness, installed obviously not without purpose. You can not imagine, because without religion there might be no war, driven fundamentalistic bloodlust. – I would love to help them.
The approach of residents, straightforward undressing me. “Why you wear shirt and cap?” Show off, be proud to look like a freak, gangster – they would.
Today I leave Jaffna. With a third class ticket for the night train. On a more or less bench, hexing sleep, stucked between human flesh, animals are not allowed luckily, and their belongings, questioning my decision, punishing my good sense, from the deep down of my back, disciplining me for days after. Dreaming, half with my ass rattling the rails, of the alternative option, the night bus, comfortable seat, AC, a high on volume hindu movie and being dropped off in the middle of nowhere next to Negombo at 4 a.m. You never know and at one point you have to go. I have two days left arriving south, to jump on the plane at the 12th to Bangkok, my stopover on the road to Kathmandu. Sounds doable, yes. Shut up, back!
Jaffna is a wonderful farewell for a bumpy one month travel in Sri Lanka.
In Cambodia during this time missing people found dead – no reason to reach out for conspiracies, and alive after paranoid hunts. A fire at a club in Siem Reap killed at least 5 people, the rest victims of corruption, covered by ashes, disappeared in the furrows of ember.
On the Philippines people are fighting with the effects of a typhoon. – I forgot the name, how controlling to give the nature names anyway, strengthen the community, we and all together, to fight a common enemy instead of blaming the government for the sustainable mismanagement. Raging overland, destroying land and life, naturally first hits the poor, their barely existing fortune, their huts, roofed by a collage of plastic bits, maintained by hope with garbage. My minds are with Cesar and the other homeless families I met. I hope we will see each other again in march.
Beside all this, and that, me drowning in illusions… love was around and followed me like a blind – pretended, shadow, demanding my compassion – tricky bastard. Me standing at a tennis court in Colombo, watching sister and brother challenging, a flash flut of emotions, pouring in sweat and tears inside and outside, remembering the not-at-all good old times, but missing my sister heavily, my nieces and my parents. A suddenness of a constant controversy. We fighted till we literally shed blood. I don´t miss the pain, but I miss the affection, which has taken place after, the silent pity and the never-expressed complicity, a state, which has to be changed and changed already, in this moment, me standing at the fence of a Sri Lanka tennis club, hearing the horseflies from far away, crunching red ashes and facing the doggedness of our childhood. I love you, my dear twin sister. Thank you Sri Lanka, I will keep it in mind and in my heart – I will find this mysterious thing someday.
I arrived in Jaffna in the evening, in my astonishment a reflection of a magnificient train ride up north from Colombo, clattering over paddy fields, swamp land, herons, crows, eagles blinding the dim sun, a vastness of moist green, next to me a navy commander returning back to work, shuttling between colombo and Jaffna, government employers are allowed to travel for free, at least three times monthly, so why live in the past if there is Colombo – one reason why the trains are fully booked for weeks. And, no military, no police, no check up at the railway station, a useless valid permission in my pocket.
– Jaffna, what a wonderful broken world you are. After 5 years peace the city still lays in ruins, greenish bruises, cemented bullet holes, a tamil culture eased with the silent of peace, domesticated with the diplomacy of a warmachine, slowly coming up on his feet again, after 20 years a wobbly stance on a common national tribune watching the growing prosperity and menace of totalitaranism. The Ministry of Defence and Urban Development supposed to be finished december 2013, still working on it. The special investigation office for crime is a wooden sheg, roundaboutside of the clock tower, next to the police station, which is not more than a larger version of the sheg, not wooden, but mossy and obviously a place to feel unsafe. The prison performs my picture of not-a-place-to-die but a place to break, even if not compulsory. The Special Task Force camp is a spontanously wire fenced green field with a tiny security post and other buildings I can´t distinguish from the bordering civilan neighbourhood. The Sri Lankan government is very sure about, that there will be not a growl of a tiger again. I have seen so far one patrol walking through a miserable neighbourhood. The peacekeeper are not welcome. It seems the ending of the war has drawn a bleeding line between tamil and sinhalese. Maybe a reason why soldiers like the navy commander lives in Colombo, a nearly 7 hours train ride from his working place. The tourists, who come here are rare, I haven´t seen one by now. So guess how kind of exhausting is a walk through the city, a city which makes me smile, a city which touches my heart. If there is a bleeding line, I wanna be on this side, here, in Jaffna, the place to be on Sri Lanka, ambivalent, split in half, connected by disbelief, a recounstruction without reprocessing, not odd at all, regarding the fact, that the same government, who ended the war is still in charge and will be re-elected january next year, I dare to forecast.
I walk around the city for hours. Today is sunday and I have a rest, like half of the city. People are mostly christian. I have seen some hindu temple as well. The fishermen drink today. And not only them. Some of can barely walk already, at 10 in the morning, smudged religious painting in their mad-eyed faces, some of the cursing me. The anger of the repressed and the forgotten. I can hear people fighting, couples I assume. Children crying. Jaffna lives on its own. There is not much to export, which the rest of Sri Lanka needs or can´t export by themselves. The fishing harbours sell the catch to the next located village. “We fish only for us.” – Colombo is building the second gigantic trading harbour, next to the hometown of the president. Any questions? I can see signs with some reconstruction programs, promoting the costs the organizations spent already. I see parts of the city they live disconnected, left alone, with their grief, their efforts to recreate a routine, a home, a live. What is worth an apartment house for the subclass if you have no economic growth, no work, but powerlessness.
During a stroll around on the second day, nearby one of the fishing harbours – always my haven and approach, in a lower class district, I watched a scenerio, still drowns me in tears, left me powerless, helpless and ashamed of haven´t acted different. To my left a roman catholic burial ground. Over the white wall, which sourrounds the holy ground, in its center a chapel, with some homeless, cows and goats searching for shelter and a ressurection of divine grass, I can see some angels and their dotty naive glances heavenwards, some Jesus Christs, hanging on their crosses, pussyfooters – you stay nailed and dare you piss off again, tired to watch, “Oh my god-oh-god, what have I done”. One by one they seem to avoid witness, only the palm trees are rattling in turmoil. To my right a small shop, from upstairs I can hear a kid desperately screaming, crying, weeping and screaming again, in a way which pierces my heart with thousand of nails, arrows and spears. In a way you know it´s men-caused. And there she is, the mother, yelling and beating, I can hear her hand bruising the childishness, causing damage to the rest of its life, and this for sure not the first time. An outrageous situation. Neighbours passing by, looking at me, confused, wondering why tears running down my face. I couldn´t figure out a scope, a way to help, I felt like a child, the son of me, I was scared. And it scared me more, that nobody was affected by the kid in agony. The mother suddenly appeared, running down the stairways and I felt relief for a short moment before I realized… she went to the next bush, broke away a branch, cleaned it, shredded some tiny branches and leaves, in rage, I felt her rampage, more nails, arrows and spears. I was standing there, bare, shocked, unobtrusive and discreet, she didn´t even recognize me. Nobody did, with the punishing rud in hand. Two elder women came out of the room, disturbance in their facial expression, a mix of lack of understanding and acceptance. The mother on its way upstairs. I saw the willow whistling in her resolute pace. As she passed the two women, maybe her older daughters, no communication, wordless, no efforts to ease or to stop the rampage. They entered after her. Darkness. I stopped crying, breathing, living, like before an explosion, watching the drop of a bomb, knowing what will happen in a second, preparing for leaving the past – from this moment on everything will be different. I stood there for hours, maybe for a couple of minutes. Silence. Fear expanded. The bomb was not an illusion, I saw it, with my own eyes. I was more and more terrified as longer as it took. I left. I walked away. I stopped. Listened. I walked, stopped, listened, I could hear a kid crying, I think, I was not sure. I walked, didn´t stop again. Took some corners, searched for an hideaway, like the boy who broke the glass of the window with a football.
Me the son of my parents and the pussyfooter.
Let me tell you this. All you elders, abusing, beating, slapping, harming your kids or any other kid in any way, physical or mental, physical and mental, reap my deepest and honest scorn from the bottom of my hate. You deserve to, no, not to die, this would be to fast. I would wish to believe, in hell, kept comfortable blazing, just for you. There is no excuse to use children for your frustration, your disability to handle your life, your stupidity to continue the circle of violence in your family, generation by generation. “We also survived and it didn´t harm us.” This is the most stupid sentence and excuse I have ever heard and sadly too often. Just for this sentence you deserve at least a broken nose. What do you think harmed you than, beating your own child. This is how you offer your children a different life, a better future? Teaching them violence? Not one time is acceptable and if so, because we live in a out-of-order world, you gonna fucking excuse yourself in a more than decent way. What you do if you beat or slap, out of proportion, unjustified or punch just a bit too hard, even if it was for fun, an elder person? You excuse yourself, because you might still have a rest of decency or you just are afraid of revenge. – So why you think hurting children is justified? WHY!!! Because this is reality and you want to teach them a lesson? Strengthen them, steal them, prepare them? If you think this world is fucked up and violence is part of what you call reality, than it is because of people like you, YOU, you huge enormous shit of an asshole, no matter how poor, rich or fucked up you are! Get yourself in treatment or die in my personal hell.