Welcome to Darkside Daily

When I'm not writing about my experiences in this journey called 'life', I'm singing and uploading my own interpretations of modern music. Click on "Cover Songs" to hear them, or on the YouTube logo on the right to see my YouTube channel.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

An Uneasy Christmas

Christmas is one of my favourite times of the year, for very selfish and obvious reasons - holidays, and lots of presents (my birthday is a few days before Christmas). Yet, I am not alone when it comes to general euphoria regarding the month of December. There are an avalanche of Christmas parties, promotions, sales, events and decor. It's nigh impossible to not feel 'christmassy' - the feeling is almost literally shoved down your throat come December 1st.

However, this year I have felt rather uneasy about the festive season. The occasional Christmas tune on the radio only annoyed me, and the hopeless radio commercials with people going "Ho ho ho Santa says buy this ho ho ho!" made me want to remove my ear drums. The very dark Sri Lankan males in their very white Santa masks made me pity the poor children that would be on the receiving end of their attempts at being jolly. 

No, something was just off this year, and I couldn't put my finger on it. Whatever it was though, it has stayed with me till today, and as a result my Christmas morning is just another late, late night. 

My cousins from India are down for the holidays and they were commenting on how lavishly decorated Colombo was, and how surprised they were that a Buddhist country like ours would celebrate Christmas so enthusiastically. Yes, Colombo is all lit up, but as with almost everything in our nation's capital, it is more a cosmetic illusion than anything of real substance. Streets are lit up and shops are illuminated, simply because they know our buying masses are more likely to flock to the better lit store. Our hotels desperately put together manger scenes and reindeer, so that their paying foreign guests get just a taste of Christmas 'back home', despite choosing to be thousands of miles away. Pavements are filled with Cyprus branches, despite there being a ban on the selling of them, because everyone wants a Christmas tree in their home, just to decorate. Radio stations play awful versions of Christmas carols and hymns, label it the 'christmas song of the hour', followed by a brief message from a sponsor. It is all fairly nauseating.

Being a Christian, celebrating Christmas is pretty understandable, but I've always wondered why others do. At our carol programme at work, the Catholic priest's speech was followed by a short speech by a Buddhist priest who was invited too. My Sinhala is abysmal, unfortunately; I wish I knew what he said. I recently asked an non-Christian friend of mine and she jokingly told me that I couldn't keep Christmas to myself, and that we had to 'share' it. Is that what we're doing? Am I simply unwilling to 'share' this special holiday? My instinct is to say 'no', but it is a point to ponder.

So while I am still somewhat confused about the festivities this year, I can say that I am glad to be home for Christmas. I'm fairly boring that way; I feel that Christmas and New Year's need to be spent with family, and not with friends. I'm also glad that I'm not in Colombo, with its almost desperate attempt at being Western and cosmopolitan. I'm glad that the presents I wrapped today had real meaning, and were not simply out of necessity. I'm glad that while my Facebook feed is filling up with pictures of  'Christmas parties' with drunk guys and girls in 'slutty Santa/elf' outfits, I will be celebrating in a more sober, and yet (at least for me) more real way - with reflection, love, prayer and gratitude.

Of course, at the end of the day, I am no one to judge. To each his own, and to all, a very Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Twenty Minute Posting V: Christmas Edition

It's been a while since I've put up a Twenty Minute post. I haven't had much time on my hands for blogging of late, but somehow I felt like I need to just put my work aside for a while and write.

Yes, I'm blogging from work. Dear employer, please don't read this, and if you do - show some kindness, it's (almost) Christmas!

Just a few days left in the year, and even less days left at work. Despite liberally using my leave this year I've managed to save enough to use for the Christmas break. Looking forward to the family and the cousin's family coming down from India for the first time.

[got called away by boss; this may not have been a great idea.]

Two things; firstly, I hate saying 'no'.

Perhaps a shrink would be able to give me a nice reason for this, wrapped up in psychology and research. But for now, I am left with my own reasons. Now, I'm not talking about saying 'no' to people asking me ridiculous favours, or for help that I'm in no place to give e.t.c; I have no problem telling someone that 'hey, I'm sorry, but I can't help you with that.'.

Yet, there are always situations where I find myself longing dearly to say or do a certain thing, but letting my logical, pragmatic mind get the better of me and saying "sorry, it just wouldn't make sense to do that". See, just reading that line, do you not get a sense of detachment in it? But that's really not the case; my mind just works that way. I know people who do the most ridiculous things for family and love, even if it makes absolutely no practical sense at all. I tell them "Dude, you're insane, this is going to kill you!", but they rarely listen and that just annoys me.

Or maybe it's because I envy their ability to shut their logical thinking down, just for those situations that demand it. I must work on that.

Secondly; I wonder if it is simply because the year is drawing to a close that we feel a sense of weariness in December. At least I do; I always feel like December is the pinnacle of some mighty mountain that I have somehow scraped myself to the top of. This is not necessarily true, factually, but that is the mindset. This is probably why normally, I never start anything 'new' in December. Everything gets pushed back to 'after new year', even if this may not be practical.

Either way, most of my projects for work are all winding down, and it looks like it will be a good Christmas, God-willing. Plans have been made for some quality time with the people I love, interspersed by the few work commitments I still have remaining. So it looks like things are in place for new beginnings and new directions come January after all, keeping in time with the universe's schedule for events.

I feel like there's so much more I want to say, but my time is up.

Back to work.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

#16Days: Not My Father's Son

The moon is shockingly bright that night, adding an aura of surrealism to the scene. The soft bluish hue washes over the river banks, as a light breeze dances among the long blades of grass that grew there.

He is tall, still and silent, standing a few metres away from the rushing waters. The moonlight casts long shadows over his face, hiding his features, yet it was not hard to see the tension in his frame. He is bare chested, in a simple villager's garb, clutching a small bundle in his strong, muscular arms.

He lifts his head to the heavens, taking in the beauty of the night. The clouds are imposing in their blackness, fighting to conceal the radiance of the moon in some mystical battle of the skies. The faint breeze barely rustles the grass, yet it carries with it a deafening silence, filling his ears with nothing.

He nods, imperceptibly, to himself; yes, surely tonight is a magical night. Surely, tonight is special.

His thoughts are interrupted by the call of a nocturnal animal, and his gaze drifts over to the dim lights of his village in the distance. It is a good hours walk, but he was happy to make it. This place was special to him.

For it was here, that as a child he played with his friends, dashing among the river stones, diving into the waters to overpower and wrestle with the other boys, laughing and dancing under the watchful eyes of their fathers. It was here that he had grown accustomed to his father's approving gaze, whenever he raced to the banks first, or threw a pebble across the surface further, or when he swam the furthest without any hint of fatigue. He had come to love and even crave that glint in his father's eye, that showed that he was proud. It was intoxicating.

His father had been good to him. He had provided him with everything he could, and as a dutiful son he had helped bear his father's load; first in the home, and then with his work. He did it joyfully, knowing that this was the way it was done. This was how it was meant to be. Why else was he born, if not to take over from his father once he grew weak? It had been the way for generations. His father had told him as such, until the day he died.

Now, here he was, so many years later. He is no longer a boy, yet at this moment, he has never been more unsure of his manhood. He has been growing tired with every passing day, more so than usual. His wife's nightly duties no longer pleased him; in fact, she barely pleased him at all. There was no joy in work, no comfort at home.

How had his father done it, he wonders? But he knows the answer; his father had him. He had realised as such many months ago, and it was a sign from the heavens when his wife told him she was with child.

As soon as he had heard this news, he knew it was what he had been missing. Not a day went by when he did not dream of life after the child arrived. The joy he had once felt from his own father, he would now bestow on his child. A child of his own, to love and to care for, to teach and to mentor, until that child was old enough and strong enough to lift this burden off his shoulders.

He is brought back to the present suddenly, as the baby in his arms starts to cry. He looks down, and realises he has been holding it too tight while lost in his thoughts. He looks at the baby's face, round and full yet somehow glowing in the dim light. It continues to cry; a sign of weakness, he tells himself. This baby is nothing like him, despite what his foolish wife tells him. How dare she compare him to this, this crying, sobbing, twisting...

.. girl?

In a trance, he takes a step forward, and another, and another. His feet enter the water, and he presses on. The waters rush around his ankles, then his knees, and then his waist. The rushing stream is icy cold, and yet it cannot match the chill he feels inside of him. He looks back at the shore, a moment of indecision, and in the dim moonlight he sees his father, from many decades ago, seated on the rocks, watching him. Smiling at him, and nodding at him in approval; and in that moment, he makes up his mind.

He looks back at this baby one last time, this wretched baby girl that should have been his newborn prince. She is silent now, and her eyes suddenly lock onto his. He is transfixed, his gaze only broken as the clouds win their battle with the moon, engulfing the night in darkness.

Minutes go by before the moonlight finally breaks free again, its rays falling to the ground to find him standing in the water. Alone.

I'm not sure how well this post fits in with the others I've seen for the '16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence', but somehow I could not shake this scene from my head. I was inspired by many of the posts written already, especially this post by Dilly where she says "Violence (particularly against women) is sometimes un-physical, passive, and the signs aren't skin deep." I found that to be very true; often we think that violence entails pots and pans and beatings, and while those are widespread in themselves, we often overlook the simple things such as words, actions and attitudes.

In 1984, a study in Bombay found out that 7999 out of 8000 abortions performed after prenatal sex determination were girls. In another study, it was found that in Jaipur, capital of the state of Rajasthan, prenatal sex determination tests resulted in 3500 abortions of female foetuses annually. If you can't fathom that, try this: India as a whole loses half a million girls a year to prenatal sex selective abortion and infanticide.*

This is real. This is happening. As I wrote this post, I felt so completely helpless; hopefully, together through efforts like the the 16 Days of Activism, we can affect a change that we as individuals would be powerless to achieve.

*Sources from here and here.
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