Sunday, January 31, 2016


This short excerpt from my novel about Sri Lanka, "The Longest Tweet," explores questions of ethnic suppression and subsequent emigration. It references the struggles that Sri Lankan Tamils faced in 1983 as well as the tortures my people experienced in the twin faces of Tsarist and especially Nazi antisemism in the 19th and 20th century, tortures that climaxed in November, 1938 during days of German government-sponsored pogroms against its Jewish citizens. 

More excerpts from "The Longest Tweet" are posted under that title. 



Scientifically, because he was a scientist he could ask, what are the conditions and environmental stresses that a coconut palm faces? Heavy load of fruit on a thin trunk? Heavy load of fruit and fronds on a thin trunk? Heavy load of winds unfelt at the base but strongly perceived at the crown? Strong sun exposure where the fruit and flowers are borne? Poor soil with scarce nutrients and structure unsuitable for heavy weight-bearing trunks that are exposed to wind shear? 

What did the coconut need? Materials and structure that allow the following: maybe you can think of more: Strength. Flexibility. Ability to sway. Support. Strong, well-protected fronds to do the delicate business of photosynthesis while they are potentially cut to shreds in the wind or burnt by the sun? Could you say a coconut tree adapted or was it "just" genetics? Could the morning kovil music every single blessed morning give you hope juice in its silly religious timbres? give you some answers? Could it strengthen you for the day and make you flexible? Could it support you by making you brave? Could it regulate you by waking you up? Could it protect you just by you hearing it the way looking at certain things was said to protect you? By the way what would "protection" be? Could you wear it on your wrist? And back to the kovil music: Was it different if you inherited that music because of your religion than if you inherited it because you were human and you could hear music in all its tones? Who could you ask these questions to? Why would you ask these questions? Whose idea was this? Did you regret being pulled in? This is why he wrote the questions. So people could read them and consider them for themselves. Is this tweetable? Are questions tweetable? Is a bird's tweet a question? Can birds ask questions? If questions are a part of speech that invite lies then what about answers?

Some questions you might want to consider but not ask: What made you decide to emigrate? Why did your parents force you to emigrate? Why didn't your parents leave with you?

You might also ask: What were the psychological factors that went into the the decision to emigrate or not to emigrate? (If you hate psychology please skip this paragraph). Fear? Stubbornness? Inertia? Faith in yourself to survive? Faith in neighbors to protect you? Faith in neighbors to keep on not killing you? Faith in your own ability to hide? Go underground? Escape if you really needed to? Faith in your own ability to make quick decisions based on the way you had made quick decisions in the past? Faith in your ability to make balanced, sane decisions based on your ability to make balanced, sane decisions in the past? Possessions? Language? Religious beliefs? Real estate? Relatives? Guilt? Rumors? Faith in the government to protect you (what is protection again?) Faith in local authorities? Faith in local authorities you had a relationship with? Faith in human nature? Your own poverty? Your profession? Your knowledge of how indispensable you were to your community? Knowledge of how indispensable you were to your profession? Knowledge of how  indispensable you were to your  colleagues? Knowledge of how indispensable you were to the government? Knowledge of how indispensable you were to your orchestra? (This would have to be Germany or Austria or who knows? Maybe there were orchestras in Sri Lanka). Honors you held or hoped you would get? Faith in human nature? Faith in your wealth? Faith that people wouldn't turn on you? That people couldn't turn on you? That rumors of people turning on their friends, colleagues, neighbors were only rumors? 

What if you were old? What if you were young? What if you were married to a person of the other tribe? What if your children were mixed blood tribe people? What if the violence stopped at your border? What if the violence stopped at your town? What if your town was a peaceful place, the kind of place where violence didn't happen? What if the violence would stop at your street? What if the violence would stop at your building? What if the violence would stop at your courtyard? What if the violence would stop on your floor? At your door? What if you had lived in peace with your neighbors? What if your parents had lived here in peace with their neighbors? What if your grandparents had lived here in peace with their neighbors? Did time provide logic? Look on your retirement account prospectus. It says, "Past performance does not always assure future performance." Who ever believes that?

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