Sunday, January 31, 2016

Foundation of Peace

This is a short exerpt from my novel about Sri Lanka, "The Longest Tweet." This section explores peace and how it is expressed, a question that has occupied more and more of my thoughts in Sri Lanka during my Fulbright, especially since I came to Batticaloa. The style in which this was written references, in part, Shakespeare's " The Quality of Mercy."

More excerpts from my novel are posted under the title, "The Longest Tweet."


Foundation of Peace

What is the foundation of peace? Don't tell me prosperity. Don't tell me concrete. Don't tell me power. Power? How is it dealt, measured, apprehended, felt? What are its limits if there is an "it?" Is it in speed or solidity? But how fast? How solid? Where are slownesses and porosities? Are they in the gorgeous fragrance of a papaya flower? A mango flower stomped in mud but still smelling like heaven? The alleged moistness of a Burgher finger sandwich? The French-cafe-like seating area of a small shop near the Batticaloa railway? But these scooters beep past and the musical release from inside is "South Asian," a fuse, a fusion, a doorway to pretend and pretense like the Batticaloa breeze. 

Brooms of plastic color wiggle in the breeze and strips of shampoo packets and snacks sway like any coconut frond. This might be peace. But the falling flowers indicate change, movement, instability. So must peace be static? Can it move and evolve? Is it on a ridge or in a basin? What does it move toward? Is sway a stochastic empirical struggling against the base that attaches it? Is peace organized or is it also a stochasm? Is this railroad terminal findable? Are the depots and electrical substations and nicely paved roads and fish sellers on bicycles with their wood boxes and scales a sign of peace?

What is a "sign?" Is it signal? Is it tweet? Is it more than a noun? Of course. "To sign." To produce a signature. Or to produce letters or words for and among the hearing-impaired. What caused hearing loss in these eastern children? Horrors of war? Parents shot before their eyes? Things they cannot hear or say? Are these signs that stay forever? Will these fierce children bear fierce children? Is fierce the other side of gentle or is it the same side? Do they share a plane? Are they edges of the same line? Are they felt in contrasting modes? Fierce loyalty? Gentle refusal? Furious. Furiously scribbling writing. 

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