Like a palm forest in balmy breezes, fairest breezes, its fronds giving an incandescent, incessant music, drone-like, shattering in glassy half notes and quarter notes
You, becalmed, benign, relaxed tell me the most interesting story.
You went last night to the private hospital to see the neurosurgeon on a consult
Why? Because you didn't trust our internet researches that said:
The half life of the sleeping pill you took too much of is "two hundred hours."
Half the juju from those pills you took a week ago is still floating around in you after approximately 8.33 days and nights
So eight days in you still feel like you have three full doses in you. Another week or so, one and a half sleeping pills worth of brain drain will still be hanging out in your fat cells, waiting to be metabolized.
At least I had the possibility to live through it you whisper to me. Your thoughts these days are not yours. You're spacy and, more than usual, All Over The Place.
I don't know what you told the neurosurgeon.
He told you, and this is not what you'd go to a neurosurgeon to hear: That lower back pain is common in Sri Lankans. They squat, they sit on their haunches, and grandparents your age? They carry children in their arms. A heavy load.
You carried some liters of water in your arm you told me. To water your precious plants. Maybe it was that, you thought in retrospect. Maybe some other too-heavy work gave you the backache. A pain you never had before. Had I ever experienced it? Anything so horrible? Hah! Count the times I was flat on my back.
Keep this in mind.
Your pain you called excruciating. Like a heart attack in your leg. You. In your seventies. Never had sciatica? It drove you so crazy you knowingly took six pills? You told me you knew you were taking them and you thought to spit them out but decided not to.
Your neuro pal didn't bother, as we would in the West, to slip in a routine psych exam. Cuz they don't here.
But he did approach the psychology of your pain, a pain like you'd never had before but like I said. We Get It All The Time.
Excruciating, crucial, and here's the crux.
We don't get our houses firebombed. At least not that often. You did. In 1981. The same summer as the Jaffna Library was burnt. I must memorialize here:
The small ghetto of Tamil public servants and professionals and business people, families whose houses in Bandarawela, upcountry, whose houses were firebombed that summer.
You won't read about it anywhere. Ever. I must curate this fact like a diamond or a sapphire. In a velvet box. Because it is the rarest thing I own.
That summer in Bandarawela? For the record:
Two summers before "there are two sides to every story." Your innocent children were sleeping inside.
You stayed with a doctor friend three months after the firebombing, then moved your family back to the relative safety, for the time being at least, of Batticaloa.
Feel any pain after the firebombing? Or did you just soldier through?
Who would think a backache could be so bad?