Mirror Magazine
14th May 2000

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Attention or at ease

By Ruhanie Perera and Laila Nasry

Have our lives changed as newspaper headlines screa-med 'war footing'? Were we consumed by fear and worry or were we just indifferent? Like Nero playing the fiddle while Rome burned, are we taking up the attitude of let 'em fight while life goes on as usual for us. We decided to check it out and this is what the youth said.

Subashini (23):

It's a sad situation for our country. censoredSri Lanka has a lot of potential, but the war has put all that on hold. I think our priority should be to bring about peace, so that we at least have a future to build. censored

I feel these regulations have been brought in by the government, to make us more aware of the war. The fact that shows can be cancelled is good, 'cos it's not fair that some can go on as if nothing's happening and some can't. censored

The only way that we can make a difference is by consciously making an effort to bridge the gap between the two communities. In our own way if we can build a better relationship, I think, that it can make a difference.

Anne Fernando (name changed) (21):

I feel terrible about the fact that the country is on a war footing, because it wasn't something that was expected. We're always hit by news like this, mainly because we're so detached and to a certain extent unaware of what is going on.

I think cancelling extravagant shows is justified. If you go to think about it half the country is suffering, while some are enjoying themselves. It isn't right.

I'd like to do something to help, to show my concern. But I'm just one individual, a nobody. There's really very little I can do.

Shaheeni Soysa (25)

I went to the supermarket the other day and there were these long queues. When I asked why, people said they were stocking up. The country being placed on a war footing has created a lot of public awareness. People are more aware of the situation in the north and I think people's conduct has changed somewhat.

Though we are far from all the action what we can do is limit our fancies. Make some kind of sacrifice, which is small in comparison to that being made by the soldiers. We could limit that extra stuff, that is not a 'must', like concerts.

Johannes Jayasuriya (21):

When I hear of 'war footing' nothing crosses my mind because I really don't know what it means. But from what I can gather I feel that due to the war, entertainment and other stuff shouldn't be stopped totally. Young people need that sort of thing and besides we don't party, party 24 hours.

What I believe is that there should be a balance, life should go on but some sort of consideration should be paid to those fighting the war in the north.

Besides sending food and other help to soldiers what we as young people could do is have a positive attitude instead of saying, 'This war is hopeless, it's a waste of time'. We could form committees that do positive things to make things better for those guys who are fighting.

Aslem (24):

I don't think life has changed in any way for us. I don't think anything will change for us either. No one is really trying to adjust his or her life.

The regulations may affect people. They may think twice before they party. But I doubt whether anyone will really take it seriously. They'll go on with their programmes and shows, but say that the proceeds will go to the army, just to make themselves feel better.

You want to make a difference, you want to sacrifice, then you must do it completely. You can't have the cake and eat it.

Our life will go on as usual. It takes something drastic for us to notice that things are not right in our country. Unless something really drastic happens nothing will change.

Roshan Hettiarachchi (28)

Being on a war footing means nothing to me. It only adds to the bomb scare that is already threatening our daily lives. We leave home in the morning and don't know whether we will return at the end of the day. Right now I just live for the sake of living. The only way I can think of helping the forces is to co-operate with them when they come to check my house in the night.

A baby to cement the marriage

Anoja came bursting into my room. She has this habit of rushing in when she is excited. Lala's baby was born this morning, a lovely girl and Lala is thrilled. How happy she was although she was nervous to have a child, she felt it would cement the marriage that was getting a bit frayed. Nihal was getting more and more involved with his work, a baby will bind the marriage she had told Anoja's mother.

It is strange the odd ideas, couples have about starting a family. I sometimes wonder whether they even talk of this aspect in those wonderful years when they are in love. Sometimes a couple want to have a perfect life together, a baby would disrupt the comforts they want to enjoy. I remember a young friend of mine once saying that they wanted to build a house, get established in their jobs before they even thought of a baby. The joy and enthusiasm of enjoying these externals faded away and the couple drifted along bored with each other and tired of all those things they had strived for. Another who also had waited is now going from doctor to doctor trying to find a formula to conceive and each blames the other for the decision in postponing to have a baby. In the good old days when such things as contraceptives and modern methods of family planning were neither vogue nor openly discussed, having a baby was the logical conclusion of a marriage. In fact if a baby did not appear within the first two years there would be much speculation and commiseration! The first baby was eagerly awaited and whatever the financial constraints the child was welcomed. The baby then cemented the marriage. Whatever problems the couple faced, divorce and separation seldom entered their thoughts because of the child. Today living together for the sake of the child is regarded as foolish. In fact in those days many years ago the wife tolerated her husband even if he was far removed from the ideal she hoped for because of the child. And the husband even though he felt that other women thought him wonderful whereas to his wife he was just a stodgy breadwinner, remained faithful because of the child.

To my romantic mind in the eyes of the child is reflected the love and promises of marriage. Today, well! Anoja listened to me but was in a rush to see Lala and the baby again but, on her way out she said rather cynically 'Sometimes a baby can create a problem in a marriage too'. I agreed with her but decided to talk about it when I see her next.

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