Hello out there
Wish you all the best on your
big day. May all your dreams come true. Best wishes for your birthday
on October 5. Don't forget us.
Lots of love,
my darling Sudha,
You are the only one who touched my heart. I always think about
you. I have no life without you. Wish you a happy birthday and a
To my darling Chooti Ammi (Chandima),
I love you so much. Everyday and night you are on my mind.
You are my world. I am sure that we will have a wonderful future.
May all your dreams come true. All the best for your O'levels.
Your Chooti Aiya
the cool girl who comes to Aniwatta church
On September 29 you wore a black dress and were seated in the
4th row. On the 22nd you were seated in the 3rd row. I want to get
to know you and be your friend or your pen pal. Please contact me
through this page or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
From the tall guy, wearing a white T Shirt on September 29
Wish you a happy and romantic 19th birthday (October 8). May
all your sweet dreams come true. I am lucky to have a best friend
Thanks for everything you have done for me. God bless you.
Wish you all the best on your 10th birthday (Oct 19). May all
your dreams come true. May Allah always bless you.
From Shaleema, Shiraziya, Sumaiya, Shakeer and Shafan.
my darling CK,
Sweetheart, I really need some reassurance from you that you
will not change. I feel very insecure. My love for you will not
change. It is becoming stronger and more stable. The sweet experiences
we have shared are my best memories.
Tell me how I can proceed. Our lives will be more meaningful if
we are together, don't you think? Happy birthday,
love you always.
my one and only brother Kanchana,
I wish you a very happy birthday (Oct. 13). May all your dreams
From your ever loving Nangi, Chirani
Everytime I see you, my heart skips a beat. I have not had
a chance to say how I feel. I pass your house every day hoping to
see you. I know you feel something for me. If you see this, please
drop me a note. Raj20@freemail.com.au
the girl at Crescat car park on Sunday September 22,
You were wearing a blue top and a long white skirt and your
friend a pink kit. We stopped our car in front of yours but could
not speak at the entrance. Please contact me at: email@example.com
From the guy who looked at you wearing black jeans.
my darling SS,
You have been in my heart from the first day I met you at the
Veyangoda station - July 16.
Do you remember our nice trip to Badulla by train? You may forget
me, but I can't forget you, 'cause I love you.
I can see in your eyes that you have feelings for me. Thanks for
being a friend.
From someone who really loves you.
meeting with fate
woke from deep slumber when she heard the front door slam. She realised
her sister-in-law, Norma, had left for College and that Ruwan, her
brother too would have left half an hour ago to catch the train
at least another half an hour to herself, before her niece, Rushi
would wake up and her day as Rushi's babysitter would begin.
sad that in a week or two Rushi would have to be sent to a day care
centre. For, Marsha's life in Briarwood, New York was coming to
She would soon
be flying home to Sri Lanka to begin life as a medical student at
the University of Peradeniya.
been in New York for seven months. When Ruwan and Norma had won
the green card and decided to migrate to America, they had asked
her to join them to look after Rushi, while Norma studied for her
MPhil. Marsha, who had been idling at home till her university summoned
her, had jumped at the idea. Her parents too had consented thinking
this would be a great opportunity for her to see the world.
to all expectations, life in New York had not been easy.
the moment they landed at the John F. Kennedy airport things had
begun to go wrong. Without Ruwan, who had flown ahead of them to
find a house and a job in New York, Marsha and Norma had found it
difficult to manage a crying Rushi and four huge bags filled with
all kinds of paraphernalia which were supposed to see them through
a hard winter. At the airport Norma had lost her green card, and
Marsha, one of the suitcases.
Ruwan had rented
the ground floor of a house in St. Anne's Street in Briarwood. The
owner was a Jew. On the second day after their arrival he had barged
into the house and lost his temper when he saw Marsha. According
to the agreement made through a broker, he had thought only a couple
with a baby would be living in the house. He wanted Marsha out of
the place immediately. But after Ruwan had explained the situation
to him he had calmed down and agreed to let Marsha stay if Ruwan
was willing to pay more rent. Ruwan had agreed. The rent was increased
from US $ 950 to US $1200.
Ruwan and Norma
had work permits. Ruwan, a graduate in physics had found a job as
a tutor in Math (Americans did not pronounce the 's') at a college
in Bronx. This was better than his first job - applying cream between
doughnuts at Macdonald's for which he was paid 6 dollars an hour.
Norma got an allowance from college, but most of it went to pay
her tuition fees.
Life was difficult
because everything had to be paid for in dollars. Within a week
of their stay in New York, Marsha had got into the habit of converting
dollars into rupees. When she saw a price tag in dollars she automatically
multiplied the amount by hundred to see how much it would cost back
A bundle of
curry leaves for one dollar would mean almost 100 Sri Lankan rupees.
cook as well as babysitter. Norma and Ruwan made no complaints about
the food she prepared for them. But Marsha herself hated almost
every dish she cooked. She yearned for the familiar plate of brown
rice, green leaves, dhal and malu ambul thiyal she had taken for
granted at her mother's dining table back at home. Yet, all the
food eaten at home was available here too.
At the Maharanee's
round the corner, you could purchase anything from dried fish to
breadfruit. But they tasted different. Though Ruwan said this was
her imagination, Marsha was convinced they tasted better in Sri
Lanka. Marsha thought one of the saddest days in her life was the
day they reached the bottom of the Moju her aunt had given them
when they left Sri Lanka.
first month came to an end, Marsha had got to know most of her neighbours.
She walked with the lady from Pakistan to the park every day. Her
daughter was the same age as Rushi. But Marsha kept out of the way
of the two French girls who lived upstairs. She had stopped liking
them when she overheard a conversation between the two girls. They
were discussing Marsha and her family. Thanks to her classes in
French at the Alliance Francaise in Colombo, Marsha understood what
they were saying. "From where have they come?" one had
asked the other. "From some wild jungle," the other had
neighbour was the Irish gentleman who lived next door. She had got
to know him, when one afternoon out of sheer boredom she had decided
to clear their backyard and grow vegetables on it.
Having no tools,
she had used an old stick to loosen the soil. Five minutes after
Marsha had begun to dig the soil, she was startled out of her wits
by a gruff voice saying "Aw young lady, you can't dig with
that. Come I'll give you some proper tools."
The old gentleman
with the bushy eye-brows had introduced himself as Ryan, and taken
her to his shed and given her a rake and a hoe.
Within a week
Marsha had cleared the yard and planted curry chillies and tomato
seeds. When the seeds had sprouted, she had begun to water them
with the bucket used for washing Rushi's clothes. This had meant
making several trips to the house to fill the bucket with water.
Once again Mr. Ryan had come to her rescue. He had asked her to
use his hose.
not wanting to abuse his generosity had used his water just once.
A few days later, while she had been watering the vegetables with
the bucket, Mr. Ryan had walked up to her and shouted at her "Why
the h... aren't you using the hose? Didn't I tell you to use it?"
Scared once more, out of her wits, Marsha had watered her garden
with the water from his tap from then on.
But as spring
turned to summer and as their back yard began to be covered with
rows of chillie and tomato plants, Marsha began to realise she need
not be scared of Mr. Ryan. He would often come out into the garden
and talk with her. He led a lonely life. His wife was in a coma,
in hospital, living on a machine. His daughter lived with her family
in Los Angeles. Even though he saw his two granddaughters only once
a year at Christmas, it was heartening to see how much he loved
But Mr. Ryan
was less forthcoming when Marsha asked him about his son. "He
is so-so," said Mr. Ryan moving his hands from left to right
as if to say it was difficult to describe Colm Ryan. "He is
Asian History. He is a vegetarian... he reads strange books written
in strange languages ... Mr. Ryan's voice had tailed off into silence.
Marsha realised he did not wish to talk about his son.
the subject and asked him to talk about his own Irish ancestry.
Mr. Ryan never
grew tired of speaking about his blue blood. He believed he had
connections with the royalty.
On long spring
afternoons when Rushi had curled up in her cot and slept like a
well-fed kitten, Marsha had sat at the window and stared at the
Ryan household. She had wondered what kind of a person Mrs. Maddy
Ryan, who was lying on a hospital bed, living on a machine, looked
like. She had wondered about Rosemary Ryan, living in Los Angeles,
but above all, she had let her thoughts dwell on Colm Ryan. Marsha
remembered Mr. Ryan telling her his son read strange languages.
She wondered if this would mean he knew Pali and Sanskrit. Did Colm
Ryan wear glasses and look like a professor?
herself and grinned. With only a few days left of her stay in New
York, she would never get to know the mysterious Colm. She curled
upon her mattress on the floor (only Rushi had a cot. Marsha slept
on a mat on the corridor leading to the kitchen, while Norma and
Ruwan slept in the big and only room in the house) and began to
make dreams about the future.
She had been
thrilled when her parents had telephoned on Thursday to tell her
that there was a letter for her from the University Grants Commission
saying that she had been selected to the medical faculty at Peradeniya,
and that the first semester would commence in two weeks time.
of Peradeniya with the Hanthane mountains as a backdrop! The place
where some of her favourite literary figures had walked. Marsha
sighed and wished she was joining not the Medical, but the Arts
faculty. But being in Peradeniya was in itself something to look
On the 23rd
of July, Marsha left the JFK airport in a plane to Amsterdam. After
an eight-hour wait at Amsterdam, she would board UL 548 to Colombo.
happy to have got a window seat. This was the first time she was
flying on her own and she was determined to get everything right.
But as if to taunt her, some mischievous power from above had made
her do everything wrong. When the stewardess had tried to take her
coat from her, scared she would not get it back, she had insisted
she would keep it with her. She had accidentally knocked her glass
of orange juice and now found herself struggling to unbuckle the
this was a simple task - one, which even Rushi would have managed,
but however hard Marsha pushed or pulled, the buckles refused to
budge. Just as she began to wonder if she would have to ask for
the assistance of the crew, two fair hands descended on her waist
and pulled the straps of her belt apart for her. Marsha felt free
and triumphant. She turned her head to thank the passenger seated
next to her.
a pleasure," he said, opening his palms out and raising his
from India?" he asked her, raising his golden eyebrows in an
inquiring manner. "No. Sri Lanka," Marsha said and was
surprised when he said
where I am going too."
But his words
came out as "thatswhereI'mgoingtoo". Marsha understood
that accent. Irish. How often had she listened to Mr. Ryan speaking
English in that same manner, pronouncing the syllables in that same
distinctively Irish way? She looked in to the blue eyes of the man
seated beside her and asked in delight, "Are you Irish?"
He nodded his head, but before he could speak, she began to say
in one breath, "I knew an Irish gentleman back in Briarwood.
He lived next door. He was very nice and he spoke the same way you
Then she turned
her head and looked at her fellow passenger, closely, for the first
time since they had started the conversation. She smiled and said,
"In fact you look like him too." He grinned at her and
opened his palms.
this was a constant gesture with him) "Could be. If his name
happens to be Brad Ryan. He is my father."
She gazed at
him in amazement. She could not believe she was seated next to Colm
you flying to Sri Lanka?" she asked him.
taking a job as a visiting lecturer at the University of Piraadiniyaa".
Unable to believe what he was saying, Marsha asked him to repeat
what he had said.
University of Piraadiniyaa. I'll be starting work when the new semester
back in her seat and stared at the luggage racks on the side of
the plane. Her mind went back to the time when she had sat at the
window in Briarwood and gazed at the Ryan household. This was such
a strange encounter. She turned her head and looked at Colm. Black
eyes met blue. "Do you believe in fate?" she asked him,
almost in a whisper. He thought for a moment and said, "No.
But even if I did, I have no bones to pick with Her tonight."