M. T. L. Ebell
Could Sumana celebrate Christmas? Hadn't great-uncle Whobert
just died? No, he had died years ago, but the whole family was still
recovering from his demise. The funeral expenses had cost them all
so much, it was only now that celebrations were even remotely possible.
As she seemed
to have lost a few years, Sumana thought back to Christmases before
the death. They had all been different, so much depended on who
was in charge of the festivities - mother, aunt, stepmother, uncle...
had been in charge, Sumana had not enjoyed life much. Everyone looked
worried all the time, there were bread-queues and shortages and
who could forget 'eggless, sugarless, cake'?
Now, aunt and
uncle were taking their turn.
had helped all they could, but after the death of Whobert, this
had dwindled somewhat. Family members in rural areas, who crossed
rivers on precarious e-dandas, begging for a little cash to improve
their living standards had met with discouragement - "Oh, the
money will somehow trickle into settling the funeral expenses -
we're not interested in that!"
Yet, now that
those expenses appeared to have been met, the foreign relatives
were back in full force. Unfortunately, Sumana felt that the poor
cousins in the villages were still being overlooked. More gifts
came the way of Whobert's immediate family. Sumana felt this was
unjust. Don't forget the village folk, she would think sometimes,
but never say. They live in the interior through choice and sometimes
necessity, and are overlooked. They needed money too, for their
children's schooling, new wells, a roadway...
uncle do for his part in the festivities this year? Sumana's domestic
helper, Jane, had been very happy when she heard he was to be in
charge. She wanted to build up her home in June next year.
Not now, the
drainage is bad and we get flooded when it rains. Next year, that
will be sorted out and we might have electricity as well.
Jane. The cost
of making Christmas cake adding cherries and buying good brandy
would come to more than Jane's monthly salary. Jane had very little
idea of her rights. Even Sumana had no idea of Jane's rights. Did
she own her house, did she rent it? Was she a squatter? Did she
lease it from a squatter? Would they lose the house to road-development?
Sumana listened to Jane's tales of woe but didn't really do anything.
had people like Jane to hope for?
had been given an Advent Calendar. As per family custom, each one
took turns at opening a window on it. They were accustomed to finding
the window with the correct date, opening it to reveal Christmas
pictures. On this calendar, the picture was on the outside with
the date. What would be inside then? On the first day; a message:
Collect all loose change during the season of Advent and give the
poor. The family laughed! Loose change! What good would that do?
A few coins wouldn't make a difference to anybody!
was a nuisance. It expected action. Everyday a message: go out of
your way to be kind to someone today, let a friend know you're thinking
of them, and one Sumana liked very much, "Ask your mother if
she needs your help".
was a star, a bit lop-sided, more like a starfish. Sumana remembered
a story about starfish. Oft repeated, read and even preached.
in it, picked up as many starfish stranded on the beach at high
tide as he could, carrying them down to the waters' edge. Coming
back, he repeated his actions until he tired. He knew he could not
save all the starfish. He also knew his actions made a difference
She couldn't solve all the problems of her extended family in one
go. She couldn't even control her uncle's decisions, but if and
when asked, she would speak the truth. Yes, it was time to put away
the mourning garments and get ready for better times.
she only enjoy herself this Christmas or should she also make a
difference to some starfish?
(centre) and her team
to be different this festive season? With fashion experts literally
pulling a new look out of Santa's stocking for the season for all
you fashion buffs, you certainly could. Here, well-known beautician
Ramani Fernando conjures some head-turning hair styles and make-up
for the Mirror Magazine.
the colours to just white and black, she says that the whites are
for smart casual outings and the blacks, for evening wear which
is needed aplenty, during this time of year.
a more subdued theme for make up, leaving out all the brighter shades.
You could use shades of blue, glossy pale pinks and shimmering silvers,
giving yourself a totally translucent, out of the world look. Though
this make-do seems quite passive, especially during the festive
season, you could be sure to stand out, due to the glamorous allure
it holds," she added.
With this look
being ideally suited to young people, Ramani suggests adding a touch
of silvery body paint, to give the tattoo effect.
Natalie, Samantha and Marie
Clothes courtesy Odel Unlimited
Hair and make-up by Ramani Fernando and team
Photographs by Mettasena