Mirror Magazine


The Christmas starfish
By 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...

When stepmother 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.

Relatives abroad 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...

What would 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.

What, really, had people like Jane to hope for?

Sumana's children 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!

The calendar 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".

Today's picture was a star, a bit lop-sided, more like a starfish. Sumana remembered a story about starfish. Oft repeated, read and even preached.

The person 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 to some.

Sumana stirred. 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.

But, would she only enjoy herself this Christmas or should she also make a difference to some starfish?

Christmas glamour

Ramani (centre) and her team

Looking 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.

Limiting 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.

"We suggest 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.

Models: Dinali, Natalie, Samantha and Marie
Clothes courtesy Odel Unlimited
Hair and make-up by Ramani Fernando and team
Photographs by Mettasena

Back to Top  Back to Mirror Magazine  

Copyright © 2001 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd. All rights reserved.