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11th March 2001

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Cloths Line

I'm sorry, I really amů

Life is strange. You win some, you lose some. I am an ordinary girl, with ordinary desires, ordinary likes and dislikes, and basically a very ordinary life. I will blow 15 candles off a cake soon, and I'm looking forward to it. I received 88% for the end-of-year exam that I didn't even really study for, and I thanked God for it. Essentially, I'm a very ordinary 14-year-old.

When I was hospitalized one Saturday with high fever, I was desperately trying to figure out if I would be able to make it to school on Monday.

No. It never crossed my mind that I might have been seriously sick. It never crossed my mind that the next day I would be rushed to the Intensive Care Unit with platelet counts barely lingering over the 18,000 mark. It never crossed my mind that I'd have another one of those horrid plastic needles stuck into me, delivering that despised IV into my veins to keep me alive over the next few crucial hours.

So I suffered relentlessly for about a week, scaring all those who loved me to death. I lay in bed; not knowing whether I was dead or alive, wandering about in a long tunnel, admiring a pretty purple light that sparkled like stars, twinkling in a distance. And I am said to have asked about a short man standing in my hospital room, when in reality, there had been no short man. So, maybe you can't be blamed for reaching the conclusion that I was indeed seriously ill.

At first I seemed to be recovering, then the dreaded platelet count dropped again. Alarming the doctors and making the heart monitor beep faster. My harried parents had rushed from here to there, trying to find enough blood donors for me. And I didn't seem to help much by having a blood type that was nearly impossible to find. And even after their sleepless nights and empty stomachs, nothing seemed to be working.

Oh, don't panic..... This story does have the fairy-tale happy ending. Eventually, the platelet counts climbed, the fluid, which was reported to have been conquering my worn-out lungs for some time, disappeared, and I was taken out of the ICU and transferred into a normal hospital room. It was so much more than I had prayed for.

Exactly a week after I was hospitalized, I received the green light from both my wonderful doctors, and I came back home.

I was instantly surrounded by relatives, friends, concerned neighbours and many others, some of whom I barely knew, fighting to see me, wishing me well, asking me questions about the fever, sympathizing with my parents about my "near brush with death". I revelled in the attention, tired and exhausted, yes, but happy to realize that so many people loved me.

As the days passed, the visitors lessened, the calls decreased, and the attention reduced. I went back to school, restarted my extra curricular activities and began to study for the coming end of year exams.

I was rediscovered. My parents still had their fussy, little daughter. My sister still was stuck with that scamp she so readily would have parted with. My relatives still had their "little kella" whom they seemed to love so dearly. My friends still had their Madhu whom they had seemed to miss so badly when she had been sick. Life seemed to be perfect.

But as the days of late October progressed, we, as Sri Lankans, realized that life was not so perfect. Many Sri Lankans, young and old, succumbed to the same inhuman aggressor that I was laid down by. My parents managed to cling on to their daughter, but not all parents were that lucky.

A few days after I was released from the hospital, a young girl my age, died of the same disease, leaving her parents drowned in pools of their own tears. We went through the same trials and tribulations of the disease; our symptoms were the same, our ups and downs, recoveries and lapses nearly identical. But God doesn't always give the same way.

We walked through the same tunnel. We both saw the same purple light. We both got lost in its beauty, enraptured by its haunting, mysterious aura. But I was lucky. I managed to find my way back. Unfortunately she didn't. I'm sorry. I am so sorry.

I am sorry that I breathe the air that you can't. I am sorry that God decided to let that same air pass through my lungs and not yours. Next time, I promise I'll help you. Next time, I won't come back without you.

Madhu Hewakapuge

What's the rush?

First I must thank The Sunday Times for giving its readers the opportunity to express our views.

The following is not an opinion exclusive to myself, I believe, that motorists are abominably fleet footed. Our country being small, it's very rare that one would find straight roads. Hence it's highly hazardous to drive fast, not only for the passengers, but for the foot slogger as well.

In the metropolitan areas it's almost impossible to steer at even forty miles per hour, a speed an experienced driver may find a snail's pace. But it's amazing to see the speed of some vehicles, which brings to mind the Grand Prix. When travelling by bus, one must hang on to something for dear life, for one is unable to predict whether he/she will arrive at the destination in one piece. If the bus does not crash into something, that's God looking out for them, but there are sure to be casualties from the violent applying of brakes.

Being on the road these days is highly dangerous. Even if the pedestrians stick to all the rules in the book, there's no guaranteeing that they will be unscathed.

The question that arises is why this immense hurry? How many lives are put in danger due to reckless driving? After tragedy transpires it's senseless regretting the carelessness. The guilty party being castigated will never compensate for the victims. What boundless anguish is brought to innocent people in a fraction of a moment on account of a negligent act! Hence we should try and be cautious. Starting in good time and not putting your foot down will cause you and everyone around you less heartache!

Yoshanthi Wellawa

When I am weak then I'm strong

Sometimes your biggest weakness can become your biggest strength. Take, for example, the story of one 10-year-old boy who decided to study judo despite the fact that he had lost his left arm in a devastating car accident. The boy began lessons with an old Japanese judo master. The boy was doing well, so he couldn't understand why, after three months of training the master had taught him only one move.

"Sensei," the boy finally said, "Shouldn't I be learning more moves?" "This is the only move you know, but this is the only move you'll ever need to know," the sensei replied.

Not quite understanding, but believing in his teacher, the boy kept training. Several months later, the sensei took the boy to his first tournament. Surprising himself, the boy easily won his first two matches. The third match proved to be more difficult, but after some time, his opponent became impatient and charged; the boy deftly used his one move to win the match. Still amazed by his success, the boy was now in the finals. This time, his opponent was bigger, stronger, and more experienced. For a while, the boy appeared to be overmatched. Concerned that the boy might get hurt, the referee called a time-out. He was about to stop the match when the sensei intervened.

"No," the sensei insisted, "Let him continue."

Soon after the match resumed, his opponent made a critical mistake; he dropped his guard. Instantly, the boy used his move to pin him. The boy had won the match and the tournament. He was the champion. On the way home, the boy and sensei reviewed every move in each and every match. Then the boy summoned the courage to ask what was really on his mind.

"Sensei, how did I win the tournament with only one move?"

"You won for two reasons," the sensei answered. "First, you've almost mastered one of the most difficult throws in all of judo. And second, the only known defence for that move is for your opponent to grab your left arm."

The boy's biggest weakness had become his biggest strength.

Fareez Farook

Dear coz

Look elsewhere

Dear One,

As sincere as your feelings may be, blood is not the most romantic way to get your message across. Keep that in mind next time you woo a girl. Now, aren't you asking for trouble where your aunt's daughter is concerned? Obviously your cousin is not keen on the idea. Maybe she understands more than you the pitfalls of such a relationship. Your father's anger is nothing compared to what your aunt is going to say when she finds out. It's a big world with plenty of girls. Look elsewhere and save yourself the heartache.

Act more responsibly

Dear Fragrance,

Well what's done is done. We all make mistakes so put it out of your mind. After all, once the course ends you're not likely to bump into him. Concentrate on your studies and do what you went there to do -learn. I doubt very much that they know what you've been up to. It's only your guilty conscience pricking you. Even if they do know, they won't have a way to tie it up with you. Hold your head up high and get through your course. Don't invite trouble by having him as a friend. You have a fiance and should act more responsibly. Next time, think twice before you give rein to your impulses.

It's up to you

Dear Coz,

I am a 22-year-old girl. I met a boy in 1998, while travelling from Colombo to Galle by bus. Even though we didn't exchange even one word, I felt our meeting was very meaningful. He touched my hand and he gave me his address. But I was unable to read his name because it wasn't clear. In 1998 I did my A/L's and I didn't try to find him. I also thought that it was not right for a girl to write first. My parents were also very strict and I had no way to contact him.

Therefore I'm trying to forget him. But it is very difficult. I've never had an affair and I don't know whether I love him or not. By now he may have another girl friend. I want to get some information about him. But if I write to him, he may think that I am not a good person. I like him very much and I can't forget him. Please help me.


Dear D.N.D.,

It's been a long time and as you say he could have a girl friend. If you really want to get to know him, write to him as a penpal. It's a no strings attached form of communication offering nothing more than friendship. If he replies, you can at least form a vague idea about him. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. It's up to you.

Emotional stress and skin problems

Emotional stress and skin problems Emotional stress, while very influential in the course of many skin problems, is not usually the primary cause of disease. It is often impossible to identify a direct cause-effect relationship between an emotional reaction and a specific skin disease.

Emotional factors, have been linked to excessive sweating, localized eczema, itching, neurotic excoriations, flushing, and other problems. Many cases of hives are undoubtedly the direct result of significant psychological stress. More severe and deep-seated problems are associated with self-inflicted skin disorders that serve to bring attention to the individual, help collect insurance, or permit the person to avoid combat service. Other conditions related to emotional conditions include hair-pulling (trichotillomania), neurotic picking and scratching, and delusions of parasitosis (excoriations to rid skin of imagined parasites.) Those with the last affliction are severely disturbed and need psychiatric help.

Increased sweating of the palms, soles, and underarms is primarily a response to emotional stress. Cold, wet hands are a cause of embarrassment for many people. Topical care, oral medications, and emotional support help. Surgery is an alternative for severe underarm sweating.

Perhaps the greatest psychiatric component of skin disease is the stress places on the individual who has socially unacceptable skin and hair changes. This can lower the individual's self-esteem and affect relationship with others. From the high school teenager with acne to the newlywed with severe psoriasis or eczema to the adult woman with little scalp hair, one can see the gamut of those experiencing stress as they try to get along in a world in which their appearance may be acceptable.

Hello out there

To the one and only love of my life,

When will you come to see me? I am still waiting for you. Now I am tired because you haven't made a decision about me yet. But I trust you. Please decide soon. Give me your phone number and home address. May God bless you!

Your Girl (K)

To my special friend, Shihan,

I wish U a very happy, wonderful and super 22nd B' day. Hope your dreams come true.

From H. (Buddy)

My ever loving sweetheart Olunee (2001 O/L S.A.G.C.K),

Hi! you are my pretty girl and I want to talk to you. You are beautiful and your smile is so sweet. All the very best for your O/L exam. Every time I close my eyes I dream of you. I can't forget you. You are my life, my soul, my everything. Please understand me. My love is only for you. You know me

(C.A.N.S.), (S.A.C.K A/L)

2 my sweet friends,

Mafaziya, Kuraisha and Shafana. How are you all? I miss U all so much please try to understand me.

U know who I am N2..... UA

Dear Bathiya (The most outstanding star of all),

U have a way of being nice in everything you do and it means so much to wish U the very best on your birthday.

Natasha, Upuli, Resha, Ruvini (your fans in Badulla)

To all my friends at K.G.H.S. year 12 Commerce class,

I wish you all the very best of luck.

Your friend Lakmini

Dear Bathiya,

May God bless you on your birthday and give you long life and happiness.

From Nataliya (G.S.C.K)
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