Village Diary
Poison at my doorstep!

For two weeks now I haven't touched my diary. Mainly because I have tried to remain factual and sometimes some facts are best left unstated. But then again, the idea of keeping a diary is to record one's experience - both the good and the bad. April was a month of which I could say: "Joy and woe are woven fine a clothing for the soul divine".

There was joy - the "Avurudu" festival. The women worked with a will and were amply rewarded when their sweetmeats brought them a tidy little profit with which they were able to make the New Year memorable for their loved ones.

But despite the pleasure it brought me to help them, I felt a deep personal loss.

First, just a week before the Sinhala New Year, I lost one of my canine companions. She was taken out of a well, dead. I found this very hard to believe, knowing the animal. So I employed someone to look after my other dog while I went to Colombo to see friends and relatives during the "Avurudu" season. Imagine my surprise when I came back to a very sick dog. This, despite the fact that I had been keeping tabs on it from Colombo, and giving those in charge all instructions to let me know if anything was amiss.

So when the vet told me the dog had been poisoned, I was shaken. The feeling that I had tried to submerge in my mind, that the first episode was not an accident but something more sinister, hit me with renewed force. I recounted the whole episode to the vet and answered her questions and the more it proceeded, the more convinced was I of foul play. But why? What was the ulterior motive?

I had no time at the moment to think of myself and my actual situation. My first thought was to save my pet, who needed all my attention and more. Luckily that being the end of the week, my daughter was able to come down from Colombo and together we managed to pull our dog from the jaws of death.

Then she left, and as I saw her take the bend in the road my confidence plummeted. I had never felt so alone. Whom could I trust? When questioned, those in charge were giving me conflicting stories. I could not get the truth.

So my pet and I took extra precautions and stayed close together. Although he was too weak to attack, his growl kept people at bay.

The news soon filtered down to Colombo and family and friends kept 'phoning me, very concerned for my safety. Most of them wanted to know - "Is it all worth it? What are you trying to prove? Come back."

But to return to the bosom of the city would be admitting defeat to myself. I have given myself a mission and I want to see it through.

To a visitor the village in its rural setting is picturesque - the landscape looks peaceful, the people seem so very kind and helpful, so simple and harmless.

All true. Except, that these are survivors. Avarice, greed and jealousy mar people's relationships. There are those who do not want the village to change, because they stand to gain. Any sign of change will have to be curbed and fear psychosis is the most lethal weapon to get people to bow to their will.

So what do I do now? Nothing at the moment. Half of me wants to run back to Colombo the other half chides me for being "chicken". But my whole being seems to be on "alert". Luckily the long weekend did bring visitors and I had company. So I slept, ate and breathed freely. I now feel more in control.

My Uncle, a very senior citizen, with lots of knowledge of the villagers assessed the situation. His counsel was welcome and very apt. I was brought up in the city. This was a village. One country but different cultures. Act with authority. A friendly smile must not always be taken at face value!

The villager is known to greet even the man whose guts he hates with a smile! So the reality is that peace, a level playing field, equality, are all beautiful words and will remain an illusion, unless attitudes change. This means the inner self, which is most often governed by one's experience. As a Zen master once said, "The only truth you bring to the top of a mountain is the one you carry yourself".

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