Mirror Magazine


Hello out there

Dearest Adhniya,
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,

To 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 bright future.

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

To 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: tallgy777@hotmail.com
From the tall guy, wearing a white T Shirt on September 29

My dear Rajith,
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 like you.

Thanks for everything you have done for me. God bless you.

To Hafsa,
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.

To 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.

To my one and only brother Kanchana,
I wish you a very happy birthday (Oct. 13). May all your dreams come true.
From your ever loving Nangi, Chirani

To Sumitha's sister,
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
From R...C-12

To 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: plumsteadus@yahoo.com
From the guy who looked at you wearing black jeans.

To 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.

A meeting with fate
Marsha 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 to Bronx.

Marsha had at least another half an hour to herself, before her niece, Rushi would wake up and her day as Rushi's babysitter would begin.

Marsha felt 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 an end.

She would soon be flying home to Sri Lanka to begin life as a medical student at the University of Peradeniya.

Marsha had 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.

But, contrary to all expectations, life in New York had not been easy.

Almost from 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 at home.

A bundle of curry leaves for one dollar would mean almost 100 Sri Lankan rupees.

Marsha was 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.

Before the 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 replied.

Marsha's favourite 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.

But Marsha, 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 them.

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 a

lecturer in 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.

She changed 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?

Marsha stretched 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.

The University 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 forward to.

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.

Marsha was 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 seat belt.

Marsha knew 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.

"It's a pleasure," he said, opening his palms out and raising his shoulders.

"Are you from India?" he asked her, raising his golden eyebrows in an inquiring manner. "No. Sri Lanka," Marsha said and was surprised when he said

"Aw! That's 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 speak."

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.

(Marsha realised 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 Ryan.

"Why are you flying to Sri Lanka?" she asked him.

"I am taking a job as a visiting lecturer at the University of Piraadiniyaa".

"Where?" Unable to believe what he was saying, Marsha asked him to repeat what he had said.

"At the University of Piraadiniyaa. I'll be starting work when the new semester begins."

Marsha leaned 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."

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