ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday April 13, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 46

Godaya gets his heart broken

For those of you who were wondering where Godaya was last week, I was not in a Godaya-writing mood. I managed to get my heart broken by not heeding the advice of the tall-wise-maternal-creature. If you've been through a heart break, you know what the feeling is like. It becomes a time of self pity and you start to see everything in a negative way. I seemed to be rubbing it off on others too. I was a Midas of sorts, making most people around me all gloomy and grey.

The self pity was made easier by not being at home. And what I want to focus on mainly, is what I was doing the whole of last week. I was attending a workshop on Conflict Transformation. The essence of this week's column would not be the content of the workshop, but the oh-so-valuable tea-break discussions that happen at these things.

I was talking to a priest from Jaffna, who managed to shed more light into the crisis of our times. I'll try my best to paraphrase what he said, and in the same time add my two cents worth to it as well.

For most people living in Jaffna, the only Sinhala-speaking people they meet belong to the armed forces. And the reason the armed forces are called that, is because they are armed. So there is an automatic association of "Sinhala" with "Guns." And I know, for a person in the South who hasn't had much interaction, the major "interaction" with the Tamil people, is by means of news of what the LTTE has done. This creates an automatic association of "Terror" with "Tamil." It's quite similar to Southern White Americans automatically thinking Muslims=Terrorists.

Which brings me to the question, how do we remove this barrier? And I think my schooling days provides a hint of how to solve this. Due to my parents moving around the country (I like to tell people that we were in the Witness Protection Programme), I managed to go to five schools. And at all those schools, I was with people of different ethnicities, who called god by different names, who spoke different languages.

You fast with them when they are fasting, you eagerly await the festivals because you want to stuff yourself with sweets from the Kovil, you learn to tell your parents to make your lunch without beef or pork because you share lunch at school.

This rarely happens nowadays. From the first days of school, we are divided. The first division comes with splitting us up by sex. Boys go to boy's schools, and girls go to girl's schools. Most of them miss out on the basic interaction, and there is a huge sex-based, sexual tension between them when they grow up.

In the same way the Sinhalese go to Sinhala schools, Muslims go to Muslim schools, Hindu's go to Hindu schools. We (or our parents, and the society) select who we should associate with, depending on the name with which we call God. And as with the boy-girl thing, we grow up not knowing the "other." We grow up with barriers within us. We grow up being insensitive. We grow up being selfish.

All this got me thinking, what's my mere heartbreak when compared to the bigger issues that we face? Then again, all of you who've been through what I'm feeling right now, know that the answer and the comfort should come from within. We need a heart-brake, to make sure that our hearts don't break.

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