Friday, March 23, 2007

Respice finem (3)

Perhaps this journey actually started much earlier, on a quite walk to school around the misty Kandy Lake or in the silent chapel. Maybe I was completely transformed on the day that I found out what the word “introspection” meant. Even though I cannot recall the exact moment of its discovery, finding out that I could have an exciting, probing, painful and honest conversation with myself was, I think, a pivotal moment in my life. It happened while I was in school; at a time when one’s ability to dunk a lunch wrapper into a waste bin at the distant end of the classroom or being able to make a paper plane that would return to its point of origin was always considered a noteworthy accomplishment worthy of fame.

I was never prepared for my last day in school. We took silly bets on who would cry and who won’t. Hardly anyone won their bets that day. I wowed I won’t cry and I didn’t – until everyone started singing the school song inside the ‘cop room’ before we had to leave, knowing that we’ll never come back in our white uniforms. I am not particularly proud to admit this, but I don’t think I ever really left school. The friends, the stories, the tomfoolery and the fun still linger on in my days. I left school, armed with enough naivety and confidence, not merely to face the world but to change it.

It amazes me as to how things can change in such a short time, that within a few years, my outlook of life could change so much. That is why I feel this would be a good time to look back at the years of my life I have spent in preparation for life itself… to capture the magic of childhood in a time capsule and carry it along with me so that I may never forget that I was also a child once.

I loved writing and I wanted my writing to matter, so I came to the big city to write a long letter to a nation. I walked the streets of Petah on my first assignment and compiled a story on the Dutch Museum that never saw ink on paper, but things caught on. I had full days to hang around with some of the most insightful, creative and interesting people I have ever met. I had all the time I needed to write what I wanted… whatever I wanted. I spent a few months walking the streets of Colombo, grooving myself to the rhythm of the city and writing about whatever inspired me. I covered the occasional press conference and those became my first glimpses of the real world that I had just stepped into. Those few months still remains as one of the most creative periods in my life. The magic of writing never lost its power to lift me into an elevated sense of understanding and could magically move my heart to dwell in the thoughts and feelings of another. I continue to write with passion and enthusiasm and I always want what I write, to matter.

My first step into tertiary education was a combination of coincidence and a battle with time. For reason’s I can’t logically explain, I made an early decision while I was only half way through school that I wanted to go abroad for my university education. I was never sure as to why I made that choice or how difficult it was going to be. I didn’t even know whether my parents would ever be able to afford it. I commenced my degree in Colombo without a great deal of conviction that it is what I really wanted. The way it worked out was even more mysterious, but owing to countless sacrifices and hard work that my parents invested in my dreams, I got the opportunity to reach out to the world for a new experience and a new definition of knowledge.

My destination was Australia, the smallest and the driest continent on Earth. Astonishingly, I was yet again in the company of some of my close friends. I remember how I was picked up from the airport by my friends – jet lagged, yet excited - and taken on a brief tour of Melbourne before being taken home to a pepperoni pizza and a poignant and alarming letter welcoming me to the ‘life of the international student’. But my imagination that day could not capture – let alone understand – the true extent of its contents. The three years that has followed since, have broken and mended me, taken me through poverty and abundance and some of the highest as well as the lowest moments in my life.

As I stepped with adulthood into a Darwinian world were only the fittest and the most adaptable survive, I wished I would never forget the innocence, humility and foolishness that made me expect so much more from the world than it could ever give me. I wanted to know what made me believe so much more then, than reason, better judgement and experience would allow me to believe now. It often makes me wonder whether I have lost faith in this world or rather in my own ability to change it for the better.